Character formation in Islam
Character formation is the most important aspect of Islamic personality. That is why we can see that the goal of Islam - of the concepts, worships and teachings relating to values, attitudes, morals and behaviour is to create an Islamic personality. The Prophet (pbuh) has stated the foremost purpose of being sent down in this world and the method of his mission in the following words.
"I have been sent for the purpose of perfecting good morals."
Inculcating good manners among the people and purifying them as per the noble teachings of Islam was the ultimate responsibility given to the Prophet (pbuh) and after him the believers are to set an ideal example of Islamic Character before the public.
The Qur'an had made it very clear that without following the footsteps of the Prophet in the high esteemed character and morals it is not possible to proceed with our compulsory responsibility of propagating Islam. Allah says: "And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently and had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about you. So pass over (their faults) ask (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly Allah loves those who put their trust (in Allah)"
So a Muslim must possess noble character which attracts people to him. When Allah sent Prophet Moses and Haroon to Pharaoh He said to them: "You tell him soft words."
He may accept the guidance and fear Allah. It is natural that people like those who speak gently and decently and hate those who are harsh and hard in behaviour.
The great message which has left an indelible impression on the history was the unique personality of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh). Allah has praised him. "And verily, you O Mohammad are on an exalted character" (Al-Qur'an 68:4)
The Prophet practically proved how to fulfil this noble goal to his companions. The purpose of which was nothing else but to strengthen the moral character of people so that the world of beauty and perfection may be illuminated before their eyes and they may try to achieve it consciously and with knowledge. The Qur'an says: "verily as for those who believe and do righteous deeds, certainly we shall not suffer to be lost the reward of any one who do his righteous deeds in the most perfect manner" (Al-Qur'an 18:30).
Islamic character is divine character. It is to treat others with the same generosity and charity as the Almighty Allah shows to man. Islam has set the norms in this pattern by saying "If you are merciful, forgiving and magnanimous, God is the forgiving, the merciful."
That is to say that we are supposed to adopt a posture similar to God's in our dealings with others. Allah forgives people their mistakes and does not deprive them of His mercies because of their errors. Thus magnanimity becomes the cardinal principle of Islamic Character.
The highest standard of Islamic character entails helpfulness and benevolence towards others. The very existence of a believer is beneficial to others since Islam teaches the lowest branch of belief is removing the disturbance from the way. So the believer passing through a way is useful to others. His words are useful to every one. Because Islam has taught "whoever believe in Allah and the life here after, let him tell good things to keep quiet."
Patience is another ingredient which makes the believers character commendable and appreciable. It has been taught that patience is one half of faith. Marvellous examples of patience on various occasions can be drawn from the life of the Prophet (pbuh).
Islamic ethics and moral as stated in the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah embrace the consideration of all those moral excellencies known to the world, such as sincerity, honesty, humility, justice, patience, straightforwardness, keeping promise, charity, meekness, politeness, forgiveness, goodness, courage, veracity, sympathy, tolerance, decency, cooperation and other ethical instruments and rules of conduct recommended and upheld by Islam
. A luminous feature of Islamic system of life is that it teaches comprehensive manners to all mankind with mercy, sympathy and consideration.
The first among the deeds which tops the list of good manners is to speak the truth and be steadfast in it regardless of its consequences. The Prophet teaches: "The best of crusades is to speak the truth before a tyrant ruler. 'Speak the truth no matter how bitter it may be.' Keep away from ill thinking because ill thinking is the greatest falsehood."
By prohibiting jealous, backbiting, falsehood, wickedness and all other harmful things Islam arrange the ground steady for emulating divine principles of Islamic character which provide a peaceful living in this world and the hereafter. The major criterion in Islamic living is the eternal words of The Prophet (pbuh) that "Actions rest on motives."
Good Manners mean the commission of those virtuous deeds by which human perfection is achieved which entitles a human being, in its true senses to be referred to as the best of creation. The effect of adopting these manners, propounded by Islam is that mankind receives tranquility, peace, harmony, happiness, love, affection, justice, equality and whatever a human being desire for a healthy and peaceful living.
It is remarkable here to state that all these teachings are formed considering the responsibility entrusted upon human beings. It is clearly mentioned that Man has a dual responsibility to perform. One is in relation to himself and his obligations to the Creator, the other one is in relation to his external world and commitments to the creatures and fellow beings.
The former has to express in a process of selfdevelopment, physical, intellectual and spiritual. In other words, man's responsibility is to invite to God, so to say, exercise His right to dwell in the individual and urge him to use properly the balance set in his nature. The idea is in conformity with the Qur'anic exhortation."O you who believed if you help (the cause of) God, He will help you and set your feet firm" (Al-Qur'an 47:7).
The other responsibility lies in developing social consciousness and in caring for the welfare of others. The two terms may as well be styled as "Obligations to one's self" and "obligations to society." The two types of responsibilities are not to be regarded as exclusive. They are merely two faces of one and the same attitude towards life, of the same activity proceeding from it and signify the character of the mind one has to develop. It is this mind which matters in determining responsibility for every human action.