WHAT KIND OF A CHARACTER DOES ALLAH DEMAND FROM US?
The Qur'an, which is a guide to all humanity, is the Speech of Allah. We can attain the character that will please Allah by reading the verses of the Qur'an and living by them. This is really easy. But despite this, the majority of people make the mistake of drifting away from the values that please Allah. If one day, everyone around you complied with Allah's wishes and embodied the values Allah demands from man, then this world would become a much better place. Now let's see briefly what these qualities are.
We all know that Allah created man. Consequently, Allah best knows the good and wicked qualities man possesses. A person may well deceive other people, but he can never hide anything from Allah. That is because, unlike us, Allah knows man's inner thoughts. Therefore, a person must always be sincere and honest towards Allah. One verse reads:
Say, "Whether you conceal what is in your breasts or make it known, Allah knows it. He knows what is in the heavens and what is on earth. Allah has power over all things." (Surah Al 'Imran: 29)
Everything in the heavens and everything in the earth belongs to Allah. Whether you divulge what is in yourselves or keep it hidden, Allah will still call you to account for it. He forgives whomever He wills and He punishes whomever He wills. Allah has power over all things. (Surat al-Baqara: 284)
A person who is aware that Allah hears every word he utters, knows each act he does and every thought that crosses his mind, would never dare to engage in a wicked act, even if it were hidden from other people. This means that, to be truly good, people must absolutely believe in Allah's existence and His unity, acknowledge His might and be aware that He sees and hears everything. This is one of the prerequisites of attaining the values Allah demands from His slaves.
Loving Allah and Putting One's Trust in Him
You cherish the love your parents show you, do you not? You also love them. They protect and love you and meet your needs. You trust them. If you encounter a difficulty, you know they are always there to help you.
Have you ever thought how much you love Allah and trust Him?
Allah meets all the needs of all the beings He creates. Thanks to His infinite mercy, we live in this world in peace and enjoy countless blessings.
Allah created the sun so that we can live on earth. Allah also created vegetables, fruit and animals for us. We have bread, milk, meat and various other delicious vegetables and fruit because Allah creates them all for us.
Allah created rain so that we can have fresh water to drink. He created oceans, the continuous bodies of salt water. Without rain there would be neither fresh nor salt water on earth. Water is vital for us. As you know, man can only survive without water for a few days.
Allah placed the immune system within our bodies to protect us against microbes. Thanks to our immune systems, we do not die from the simple microbe that causes the common cold.
Aside from these matters, Allah makes our hearts beat unceasingly throughout our lives. If our hearts needed rest at certain intervals, as do engines, we would certainly die. But hearts beat unceasingly for decades without rest and enable us to live.
Allah created eyes to see, ears to hear, noses to smell and tongues to taste. These are only a few of the blessings Allah has given us. We cannot count all the blessings Allah gives us. In one verse, Allah, Who is very merciful to us, addresses us as follows:
He has given you everything you have asked Him for. If you tried to number Allah's blessings, you could never count them. Man is indeed wrongdoing, ungrateful. (Surah Ibrahim: 34)
As you have also understood from the Qur'an, being ungrateful for these blessings, forgetting that all blessings are from Allah and not thanking Him for everything He has done for us, is wicked behaviour. Allah does not love those who are ungrateful.
In return for His blessings, Allah only wants us to love Him, and to be grateful to Him, that is, to thank Him. His command is related in the verse as follows:
Allah brought you out of your mothers' wombs knowing nothing at all, and gave you hearing, sight and hearts so that perhaps you would show thanks. (Surat an-Nahl: 78)
So eat from what Allah has provided for you, lawful and good, and be thankful for the blessing of Allah if it is Him you worship. (Surat an-Nahl: 114)
It is He who has created hearing, sight and hearts for you. What little thanks you show! (Surat al-Muminun: 78)
In another verse, it is related that those who have faith love Allah most:
Some people set up equals to Allah, loving them as they should love Allah. But those who have faith have greater love for Allah. If only you could see those who do wrong at the time when they see the punishment, and that truly all strength belongs to Allah, and that Allah is severe in punishment. (Surat al-Baqara: 165)
Allah protects and nourishes your mother, father and everyone else. We are all in need of Allah. Neither our parents nor we could have possibly done these things. For this reason, we must love Allah and put our trust in Him.
Loving Allah more than anyone or anything else, putting trust in Him and acknowledging that He has given us everything are the foremost qualities of character with which Allah is pleased.
How Must We Conduct Ourselves Towards Other People?
Allah prohibits people from being arrogant, lying, mocking others and being proud. Being honest and modest are traits with which Allah is pleased.
People often live under the influence of people around them. If they have wicked friends, they may be negatively influenced by them. But a person who believes in Allah and acknowledges that He constantly sees him never swerves from right action, no matter how compelling the conditions may be. He becomes a good example to those who are dishonest and prone to mischief.
Allah loves steadfast people. The term "steadfastness" in the Qur'an is not limited to being steadfast in the face of ordeals, but means being steadfast at every moment of one's life. The steadfastness of a person who has faith does not change according to people or events. For instance, a person with little fear of Allah may be good to someone from whom he expects to derive benefit, but fail to demonstrate this praiseworthy attitude consistently. Once he feels his interests are at stake, he may abruptly change. A person of faith, however, meticulously avoids misconduct. He responds to everyone with excellent manners and is committed to keep doing so, no matter what the conditions are or what people's attitudes may be. Even though he is enraged, he manages to control himself and shows steadfastness.
In one verse, Allah commands people to compete in being steadfast:
You who believe, be steadfast; be supreme in steadfastness; and remain stationed; and have fear of Allah; so that hopefully you will be successful. (Surah Al 'Imran: 200)
The steadfastness of the prophets mentioned in the Qur'an sets an example for us. As you will remember, the suffering of Ayyub, peace be upon him, lasted a very long time. But this noble slave of Allah showed steadfastness and prayed to Allah. Allah answered his prayer and showed him a way out.
Allah, on the contrary, does not love arrogant people who show off. Not all people enjoy the same material benefits in this world. Some have beautiful houses and cars while others may possess nothing, but what matters is that one conducts oneself correctly. For instance, assuming that one is superior to one's friends because one has better clothes is an attitude that displeases Allah. That is because Allah commands us to value people according to their faith, not their appearances.
For Allah, the measure of superiority is not wealth or might, beauty or strength. Allah values people according to their taqwa (awe of Allah), the love they feel for Him, their loyalty and their commitment to living by the values of the Qur'an. These are the criteria for assessing superiority in Allah's sight. In the Qur'an, Allah relates the story of Qarun to teach us a lesson.
Qarun was a very wealthy man. He was so rich that the keys to his treasure had to be carried by several people. Ignorant people around him yearned to be like Qarun and wished they had everything he had. But Qarun was an arrogant and boastful person who was not obedient to Allah. He denied that Allah had given him all his wealth. So, Allah inflicted a terrible disaster on Qarun: He and all his possessions disappeared in one single night. Upon this terrible disaster, those who yearned to be like him expressed their joy at not being in his place. They all recognised that this was a punishment from Allah.
Qarun is mentioned as an example in the Qur'an as follows:
He went out among his people in his finery. Those who desired the life of the world said, "Oh! If only we had the same as Qarun has been given! What immense good fortune he possesses."
But those who had been given knowledge said, "Woe to you! Allah's reward is better for those who have faith and act rightly. But only the steadfast will obtain it."
We caused the earth to swallow up both him and his house. There was no group to come to his aid, besides Allah, and he was not someone who is helped.
Those who had longed to take his place the day before woke up saying, "Allah expands the provision of any of His slaves He wills or restricts it. If Allah had not shown great kindness to us, we would have been swallowed up as well. Ah! Truly the disbelievers are not successful." (Surat al-Qasas: 79-82)
The Qur'an informs us that "gossiping" and "backbiting" are some of the other behavioural traits disliked by Allah. Spying on someone's mistakes, backbiting and making a person a target for mockery are behaviour that a person who fears Allah must studiously avoid. In the Qur'an Allah forbids gossiping and backbiting. The relevant verse reads:
You who have faith! Avoid most suspicion. Indeed some suspicion is a crime. And do not spy and do not backbite one another. Would any of you like to eat his brother's dead flesh? No, you would hate it. And have fear of Allah. Allah is Ever-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surat al-Hujurat: 12)
As is also evident from the verse, Allah tells us in the Qur'an that backbiting is as disgusting as eating one's dead brother's flesh.
Allah tells us to conduct ourselves correctly in the course of our daily lives. Life is an opportunity granted by our Lord to follow His right path. Today, the majority of people are unaware of this. Instead of complying with Allah's commands and advice, they seek other guides. Being influenced by the films they watch or the songs to which they listen, they adopt erroneous values. For instance, young people who watch a merciless and cruel hero in a movie often start to imitate him right after they leave the theatre.
A wise and sincere person, however, always displays the character traits with which Allah is pleased. The prophets are the people in whose footsteps we must follow. The character traits we must have are those values with which Allah is pleased. These include being merciful, forgiving, modest, humble, steadfast and obedient to Allah and His Messenger. A person who adopts these noble values does not stoop to becoming involved in disputes; He rather settles them and shows tolerance. Instead of being rebellious and disobedient to one's parents, the Qur'an commands us to be obedient and respectful. In the Qur'an, Allah stresses the importance of being respectful towards one's parents:
Your Lord has decreed that you should worship none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say "Ugh!" to them out of irritation and do not be harsh with them but speak to them with gentleness and generosity.
Take them under your wing, out of mercy, with due humility and say: "Lord, show mercy to them as they did in looking after me when I was small." (Surat al-Isra: 23-24)
Being obedient towards one's parents, not showing the slightest sign of irritation to them by saying "Ugh," and always being merciful and tender-hearted towards them are important character traits Allah demands from us. Showing these traits will both earn us Allah's love and make us more happy and peaceful in our daily lives.
One can only display these character traits praised in the Qur'an when one lives by Islam. Disbelieving people can hardly be committed to embodying these noble values. You must avoid being like these people and always keep in mind the verse that reads: "Or did you imagine that you were going to enter the Garden without Allah knowing those among you who had struggled and knowing the steadfast?" (Surah Al 'Imran: 142) Never forget that Allah will love you more and grant more of His blessings to you when you are steadfast, humble, self-sacrificing, generous, and when you conduct yourself correctly.