1 – Virtues

            The virtues of human character are those good qualities which raise the status of human beings above all other creatures and make them the best of God’s creations. Many rewards have been promised in this world as well as in the next world for those Muslims who possess these virtues. Such virtues are numerous and no exhaustive list of them can be prepared. Therefore, we would discuss in this section only a few important virtues.


            To forgive means to remit, to let off or to pardon. Forgiveness is act of forgiving or state of being forgiven. Absolution, acquittal, amnesty, condonation, exoneration, mercy, overlooking, pardon, remission are its synonyms. By forgiveness we generally understand that a person is able to take revenge for the wrong done to him but he does not do so.

            Forgiveness is a virtue which is akin to mercy and kindness. It is one of the greatest attributes of Almighty God. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful and He forgives the biggest sins of His creatures if they repent, turn to Him and ask His pardon sincerely. Those of the mankind who adopt this attribute of forgiveness and forgive each other’s mistakes have been promised great reward by Allah in this world and in the Hereafter. Forgiveness does not gain but honour. A pious person who is able to retaliate or get revenge forgives his foe and thus shows magnanimity and large heartedness.

            Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most forgiving person. On the day he conquered Makkah, he forgave thirteen years of merciless persecution of himself and his companions by the Quraish, though there was none who could stop him from taking revenge. The Quraish had driven him and his companions from their home town of Makkah and had forced them to take refuge in a distant town of Madinah. The Quraish had persistently chased the Muslims in Madinah and had waged a continuous war against the Prophet. But on the day of conquest Muhammad (PBUH) forgave all his enemies. He even forgave Abu Sufian who was his greatest enemy and had led expeditions against him. Not only Abu Sufian was forgiven, but his house was also declared a place of amnesty for those who entered into it. Abu Sufian’s wife Hind who had chewed liver of Prophet’s uncle Hamzah was pardoned. What a great amnesty it was! The history of the world cannot produce another such example!

            The Holy Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam have enjoined the Muslims to practice this virtue of forgiveness. According to the Qur’an, forgiveness is better than alms-giving followed by injury. According to a Hadith, the most honourable of Allah’s servants is he who pardons when he is in a position of power to take revenge.


            Humility means humbleness, meekness or humble condition, lack of pride, etc. Modesty, diffidence, unpretentiousness, loneliness are its synonyms. Its antonyms are arrogance, haughtiness, pride, pretentiousness, snobbishness, vanity, etc. Humility or modesty is one of the best virtues of human conduct and is found in the great men and the Prophets. Islam exhorts its followers to adopt this virtue of humility in their conduct and avoid pride and haughtiness. As soon as a man lowers himself by way of humility, he rises proportionately in the sight of his Creator Who makes him highly respectable among his fellows. A man is not great because he calls himself great or considers himself great but the great man is he who is most pious and who makes himself humble in his conduct with others. According to the Qur’an, the faithful slaves of God are those who are humble and who walk upon the earth modestly. According to the Prophet of Islam, nobody humbles himself for Allah but Allah raises him up. He is small to himself but great to the eyes of men.


            Kindness is an attribute of Almighty Allah and in showing kindness Allah does not make distinction between man and man. ‘Follow the divine attributes’ is the advice of the Prophet of Islam to his followers. We should, therefore, adopt this attribute of kindness and show kindness to Allah’s creatures. We should be especially kind to our children, our parents, our kith and kin, our neighbours, our friends, our juniors, our seniors, our servants, the weak, the distressed, and to others with whom we come in contact. In order to invoke kindness from Allah, we should show kindness even to those who are not kind to us. We must not forget to follow the example of our Prophet who gave very kind treatment even to his bitter enemies on the day of conquest of Makkah. They had persecuted the Prophet and his companions for years and had expelled them from Makkah. But despite that, Prophet forgave them and treated them kindly.

            The Qur’an (4:36) enjoins on the believers to worship Allah, and join none with Him, and to be kind to the parents, and to near relatives, and to orphans, and to the needy and to the neighbour who is relative and to the neighbour who is stranger, and to the companion by your side, and to the wayfarer, and to the slaves whom your right hands possess……” In its verse 90 of Surah 16, the Qur’an says: “Verily! Allah commands (you) to do justice and be kind (to others)…………” The Prophet of Islam said:

1)     Jabir reported that the Messenger of Allah said: He who is devoid of kindness is devoid of good.   (Muslim)

2)     Ayesha reported that the Messenger of Allah said: He who is given his share of kindness is given his share of good of this world and the Hereafter; and he who is deprived of his share of kindness, is deprived of his share of the good of this world and the Hereafter.   (Sharh-l-Sunnat)

3)     Jaber reported that the Holy Prophet said: Whoso has got three things in him, Allah will make his death easy and will admit him in Paradise: Mercy to the weak, kindness to the parents, and doing good to the slave.   (Tirmizi (Rare))

4)     Jarir bin Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Allah is not kind to one who is not kind to men.   (Bukhari, Muslim)


            Mercy is one of the greatest attributes of Allah Who is the most Beneficent (Rehman) and the most Merciful (Rahim). As Allah is merciful to us, we should be merciful to His creatures especially to the weak, to the distressed, to the people under command, to the minorities living with us, even with the animals. Mercy is opposed to oppression. We should avoid oppression and practice the attribute of mercy but no pity should be shown to the criminals in the matter of punishment and in the establishment of Hudood and justice.

            Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has highlighted this virtue in his following tradition:

1)     Jarir bin. ‘Abdullah reported God’s Messenger as saying: “God will not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to others.”    (Bukhari, Muslim)

2)     “Abdullah bin. ‘Amr reported God’s Messenger as saying: “Those who are merciful have mercy shown them by the Compassionate One. If you show mercy to those who are in the earth, He who is in heaven will show mercy to you.”   (Abu Daud, Tirmizi) 


            Patience is calm endurance of pain or of any provocation. It is perseverance, forbearance, or quite and self-possessed waiting for something. It is the quality of being able to calmly endure suffering, toll, vexation, or the like.

            Patience is an attribute only of men and not of animals or beasts who are subordinate to instincts and passions. Patience is not only to show endurance during hardships, poverty, diseases calamities, assaults, tortures and other physical troubles but it also means resistance to temptations and control over passions and immoral and evil tendencies. The former is called physical patience while the latter is spiritual patience.

            The Holy Qur’an enjoins patience and admires those who are patient in its following verses:

1)     And seek help in patience and prayer, and indeed it is hard to (practice) except for the humble minded.   (2:45)

2)     And surely We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; and give glad tidings to those who are patient, who say, when a misfortune strikes them: certainly we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.   (2:155-156)

About patience, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said:

1)     Abu Sayeed reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no patient man but possesses power and no wise man but possesses experience.   (Ahmad, Tirmizi (Rare)

2)     Ibn Abbas reported that the Holy Prophet said to the wounded men of Abdul Qais tribe: Surely there are in you two attributes which Allah likes-patience and delay.   (Muslim)

3)     Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Patience is half of faith.   (Abu Nayeem)


            Keeping or fulfillment of promise has been much emphasized by the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet of Islam. The Qur’an commands its followers: “O ye who believe! Fulfill your promise….” (5:1). According to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), breaking of promise is one of the characteristic of hypocrisy. The breaker of the promises would be one of the three persons against whom Allah, the Almighty God, Himself would contend on the Day of Judgment. A person who has got no promise has in fact got no religion. Fulfillment of promise is one of the characteristic of the conduct of Prophets. The Qur’an praises Prophet Ismael as a keeper of promise (19:54). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) waited for three long days for a companion at a place who had promised him to deliver a thing. Fulfillment of promise is so much stressed that even the promise of a deceased should be fulfilled by his successors. Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam, fulfilled the promise made by the Prophet to a companion after Prophet’s death.

Speaking Truth

            Speaking truth is the greatest virtue of human character and it has been enjoined by Islam upon its followers with great stress. It is an attribute of the great Prophets of Allah like Ibrahim and Ismael and has been praised by the Qur’an which mentions Ibrahim as truthful Prophet in verse 41 of its Chapter 19 and calls Ismael as truthful of promise in verse 54 of Chapter 19. Truth is light and falsehood is darkness, and as darkness vanishes when light comes, similarly falsehood vanishes when truth comes. The best man is he who is pure of heart and truthful of tongue. Truth is bitter but it is very sweet in its rewards. It greatly contributes to peace of mind and removes doubts and anxieties.

            The Holy Qur’an exhorts the believers to be truthful and promises them high rewards. It says:

a)     And confound not truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth when you know it.   (2:42)

b)     Then Allah will say: This is a day in which the truthful are to get benefit from their truthfulness; for them are Gardens (of Paradise) underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide forever. Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. This is the great success.   (5:119)

c)     O You who believe! Fear Allah and be with the truthful.   (9:119)

            Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has enjoined upon his followers to speak truth and has highlighted the merits and rewards of truth as follows: 

1)     Abullah-b-Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: You shall speak the truth, because truth leads to piety and piety leads to Paradise. A man continues to speak the truth and to adhere to truth, till he is enrolled near Allah as a great truthful man. Beware of falsehood and falsehood leads to transgression and transgression leads to the fire. A man continues to speak falsehood and to adhere to falsehood till he is enrolled as a great liar in the sight of Allah. Agree upon it; and in a narration of Muslim, he said: Truth is piety and piety leads to Paradise; and falsehood is transgression and transgression leads to Hell.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

2)     Hasan bin ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) narrated that he remembered (these words) from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): Give up what appears doubtful to you and adhere to that which is not doubtful, for truth is peace of mind and falsehood is doubt.   (Tirmizi)

3)     Malek reported: It has reached me that Luqman the wise was asked: How have you acquired what we see meaning excellence? He replied: Truth in talk, fulfillment of trust and giving up of what is of no use to me.   (Muatta)

II – Vices

            The vices are bad qualities, bad characteristics, demerits or weaknesses of human character which bring down human beings to the lowest ebb and make them as the worst of God’s creations. The possessors of these vices have been informed by the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about painful doom especially in the Hereafter.

            The vices are so numerous that no exhaustive list can be made of them. In this section only some of the very notorious vices are being discussed. The believers have been exhorted by Islam to avoid these vices.


            Anger is a violent, revengeful passion or emotion, excited by a real or supposed injury to oneself or others. Extreme anger (wrath or rage) implies a certain outward manifestation, violence and want of self-command. Annoyance, antagonism, fury, indignation, rage, wrath are its synonyms. Anger is a fleck of fire lodged in the heart of man. In the state of anger it is very difficult to control oneself. In the case of extreme anger, people lose self-control and sometimes commit major crimes even murders in order to quench their thirst for revenge. Islam condemns such type of anger. According to the Prophet, anger spoils faith as aloes spoil honey. The strong man is not the wrestler; the strong man is only he who controls his anger. The Qur’an admires those who control their anger and forgive.   (3:134, 42:37).


            Backbiting means to slander, to speak ill of. It can be defined as speaking evil of one who is absent. In other words, backbiting is to say something bad in one’s absence which you would not like to say in his presence.

            The meaning of backbiting has been explained by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in very beautiful way. When asked what is backbiting the Prophet said: Your talk about your brother (in his absence) which he dislikes. He was questioned: Inform if what is said is found in my brother. The Prophet said: If what you say is in him, it is backbiting, and if it is not in him it is slander. Backbiting, according to Islam, is one of the major evils connected with the tongue. In the words of the Qur’an backbiting is like eating the flesh of one’s dead brother-   (49:12)

            Why backbiting is that much hated in Islam? The reason is simple. The blood, the property and the honour of a Muslim is unlawful to another Muslim. Backbiting is a crime against the honour of a Muslim and hence it is the most despised thing. Backbiting is violation of a basic human right and the person whose right has been violated is entitled to revenge or compensation. In the sight of Islam, it pertains to Huqooqul Ibad (rights of men) where Allah does not pardon. The backbiting can be forgiven only by the aggrieved person and if he does not, then the backbiter will have to compensate the aggrieved person.      


            Envy means feeling of resentment, discontent or jealousy excited by the sight of another’s superiority, his successes, his possessions or his advantages.

            Islam condemns jealousy or envy which is a negative passion, while it encourages healthy competition amongst its followers specially in the matter of religion and pious acts. Medicine for overcoming negative feeling of envy prescribed by Islam is that one should have a strong belief that all our fortunes or misfortunes have been predetermined and they come from Allah, the Almighty.

            Provoked by tribal jealousy, Abu Jahl opposed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and did not embrace Islam. Similarly, the Jews of Madinah, although they saw the truth, did not believe in Muhammad out of jealousy as to why an Arab had been blessed with Prophethood instead of an Israelite. Since jealousy is very bad trait, the Qur’an (Surah 113) teaches its followers to seek refuge of Allah from the evil of the envier.

            About envy, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said:

1)     Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: Beware of jealousy because jealousy consumes the virtues just as fire consumes the fuel.   (Abu Daud)

2)     Ibn Mas’ud reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no envy except for two: a man whom Allah has given wealth and whom He gave power for spending it for cause of truth and a man whom Allah has given wisdom and who acts upto it and teaches it (to others).   (Bukhari, Muslim)


Extravagance means unrestrained or fantastic excess, as of actions or opinions; excessive expenditure or outlay, as of money; an instance of wastefulness or prodigality. It is spending more money than necessary, profusion in expenses or lavish expenditure. Its synonyms are immoderation, improvidence, lavishness, overspending, prodigality, profligacy, squandering, wastefulness, excess, imprudence.

Extravagance, according to a Muslim scholar, means firstly spending wealth on unlawful things, such as gambling, drinking, prostitution etc., even if amount involved is insignificant; secondly excessive expenditure on lawful things, whether within or beyond one’s mean; thirdly expenditure for good and charitable purposes merely for show. Islam has condemned extravagance, as it has miserliness, because both these extremes are harmful to Islamic economy. Miserliness withholds community’s resources from being properly utilized; whereas extravagance wastes them on unnecessary and superfluous wants.

The Qur’an enjoins the believers “…. And eat and drink, but waste not by extravagance. Verily, Allah loves not the extravagant (7:31). The Qur’an in its verse 17:27 calls the extravagant as brothers of devil while in verse 17:29, it advises the believers neither to be miser nor to be extravagant.

Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on extravagance is as follows: It is reported by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of Allah once remarked that one thing at which God is most displeased with you is extravagance.   (Muatta Imam Malik)


Greed is insatiate longing for wealth or food or possessions. It is excessive eagerness for gain, property, children, fame, power, or desire to have more than needed. A greedy person has inordinate appetite or craving to posses more and more.

Islam condemns greed for wealth, worldly gains and possessions as it is a disease which arrests the progress of man in the path of Allah. The greed also adversely effects mental and spiritual progress of man as it makes the man acquire as much as he can through foul or illegal means such as theft, plunder, dacoity, corruption, embezzlement, hoarding, business malpractices, etc. Wealth, children and possessions, according to the Qur’an divert the people from remembrance of Allah. Hence the Qur’an calls them a great temptation and a great trial. So it advises the believers not to envy such people who have been given abundance in riches and children as Allah thereby punishes them. The Prophet says that a man’s greed for wealth never ends even if he has been given mountains of gold and only earth (of the grave) fills the belly of the (greedy) man. The Qur’an says: (O mankind!) Greed for more and more has distracted you until you reach the graves (102:1-2). Therefore, the believers should find riches in self-contentment as it does not lie in vast wealth.



            Miser is one who hoards wealth and lives in a wretched and miserable condition. A niggardly by and an avaricious person who leads a wretched life in order to save and hoard money; he is a greedy hoarder of wealth. Niggardly, close-fisted, covetous, parsimonious, light fisted, penurious, ungenerous are some of his other names.

If expenditure is excessive than what prudence requires, it is extravagance or prodigality; and if it is less than the requirement, then it is miserliness or niggardliness. Thus miser is one, in the language of Islamic law, who does not spend what is absolutely necessary for himself and his family despite the fact that Allah has bestowed upon him sufficient means. There is no absolute standard of household and personal expenses prescribed by Islam. Such expenses depend on the condition of one’s prosperity and hence would vary from person to person. Therefore, miser would be one who spends much less than required by his circumstances and extravagant would be one who spends much more than the need. Islam requires that its followers should spend, if they are in easy circumstances, for others also who are needy. A miser is not charitably disposed to others. He is niggardly in spending for the poor and destitutes. Both the Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam have condemned miserliness and have threatened the miser with dire consequences and shameful doom.

Please refer to the following verses of the Qur’an: 3(180), 4(37), 9(34-35), 17(29), 25(67), 92(8-11), 104(1-3). Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are:

1)     Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no day wherein a servant gets up at morn but two angels do not come down. One of them says: O Allah! give the charitable man success. Another says: O Allah! give the miser destruction.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

2)     Asmma’s reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Spend and don’t count lest Allah count for you, and don’t hoard up lest Allah withhold from you. Spend what you can.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

3)     Abu Omamah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: O son of Adam! that you spend wealth is good for you and that you withhold it is bad for you, and you should not be backbited for miserliness. Begin with those who are in your family.   (Muslim)

4)     Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: The generous man is near Allah, near Paradise, near the people and far off from Hell; and the miser is far off from Allah, far of from Paradise, far off from the people and near Hell; and the illiterate charitable man is dearer to Allah than the pious miser.   (Tirmizi)

5)     Abu Sayeed reported that the messenger of Allah said: There are two habits which do not unite in a believer – miserliness and bad conduct.   (Tirmizi)


            The term oppression, cruelty, or tyranny have not been defined by the Qur’an or Hadith in explicit words. According to Muslim jurists, justice is to keep a thing in its proper place, to equalize, to give one what is exactly due to him. Thus oppression on the contrary would mean to take out a thing from its proper place and setting to place it where it should not be, to disturb equality and harmony or to give one less than due.

            Oppression has been severely condemned by Islam in very clear terms. Oppressors have been called transgressors and wrong doers and have been threatened with painful doom. Examples of oppression given by the Qur’an include: Hiding of testimony; transgressing Allah’s limits; spending not of that which Allah has given; inventing falsehood against Allah; devouring wealth of others through aggression and unjust means; denying the revelations of Allah; judging not by that which Allah has revealed, ascribing partners unto Allah; persecution of the weak, etc.

            Please refer to the following verses of the Qur’an:- 2(140), 2(191), 2(217), 2(229), 2(254), 3(94), 4(110), 4(148), 5(45), 6(21), 22(39), 31(13),

            The Traditions of Prophet Muhammad on oppression are:-

1)     Ibn Omar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Oppression will be intense darkness on the Resurrection Day.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

2)     Abu Musa reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Allah gives respite to the oppressor, till when He overtakes him, He does not exempt him. Then he recited: And such is the punishment of your Lord when He punishes the towns which are unjust; surely His punishment is painful, severe.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

3)     Sayeed b-Zaid reported that the Messenger of Allah said: If anyone takes a span of land by oppression, its extent taken from seven earths will be tied round his neck on the Resurrection Day.   (Bukhari and Muslim)

4)     Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Whenever a transgressor is praised, the Almighty Allah becomes angry and the Throne shakes on its account.   (Baihaqi)

5)     Ali reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Beware of the invocation of the oppressed person, because he will ask his right to Allah, and Allah does not deny the right of a man having right.   (Baihaqi)

6)     Aus-b-Shorahbil reported that he heard the Messenger of Allah say: Whoever walks with a tyrant to empower him knowing that he is a tyrant has indeed gone out of Islam.   (Baihaqi)  


            Dictionary meanings of pride are: unduly high opinion of one’s own qualities, merits, etc.; arrogant bearing of conduct. Vanity, arrogance, conceit, egotism, haughtiness, boastfulness, vainglory are all synonyms of pride; whereas humility, meekness and modesty are some of its antonyms. Objects in which pride is taken are: ancestry, tribe, wealth, power, physical strength, beauty, learning and knowledge, social status, personal achievements; even pride is taken in excessive divine service. The worst type of pride is that which is expressed against God, Prophets and religion. Iblees, Namrud, Pharaoh, Qaroon, Shaddad, and the tribal chiefs who opposed various prophets are the examples which have been given by the Qur’an of this type of pride. Pride in any form and against anyone is condemnable. ‘Pride hath a fall’ is the general saying. No religion, no system of morality ever praises a proud and boastful man who brings the people, religion, things, and institutions to ridicule. Islam regards pride as one of the worst attributes and has condemned it in very strong terms.

            The Qur’an tells us that God expelled Satan (the devil) from paradise when the Satan refused to prostrate before Adam and showed pride saying: “….. I am better than him (Adam). You created me from fire while you created him from clay.”   (7:112) So the Qur’an advises its followers:

1)     And walk not arrogantly in the earth, for surely you cannot rend the earth asunder, nor can you reach the height of the mountains.   (17:37)

2)     And turn not your cheek in pride toward the people, nor walk arrogantly on earth. Certainly Allah loves not any arrogant, proud.   (31:18)

Telling lie

            To tell lie means to speak falsely or to tell untruth knowingly; to express what is false or convey a false impression. Lie is an intentional untruth. It is a false statement with intent to deceive.

Islam condemns falsehood in the severest possible terms and the Qur’an enjoins upon its followers to shun the filth of idols and filth of telling lie. Thus, idol-worship and lie are, in a way, equal in sin according to the Qur’an. Allah does not guide a liar, an ingrate and a prodigal, as stressed by the Qur’an. Liars are those who do not believe in Allah and invent lie against Allah. Lying and hypocrisy are also the same thing. According to Prophet of Islam, lie is a sin equal to polytheism and disobedience to parents. The fasting of a man is meaningless if he goes on speaking lie during fast. Telling lie is one of the characteristics of hypocrisy. Truth leads to Paradise while falsehood leads to Hell. Narrating without ascertaining its truth whatever one hears amounts to telling lie.


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