Islamic Religious Council of Singapore
20 January 2023 / 27 Jamadilakhir 1444H
The Virtue of Ihsan: The Path that Leads to Goodness
My beloved brothers and sisters in Islam,
Let us continue our efforts to elevate our taqwa towards Allah (s.w.t.), by obeying all His orders, and by abstaining from all His prohibitions. Verily, the virtue of kindness or Ihsan towards those surrounding us is a manifestation of our piety or taqwa.
Brothers and sisters,
Kindness is a virtue that is highly commendable and valued in Islam. Islam teaches us to be kind in all our dealings, our actions, and in the decisions that we make every day. Just as Allah (s.w.t) is kind towards his servants, so should a servant be kind to the people around him. As such, we ask, what is the true meaning of kindness or Ihsan as taught by Islam?
My brothers and sisters, in order to understand the essence, the very nature of ihsan, I would like to invite everyone to reflect on the word of Allah (s.w.t.) in Surah al-Qasas verse 77. Allah (s.w.t.) says:
Which means: “But seek, through the wealth that Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and yet, do not neglect your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And do not seek to make mischief on Earth. Indeed, Allah does not like the mischief-makers."
Brothers and sisters,
This verse emphasises the prohibition of doing any form of harm on this Earth. This prohibition comes right after the command of Allah (s.w.t) to do good and to exercise kindness in our dealings with others.
According to Imam Ibn 'Ashur, if a command in the Quran is followed by a prohibition, it serves as a warning to humankind, so that we do not mix those two matters together.
In the previous verse, there is a command to do good, followed by a prohibition against doing harm. In other words, the essence and characteristics of ihsan or kindness are the opposite of harm. The essence of goodness should lead to greater good and greater benefits, and it will prevent all and any forms of harm.
From that, it is clear that every decision or action that we take should be viewed through the lens of kindness. This is the essence of our religion. This is because believers who act in accordance with the virtue of kindness in all of their affairs will prioritise the benefit of others in every situation. They will ask: What do they need? How can we help them?
This is clearly demonstrated by the Prophet (s.a.w) in a hadith regarding a companion named Abu Dzar (r.a.) who requested to be appointed as a leader. The Prophet (s.a.w) declined his request as he knew that Abu Dzar was not in the best position to uphold the heavy responsibility as a leader. The Prophet (s.a.w) said in a hadith:
)يَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ إِنَّكَ ضَعِيفٌ وَإِنَّهَا أَمَانَةٌ وَإِنَّهَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ خِزْيٌ وَنَدَامَةٌ إِلَّا مَنْ أَخَذَهَا بِحَقِّهَا وَأَدَّى الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ فِيهَا(
Which means: “O Abu Dhar, you are weak and this is a position of public trust. Verily, on the Day of Resurrection it will only result in regret, except for one who takes it by right and fulfills its duties.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim]
From this hadith, we learn that the Prophet (s.a.w) turned down his request as it will bring more harm than good to him or to the Muslim community at large.
Such is the essence of kindness or Ihsan - it brings with it greater benefits for us as well as others, and it rejects all forms of harm.
Brothers and sisters,
In life, we will certainly face situations that require us to make difficult decisions. But when a decision is made while taking into account the aspect of ihsan, the result will surely bring goodness.
For example, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, all mosques had to be closed. Friday prayers and congregational activities at the mosques were also suspended for a while. Definitely, there were challenges to this decision back then. However, the decision taken was for the benefit of all individuals and the whole society, by prioritising the prevention of the epidemic. This is the essence of kindness in that situation.
There were those who mocked the decision because they believed that undergoing hardship is necessary in the religion, and that it would not matter if contagion occurred in places of worship. Those who think that way showcased their lack of understanding towards the concept of ihsan, or goodness, as taught in our religion.
Islam is a religion of ease and flexible to be practised at any time, place or situation. And in every situation, there are decisions and rulings that take into account specific needs and contexts.
May Allah (s.w.t) grant us wisdom and guidance and enable us to enliven the essence of ihsan or kindness in all our actions. Amin Ya Rabbal 'Alamin.
أَقُوْلُ قَوْلِي هَذَا وَأَسْتَغْفِرُ اللهَ العَظِيْمَ لِي وَلَكُمْ، فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُوْرُ الرَّحِيْم
الحَمْدُ للهِ حَمْدًا كَثِيرًا كَمَا أَمَرَ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَن لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ، وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ سَيِّدَنَا مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَأَصْحَابِهِ أَجْمَعِينَ. أَمَّا بَعْدُ، فَيَا عِبَادَ الله، اِتَّقُوا اللهَ تَعَالَى فِيمَا أَمَرَ، وَانتَهُوا عَمَّا نَهَاكُم عَنْهُ وَزَجَرَ.
أَلَا صَلُّوا وَسَلِّمُوا عَلَى النَّبِيِّ الْمُصْطَفَى، فَقَدْ أَمَرَنَا اللهُ بِذَلِكَ حَيْثُ قَال فِي كِتَابِهِ العَزِيزِ: إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَـا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسلِيمًا. اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ وَسَلِّمْ وَ بَارِكْ عَلَى سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ سَيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ.
وَارْضَ اللَّهُمَّ عَنِ الخُلَفَاءِ الرَّاشِدِينَ المَهْدِيِّينَ أَبِي بَكْرٍ وَعُمَرَ وَعُثْمَانَ وَعَلِيِّ، وَعَن بَقِيَّةِ الصَّحَابَةِ وَالقَرَابَةِ وَالتَّابِعِينَ، وَتَابِعِي التَّابِعِينَ، وَعَنَّا مَعَهُم وَفِيهِم بِرَحْمَتِكَ يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ.
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِلمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالمُؤْمِنَاتِ، وَالمُسْلِمِينَ وَالمُسْلِمَاتِ، الأَحْيَاءِ مِنهُم وَالأَمْوَاتِ. اللَّهُمَّ ادْفَعْ عَنَّا البَلَاءَ وَالوَبَاءَ وَالزَّلَازِلَ وَالمِحَنَ، مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ، عَن بَلَدِنَا خَاصَّةً، وَسَائِرِ البُلْدَانِ عَامَّةً، يَارَبَّ العَالَمِينَ. رَبَّنَا آتِنَا فِي الدُّنيَا حَسَنَةً، وَفِي الآخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً، وَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ.
عِبَادَ اللهِ، إِنَّ اللهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالعَدْلِ وَالإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي القُرْبَى، وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الفَحْشَاءِ وَالمُنكَرِ وَالبَغْيِ، يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ، فَاذكُرُوا اللهَ العَظِيمَ يَذْكُركُمْ، وَاشْكُرُوهُ عَلَى نِعَمِهِ يَزِدكُمْ، وَاسْأَلُوهُ مِن فَضلِهِ يُعطِكُم، وَلَذِكرُ اللهِ أَكبَرُ، وَاللهُ يَعلَمُ مَا تَصنَعُونَ.