Perfection of Behavior

Translated by : A.J. Kassem

Ihsan is the highest level of human behavior and the best form of obedience to the Creator.  It is the state of performing our actions with elements of perfection and completion.  This is achieved through love for the Creator, a desire to be closer to Him by all means, fear of His wrath, awe of His power and awareness of the weight of human responsibility and inevitable accountability. The Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, was reported to have said, “Ihsan is that you worship Allah as if you are looking at Him, even though you cannot look at Him and He always sees you.” (Sahih AlBukhari, volume 1, page 27, hadith 50, Sahih Muslim, volume 1, page 40, hadith 10).

When ihsan is mentioned in the context of performing acts of worship, then it is referring to the purification of the worshipper’s intention to worship only for Allah’s pleasure and mercy in the best and most complete ways possible, in accordance with the guidance of the Messenger of Allah.  Allah refers to Himself in the Quran as,


{الَّذِي خَلَقَ الْمَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا وَهُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفُورُ}


{The One who created death and life to test you (all) as to who is in their best behavior, and He is the Mighty and Forgiving One.} (The Quran 67:2)


When ihsan is mentioned in the context of human interaction, it denotes treating others in the best ways possible.  With respect to finances, a muhsin (someone who behaves with ihsan) spends his or her money to help people and give charity to those in need, especially by paying zakat on extra savings, as this is one of the main pillars of Islamic practice and best ways to get closer to Allah.  Spending on one’s family, the people closest to him or her, those in need, and the public good are all commendable and rewardable practices in Islam.  Spending in the cause of Allah can also occur in the non-material sense by putting one’s reputation on the line to help other people and spending from one’s time and expertise to facilitate the sharing of beneficial knowledge.   One of the highest forms of giving that brings a person closer to the state of perfection is the act of sacrificing one’s own life and safety to defend those most in need and uphold justice. 


Now let us consider some of the things mentioned about Ihsan in the Quran:


1. Allah is “with” the muhsineen, meaning that He supports them and aids them in their righteous works:


{إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا وَالَّذِينَ هُمْ مُحْسِنُونَ}


{Indeed, Allah is with those who are conscious of Him and those who are muhsineen} (The Quran 16:128)


2. Allah loves those who strive to perfect their behavior:


{وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ}


{So, strive to perfect your behavior, (because) indeed, Allah loves the muhsineen} (The Quran 2:195)


3. There is a great reward for those who perfect their behavior and they will be saved from fear and sadness:


{بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِ وَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ}


{Rather, whoever submits his face to Allah (in Islam), and he is a muhsin, there is a great reward for him with his Lord and there is no fear upon them, nor will they grieve.} (The Quran 2:112)


4. Those who strive to perfect their behavior are close to the mercy of Allah:


{إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ} 


{Indeed, the mercy of Allah is close to the muhsineen} (The Quran 7:158)


5. Those who strive to perfect their behavior will have everything that they want in the eternal abode of paradise:


{لَهُمْ مَا يَشَاءُونَ عِنْدَ رَبِّهِمْ ذَلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْمُحْسِنِينَ}


{They will have whatever they want with their Lord, that is the reward for the muhsineen} (The Quran 39:34)


There are some specific rewards mentioned by the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, for people who strive for perfection of certain things.  For example, he was reported to have said: 


1. “There is no person who, at the time of a prescribed prayer, perfects his ritual washing, concentration in prayer and its postures, except that this is an expiation for the sins that preceded this action, except for the major sins”(Sahih AlBukhari, volume 1, page 27, hadith 50, Sahih Muslim, volume 1, page 40, hadith 10).

2. “Be good to your neighbors and you will be a (real) Muslim” (Sahih AlBukhari, volume 3, page 1059, hadith 2734)

3. “Whoever is tested with (the responsibility of raising) daughters and is good to them in every way, then that will be a protection for him from the fire (of hell) (Sahih Muslim Volume 1, page 206, hadith 228).



An Explanation of the hadith of Jibreel, By Ibn AlUthaimeen

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