The author, Alireza Maktabdar (Qom, Iran), is a Philosopher and researcher at the Institute of Islamic Studies. He has written a number of books including ‘Sincerity for the sake of God’, ‘Inner and Outer Beauty in Islam’ and ‘Good-naturedness in Islam’.
Piety and good-naturedness go hand in hand; the Prophet said, “Most of my followers will enter heaven due to their piousness and good nature.”
Imam Ali said, “A believer’s book of deeds begins with the good nature of its owner” and “The most faithful one of you is the most good-natured one.”
According with, two narrations from the Prophet, good-naturedness is so significant that it is the first thing to be weighed on the Day of Judgment as it is the most valuable quality.
Good-naturedness is important enough to be a criterion for comparison between believers. The Prophet was asked “Whose faith is the deepest?” and he answered “The faith of him who shows the best conduct.”
Imam Sadiq said “Among the believers, the one with the best conduct has the strongest faith.”
A true believer normally hides his personal problems and sadness and keeps them to himself; he or she manages not to reveal it through his or her facial expressions or conduct. Instead, a believer displays a cheerful face and amiable character. Imam Ali said “The happiness of a believer is in his face and his sadness is in his heart.”
The Prophet said, “Conciliate him who broke ties with you; forgive him who has wronged you; give to him who has refused you, and treat well him who mistreats you.”
Thus, not only should we kindly treat those who have treated us the same, but we should also compassionately and benevolently accept, help, and be generous with those who mistreat us. This is like how God treats wrongdoers. He wants and decides the best for them and does not seek revenge from His servants, no matter how much they insult Him through disobedience.
This hadith may also explain why good nature is introduced as one of the two main factors for entering heaven and why it is a sign of deep faith. Qualities such as forbearance, generosity, modesty, and beneficence should combine in a person who wants to follow the codes mentioned in the hadith above; therefore, good nature as explained in Islamic teachings includes an array of other qualities on itself.
Employing Husn al-Khulq and its limits
The intrinsic value of having a good nature and its consequent actions towards all people is portrayed in the Qur’an, hadiths, and lifestyle (Sunnah) of the Prophet and Imams.
-Good nature among the believers
As said earlier, treating each other in the best possible way is a highly valued quality for believers to uphold. The Qur’an praised the Prophet’s companions for their exemplary behaviour:
Muhammad, the Apostle of God, and those who are with him are hard against the faithless [who fight against the truth] and merciful amongst themselves. (Qur’an, 48:29)
Thus, Muslims ought to be cordial, thoughtful, helpful, empathetic, respectful, and polite towards one another.
-Behaviour towards wrongdoers
Certainly, corruption conflicts with the spirit of religion and damages society. Good-naturedness is to be held with wisdom: both reason and religion deem it unwise and downright wrong to accept corruption. Though good-naturedness is a valuable quality, it is also important to discourage wrongdoers. Believers are commanded to enjoin what is right and forbid wrongdoing.
If a wrongdoer carelessly continues to engage in crime, especially if made public, believers must responsibly advise the wrongdoer in a reasonable, logical, and friendly way, as the Qur’an says,
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good advice and dispute with them in a manner that is best.”
While gently and empathetically advising them – with good intentions for their success – to discontinue the misconduct, the counsels should include reason, hadiths, laws, and the Quran for the wrongdoer to carefully consider public and personal benefits, as well as the results of his action.