condensed from 6 C's of Good Character in Muslim Matters.org
What is our character? They say that our character is the set of words, actions, and habits that we display. That is why they say, watch your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, watch your words, your words become your actions, watch your actions, your actions become your habits, watch your habits, your habits formulate your character, and your character becomes your destiny.
Working on improving your character is a process and because it is a process there is always room for improvement. You can always become a better person; it takes dedication to the process so that you are constantly working on your character.
So what are the essential components of having a good character? Six essential components and they all start with the letter C.
The first one is CONSCIENCE, or dhameer, as we would say in Arabic. What is conscience? Conscience is the inner moral compass that Allah subhaanahu wa ta`ala has given us, a moral compass inside by which we are able to feel the right from the wrong, by which we (sometimes) are able to tell the right from the wrong. And sometimes we speak about people and say, “have they no conscience?” How can they do this, don’t they have a heart, does their soul not speak to them? What happened to that conscience?
One time, this man works as an accountant in his company and as an accountant you have access to the finances of the company and sometimes if you play a little bit with the numbers, you may end up getting something and you can end up doing something to yourself. So this accountant was once approached by a man and he explained a process to him by which the accountant will make money but technically he will not be at fault. So he said, I will think about it, he went home and he is thinking technically I am not wrong, but I am feeling this way about it. And then his mother came and he said mother, I would like to consult you about this thing and he explained the process to her, he said mom, I do this and I do that and by the end I will make the money, and technically I am not at fault. The mother said, son, I really did not understand much of what you said, with all these numbers and all these complicated terms, she said, I just don’t understand. But I will be very troubled on the day when my son tries to go to sleep but he is unable to go to sleep because something is bothering his conscience.
The point is be your own policeman, many times we can be technically right but ethically wrong, we can be technically right but it does not look good. So the Prophet (saws) said, you define sin from now on. If you have a living conscience, you are good enough to define what sin is. Because sin from now on is that which pricks into your heart and you do not want it exposed to people. Usually we try to hide things that we are ashamed of, so the Prophet (saws) said, the minute you feel this way that you have something pricking in your heart and you are ashamed of having it exposed, he said pay attention, what you are doing is not right. That is the first C. That is conscience.
The second component of having a good character is COMPASSION. Our ability to feel for others, our ability to feel with others, our ability to feel for the pain of those who are around us. And subhanAllah, sometimes you look into the world and you say that these people have no conscience and we say these people have no Rahma (compassion) in their hearts, how can they allow things like this to go on. And many times by the way, the problems we see in the world, the poverty that is going on in the world, the starvation that happens in the world, it is not because of lack of resources. There is so much resources in the world. Throughout history of mankind, no time was food production ever as much as we have it nowadays. It is not that earth cannot cater to our need but the earth cannot cater to our greed. There is a lot of resources, but there is not enough compassion. Let me give you an example. The three richest people in the world have more money than the 48 poorest countries in the world (combined). What happened to the rahma, what happened to the compassion, where has it gone? And that is why the Prophet (saws) would speak about the idea of rahma. As a believer, you must be a rahma for those around you. In fact the Prophet (saws) said, those who are compassionate in this world, Allah will be compassionate towards them in the hereafter.
It is easy to be compassionate to those who deserve it. It is easy to have your heart moved by somebody who is sick, by somebody who is poor, by somebody who is in need, its easy to have your heart moved by this. And remember, being kind to those who are kind to you does not make you kind and being good to those who are good to you does not make you good either. Real compassion is when it is least expected.
One example. Ibn Umar (ra) goes to the market after the death of the Prophet (saws) and as he is in the market, he chooses the things he wanted to buy some vegetables, some fruits, and he puts it in his bag and he puts his hands in his pocket and he is about to take the money out to give it to the guy and it turns out that somebody has stolen the money of ibn Umar (ra). So he looked to the guy selling the vegetables and said I’m sorry my money has been stolen. So the man calls upon the people in the market, “o people of the market, he said ibn Umar has been robbed, So call upon Allah to destroy the person who took ibn Umar’s money. So everyone raises his hand and makes a du`aa, O Allah curse the person who took ibn Umar’s wealth, etc. And then Ibn Umar raises his hands and what does he say and everyone is listening, what is Ibn Umar going to pray for. So he raises his hands and says, “Oh Allah, if the person took it and he was in need, then bless this money for him. Oh Allah, if he is a true thief, then make this one the last of his sins.
CONSCIENCE and COMPASSION - 2 of the 6 C's of CHARACTER