This is an excerpt of a lecture given by Sheikh Yassir Fazaga* entitled "The 6 C's of Good Character". - taken from Muslim Matters.
For each and everyone one of us, there are three components - our reputation, our personality, and our character.
Our reputation is what people think of us, and what happens is that most of us invest most of our effort in perfecting our reputation. Why? Because the effort is very little and the reward is immediate. All you have to do is just watch a politician, around election time, what do they do? They want to seem to people that they are kind so they hold an orphan baby and take a picture and if it makes it to the headlines in the first page, they made it. They are selling an image about themselves. Watch politicians around the time of elections, you will see them pouring so much money in improving and selling their reputation. So our reputation is what people think of us.
And then there is our personality and our personality is how we present ourselves to people. And also we do spend effort and we invest money and time on improving our personality simply because the reward is also immediate and the effort is not much. So for example, we have personality enhancement classes, we have enhancement of your smile, let us whiten your teeth for you, etc. Nothing wrong with that, but the point is that you are about to sell an image of yourself as well. You are telling people what you seem to be, not really who you are, but what you seem to be.
And then, there is our character, and our character is who we really are.
So reputation is what people think of us, personality is what we seem to be, and character is who we really are.
And most do not invest enough in character, we like to invest more in reputation and personality, and not in character and sadly, it is the character that really defines us. And subhanAllah (glory be to Allah), if you have good character, the other two may come, so having good character the reward may not be immediate. In fact many times, people with good character may go unnoticed. In fact, many times, your good character may be a problem for you in this life. Because you like to deal with people with clarity, you like to deal with honesty, and everyone around you is a cheater and so your goodness, your honesty becomes a problem for you. So people say what the heck with the character, who cares, all people around me cheat, so we stop investing in our character because investing in our character becomes very problematic. But subhanAllah, please listen to this carefully.
“Our reputation, people can ruin. Our character, we only can ruin.”
People can ruin your reputation if they want to and you have absolutely no control over this, but when it comes to your character, you are in full control of your character, nobody can ruin your character. Your character is of your own making. Your character is of your own choice. As you live life, you are the author of your own life.
So character is our choice, reputation, people may or may not harm it, but character we only can harm. Reputation is the camouflage, character is the real thing. Reputation is what everybody thinks. Character is who we really are. So the investment must go into character and the rest may or may not come. If they come, alhamdulilah, if they don’t come, I have good character at any case.
But the question is, two questions. What is character? And how do you get good character?
You may wish to watch the youtube series here.
*Yassir Fazaga is an inspiring, multi-lingual speaker sought-after from USA through Canada to the Middle and Far East. He was born in Northeast Africa and moved to the United States at the age of 15; has a Bachelors Degree in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in Virginia; has completed all coursework for his Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from the California State University of Long Beach; is currently undertaking his Masters in Theology at Loyola Marymount University.
He is involved as a therapist at FACES, where he helps families with different challenges in life which include: domestic violence issues, communication problems, marital matters, generational gap, difficult teens, some mental and personality disorders, divorce, grief, and single parenting, among others.
Yassir Fazaga has taught the Arabic language and Islamic Sciences for the past 8 years and has taught Islamic courses on Scriptural Exegesis, and Islamic financial contracts for American Open University