Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: “I have only been sent to perfect good moral character.”
The purpose of all the revealed books has always been inner purification. Prophet Abraham (AS) prayed to his Lord to send to his descendants a Messenger who would recite His signs to them, teach them the scripture, and purify them. Allah answered his prayer by sending Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Allah says:
“It is He who has sent amongst the unlettered people a Messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to purify them, and to instruct them in the scripture and wisdom,- although they had been, before, in manifest error.”
He also says:
“Likewise, We have sent unto you a Messenger from among yourselves, who recites unto you Our revelations and purifies you, and teaches you the scripture and wisdom, and teaches you that which you did not know.”
This great purpose is what Prophet Muhammad (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) declared when he said:
“I have only been sent to perfect good moral character.”
The “good moral character” referred to here is comprehensive. It includes how we conduct ourselves with our Lord, how each of us relates to his or her self, and how we treat other people.
The Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) statement implies there are two types of good moral conduct. The first is common knowledge. People know it instinctively. The other type is that which completes and perfects it. This cannot be known without Allah’s guidance through revelation. The Prophet was sent to teach it to the people as part of the message he brought.
The Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) guidance in this matter is vast. Many books have been written about it. One of the most famous hadith in this regard is where the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said:
“Nothing weighs heavier in the balance on the Day of Judgment than good character. Allah hates that which is wanton and base.”
The Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) was asked what causes the most people to enter Paradise. He said:
“Fear of God and good character.”
He was then asked what brought the most people to the Hellfire. He said:
“The tongue and the private parts.”
The Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) servant Anas (RA) observed:
‘Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) had the best character of all people.'
He also said: “I served the Prophet (SAWS) for ten years and he never once rebuked me. He never once said about something I did: ‘Why did you do that?’ and he never said about something I didn’t do: ‘Why didn’t you do that?’”
An-Nawwas bin Saman asked the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) about righteousness and sin. He replied:
“Righteousness is to exhibit good character. Sin is what disturbs your heart and you hate for others to know about it.”
The Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said:
“The believers who have the most perfect faith are those who have the best character, and the best of them are those who are best to their womenfolk.”
He also said:
“The most beloved and nearest of you to me on the Day of Judgment will be those of you with the best character. The most detestable and remote from me on the Day of Judgment will be those who are babblers, those who put people down, and those who are vainglorious.”
It is enough for us to look at the Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) life, his relationship with his Lord, and how he treated people of all walks of life – his household, his relatives, his Companions, and his enemies.
Once the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) borrowed money from a man, and the man came demanding payment, speaking very harshly. The Companions wanted to respond to the man’s harshness, but the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said:
“leave him alone. The one who has a right to something is allowed to speak.”
Whenever the Prophet (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) borrowed something from someone, he would always return it with more and pray for that person. He used to say: “The only reward for a loan is complete repayment and praise.”
Abd Allah bin Salam (RA) was one of the leading Jewish scholars in Madinah. He was just-minded and a seeker of the truth. When he heard about Prophet Muhammad’s (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) arrival, he went to have a look at him. When he saw the Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) face, he knew that it was not the face of a liar. The first thing he heard the Prophet say was:
“O people! If you spread the greeting of peace among you, feed those who are in need, maintain family relations, and pray at night while people are sleeping, you will enter Paradise with ease.”
Abd Allah ibn Salam (RA) was able to read from the Prophet’s (SallAllahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) countenance the signs that he was honest, trustworthy, and pure-hearted. Such a countenance is only for people whose hearts are truly pure, whose conduct is righteous, and who devote themselves to Allah.