THE ISLAMIC PERSONALITY:
DIMENSIONS AND DEVELOPMENT
`Umar bin al-Khattâb sat in the company of some Companions and said to them: “Wish for something.”
Someone said: “I wish that this place were filled with gold so I could spend it for the sake of Allah.
`Umar repeated his demand: “Wish for something.”
Someone else spoke up and said: “I wish it were filled with pearls, ornaments, and jewels, so I could spend them for the sake of Allah and give them in charity.”
No doubt, these wishes were very noble, but they were not what were on `Umar’s mind.
So he said again: “Wish for something.”
They said to him: “We do not know what to wish for, O Commander of the Faithful.”
`Umar then said: “I wish it were filled with men like Abû `Ubaydah ibn al-Jarrâh, Mu`âdh ibn Jabal, Sâlim the freed slave of Abû Hudhayfah, and Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamân!”.
`Umar, therefore, was not concerned about wealth or money that might be spent for the Sake of Allah, but he was concerned with something much more serious: Character Development.
The Islamic personality is the manifestation of the Islamic teachings as revealed in the Holy Qur’an and as exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Allah says in the Qur’’an: (There was a good example in the Messenger of Allah, for those of you who looks forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remember Allah much.) (33-21).
Allah has educated Muhammad and raised Him to a high level of character and to Him He said,: (Surely You are on the highest level of character) (64-4).
When ‘Aishah was asked about the character of the Prophet (pbuh) she answered: (His character was the Qur’an).
Islam realizes the nature of man and aims at fulfilling and developing all the dimensions of his personality in a balanced manner:
The story of the few companions who went to the Prophet’s wife to ask her about his prayers and other acts of worship is significant.
The Hadith tells that when the wife of the Prophet described to them his long and fervent prayers, they said that they needed to do more because Allah had forgiven the Prophet and promised Him Paradise.
One of them said that he would never marry and devote all his life to prayers.
The second one vowed that he would fast the rest of his life.
The last one vowed that he would spend the nights of his life in performing prayer.
When the Prophet heard about them, He became upset and called for the Muslims to tell them what the three men had decided to do was not Islam and that whoever abandoned His example was not of His Ummah.
Dear brothers and sisters in Islam
Worship in Islam is not limited to the strictly ritual and spiritual deeds like prayer, fast ….etc. Worship also includes such functions as eating, learning, marrying, and so on, because by exercising these functions we are fulfilling the will of Allah to develop the truly human personality.
Nowadays, dear brothers and sisters, the problem with Muslims is not that they are indulging too much in spiritual practices, but, to the contrary they have divorced their lives from Allah and His teachings.
Their example in life is not the Prophet (pbuh) but other people who are mostly self-centered, materialistic and non-Allah fearing.
Muhammad (pbuh) the example was the tyrants’ destroyer and many of us are the tyrants’ followers.
Muhammad (pbuh) the example was generous and most of us are stingy.
Muhammad (pbuh) the example was courageous and we are cowardly: He was humble and we are arrogant; He was devoted and we have a great deal of hypocrisy. His character was the Qur’an; what is ours?
Dear brothers and sisters in Islam; the first requirement to build an Islamic personality is to study the Qur’an on Allah’s terms and not on our own terms.
By that, I mean we should subject our whims and opinions to the instructions of the Qur’an and not vice versa.
We should not adapt an opinion or pursue a way of life and then seek to support it by extracting bits and pieces from the Qur’an, but rather study the Qur’an to see how near we are to the teachings of Allah and then work hard to close the gab.
When a housewife uses a cookbook to prepare a meal, she is likely to follow the directions very closely. So is the case with the honest and diligent pharmacist when he prepares a prescription.
The Islamic personality is a Qur’anic personality, and for the Qur’anic personality to develop, the Qur’an needs to be studied, synthesized and lived.
A wide-spread phenomenon is that Muslims develop their attitudes and modes of behaviour within an alient framework of references, and then they make it worse when they turn around to seek evidence and support from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
The result is evident: pulling verses out of context and bending the meaning to suit the whims and weaknesses of these people.
Another consequence of this approach to Islam is that whenever we are faced with a vexing problem we are likely to choose a solution that may make us known to others. We end up doing things for the sake of Allah but for the sake of ourselves and for the sake of others.
To illustrate the difference, I will try to narrate two Islamic case histories.
First is Khaled ibn al-Waleed and the second is still unknown.
When, after the death of Abu-Bakr ‘Umar became Khalifah, the battle of Yarmouk between the Muslims and the Roman was still in progress, and Khaled was the commander of the army.
‘Umar sent his orders to Khaled to pass the leadership to Abu ‘Ubiadah.
Khaled waited until the victorious end of the battle upon which he willingly passed the leadership to Abu ‘Ubiadah and said: (I do not fight for the sake of ‘Umar, I fight for the sake of the creator of ‘Umar).
In the other story, the Muslims were also engaged with the Romans and Yazed ibn Mu’awiyah was the leader of the army.
The Romans fortified themselves behind a strong wall.
The Muslims sought to open a hole in the wall but failed.
Finally, UN unknown person risked his life and opened a hole in the wall, and Muslims were able to get through and win the battle.
Yazed, the leader, sought to identify the person and reward him but no one claimed the honour.
Yazed then asked his soldiers that by Allah whoever knew the person to come forward and tell about him.
No one came.
After a few days, one of the soldiers sought a private interview with the commander.
He told the commander that he would tell him about the man who opened the hole, but that man has three conditions.
These were (1) that his name would not be mentioned to anyone, (2) that the Khalifah should not be written to in this regard and (3) that no reward should be ordered for him.
Yazed consented to meet these conditions.
The man then said I am he.
Nowadays, dear brothers and sisters in Islam, Muslims have abandoned their personality and abdicated their leadership of mankind because they have broken their relationship with Allah.
Because Muslims are constantly imitating they become recessive and easily dominated by others.
Our example is the story of the crow. The crow was not satisfied with the way Allah created him to walk. He was attracted to the way the pigeon walked and tried to imitate her. He could not, so he tried again and again, but he failed. So he decided to go back to his own way of walking, which, to his amazement, he discovered he had forgotten. He ended up with something in between but uglier than either.
The Muslims of today, after years of blind imitation, have neither the Islamic personality nor the Western achievements. They have failed both ways.