The best of you in Islam

March 29, 2018

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

The Prophet (ṣ) described in many traditions who the “best” Muslims are and what they do to distinguish themselves from others. As Muslims ourselves, it is in our interest to learn what makes these people the best of Muslims so we can emulate their behavior.

First and foremost, the best Muslims are those who have the best character. The meaning of ‘character’ here is comprehensive; good character towards Allah, towards other people, and towards society at large. It encompasses all of the Islamic virtues such justice, compassion, humility, and truthfulness.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّ مِنْ خِيَارِكُمْ أَحْسَنَكُمْ أَخْلَاقًا

Verily, among the best of you are those with the best character.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3366, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Jabir ibn Samurah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّ الْفُحْشَ وَالتَّفَحُّشَ لَيْسَا مِنْ الْإِسْلَامِ وَإِنَّ أَحْسَنَ النَّاسِ إِسْلَامًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا

Verily, obscenity and immorality are not part of Islam. Verily, the best people in Islam are those with the best character.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 20320, Grade: Sahih

Good character towards Allah is to hold sound theological beliefs and to engage in obligatory and voluntary acts of worship, such as prayers and fasting. Good character towards people can be summarized as treating others the way you would love to be treated and being a good neighbor.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خَيْرُ الأَصْحَابِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَيْرُهُمْ لِصَاحِبِهِ وَخَيْرُ الْجِيرَانِ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ خَيْرُهُمْ لِجَارِهِ

The best companion to Allah is the best to his companions, and the best neighbor to Allah is the best to his neighbors.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1944, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

وَأَحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ تَكُنْ مُؤْمِنًا وَأَحْسِنْ جِوَارَ مَنْ جَاوَرَكَ تَكُنْ مُسْلِمًا

Love for people what you love for yourself and you will be a believer. Behave well with your neighbors and you will be a Muslim.

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 4217, Source: Sahih

Of course, to have good character in Islam means being a ‘good person’ but it is even more than that. Our character should be guided by systematic religious learning (al-fiqh), such that we fulfill the objectives of our religion both inwardly and outwardly.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خَيْرُكُمْ إِسْلَامًا أَحَاسِنُكُمْ أَخْلَاقًا إِذَا فَقُهُوا

The best of you in Islam are those with the best character, if they have religious understanding.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 9880, Grade: Sahih

Virtue or nobility in Islam is not a function of one’s appearance, lineage, status, race, ethnicity, wealth, or any other worldly characteristic. Rather, the most noble of Muslims are those who are most righteous, Godfearing, and mindful of Allah.

Abu Huraira reported: It was said, “Which people are the most noble?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَكْرَمُهُمْ أَتْقَاهُمْ

The most noble to Allah are the most righteous.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 3194, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

One of the most important qualities defining the best Muslims is refraining from harming others. The best Muslims give off a non-threatening aura of safety and security towards others, even earning the trust of people regarding their most treasured possessions.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَلَا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِخَيْرِكُمْ مِنْ شَرِّكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ مَنْ يُرْجَى خَيْرُهُ وَيُؤْمَنُ شَرُّهُ وَشَرُّكُمْ مَنْ لَا يُرْجَى خَيْرُهُ وَلَا يُؤْمَنُ شَرُّهُ

Shall I not tell you what distinguishes the best of you from the worst of you? The best of you are those from whom goodness is expected and people are safe from their evil. The worst of you are those from whom goodness is not expected and people are not safe from their evil.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2263, Grade: Sahih

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, whose Islam is best?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ سَلِمَ النَّاسُ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ

Those from whose tongue and hand people are safe.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 6714, Grade: Sahih

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

الْمُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ النَّاسُ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُ مَنْ أَمِنَهُ النَّاسُ عَلَى دِمَائِهِمْ وَأَمْوَالِهِمْ

The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe, and the believer is the one people trust with their lives and wealth.

Source: Sunan al-Nasā’ī 4995, Grade: Sahih

The best Muslims are devoted to the Quran, learning it and teaching it to others. This does not simply mean learning to recite the Quran according to its rules, but also learning its scholarly interpretations and applying these beneficial lessons in their lives.

Uthman bin Affan reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خَيْرُكُمْ مَنْ تَعَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ وَعَلَّمَهُ

The best of you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 4739, Grade: Sahih

The best Muslims are peace-makers and peace-spreaders, as well as charitable towards others. They reconcile with those who wrong them, end conflicts between people, and spend their time, money, and effort in service to others.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: It was said, “Which Islam is best?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

تُطْعِمُ الطَّعَامَ وَتَقْرَأُ السَّلاَمَ عَلَى مَنْ عَرَفْتَ وَمَنْ لَمْ تَعْرِفْ

To feed the hungry and to greet with peace those you know and those you do not know.

‘Ammar ibn Yasir, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

ثَلَاثٌ مَنْ جَمَعَهُنَّ فَقَدْ جَمَعَ الْإِيمَانَ الْإِنْصَافُ مِنْ نَفْسِكَ وَبَذْلُ السَّلَامِ لِلْعَالَمِ وَالْإِنْفَاقُ مِنْ الْإِقْتَارِ

Whoever has three qualities will have completed the faith: fairness from yourself to others, offering peace to the world, and spending in charity even while poor.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 28, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Suhaib ibn Sinan reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خِيَارُكُمْ مَنْ أَطْعَمَ الطَّعَامَ

The best of you are those who feed others.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 23408, Grade: Sahih

The best Muslim men are the best towards the women in their lives: their mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, aunts, sisters in Islam, and women in general. The mark of a true Muslim man is his chivalry towards women.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِيمَانًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ خُلُقًا

The most complete of the believers in faith are those with the most excellent character, and the best of you are the best in behavior to their women.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 1162, Grade: Sahih

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ

The best of you are the best to their women.

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 1978, Grade: Sahih

The best Muslim men and women, on the other hand, are the best in behavior and kindest to their families. They maintain family ties even when it is difficult; they take the Prophet (ṣ) as a role model for how to treat their families and communities.

Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ

The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 3895, Grade: Sahih

In another narration, the Prophet said:

وَأَلْطَفُهُمْ بِأَهْلِهِ

And who are most kind to their families.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2612, Grade: Hasan

Finally, the best Muslims are those who inspire people to practice Islam and attract people towards Islam with their good character and manners. When people see them, they remember Allah and begin to love Islam more than they had previously.

Asma bint Yazid reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَلَا أُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِخِيَارِكُمْ

Shall I tell you about the best of you?

They said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said:

خِيَارُكُمْ الَّذِينَ إِذَا رُءُوا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ

The best of you are those who, when they are seen, inspire others to remember Allah Almighty.

Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 4119, Grade: Sahih li ghayri

In sum, the best Muslims are those who are best at applying the comprehensive ethical virtues taught by Islam: justice, compassion, kindness, piety, devotion, humility, truthfulness, and so on. They treat others how they would like to be treated, they regularly give charity, they care for their families, they refrain from harming others, and they earn people’s trust. They are devoted to the Quran and to seeking religious knowledge to apply in their lives, forsaking the vanities of the worldly life for the Hereafter.

May Allah make us among the best Muslims with the best character. Amīn.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.