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My interest in the topic of the Muslim personality, as Islam meant it to be, goes back more than ten years, during which time I have noticed that many Muslims are often overzealous in some matters but negligent in others. For example, you might see a Muslim who insists on attending every prayer and standing in the front row, but he pays no heed to the bad smell emanating from his mouth or clothes; or he obeys and fears Allah, but does not take care to uphold the ties of kinship; or he devotes much time to worship and the pursuit of knowledge, but is neglecting his children's upbringing and does not know what they are reading or who their friends are; or he is taking good care of his children but is mistreating his parents; or he is looking after his parents but abusing his wife; or he is treating his wife and children with respect but is disturbing his neighbours; or he is paying attention to his own private affairs but ignoring his friends and the welfare of the Muslim community at large; or he is religious and pious, but heedless of the Islamic teachings regarding giving salaam, consuming food and drink, and interacting with people.

It is strange that these shortcomings exist among some of those who are regarded as playing an active role in Islamic da'wah and who are involved in the propagation of a practical message that, in most cases, provides an awareness and understanding of Islamic teachings and values, following true guidance. Yet it seems that the overwhelming nature of their work, or perhaps carelessness or forgetfulness, has caused some Islamists to fall into the trap of these errors, whether knowingly or otherwise.

My interest in exploring the Muslim personality as Islam meant it to be, led me to consult Islamic sources that refer to man and how he is to be guided and moulded, so that I could present to the Muslims, especially those who are practising and active, a complete study of this personality, describing its distinguishing features and attitudes. It is hoped that this work may represent a beacon of guidance to those who are falling short in some respects, so that they may raise themselves up to the level that their true religion intended.

I was shocked when I realized how great a gap exists between what Islam wants for the Muslims and what they want for themselves - except a few of them who are sincere in their faith, pure of heart and soul, and filled with ambition. These are the ones who are passionately devoted to their religion, drinking deeply from its pure spring and following its illustrious guidance more closely each day.

Whoever takes the time to study the guidance of Allah and His Prophet (s), consulting the proper sources, i.e., the texts in the Qur'an and hadith, will be amazed at how much comprehensive information is to be found there, dealing with both major and minor aspects of the individual's relationship with his Rabb, his own self, and the people around him. All of this is guidance aimed at the edification of the Muslim and enabling him to enjoy an ideal life both as an individual and as a member of the larger society.

So it seems that the Muslim, as intended by these texts, is supposed to be a decent, social person, whom this unique combination of honourable characteristics distinguishes. These features are described in the Qur'an and hadith, which present them as a religious obligation to be actively pursued by man in the hope of receiving reward from Allah.

So I began to compile and classify references from the Qur'an and Sunnah. As I gathered more material, the subject became clearer and I was able to identify the following topics:

1. The Muslim and his Rabb
2. The Muslim and his own self
3. The Muslim and his parents
4. The Muslim and his wife
5. The Muslim and his children
6. The Muslim and his relatives
7. The Muslim and his neighbour
8. The Muslim and his Muslim brothers and friends
9. The Muslim and his community / society

Through studying the wealth of knowledge contained in these sources, I realized the greatness of Allah's mercy to His slaves, in that He has rescued them from error and sent them true guidance via His Messengers, Books and Laws, so that mankind may be shown the Straight Path and saved from stumbling and groping blindly in the dark. Human beings are in great need of this guidance and education, so that they will be able to practise their humanity and play the role in this life that Allah intended them to play. Had it not for this Divine guidance, mankind would have been left wallowing in the mire of selfishness, hatred, domination and oppression. The evidence for this is apparent in the behaviour of the child, who strives to show his parents that he is better than his brother and seeks to deny that his brother has any of the same decent qualities to which he himself aspires. His natural inclination is to defeat his brother and prove that he is better. This natural characteristic is essential to man's well-being, so long as it is moderate and is held in check. This inclination to prove himself motivates him to seek the best in himself: the great satisfaction he derives from realizing the good qualities he possesses encourages him to try even harder and achieve even greater things. But if this desire to prove oneself is exaggerated and allowed to get out of hand, it becomes a loathsome, dangerous illness which makes a person arrogant and boastful, treating his peers with disdain, although he is the farthest removed from the qualities he claims to possess. Here we can see the value of religion and education in controlling this sickness, reducing his self-admiration and pointing the way towards moderation, wisdom and humility. Islam is the well-spring of all decency and honour in this life, and of the sound educational and moral principles, high values and good behaviour that have come down to us through the centuries from that pure, divine source. Human beings are clearly more inclined towards looseness and ignorance than to seeking to adhere to that which is right, because it is easier to fall down than to lift oneself up, and to be lax than to follow the rules. So man needs a deterrent to warn him every time he forgets and his foot slips from the Straight Path. So thinkers and writers have a duty to explain these noble values and present them in an easily- understood and attractive fashion so that people will be able to develop the values and attitudes which Allah intended for them, thus enabling them to enjoy a decent and pleasant life.

Allah did not reveal this religion of Islam from above the seven heavens just for it to be the matter of theoretical discussions or sacred words through the recitation of which people might seek blessings without understanding their significance. Allah revealed this religion to govern the life of the individual, the family and the society at large, to be a beacon that would lead the people out of darkness into light:

( There have come to you from Allah a [new] light and a perspicuous Book - wherewith Allah guides all who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety, and leads them out of darkness, by His Will, unto the light guides them to a Path that is Straight.) (Qur'an 5:15-16)

In the shade of this guidance, life becomes better, more pleasant and enjoyable. The first step towards this life of guidance and light involves the formation of a sincere Muslim individual who will present a vivid and beautiful picture of Islam, so that when people see him they will see true Islam, and when they deal with him their faith will increase.

This is what the Prophet (s) did at the beginning of his da'wah, when his first step on the long road of Islam was to mould individuals who would embody Islam and become as it were "Qur'ans" walking on the face of the earth. Wherever they went in the world, they were a unique example of a unique way of life. When people saw this unique way of life embodied in sincere, believing individuals, they embraced this religion and entered Islam in crowds.

Humanity today, and the Muslims in particular, are in great need of such unique individuals without whom human life is unbearable, decent values cannot be upheld, and the true light of Islam cannot shine forth. What does such a marvellous human example look like? This is the question that will be answered in the following Pages.

I ask Allah to accept this work for His sake, and to benefit others through it and make it a help for me on ( īthe Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he [will prosper] that brings to Allah a sound heart.') (Qur'an 26:88-89)

Muhammad 'Ali al-Hashimi
27th Jumada al-Akhirah 1401 AH
1st May 1981 CE

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