Once the renowned companion of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) Hadrat Abdullah Bin Umar (RadhiAllahu Anhuma) was passing through the wilderness. He saw there a young man grazing sheep. He thought of testing the boy. He asked him to sell one of his sheep to him. The boy replied that these were his master’s sheep not his own. To test him further he said to him: Just tell your master that the wolf has taken it away. After pondering a while the boy replied: All right. Though the master of sheep is not here seeing us Allah is seeing us. Hadrat Abdullah (RadhiAllahu Anhu) got very pleased with his reply. Later on he contacted the master of the slave, bought him from the owner, and emancipated him.
Ihsaan means that a man must remember Allah both in private and in public and must perform every good deed as best as he can and only for seeking the pleasure of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has pronounced:
“إن اللهَ كَتَبَ الإحسانَ على كُلّ شيء ، فإذا قَتَلتُم فأحسِنوا القِتلَةَ ، وإذا ذَبَحتُم فأحسنوا الذَّبحَ ، وليُحِدَّ أحدُكُم شَفَرتَهُ ، فَليُرِح ذَبِيحَتَهُ” (مسلم)
Translation: “Verily Allah has prescribed ihsaan in every thing. If you kill [in warfare] you should kill with finish, and if you slaughter [an animal] slaughter it skilfully by honing your blade so that the animal dies at ease.” [Muslim].
Ihsaan must be Observed on all Occasions
Ihsaan toward Allah (Ta’ala) means that you feel every moment that Allah is with you, particularly when you are praying. Thus the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has instructed:
“الإحسانُ أن تعبُدَ اللهَ كأنكَ تراهُ ، فإن لم تكُن تراهُ فإنهُ يَراك”(متفق عليه)
Ihsaan is that you worship Allah as if you are seeing him. For, even if you are not seeing Him, he is seeing you” [unanimous].
Ihsaan towards your parent means that you must obey and serve your parents in the best possible way. Leave alone their disobedience and ill-treatment. They should not be caused any hurt. Allah (Ta’ala) has declared in the Quran:
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُوا إِلاَّ إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَاناً (الإسراء: 23)
Translation of Meaning: “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and treat well your parent.” (Al-Israa: 23).
Allah (Ta’ala) ordains again:
وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَتَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيباً (النساء: 1)
Translation of Meaning: “Fear Allah whom you invoke for fulfilment of your needs and be mindful of your kith and kin. Verily Allah keeps a watch over you” (An-Nisa: 1).
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has pronounced:
“من سرّهُ أن يُبسطَ لهُ في رِزقِهِ ، أو يُنسأ لهُ في أَثَرِهِ ، فَليَصِل رَحِمَهُ” (البخاري)
Translation: “If one desires that his livelihood is expanded and his age is elongated then must take due care of his kin.” [unanimous]. Similarly, he has pronounced that
“مَن كانَ يُؤمنُ باللهِ واليومِ الآخِرِ فَليَصِل رَحِمَهُ” (البخاري)
Translation: “One who believes in Allah and the Last Day must take due care of his kin” [Bukhari].
A believer is enjoined not to exclude his kin while distributing his sadaquat. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has stressed that:
“الصّدَقةُ على المِسكينِ صَدَقَة ، وَهِيَ على ذي الرّحِمِ ثِنتان: صَدَقَةٌ وصِلَةٌ” (الترمذي)
Translation: “Any sadaquah given to a poor person is counted as one sadaquah but a sadaquah given to a kinsman is doubled as a sadaquah and a consideration for the kinsfolk” [Tirmidhi}.
Ihsaan towards the Neighbours
Right conduct is an innate quality of a believer. He cannot keep his neighbours from the purview of his good behaviour. A believer cannot cause any inconvenience or hurt to his neighbours nor ignore them. He must always keep the model of his Prophet before him. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has disclosed that:
“ما زالَ جبريلُ يُوصيني بالجَارِ ، حتّى ظَنَنتُ أَنّهُ سَيُوَرّثُهُ” (متفق عليه)
Translation: “Jibril (Alaihis Salam) has been advising me in favour of my neighbours so much so that I wonder if he will make them co-sharers in my inheritance.” [unanimous].
Fair treatment of the neighbour is a sign of the perfection of one’s belief. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has enjoined:
“مَن كانَ يُؤمِنُ باللهِ واليومِ الآخِرِ فَلا يُؤذِ جارَهُ” (متفق عليه)
Translation: “One who believes in Allah and the Last Day should never hurt his neighbour” [unanimous].
A believer’s hallmark is that he behaves well towards his neighbour even if he hurts him. It is narrated that a person came to Hadrat Abdullah Bin Masud (RadhiAllahu Anhu) and complained to him of the abusive behaviour and hurtful conduct of his neighbour. Hadrat Abdullah replied that he has disobeyed Allah (Ta’ala) in respect of you; now you go back and obey Allah (Ta’ala) in respect of him [meaning that he should behave to him fairly against his misbehaviour]. Pointing out the rights of a neighbour the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has advised that, Translation of Meaning: “You should help him if he asks for your help; visit him if he falls sick; console him if he is bereaved; never raise the height of your house above his house lest he is deprived of light and air, save with his consent; when cooking savouries mind it that the smell does not reach his place; if possible you should share some of your goodies with your neighbour; if you buy the fruit of season share it with your neighbour; if not possible, bring it to your home covered; take care that your children do not eat it before the eyes of your neighbour’s children.” [Tibrani].
Ihsaan toward the Poor and Deprived
A believer never rebukes a beggar but always tries to give him some thing. A rich man should never be stingy towards the poor and needy. He should visualize the scene on the Day of Judgment when his money would hang from his neck and the beggar complain to the Almighty that this is a man whom you blessed with all your bounties but when I begged from him in thy name, he had rebuked me and closed his door upon me.
A believer ought not to publicize his good deeds or sadaquat but dispense all this only with the objective of seeking the pleasure of Allah. Similarly, if you do some favour to somebody never mention it to him. Allah (Ta’ala) proclaims:
قَوْلٌ مَعْرُوفٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ خَيْرٌ مِنْ صَدَقَةٍ يَتْبَعُهَا أَذًى وَاللَّهُ غَنِيٌّ حَلِيمٌ (البقرة: 263)
Translation of Meaning: “A good word and an act of forgiveness is better than a sadaquah which is followed up by hurting [the taker]. Verily, Allah is well off and forbearing.” (Al-Baqarah: 263).
Ihsaan towards Orphans and Destitute
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has exhorted believers towards fair treatment of the orphans and has given happy tiding of paradise for those who do so. He has pronounced that.
“أنا وكافلُ اليتيمِ في الجَنّةِ هَكذا” (متفق عليه)
Translation: “Myself and the maintainer of an orphan will be in the paradise like this [he raised his index and middle fingers together]” [unanimous]. He added further that:
“السّاعِي على الأرملةِ والمسكينِ ، كالمجاهدِ في سبيلِ اللهِ ، أو القائمِ الليلَ الصّائمِ النهارَ” (متفق عليه)
Translation: “Those who strive for the sake of widows and destitute are like the strugglers in the way of God or like those who pray in the night and fast in the day” [unanimous].
Ihsaan towards One’s own Self
Ihsaan towards one’s own self means that one should eschew the forbidden acts and keep away from whatever is conducive to the displeasure of Allah. One ought to keep his inner self free of all bad inclinations, should purify his soul, should keep away from deviant behaviour and should guard against probable misfortune on the Day of Judgment. Allah (Ta’ala) declares:
إِنْ أَحْسَنتُمْ أَحْسَنتُمْ لأَنفُسِكُمْ (الإسراء: 7)
Translation of Meaning: “If you are doing any good you are doing good to your own selves” (Al-Israa: 7).
Ihsaan in Conversation
A good demeanour in conversation means that one ought always to speak softly and gently. Allah (Ta’ala) has declared:
وَهُدُوا إِلَى الطَّيِّبِ مِنْ الْقَوْلِ وَهُدُوا إِلَى صِرَاطِ الْحَمِيدِ (الحج: 24)
Translation of Meaning: “They are ones who are guided towards gentle speech; they are ones who are guided unto the path of the Glorious Being.” (Al-Hajj: 24).
In another place Allah (Ta’ala) has enjoined:
وَقُولُوا لِلنَّاسِ حُسْناً (البقرة: 83)
Translation of Meaning: “And speak gently to the people.” (Al-Baqarah: 83).
Ihsaan in Reciprocating the Greetings
A believer ought to reciprocate other persons’ greetings gently and immaculately. It is preferable that if you are greeted by somebody you ought to reciprocate with a better greeting. Allah (Ta’ala) declares:
وَإِذَا حُيِّيتُمْ بِتَحِيَّةٍ فَحَيُّوا بِأَحْسَنَ مِنْهَا أَوْ رُدُّوهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ حَسِيباً (النساء: 86)
Translation of Meaning: “When someone greets you with a greeting, greet him with better than that or greet a like greeting in return. Lo! Allah takes count of all things” (An-Nisa: 86).
Ihsaan in one’s own Vocation
Ihsaan in one’s vocation or the realm of work is that one should do his work in the best possible way and as perfectly as he can and be hopeful of the reward of Allah for the good work done by him. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has pronounced:
“إنّ اللهَ يُحبُّ إذا عَمِلَ أحدُكم عملاً أن يُتقِنَه” (البيهقي)
Translation: “Verily Allah is pleased when one of you does a work and does it immaculately.” [Bihaqui].
Ihsaan in One’s Self-Maintenance
One ought to use his available resources for one’s upkeep and maintenance properly and in gratitude to Allah; and must avoid the evils of opulence, arrogance, insolence and ostentatiousness. Allah (Ta’ala) has proclaimed:
يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِنْدَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ (الأعراف: 31)
Translation of Meaning: “O children of Adam! Get your adornment before going to any prayer-house, and eat and drink, but be not prodigal. Lo! He loves not the prodigals.” (Al-A’raf: 31). There is a promise of reward for those who conduct themselves properly. Allah (Ta’ala) has proclaimed:
إِنَّا لا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلاً (الكهف: 30)
Translation of Meaning: “Verily we waste not the reward of those who perform good deeds.” (Al-Kahf: 30).
The same proclamation is reiterated in this verse:
هَلْ جَزَاءُ الإِحْسَانِ إِلاَّ الإِحْسَانُ (الرحمن: 60)
Translation of Meaning: “Can there any compensation for ihsaan but ihsaan in return?” (Ar-Rahman: 60). The persons with right conduct are favourites of God as well as favourites of the people, as proclaimed by Allah (Ta’ala):
وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ (البقرة:195)
Translation of Meaning: “Perform good deeds. Verily Allah loves the good-doers.” (Al-Baqarah: 195).