BEHAVIOUR SHAPING STRATEGIES
Ash-Shaikh H. Abdul Nazar
القرآن يهدي للتي هي أقوم"
this Qur’an doth guide to that which is most right.”
(17 : 09)
complete and all-embracing divine code of life is
not confined to certain rites or rituals performed
in places of worship alone. On the contrary, it touches
every aspect of man’s life – personal, family and
social. The Holy Qur’an very clearly confirms this
fact in the following verse:
أن تولوا وجوهكم قبل المشرق والمغرب ولكن البر من آمن
بالله واليوم الآخر والملائكة والكتاب والنبيين وآتى
المال على حبه ذوي القربى واليتامى والمساكين وابن السبيل
والسائلين وفي الرقاب وأقام الصلاة وآتى الزكاة والموفون
بعهدهم إذا عاهدوا والصابرين في البأساء والضراء وحين
البأس أولئك الذين صدقوا وأولئك هم المتقون"
“It is not
righteousness that ye turn your faces towards East
or West; but it is righteousness to believe in Allah
and the last day and the angels and the book and the
messengers; to give wealth in spite of love for it
to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, to the needy, to
the wayfarer and to those who ask and for the ransom
of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and practice
regular charity, to fulfill their contract when they
make; and to be patient in severe poverty and ailment
and at the time of fighting. Such are the people of
truth, and they are the pious ones.” (02 : 177)
is a combination of three key components; body, mind
and soul. The body is nourished by food and drink,
the mind by the quest for knowledge and the soul by
faith and morality. Man possesses feelings, impulses,
drives, desires, passions, whims and fancies all of
which influence his characters and way of life. Almighty
Allah has bestowed on him the ability to think, reason
and distinguish in order to control his wills and
emotions and direct himself towards the cause of action
which is, in his belief, most suitable for him.
wants to see every Muslim well-behaved, and for this
reason its teachings are connected to all aspects
of life. It, in fact, tries through its teachings
and various forms of worship to mould all Muslims
as good persons, as loving members of family and as
dutiful citizens of the country. Islam gives a top
priority to morality to such an extent that one’s
Eiman (faith) is incomplete and imperfect without
it. Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam)
إيمانا أحسنهم خلقا"
“The most perfect of believers in faith is the most beautiful of them in character”.
(Related by Aboo Huraira (Radhiyallahu anh) and quoted by Tirmithi)
the moral kingdom of Allah, not only emphasizes the
importance of good behaviour but also introduces ways
and means of shaping one’s behaviour. The strategies
Islam has devised and adopted in this respect are,
in deed, quite unique. First it couples morality with
faith and then trains the believers to lead a moral
life. Various kinds of worship of Islam produce well-mannered
individuals in the society.
an Ibaadat very next to Eiman (faith), is one of the
strategies Islam has developed to shape one’s behaviour.
تنهى عن الفحشاء والمنكر"
prayer forbids indecency and dishonour.” (29 : 45)
performing Salaah, the performer submits himself to
his Creator and pledges to Him that he would do only
the good and would not indulge in wrongdoing. In addition,
he resolves that he will protect every organ of his
body from wrongdoing and bad behaviour as he protects
all the parts of his body from same during Salaah.
to Salaah is Zakaat. This worship also has its own
impact on man’s behaviour. The following verse of
the Holy Qur’an confirms this:
أموالهم صدقة تطهرهم وتزكيهم بها وصل عليهم إن صلاتك
سكن لهم والله سميع عليم"
wealth take alms thereby thou wilt cleanse them and
purify them; and pray thou for them. Verily thy prayer
is a solace for them, and Allah is hearing, knowing.”
(09 : 103)
The institution of Zakaat purifies one spiritually, ethically and monetarily. The performer of Zakaat spontaneously feels sympathy for others, shows mercy to the needy, finds solace in wiping the silent tears of the destitute and does good things out of his wealth for the betterment of the community. It also makes him realize that the riches he enjoys are bestowed upon him by Almighty Allah and that he could not in any way utilize them in perpetrating wrong things.
the forth pillar of Islam plays a significant role
in moulding a Muslim. While fasting, he is thoroughly
trained to shape his behaviour well by controlling
his emotions and fancies. The complete and perfect
fasting means abstaining from enjoying any food or
drink and indulging in wrongdoing. Prophet Muhammad
(Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
يدع قول الزور والعمل به فليس لله حاجة في أن يدع طعامه
does not refrain from lying and working with it, then
Allah has no need in his keeping away from his food
(Narrated by Aboo Huraira (Radhiyallahu anh) and quoted by Bukhari)
another occasion he said:
"فإذاكان يوم صوم أحدكم فلا يرفث ولا يصخب. فإن سابه أحد أو قاتله فليقل إني صائم"
when anyone of you is fasting, he should not have
sexual intercourse and should not shout noisily. If
somebody scolds him or quarrels with him, he should
say: “I am fasting”.
(Narrated by Aboo Huraira (Radhiyallahu anh) and quoted by Bukhari and Muslim)
is crystal clear that while observing fast, one becomes
extremely rich in behaviour; honest, quiet, patient
is another momentous worship in Islam. This worship
too, like other Ibaadats, presents to the society
persons of tremendous moral values. The Holy Qur’an
فيهن الحج فلا رفث ولا فسوق ولا جدال في الحج"
undertakes the Hajj therein, there is to be no obscenity
nor wickedness nor wrangling in the Hajj.” (02 : 197)
put it in a nutshell, a Muslim becomes well-behaved
physically as well as monetarily by exercising these
Ibaadats. By and large, all Ibaadats have something
in common; that is to produce a highly civilized person.
By observing such Ibaadats, one is trained to have
self-control so as to overcome all evil drives and
depraved desires and self-discipline so that he will
do only the good and will not commit any wrong or
bad things, thereby becoming a fantastically elegant
member of the society.
fervent wish of Islam is to build a well-mannered
society, and to achieve this target it has introduced
so many other things.
sees the environment as one of the major contributing
factors to one’s behaviour. The good environment creates
good people, and the bad environment creates bad people.
Thus the milieu, of course, has the lion’s share of
contributing to one’s morality. An ethical person
can turn immoral by living in a bad environment, and
an ill-mannered person can turn moral by residing
in a good environment. Islam, therefore, does not
permit a Muslim to live in a place or area where he
cannot practice Islam duly. In such a case, he has
to migrate to a place where he can practice the teachings
of Islam. Migration (Hijrat) is, in deed, of many
categories. One of them is to leave a place where
it is difficult to practice Islam.
"إن الذين توفاهم الملائكة ظالمي أنفسهم قالوا فيم كنتم قالوا كنا مستضعفين في الأرض قالوا ألم تكن أرض الله واسعة فتهاجروا فيها فأولئك مأواهم جهنم وساءت مصيرا"
“Verily when the angels take their souls while they are wronging their souls, they will say: what were you in? They will say: weakened were we in the land. They (angels) will say: was Allah’s land wide so that you could migrate thereto? These! their resort is hell; an evil refuge.” (04 : 97)
is very seriously concerned about the environment.
It emphasizes purifying the environment since a person
residing in an environment free from sins never tries
to taste sins. Islam, before imposing punishments
for wrongdoing, emphasizes the importance of cleaning
the environment from antisocial elements. So that
no bad behaviour is there to attract anyone, and the
temptation is unlikely. Declaring fornication as a
heinous, grave sin, Allah Ta’ala did not say: “do
not commit fornication”. Instead, He said:
not approach fornication”. (17 : 32)
means to avoid all situations that lead to fornication.
Marriageable man and woman meeting together, mingling,
exchanging of words and letters, dating, etc. drive
to illegal sex.
a man’s house, household, neighbours, dealers, etc.
are morally rich, he is also undoubtedly morally rich.
the perspective of Islam, parents also contribute
to shaping the behaviour of a person. It is a bounden
duty of parents to teach their children principles
of Islam, inculcate them with moral values and mould
them well. Failure of parents to impart good education
to the children and shape them adorned with first-rate
attributes results in children becoming depraved.
Islam, therefore, urges the parents very imperatively
to be extremely particular about the children’s discipline.
Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
يولد على الفطرة. فأبواه يهودانه أو ينصرانه أو يمجسانه"
is born on the instinct. The parents make him a Jew
or a Christian or a Magian.” (Related by Aboo Huraira
(Radhiyallahu anh) and quoted by Bukhari)
the very time of the birth of a child, begins the
grave responsibility of the parents. Even choosing
a good name for the kid is one of the important duties
the parents shoulder. If a bad name is picked out,
the characteristics pertaining to the meaning of the
name may reflect in the conduct of the child. Rasool
(Sallalahu alaihi wasallam) changed bad names of some
people for this reason. He proclaimed that:
الوالد على الولد أن يحسن أدبه ويحسن اسمه"
“It is the
duty of the father towards the child to beautify his
manners and to beautify his name.”
(Narrated by Abdullah Ibnu Abbas (Radhiyallahu anhuma) and quoted by Baihaqee)
children are very small, they should be taught moral
values so that when they become adults, the childhood
learning will come into practice without their knowledge.
Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
والد ولدا من نحل أفضل من أدب حسن"
gave a child a gift more excellent than beautiful
(Narrated by Saeed Ibn Al-Aas (Radhiyallahu anh) and quoted by Tirmithi)
to behave with others, how to respect elders, how
to obey the parents and teachers, how to show mercy
to others, how to help others, how to be kind to Allah’s
creatures and so forth must be taught to them practically.
One can notice in the following Hadees how beautifully
the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) guides the
parents in relation to disciplining the children:
بالصلاة وهم أبناء سبع سنين واضربوهم عليها وهم أبناء
عشر. وفرقوا بينهم في المضاجع"
children to perform Salaah when they are seven years
old and chastise them for any fault with regard to
it when they are ten years old, and separate them
in the beds.”
(Narrated by Abdullah Ibnu Amr (Radhiyallahu anhuma) and quoted by Aboo Dawood)
all, kids learn by looking at others. So, the parents
should behave well, thereby setting a good example
to them. One important thing that everybody has to
bear in mind is that the kid observes all the acts
of its parents without distinguishing between the
right and the wrong, the good and the evil, the beautiful
and the ugly and the moral and the immoral. Once it
is engraved in its mind, it is very difficult to rub
it off later. Considering all these facts, Islam views
the participation of the parents in moulding the children
as paramount, and the parents will be questioned by
Allah Ta’ala regarding this prime duty. The following
saying of the Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam)
وكلكم مسؤول عن رعيته"
of you is a guardian. All of you are accountable for
those who are placed under their care.”
(Narrated by Abdullah Ibnu Umar (Radhiyallahu anhuma) and quoted by Bukhari and Muslim)
being guardians of children, will have to face the
relevant questions from Allah Ta’ala on the Day of
the parents’ contribution to disciplining the children
is one of the strategies in Islam in terms of shaping
man is influenced by his companions, Islam sees the
friendship as another contributing factor to shaping
man’s behaviour. Rasool (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam)
على دين خليله. فلينظر أحدكم من يخالل"
on his friend’s religion. Therefore, one of you must
see whom he keeps the company with.”
(Related by Aboo Huraira (Radhiyallahu anh) and quoted by Tirmithi)
has a lot of impact on one’s life. The attitude, thinking,
motive, mentality, mindset, view, talking, acting,
lifestyle, etc. of a man change depending on those
of his comrade. Therefore, Islam is very particular
about the friendship. Moral dispositions are contagious,
and the characteristics of one rapidly rub off on
his companion. The following saying of Allah’s Apostle
(Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) exemplifies this fact:
الجليس الصالح والجليس السوء كحامل المسك ونافخ الكير.
فحامل المسك إما أن يحذيك وإما أن تبتاع منه وإما أن
تجد منه ريحا طيبة. ونافخ الكير إما أن يحرق ثيابك أو
تجد منه ريحا خبيثة"
“The example of the good friend and the bad friend is only like the musk carrier and the bellows blower. The musk carrier either he will give you or you will buy from him or you will get from him a pleasant smell, and the bellows blower either he will burn your clothes or you will get from him a unpleasant smell.” (Related by Aboo Moosa (Radhiyallahu anh) and quoted by Muslim)
a person chooses a good friend, he will become well-mannered
emulating him in his manners, and if he keeps intimacy
with a bad person, he will become badly-mannered imitating
him in his behaviour. There is a saying that “you
are judged by the company you keep”. Everyone is required
by Islam to take only the good ethical people as bosom
friends. Whoever keeps friendship with bad people,
he will no doubt regret on the Day of Judgment, and
this regret will be futile. The Holy Qur’an says:
ليتني لم أتخذ فلانا خليلا. لقد أضلني عن الذكر بعد
إذ جاءني وكان الشيطان للإنسان خذولا"
to me! Would that I had never taken such a one a friend!
Assuredly he led me astray from the admonition after
it had come to me.” Satan is a traitor to man.” (25
behaviour is shaped by good education too. The education
one receives makes him behave well. So that he could
move in the society with very fine decorum. To behave
well one has to know how to behave well and what the
proprieties are. This is, indeed, impossible without
good education. That is why Al-Qur’an, the last divine
revelation that was sent down to shape the behaviour
of the people, began its role by emphasizing the importance
and the urgency of education in the very first five
ربك الذي خلق. خلق الإنسان من علق. اقرأ وربك الأكرم.
الذي علم بالقلم. علم الإنسان ما لم يعلم"
thou in the name of thy Lord who has created – has
created man from a clot. Recite thou, and thy Lord
is the most bountiful who has taught by the pen –
has taught man what he knew not.” (96 : 01-05)
is only by good education that everyone is able to
draw a distinction between the good and the evil.
An illiterate mostly behaves rudely, and his conduct
sometimes brings harmful consequences to his fellow
members of the society. People always have the tendency
to call such a man ‘uncivilized barbarian’ for the
simple reason that he is not possessed of good manners.
As long as a person keeps on receiving good education,
his conduct keeps on receiving appreciation of the
people. For this reason, education is given an extremely
vital place in Islam. Almighty Allah did not encourage
his Apostle (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) to ask him
for extra in anything, but he encouraged him in an
imperative manner to ask him for extra in knowledge:
thou: “O my Lord! Increase me in knowledge!” (20 :
(Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) made it compulsory on
every Muslim to seek knowledge. He said:
فريضة على كل مسلم"
of knowledge is compulsory on every Muslim”. (Related
by Anas (Radhiyallahu anhu) and quoted by Ibnu Maajah)
needs to behave in different manners with different
people on different occasions. Manners change from
situation to situation and from person to person.
One cannot behave in front of his parents as he does
in front of his fiends and so on. Only good education
makes him aware of this fact and grooms him to behave
well accordingly. Taking the above facts into consideration,
Islam calls upon all the Muslims to educate them with
a view to being people of good characters and excellent
Guidance and Advice of Pious
guidance and advice from god-fearing scholars is another
strategy that could mould one’s behaviour and make
him acquire refined manners and high moral values.
No one is perfect. That is why Almighty Allah orders
the people to seek guidance and advice from scholars.
أهل الذكر إن كنتم لا تعلمون"
the people of the admonition if you do not know.”
(21 : 07)
scholars always render advices with a view to correcting
the misbehaviour of the advice seeker and shaping
his behaviour. Their guidance and advice are based
on Qur’an and Sunnah; two divine beacons of the mankind.
One who gets guidance and advice from god-fearing
scholars and sticks to them will never deviate from
the right path and will be loved by all and sundry
because of his excellent conduct. He organizes himself
according to the advices he receives from pious scholars
whose characteristics fascinate him so much so that
he also tries to imitate them. Such god-fearing scholars
are guiding stars, and their guidance really plays
a central role in refining the advice seeker and making
him shine with high moral standards as a star in the
sky. Due to this fact, the celebrated scholars of
Islam like Imam Ghazzaly (Rahmatullahi alaihi) insist
on sticking to a Murabbi (Guide) since he is one’s
mirror in beautifying his soul and realizing his moral
short, the ethical guidance rendered by god-fearing
scholars makes one a person of decorous behaviour.
contribution made by the marriage institution to the
process of bringing out rich qualities in the society
is immeasurable. By introducing marriage as a major
component of the religion which fills the half of
the religion, Islam strives to keep the society always
fortified with high ethical standards. Prophet Muhammad
(Sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said:
العبد فقد كمل نصف الدين. فليتق الله في النصف الباقي"
got married, then he certainly completed half of the
religion. So, he should fear Allah in the remaining
(Narrated by Anas (Radhiyallahu anhu) and quoted by Baihaqee)
order to shape the behaviour of the people especially
the youths, Islam calls upon them to get married once
they attain the marriageable age. This fact is well
established by the following saying of Prophet Muhammad
(Sallallahu alaihi wasallam):
الشباب من استطاع منكم الباءة فليتزوج فإنه أغض للبصر
وأحصن للفرج. ومن لم يستطع فعليه بالصوم فإنه له وجاء"
Whoever of you has the potency, he should marry as
it lowers the sight and guards the private part, and
whoever is unable, he should observe fasting since
it is protection”.
(Related by Abdullah Ibnu Mas’ood (Radhiyallahu anhu) and quoted by Bukhari and Muslim)
the light of the above Hadees, one can apprehend how
far Islam is very concerned about protecting the social
ethical values. It never tolerates dropping of moral
standards, and therefore it encourages marriage in
an imperative way.
marriage one’s lust is fulfilled in a lawful way,
and there is no need for such a married man to approach
women unlawfully and unethically. In case one needs
more than one woman, he is entitled to marry two,
three or four at a time according to his need provided
he treats all the wives equally. The primary goal
of marriage in Islam is to maintain the set social
morals and to prevent all kinds of unethical, unlawful
in all, marriage is another strategy introduced by
Islam to shape one’s behaviour.
brief, all the teachings of Islam aim at improving
the qualities of the people as morality is important
to the soul as life is important to the body. Islam
is very concerned about the behaviour, conduct and
characters of individuals. So that the world can see
a well-behaved society, members of which always think
of each other’s well-being and welfare, help, respect
and tolerate each other and share in each other’s
happiness and discomfort and do not know atrocity,
harming, disrespect, injustice, crime, manipulation,
theft, robbery, jobbery, burglary, fornication, fraud,
gambling, child abuse, women abuse, drug abuse, drug
trafficking, rigging, malpractice, hijacking, carjacking,
kidnapping, swindling, corruption, bribery, misappropriation,
murder, assassination, torture, massacre, violence,
economic embargo, invading, trespassing, encroaching,
aiding and abetting, etc.
Let us all abide by the teachings of Islam which could produce well-mannered individuals and drive the world to the eternal happiness, peace and prosperity! Otherwise, the law of the jungle will prevail everywhere, and the entire world might turn a wild west.