Ihsan is often times neglected hugely in our faith. As an Ummah, we somehow find ourselves satisfied with doing the least possible acts of goodness. Most likely, we don’t even put in our full effort when performing our acts of goodness. We might do it with laziness and fatigue. We might find ourselves grudgingly doing the good deeds, and more often than not, the sincerity will be lacking. This is where al-ihsan comes into play. We as Muslims utter the kalimah shahadah which verbally affirms our belief in Allah (swt). That’s the first step of the process. The next step is to actually be submissive to Allah (swt). A Muslim by definition is one who submits to the will of Allah. Ihsan in Arabic links to the English words beautification, perfection, or excellence. It is essentially taking one’s inner faith (iman) and displaying it in both deeds and actions. From this, a sense of social responsibility is also born. Once an individual achieves a certain level of ihsan, their taqwa (God-consciousness) will also increase. That person will sense and evaluate practically every single action they take and decide whether Allah (swt) will be pleased or not. Below are three components of the deen which should be noted in the heads of every Muslim 24/7
Iman is the root of the Islamic tree that is our body. For a long time during the Prophet Muhammad (saw)’s mission, Allah (swt) didn’t reveal anything except the concept of taqwa (God-consciousness), ikhlas (sincerity), and iman (faith). Once the roots of iman became firm in the hears of Muslims, Allah (swt) then introduced the concept of Islam to the Muslims.
Now that the roots are in place and the soil is rich with iman, the next part of the tree that begins to grow is the trunk. The trunk of the tree is the actual Islam itself. This being, submitting to Allah (swt). The stronger the worship and obedience to Allah (swt)’s commands, the taller the tree trunk will be. A good analogy here is the example of young children. In our faith, children are not required to pray until they reach the age of 7. The reason behind this is that for the first 7 years of a child’s life, the parents are busy planting the seeds of iman. This seed gets watered with knowledge about Allah (swt), about the afterlife, the miracles of the angels, the stories of the Prophets and companions. All of this culminates in a strong Muslim who is ready to take on the challenges of this dunya with a strong, and balanced character. The “do’s and don’t” of Islam will come more easily to the children and teens who have the strong seeds of iman in place.
We finally reach Ihsan. This neglected 1/3 of our deen is one of the keys to Jannah. It is to believe and obey Allah (swt) without a grain of doubt. It’s basically the “icing on the cake” for the believer and his/her faith. “Ihsan is the fruit that blossoms from our planted trees and shows up when the roots are strong and nourished, free from disease and harmful insects.” If we as Muslims don’t nourish our iman by submitting to the commands of Allah, we won’t see the fruits of ihsan and our soul will die. Islamic history is filled with instances of ihsan. Every single achievement in medicine, economics, social movements, geography, architecture, and science came from the Muslims’ desire to achieve ihsan. Ihsan enabled all the technological advancements we have today.
Th question that amazes me on a myriad of levels. Three levels of ihsan are given below:
- Those who sincerely strive in Allah’s Cause and attain ihsan in both their worship and their everyday activities will be rewarded for this level of excellence by being blessed by Allah (swt) with the sweetness of faith. They will be some of the few people who have walked the face of the earth and tasted this level of faith. God-consciousness will be continuous, and everything these few do will be geared for a higher purpose. They will have attained ihsan and in return, they will feel ihsan in their hearts.
- Those who sincerely strive in Allah’s (swt) Cause and attain ihsan in both their worship and their everyday activities will be rewarded for this excellence by being blessed by Allah (swt) with success in this dunya (life of the world). This can be seen in our history, in our Golden Age. The Muslims of that time attained ihsan in their rituals and in their other activities. Allah (swt) rewarded this ihsan with ihsan – the excellence in this dunya that we read about – the amazing art, architecture, philosophy, medical advances, etc.
- Those who sincerely strive in Allah’s (swt) Cause and attain ihsan in both their worship and their everyday activities will be rewarded for this excellence by being blessed by Allah (swt) with the ultimate success, the ultimate ihsan – that of Jannah (heaven) in al-akhira (hear-after).
Imagine standing in front of Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgment and having Him tell you all the things that you did that He LOVED. Imagine how you would feel.
So when you have a test or a paper or you have to mow the lawn or you are going to the gym or playing football, do it with ihsan! Don’t just “be,” don’t just get by, don’t just pass. Be EXCELLENT, strive for PERFECTION, be the BEST in your class, show the world how Islam inspires you to attain ihsan!