On being a good example to the wider society, By S N Smith Ottawa
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example to follow for him who hopes in (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” [Al-Qur’an 33:21]
If we don’t act in an honourable way, we can’t expect people to take us seriously.
No matter what we tell people, it is what we do that is the stronger argument.
If we lie, cheat, steal, behave in an immoral or dishonest way to the point we cannot be distinguished from anyone else, how can we expect people to listen to us?
How we are going to convince people that we have the truth when we are not truthful?
How can we expect our rights from other people when we don’t respect their rights?
How can we be a light to others when our own hearts are filled with darkness?
And how can we be a model of conduct or comportment when we are behaving in a very base manner?
These are questions that we have to ask ourselves on a regular basis, and we should not practise self-deception by telling ourselves that we are ok or that our behaviour is above reproach when in fact the opposite is true.
Notice the opening verse and the beginning of this article. The prophet (pbuh) did not only come with a particular message but also was an excellent example of comportment and above any reproach.
The unbelievers attacked the prophet (pbuh) on many levels, but never attacked or maligned his character because they knew better.
Since he (pbuh) lived among them and knew who he was, his (pbuh) character could never be used as an excuse for their rejecting his (pbuh) message.
And the verse also clearly states that anyone who hopes to have a good meeting with Allah should follow the prophet’s example.
Islam is not just about beliefs but also actions, and those actions must be based upon the principles and precepts as enshrined within the Quran and the noble example of our prophet (pbuh). (See for example Quran 31:8; 5:9 & 29:58)
But what of our state as Muslims today?
How are we perceived in the eyes of the people?
Are we looked upon as models of good conduct, fairness and honesty?
We can’t blame the media for all of the bad or hostile feelings that many non-Muslims have toward us. We must take ownership of how we have contributed to those bad feelings and seek to rectify our behaviour in the light of the Quran and the prophetic example.
If we fail to do this, we can preach until we are blue in the face, but no one will take us seriously.
The first step is to stop blaming others for how we are perceived and take a look at how we contributed to those perceptions.
Yes, some people can be unfair and downright malicious to the point that no matter what we do they will criticize us. But we still must practice self-examination so that we are not the cause of why people perceive Islam and Muslims in a negative or hostile light.