“Allah has prescribed Ihsān in everything”
In general, "Ihsān" is a term used to mean doing kindness and virtue, doing something soulfully, and serving Allah with sincerity. In moral literature, ihsān is generally used in the meaning of "going beyond the minimum required level in good deeds and doing more willingly and lovingly". Ihsān, which is, one of the general principles of Islamic belief, is a moral concept that encompasses all areas of our lives. Just as Allah, who himself is a 'Muhsin’ (who does ihsān) created everything with grace and beauty (Sajdah: 32/7). He also wants the man He created in the best way (al-Tīn: 95/4) to behave following the concept of Ihsān in every deed.
Ihsān, which means "Allah's generosity towards His servant, giving more than the latter deserves, bringing his/her work to life", is mostly expressed with the word "lutuf" (kindness) also. As a matter of fact, a person who ascends to the degree of ihsān and surrenders his essence to Allah awaits rewards from his Lord. For such people, there is neither fear nor sadness (Baqarah: 2/112). Allah's mercy is very close to them (al-Aʿrāf: 7/56.). Allah Almighty states that he is with His servants who do good, (Nahl: 16/128) He loves them (al-Baqarah: 2/195, Al-Imran: 3/134, Ma’idah: 5 / 93) and always states that He will never lose his rewards. (Tawbah, 9/120; Hūd, 11/115.)
The most beautiful definition of the concept of ihsān, which is frequently mentioned in the Quran with its different derivatives, is given by Prophet (ﷺ). He replied to the question "What is ihsan?" as follows: "Ihsān is worshiping as if seeing God. Even though you don't see Him, He sees you ”(Bukhari). Accordingly, ihsān includes sincerity and murāqabah, which entails the awareness that you are under Allah's supervision at all times. At the end of the hadith, the Messenger of Allah said, "This is Jibril angel; he came to teach people about their religion." Therefore, ihsān is an essential element of religion that complements faith and deeds. In this context, our beloved Prophet said, "Allah has ordered ihsān (to behave nicely) in all things." The importance of the word becomes more evident here. Hz. Ali meant this when he said, "People gain value according to the way they do their work with ihsān". As ihsān, is an attribute that encompasses not only a believer's relationship with God but also his relations with his parents, his immediate surroundings, other people, and even all living and nonliving creatures, and thus makes man mature and perfected.
Also Read:Islam’s Drive for Behavioural Transformation
In verse 90 of the Surah al-Naḥl, Almighty Allah commanded his servants first to do justice and then perform ihsān. Ihsān is a degree above justice. Because justice refers to giving of a person as much as necessary and taking his/her rights. Ihsān means giving more than necessary and taking less than one’s right. Therefore, observing justice is wajib (obligatory), and observing the Ihsān is mandūb (encouraged) and optional. However, just as Allah does Ihsān on His servants, he expects them to behave in the same way (Mufradat: Gazzali, 79).
After the order of servitude to Allah, He has commanded to observe Ihsān to parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, close neighbours, distant neighbours, friends, travellers and those who are at the hands of people (al-Nisā', 4/36). The Book of Wisdom describes those who are good-hearted (muhsin) as follows: They are those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, those who overcome their anger and forgive people. Those who remember Allah and ask for forgiveness of their sins immediately when they do an ugly deed or persecute themselves, and even those who do not insist on their sins (Ᾱl-ʿImran, 3 / 134-135.).
The Prophet of Allah says, regarding borrowing and giving loans, "The best of you is the one who pays his debt in the best way (ihsāni way)" (Bukhari, Istigraz, 7). He advised men to meet their wives' food, drink and dressing needs in the best way regarding domestic relations (Tirmidhi). "Do not be a man of weak character who says, "If people do well with us, we will do well, and if they oppress us, we will do the same." On the contrary, make it a habit to do good to people when they do good to you, and not to do injustice to them even when they do evil" (Tirmidhi). He stated that true goodness would be done only for the sake of Allah without expecting any reward.
After so many orders and recommendations that reveal the necessity of establishing relationships with people based on ihsān, the hadith, “Allah has ordered to observe ihsān in every deed ...” (Muslim) clearly states that ihsān is a general principle that encompasses whole human life. Accordingly, a believer has to observe ihsān in all kinds of positive or negative relationships with people. This is a valid principle even in an undesirable situation such as war. For this reason, torture of living beings is prohibited in Islam, as well as "muslah", which refers to torture of the dead during war. When the obligation to observe ihsān is extended to more species, as a believer, we face the responsibility to treat other living beings and humans. As a matter of fact, it is stated in the continuation of the hadith that even when slaughtering an animal, it should be done well without suffering.
According to this hadith, which presents one of the general principles of Islam, Ihsān represents the highest rank in worshipping Allah as a virtue that complements and completes faith (Īmān) and worship (ʿibādāt). A believer who attains this superior rank wins himself by exhibiting behaviours in accordance with the beauty he has from his creation, and ultimately attains the following good news from his Lord: “Those who do good deeds shall have a good reward and even more than they deserve! Neither blackness nor disgrace shall cover their faces. They will be the inhabitants of paradise; they will live therein forever " (Yūnus, 10/26).
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily mirror Islamonweb’s editorial stance.