Virtues and Vices!

Both words have a rhyme about them. Both start with the letter V, and one means the opposite of the other. A vice, as the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary says, is an evil or immoral behaviour or an evil or immoral quality in somebody character. As for virtue, the same dictionary says, it means behavior or attitudes that show high moral standards, a particularly good habit or an attractive or useful quality.

Vices and Virtues! From the definition above, we know that virtues are good while vices are bad. Then we should know that we should acquire or cultivate virtues and run away or drop vices. However, who determines what are vices and what are virtues? Who determines good character and bad character? The people or the current thinking of the society? No! It is Islaam and the Shareeah (Laws) of Allaah that tells us what is good and that which is evil. Then, once we know the virtues, we will try very hard to do them very well and when we know the vices, then we do our all to avoid them. Hudhaifa (RA), a companion of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, regarding asking about the evil things. "The people used to ask Allaah's Messenger about good, but I used to ask him about evil for fear that it might overtake me." (Bukhari).

So he asked the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) about the evil things not because he wants to partake in them, but to guard himself against them. What are vices? Now, what are virtues and what are vices? Waabisah ibn Mabad (RA) said, "I came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessing be upon him) and he said: "You have come to ask about righteousness and sinfulness?" I said "Yes". He said, "Consult your heart. Righteousness is that which makes the soul feel tranquil and the heart feel tranquil. And sin is that which makes the soul waver and the breast uneasy, even if the people give you their verdict on it and continue to give you their verdict (in its favour)" (Tirmidhi).

One of the favours of Allaah is that He has put inside the son of Adam a heart that knows the right from the wrong.

Do all hearts retain this quality forever? No! Only good hearts will be pleased with a virtuous act or will be troubled by a vice. Still all hearts will know the difference between a virtue and a Vice. For example, no one (except those with blackened heart) will consider as a good deed, a boy who wakes up in the morning and the first thing he does is to slap one of his parent. So each and every one of us has a discerning heart! Vices are prohibited Allaah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Allaah, the Exalted and Glorious, said: My servants, I have made wrongdoing unlawful for Me and unlawful for you, so do not wrong one another." (Muslim).

Amongst the wrongdoings are shirk, backbiting, pride and several others that Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessing be upon him) have mentioned.. Do not assist one another in vices Allaah says,

"Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression".(Q5:2) 

It is not permissible for us to assist one another in sins vices and the likes.

The source of vices, the source of all evil is falsehood just as the source of all good is the truth. In fact the greatest falsehood also corresponds to the greatest sin and that is giving what solely belongs to Allaah to someone or something else, that is to worship other than Allaah or joining any other thing in worship along with Him. Why should it not be so when Allaah says:

"That is because Allaah He is the Truth, and what they (the polytheists) invoke besides Him, it is Batil (falsehood)" (Q22:62).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "Truth leads to piety and piety leads to Jannah. A man persists in speaking the truth till he is written with Allaah as truthful. Falsehood leads to vice and vice leads to the Fire (Hell), and a person persists on telling lies until he is written as a liar" (Bukhari).

Evil effects of Vices

Vices blacken the heart: Peoples heart do not just become black. Rather it is a gradual process that can be changed if care is taken before it becomes too late. Allaah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "When a believer commits a sin there is a black spot on his heart, and if he repents and asks pardon his heart is polished; but if he does more it increases till it gains the ascendancy over his heart. That is the rust mentioned by Allaah Most High, Nay, but what they were committing has spread like rust over their hearts" (Tirmidhi)So the key to a polished clean heart is to repent and ask pardon for sins that one commits, so that the black spots of sin will not spread over ones heart. 


Vices are sources of darkness on Day of Resurrection: The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,

"Oppression will be a darkness on the Day of Resurrection." (Bukhari).

This is a day when man will be in need of all the light he could possibly get. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said about that Day,

"Every person, whether a hypocrite or a believer, would be endowed with a light. There would be spikes and hooks on the bridge of Hell, which would catch hold of those whom Allaah wills. Then the light of the hypocrites would be extinguished, and the believers would secure salvation." (Muslim)

Vices cause the descent of Allaah's punishment: Allaah says,

"So each We seized for his sin; and among them were those upon whom We sent a storm of stones, and among them were those who were seized by the blast, and among them were those We caused the earth to swallow, and among were those whom We drowned. And Allaah would not have wronged them, but it was they who were wronging themselves" (Q29:40)

What are virtues?

In the hadith quoted above, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, "Righteousness is that with which the soul is tranquil and the hearts tranquil" (Tirmidhi).

So virtues are acts of righteousness and goodness and they make the heart tranquil. They are also acts that one would not be ashamed of if people were to be aware of them. They are of many kinds The Messenger of Allaah (PBUH) said:

"There are forty kinds of virtue, the highest of which is to gift a (milch) she goat. He who practises any of these virtues, expecting its reward (from Allaah) and believing on the verity of the promise made for it, will enter Jannah," (Bukhari).

So there are many kinds of virtues and we should practice that which will be easy for us.

The source of virtues

The hadith of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) quoted above also informs us about the source of virtues: He said:

"Truth leads to piety and piety leads to Jannah. A man persists in speaking the truth till he is enrolled with Allaah as truthful," So the key to all virtues is to be truthful. We are commanded to assist one another in virtues Allaah says, "Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety);" (Q5:2).

So Allaah has commanded us to assist one another in virtues and doing good. This makes it obligatory upon us to do virtuous deeds and also assist others in doing them.

Effects of virtuous deeds

Virtues are the causes of whiteness of the heart: Narrated Hudhaifah (RA), "I heard Allaah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) saying:

"Temptations (trials and tribulations) will be presented to mens hearts as a reed mat is woven stick by stick and any heart which is impregnated by them will have a black mark put into it, but any heart which rejects them will have a white mark put in it, The result is that there will become two types of hearts: one heart like a white stone which will not be harmed by any turmoil or temptation, so long as the heavens and the earth endure; and the other black and dust- coloured like-a vessel which is upset, not recognizing what is good or rejecting what is abominable, except that which is in accordance to its desires (whims) "(Muslim)

Virtues cause extensive provision: Prophet Hud (peace be upon him) said to his people "O my people ask forgiveness of your Lord and then repent to Him, He will send you abundant rain, and add strength to your strength" (Q 11: 52)

Virtues help avert Allaah's punishment: Allaah says: "Why should Allaah punish you if you have thanked (Him) and believed in Him?" (Q4:147) 

Virtues help in relieving afflictions and distress: Allaah says, concerning Prophet Yunus (peace be upon him),

"Had he not been of them who glorify Allaah, he would have indeed remained inside its belly (the fish} till the Day of Resurrection" (Q37,143-144)

Virtues raise ones degree like praying and fasting: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

"By his good character a believer will attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day" (Abu Dawud)

Virtues lead to Paradise

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

"I guarantee a house in the surroundings of Paradise for a man who avoids quarrelling even if he were in the right, a house in the middle of Paradise for a man who avoids lying even if he were joking, and a house in the upper part of Paradise for a man who made his character good." (Abu Dawud) 

Take care of your heart! The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said,

"That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear and between them are doubtful matters about which not many people are knowledgeable. Thus, he who avoids these doubtful matters certainly clears himself in regard to his religion and honour. But he who falls into the doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Verily every king has a sanctuary and Allaah sanctuary is His prohibitions. In the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it be sound, all the body is sound and which, if it be diseased, all the body is diseased This part of the body is the heart." (Bukhari).

So we should endeavour to purify our hearts so that we can clear ourselves with regard to our religion and honour, This is because on the day when neither sons nor wealth will avail us, it is only a clean heart that will be of use to us, Allaah says:

"The Day whereon neither wealth nor son will avail, Except him who brings to Allaah a clean heart" (Q26:88-89)

Why the heart? We might ask, Why is it the heart that gets blackened, when it is the limbs that commits the deeds? The heart is blackened because; all deeds are first conceived in the heart before the limbs acts upon it The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

"The adultery of the eyes is the sight (to gaze at a forbidden thing), the adultery of the tongue is the talk, and the inner self wishes and desires and the private parts testify all this or deny it," (Bukhari).

So it is the inner self that wishes and desires, while the limbs testify or deny. Now stay with us, insha Allaah, for a monthly dose of virtue or vice.


This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited


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