"Doubtlessly, by his good character, a believer will attain the degree of the one who prays during the night and fasts during the day." How should we understand this hadith?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The hadith in question is as follows:

“A believer will attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day thanks to his good character.” (Abu Dawud, Adab 7; Tirmidhi, Birr 62)

Deeds of worship are generally divided into two as fard (obligatory) and nafilah (supererogatory). Fard deeds of worship are the ones that Allah orders in the Quran to be fulfilled; every believer has to fulfill them. There is no other deed of worship or good deed that will replace fard. If a person had a wealth that would fill the earth and if he spent this wealth for a two-rak'ah prayer that he missed, he would not be regarded to fulfill it unless Allah forgave him

Therefore, the fasting and prayer mentioned in the hadith above are supererogatory (nafilah) fasting and prayer that we perform to attain Allah’s consent though we do not have to perform them. The Prophet (pbuh) regarded having ethics in compliance with the Quran and the Sunnah equal to performing nafilah fasting and nafilah prayers performed at night in order to express its importance. 

The most acceptable deed of night worship is to perform tahajjud prayer for Allah’s sake by waking up when sleep is the sweetest. The most acceptable deed of day worship is to perform fasting despite hot weather by feeling thirsty. As a matter of fact, in another narration of the same hadith, the phrase "a person who fasts in the middle of the day by feeling very thirsty" is included instead of the phrase “a person who fasts during the day”. (Muwatta, Husnul-Khuluq, 6)

To sum up, a person obtains great thawabs "by getting on well with people, that is, by doing them favors, acting mercifully, not acting conceitedly and violently, avoiding harming them, showing patience in the face of their hardships and bad deeds, and acting good-humoredly".

Accordingly, having a good character and high ethics is the most distinctive trait of a believer. With this trait, a believer gains thawabs like the people who perform fasting and prayers for Allah’s sake.  

We want to quote some hadiths that Imam Nawawi included in his book called "Riyadus-Salihin" about high ethics. Thus, we will see some examples about high ethics:

“Virtue consists of high ethics. Sin is what rankles in your heart and that you disapprove that people should come to know of it.” (Muslim, Birr 14, 15)

“The best one among you is the one with highest ethics.” (Bukhari, Manaqib 23, Fadailu Ashabin-Nabi 27)

Nothing is heavier on the believer's Scale on the Day of Judgment than good character. For, Allah is angered by the shameless obscene person.” (Tirmidhi, Birr 61)

“The best one among believers in terms of belief is the one with the best character. The best of you are the ones who treat their women in the best way.” (Tirmidhi, Rada’ 11)

“I guarantee a house in the surroundings of Paradise for a man who avoids quarrelling even if he were 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, Adab 7)

“Indeed the most beloved among you to me, and the nearest to sit with me on the Day of Judgment is the best of you in character. And the most disliked among you to me, and the one sitting furthest from me on the Day of Judgement are the ones who speak for a long time, use a pompous language and talk bombastically so that people will say, 'He talks very well.' The Companions asked, ‘Who are they?’ He said, “They are conceited people.” (Tirmidhi, Birr 71)

“Make things easy, do not make them hard; give good tidings, do not alienate.” (Bukhari, Ilm 11)

"He who is deprived of tenderly feelings is in fact deprived of goodness.” (Muslim, Birr 74-76)

“Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably.” (Muslim, Sayd 57)

“Shall I tell you who will not enter Hell or whom Hell will not burn? Hell will not burn those who are friendly, get on well with others, are tender-hearted and help people.” (Tirmidhi, Qiyamah 45)

“The strong man is not the one who defeats his opponent in wrestling but the one who controls himself when he is in a fit of rage.” (Bukhari, Adab 76; Muslim, Birr 107, 108)

They asked, "What is the deed that will take people to Paradise the most?" The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) answered as follows: “Respect to Allah and high ethics.” They asked, "What is the deed that will take people to Hell the most?" he answered as follows: “The mouth and the sex organ.” (Tirmidhi, Birr 62)

Somebody came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said, "Give me advice." The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Do not get angry.” The man repeated his request a few times. The Messenger of Allah always gave the same answer: “Do not get angry.” (Bukhari, Adab 76)

Hz. Aisha narrates:

"The Messenger of Allah never beat anyone with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant, but only, in the case when he had been fighting in the cause of Allah and he never took revenge for anything unless the things made inviolable by Allah were made violable; he then took revenge for Allah." (Muslim, Fadail 79)

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