I was Sent to Complete the Nobilities of Character

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Ethics


Moral Verses
Ifk VersesAl-Ukhuwwa VerseAl-It'am VerseAl-Naba' VerseNajwa VerseVerse of TrustsAl-Sulh Verse


Moral Hadiths
Hadith of qurb al-nawafilHadith Makarim al-akhlaqHadith of Mi'rajHadith Junud al-'Aql wa l-Jahl


Moral Virtues
HumilityContentmentGenerosityControlling AngerTruthfulnessHilm (forbearance)AsceticismBraveryChastityInsaf (Equity) • Silat al-RahimWara'Islah dhat al-bayn


Moral Vices
HubrisGreedEnvyLieBackbitingNamima (Talebearing)MiserlinessDisobedience to Parents'Ujb (self-conceit)Sum'aCutting blood relationSpreading grave sinsIngratitudeHypocrisyTabdhir


Moral Terminologies
Jihad with the selfSelf-critical soulCommanding SoulSoul at peaceSelf-reckoningMuraqabaMusharataSinMorality lessonsIstidraj


Scholars of Ethics
Muhammad Mahdi NaraqiAhmad al-NaraqiSayyid 'Ali Qadi Tabataba'iSayyid Rida Baha' al-DiniSayyid 'Abd al-Husayn DastghaybMuhammad Taqi Bahjat


References of Ethics

Qur'anNahj al-balaghaMisbah al-shari'a wa miftah al-haqiqaMakarim al-AkhlaqAl-Mahajjat al-bayda'Tanbih al-khawatir wa nuzhat al-nawazirJami' al-sa'adatMi'raj al-sa'adaAl-Muraqabat

Innamā buʿithtu li-utammim makārim al-akhlāq (Arabic: إِنَّمَا بُعِثْتُ لِأُتَمِّمَ مَکَارِمَ الْأَخْلَاق, lit: I was sent to complete the nobilities of character), is a hadith from the Prophet (s), in which he states the purpose of his prophetic mission as the perfection of moral virtues. The hadith states, "I was sent to complete the nobilities of character." This hadith is commonly referred to as the "Hadith Makarim al-Akhlaq" (Hadith of the Nobilities of Character). It is often cited to emphasize the importance of morality in Islam, as the Prophet's (s) mission was centered on its completion and teaching.

The hadith is cited in both Shiite and Sunni sources, and there are similar hadiths with varying phrases. Due to the frequency of this theme in hadiths, some scholars believe that it reflects "al-tawatur al-ma'nawi" (the frequent transmission of the meaning, even if the exact words differ).

In various hadiths, moral virtues or nobilities of character are believed to include qualities such as patience, gratitude, protection of one's family, contentment, courage, maintaining ties with relatives, modesty, and having a good temperament.

Significance

The hadith "I was sent to complete the nobilities of character" emphasizes the mission of the Prophet to perfect and teach moral virtues. This hadith, also known as the Hadith of Makarim al-Akhlaq (Nobilities of Character) or the Hadith of Tatmim (Completion), was transmitted from the Prophet (s). It is frequently cited to highlight the significant objective of the prophetic mission to perfect and impart moral virtues, underscoring the central role of morality in Islam.

Various Interpretations of the Hadith

There have been various interpretations of the Hadith of the Nobilities of Character.

According to Ibn al-'Arabi, the Sunni mystic and exegete (560-638 AH/ 1164- 5), among the prophets, those who came later possessed all the moral attributes and perfections of their predecessors due to their greater capacity for receiving moral virtues. Therefore, the Prophet of Islam (s) had the qualification to perfect moral virtues.

Some scholars believe that the hadith does not imply that attaining moral virtues is the sole objective of the prophetic mission, as it encompasses other goals such as politics, leadership, and delivering the final message to the people. Accordingly, various interpretations have been proposed for the hadith, including the following possibilities.

The hadith states that the completion of moral virtues was exclusive to the Prophet of Islam. In other words, among all the prophets, it was only him who was sent to perfect moral virtues.

The hadith signifies that the Prophet was specifically sent to complete the noble qualities among all moral virtues. In essence, the Prophet's mission was to perfect the nobilities of character, which are considered the greatest moral virtues.

The primary objective of the prophetic mission is the perfection of moral virtues, which then serves as the foundation for all other religious aspects of the mission.

The Chain of Transmission of the Hadith

The Hadith of Makarim al-Akhlaq is cited in both Shiite and Sunni sources.

Among the Shiite sources, the oldest references to this hadith can be found in al-Risalat al-'Alawiyya by Muhammad b. 'Ali al-Karajaki (d. 449 AH/ 1057- 8) and the Quranic exegesis Majma' al-bayan by Fadl b. al-Hasan al-Tabrisi (d. 548 AH/ 1153- 4). Additionally, in the introduction of his book, Makarim al-akhlaq, al-Hasan b. al-Fadl al-Tabrisi cites the hadith without providing a chain of transmission for it.

It is worth noting that the hadith is also found in other sources, albeit with variations in the wording. In Fiqh al-Rida, it is cited as "bu'ithtu bi-makarim al-akhlaq" (I was sent with the nobilities of character), and in al-Amali by al-Shaykh al-Tusi (385- 460 AH/ 995- 1067- 8), it is mentioned as "bu'ithtu bi-makarim al-akhlaq wa-mahasiniha" (I was sent with the nobilities of character and their excellence).

Among Sunni sources, al-Bayhaqi (d. 458 AH/ 1065- 6) cited the hadith in his al-Sunan al-kubra with a chain of transmission ending in Abu Hurayra, who quoted the hadith from the Prophet. Additionally, Malik b. Anas (93-179 AH/ 711-2 - 795-6), Ahmad b. Hanbal (164-241 AH/ 780-1 - 855- 6), and Muhammad b. Isma'il al-Bukhari (194-256 AH/ 809-10 - 869-70) included similar wordings of the hadith in their books. Due to the multiple citations of this theme with varying wordings and different chains of transmission in both Shiite and Sunni sources, some scholars believe that it holds the status of al-tawatur al-ma'nawi (frequent transmission of the meaning) or at the very least istifadat al-ma'nawiyya (numerous transmission of the meaning), rendering it acceptable among Muslim scholars.

Instances of the Nobilities of Character

The term "makarim" is the plural form of "makrama," which means nobility and greatness. "Makarim al-akhlaq" refers to the nobilities of character or virtuous traits. In sources of hadith, there are numerous narrations from the Infallibles (a) that discuss moral virtues, wherein specific traits are described as exemplifications of noble moral character. In his book, al-Kafi, al-Kulayni cites a hadith from Imam al-Sadiq (a) which refers to the nobilities of character as adornments of the prophets, urging people to acquire them. The hadith then mentions ten attributes as instances of noble moral traits: certainty, contentment, patience, gratitude, continence or self-restraint, good temper, generosity, protection of one's family, courage, and chivalry. Another hadith cited in the same book mentions other instances of nobilities of character, such as not coveting what others possess, truthfulness, returning entrusted items, maintaining ties with relatives, showing hospitality towards guests, providing food for the needy, compensating for favors done to us, observing the rights of neighbors, and observing the rights of friends. It is also stated that modesty is the fundamental source of all nobilities of character.

Distinction between Nobilities of Character and Excellences of Character

In certain versions of the Hadith of Makarim al-Akhlaq, including al-Shaykh al-Tusi's version, the term "excellences of character" (mahasin al-akhlaq) is also mentioned alongside the nobilities of character. Muhammad Taqi Falsafi (1286-1377 Sh/ 1917-1998), a Shiite religious orator, points out that no specific criteria are mentioned in the hadiths for distinguishing between moral nobilities and moral excellences. However, based on the instances attributed to each in the hadiths, it can be inferred that excellences of character refer to moral attributes such as being good-tempered towards people, which are praiseworthy in religion and align with one's personal desires as well, as they pertain to social ties and interactions with others. On the other hand, moral traits such as suppressing one's anger, which require a struggle with or at least disregarding one's personal desires, can be considered as nobilities of character.

Notes

References

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