There are many authentic prophetic hadiths that talk about the characteristics of the believer. Someone may ask: Why did the Prophet (peace be upon him) describe the believers’ characteristics?

The answer is: Because the human being always flatters himself; he constantly complains about his livelihood, even though he praises his intellect.

Self-flattery is part of human nature; everyone claims that he is a believer, but if you read the authentic hadiths that mention the characteristics of true believers, you should make a comparison between these characteristics and your own, and know how many of these characteristics apply to you.

For example, if someone claimed that he holds a Bachelor’s degree in the English Language – this is an allegation – then we asked him to read some lines in English, but he couldn’t read, then we mentioned an expression, but he didn’t understand it, then we asked him to write in English, but he couldn’t… this would surely mean that it was a false claim, as his actions didn’t prove his claim.

When a person praises himself claiming that he is a believer, he lives in an illusion, because a true believer should have specific characteristics.

The crux of our lesson today are the characteristics of believers, as stated in Riyadh al-Saliheen (The Gardens of The Righteous), which is considered one of the best books that combine authentic prophetic hadiths. The following are some of the believer’s characteristics:

1. Whatever the Situation, a Believer Does not Change

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“How wonderful is the situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone other than the believer.” (Muslim, 27)

In the state of welfare, most people praise and thank Allah, but when they face a sign of any problem, many mistrust Allah and begin to neglect worship.

The person whose worship changes with the change of his situation is not a true believer, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, and Allah warned of the dangerous turn:

{And many a prophet (i.e. many from amongst the prophets) fought (in Allah’s Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah’s Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allah loves As-Sabirin (the patient ones)} (3:146; 33:10-2; 33:23)

This means: If you change your trust level in Allah, your worship, or your straightness along with the change of your circumstances and status, then your actions negate the real belief in Allah, because a true believer in Allah is characterized by the Prophet’s description:

“If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone but the believer.”

If your circumstances have changed, you should roll up your sleeves and renew your faith in Allah, because a true believer never changes with the change of the circumstances.

{And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were, upon the very edge (i.e. in doubt); if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him, he turns back on his face (i.e. reverts back to disbelief after embracing Islam). He loses both this world and the Hereafter. That is the evident loss.} (22:11)

Allah puts the believers to the test, and He sends precise tests and trials.

{Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested?} (29:2)

If the market is in a good condition, you’ll find the trader cheerful and glad, he talks about the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and he talks about doing good deeds. But if the condition of the market is not good, he loses his eagerness to do so. A true believer should not be affected by any circumstances, because he deals with the Creator of the universe, he deals with Allah; this is the first bargain.

2. Love and Caring for Believers

This is the second characteristic. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“The believers are like a structure, each supporting the other.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, 222)

It means that your cooperative action toward your brothers is an indication of your true belief, if you love your Muslim brothers and relieve them of their difficulties, this will be an indication of your true belief; helping each other is one of the believer’s characteristics. It has been said:

“A believer has four enemies: a jealous believer, a detesting hypocrite, a deviating Satan, and a hostile infidel.” If believers envy each other, then their level of faith will be low.

So the second sign of a believer is to love and help fellow Muslim brothers, to feel their pain and joy, to be happy for their happiness. If your Muslim brother gets something good, succeeds in his job or marriage, or gets a certificate or degree, and you feel happy for him, then you are a true believer. As for the hypocrite, Allah says:

{If a good befalls you, it grieves them, but if some evil overtakes you, they rejoice at it.} (3:120)

3. A True Believer Is a Well-mannered Person

Abul Darda’ narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

“There is nothing heavier in the scale of a believer (on the Day of Judgment) than good character.”  (At-Tirmidhi, 2002)

Faith means: morality, bravery, generosity, patience, forgiveness, forbearance, and humbleness.

When you describe a person as “a believer”, this means that he is a well-mannered person, because if he were ill-mannered, people would hate the religion because of him, and will not earn the pleasure of Allah in return. Furthermore, his behavior with his family at home indicates his level of morality, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

“The best one of you is the best among you to his family” (At-Tirmidhi, 2612)

There is no surveillance on man in his home; he fears nothing. If he is a well-mannered person and treats his family well, then for sure he behaves well with other people. And on the contrary, if he is kind and polite with people outside his home, but bad-tempered at home, this means that this kindness and politeness are not morals that would satisfy Allah, because they are acts of self-interest that depend on the person’s intelligence and benefit. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

“A believer achieves by his good conduct the same reward as a person who fasts much and prays (the voluntary prayer) during the night.” (At-Tirmidhi, 108)

4. Reciting the Holy Quran Is a Requirement for the Believer

In this authentic hadith, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) says:

“The example of a believer, who recites the Quran (and acts according to it), is like an orange (utrujjah) which tastes nice and smells nice. And the example of the believer who does not recite the Quran (but acts according to it) is like a date that tastes sweet but has no smell.

And the example of the hypocrite who recites the Quran is like a sweet basil which smells good but tastes bitter. And the example of a hypocrite who does not recite the Quran is like a colocynth (bitter apple) which tastes bitter and has a bad smell.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim, 5)

This means that reciting the Quran is among the requirements of faith; the Quran is the spring of the heart of believer; the Quran is Allah’s tight rope; the Quran is the Straight Path, and the believer worships Allah by reciting the Holy Quran.

So glad-tidings for the reciters of the Holy Quran, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “He who comprehends the Quran, Allah grants him enjoyment in his mind until he dies.”

By Muhammad Ratib An-Nabulsi