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On Ihsaan


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Hadith of Jabrail عليه السلام


On the authority of 'Umar, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said:


"While we were one day sitting with the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of journeying were visible on him, and none of us knew him.


He sat down close by the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, rested his knee against his thighs, and said, O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam." Said the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, "Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should perform salah (ritual prayer), pay the zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage) to the House (the Ka'bah at Makkah), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it)." Said he (the man), "You have spoken truly."


We were astonished at his thus questioning him and telling him that he was right, but he went on to say, "Inform me about iman (faith)." He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, "It is that you believe in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers and in the Last Day, and in fate (qadar), both in its good and in its evil aspects." He said, "You have spoken truly."


Then he (the man) said, "Inform me about Ihsan." He (the Messenger of Allah) answered, " It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him, for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you." He said, "Inform me about the Hour." He (the Messenger of Allah) said, "About that the one questioned knows no more than the questioner." So he said, "Well, inform me about the signs thereof (i.e. of its coming)." Said he, "They are that the slave-girl will give birth to her mistress, that you will see the barefooted ones, the naked, the destitute, the herdsmen of the sheep (competing with each other) in raising lofty buildings." Thereupon the man went off.


I waited a while, and then he (the Messenger of Allah) said, "O 'Umar, do you know who that questioner was?" I replied, "Allah and His Messenger know better." He said, "That was Jibril. He came to teach you your religion.""



[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

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True definition of Ihsaan


Ihsaan has two meanings:


1. To show generosity and favour upon others.


2. To improve Aamaal (actions) and to carry them out with utmost concentration.This latter meaning is applicable here. This has been clearly explained in the famous Hadith of Hazrat Jibraeel alaihis salaam in which after explaining the definition of Imaan (faith) and Islam he enquired from the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam,


“What is Ihsaan?” The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam replied, “…to worship Allah in such a manner that you are looking at him, and if this is not achievable then in such a manner that he is looking at you.”[sahih Bukhari]



From: Nisbat, Ihsaan & Aamaal-e-Qalbiyyah

Compiled by
Hazrat Mufti Moosa Badat Sahib

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The following are explanations of various Mashaikh taken from:

Nisbat, Ihsaan & Aamaal-e-Qalbiyyah

Compiled byHazrat Mufti Moosa Badat Sahib




Shaykh Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi rahmatullahi alai says,


that in this Hadith Ihsaan is mentioned after Imaan and Islam, which indicates that besides the fundamental beliefs and physical actions there is another thing called Ihsaan. Furthermore, by the explanation given in the Hadith it can be understood that Ihsaan is a path of internal actions because without Ihsaan such complete and total attentiveness is unachievable.Thousands of reliable people have given oath to its presence, which can in no way be refuted.

[shariat & Tareeqat]




Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani rahmatullahi alai’s explanation


Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Uthmani rahmatullahi alai says, the fundamental thing is Imaan, which resides in the depths of the heart. When this Imaan increases the effect becomes apparent upon the body. By constantly adhering to the advice of the Prophets alaihimus salaam relating to Imaan and Islam strength is gained. This strength, which is built up through good actions and constant adherence, is known as Ihsaan. The Prophets alaihimus salaam were the greatest tutors of this art. In conclusion, Imaan increases to become Islam, then Islam increases to become Ihsaan.


Further, he says, by systematically adhering to and constantly practicing upon the Shariat, which is a combination of Imaan and Islam, Ihsaan begins to develop. This is also known as Tareeqat (path of spirituality)by which one receives spiritual favour in this world. This is at times translated as Marifat (true knowledge of Allah) and Irfaan (recognition of Allah). [Fazlul Baari vol. 10]



Sayings of Hazrat Shaikh Zakariya rahmatullahi alai


In his book ‘Shariat and Tareeqat’ Hazrat Shaikh rahmatullahi alai writes, Tareeqat is just another name for Ihsaan or it is the path of attaining the qualities of Ihsaan. This is also known as Tasawwuf (the knowledge which leads to inner spiritual purification and results in closeness to Allah) and Sulook (the path of Tasawwuf) or you can name it whatever you wish because they are all explanations of the same thing. He further writes, Hazrat Qutubul Irshaad Maulana Rashid Ahmed Gangohi rahmatullahi alai says that the spiritual power of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam was such that when even the greatest of non-believers said the words of “la ilaha illallaahu” they would instantly attain the status of Ihsaan. An example of this is that once the Companions radiyallahu anhum inquired from the Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam, “How are we to relieve ourselves? Because, this results in us being naked in the presence of Allah.” This was the ultimate state of their Ihsaan. [As recorded in Bukhari in the Book of Tafseer and reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas radiallah anhu]


These people (the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum) were in no need of Riyadhat and Mujaahadah because their strength was gained through companionship of the Noble Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam. However, this strength of the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum was of a lesser degree than the personal strength of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam. This strength was also present in the Taabe’een rahemahumullah but to a lesser degree than that of the Sahabah radiyallahu anhum. But during the era of the Tabe-tabe’een (those believers who attained the companionship of Taabe’een) this strength had been weakened dramatically.


In order to rectify this weakness the Saints introduced Riyadhat and Mujaahadah. For a period these introductions remained only as a ‘means’ and as a non-objective in itself. However, as time progressed further away from Khairul Quroon (best of times i.e. the era of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam) they began to be considered as an objective and resulted in the introduction of Bid’ah (innovation). He further states, prominent Sufis tried to rectify these shortcomings e.g. Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jelani, Shaikh Shihaabuddin Sahar’wardi, Mujaddid Alf Thani, and Sayyad Ahmad Shaheed rahemahumullah effectively. As a result of their efforts the innovations decreased, but they were not completely erased. [summary from Shariat & Tariqat page: 94]



Explanation of Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi rahmatullahi alai



This text is from Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi’s book ‘Lamaatul Tanqee’ the commentary of Mishkat.

It becomes apparent from the aforementioned commentary of Shaikh Abdul Haq Muhaddith Dehlawi rahmatullahi alai that by attaining the state of Ihsaan one’s Deen becomes complete and the essence of this is Ikhlaas without which faith and actions cannot be termed complete. This has been explained at numerous places throughout the Holy Qur’an and in the Ahadith of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam of which some verses have been quoted as examples in the text.


Then explaining further, he says, Ihsaan has two meanings. 1. To beautify ones action and to attain the best of it, this is the meaning, which is applicable here. 2. To extend generosity towards others. This latter meaning can also be acceptable in the form that you assist yourself by abstaining from Shirk (associating partners with Allah) and Riyaa (to carryout acts of worship with the intention to enhance one’s dignity in the eyes of the people).


 Then, there are two stages of Ihsaan. One is the greater one, which is explained as Mushahada (observance), i.e. the servant is observing Allah, due to his complete attention with the eyes of the heart, (although this is not possible with the physical eyes in this world). The second stage is the lower one, which is explained as Muraqabaa (deep concentration).The Holy Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam attained the greatest stage of Ihsaan which is why he stated, as has been recorded in a Hadith that “…the coolness of my eyes is in Salaah.” Through the blessing of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam the Saints and Abedeen (sincere worshippers) also managed to reach this stage. (Numerous examples of this are mentioned in various books.)

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In the famous hadeeth of Jibril عليه السلام narrated by Sayyiduna Abu Huraira رضى الله عنه (Hadeeth 47, Abridged Saheeh al-Bukhari), Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. says ‘Ihsaan is that you worship Allah as though you see Him. Then, if you do not see Him then indeed He sees you’.   This sentence of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. can be understood as follows;


Ihsaan is that you reach such a degree of devotion, sincerity, godliness, and awareness in your worship as well as in your very being and existence, that you obey Allah and worship Him in such a state that your belief extends to your body and mind. Not only are you convinced of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and your relationship with Him but that belief and conviction, that faith in Allah عز وجل permeates your very body, nay your very existence. And thus with this state of mind, heart and spirit you worship Allah سبحانه وتعالى with such conviction and faith as though you are constantly seeing Allah سبحانه وتعالى Himself. That is your level of awareness. That is your state of obedience. Not only in salah, not only when you recite the Qur’an, not only when you engage in the dhikr (remembrance) of Allah but throughout your life you reach that level of awareness, devotion and concentration in your ibad’ah that you behave respectfully towards Allah عز وجل and you behave in such a state as though you are constantly seeing Allah سبحانه وتعالى.


[This short excerpt is based on Lesson 21 of the al Tajrid al Sarih series taught by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 26th October 2001.]

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The Select and The Elect


Islam is the external application of the laws of religion but it doesn’t necessarily mean that that application and that belief is reflected within. Therefore, imaan is a degree higher than Islam. But the degree of ihsaan is beyond both and is reserved only for the select and for the elect; those who are truly close to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. They are those whose ibad’ah (worship), awareness of Allah عز وجل and ma’rifah (cognisance) of Allah is not just limited to ritualistic prayer or to ritualistic remembrance with the tongue. Rather, their belief, faith, and devotion to Allah rests securely in their hearts, and is reflected in their limbs and organs, in their external application of religion and most importantly it permeates their whole body and their very being. So for them ihsaan (i.e. to worship  Allah in a manner as though they see Him) is not just in the heart or the mind but their whole condition is one of ihsaan. Truly that is a lofty degree to which all of us should aspire but we should realise at the same time that it is not easily gained and it requires determination, devotion, perseverance and sacrifice. May Allah سبحانه وتعالى bless us with such a rank of ihsaan. Allah praises those with the rank of ihsaan. In one verse Allah عز وجل says:


وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ


And indeed Allah is with the muhsineen. [surah al-Ankabut, 29:69]


The meaning of muhsineen is those who occupy the rank of ihsaan; thus, Allah is with those who practice ihsaan. Allah is with them all the time. Allah protects them, surrounds them, supports them and strengthens them just as He specifically and exclusively supports the prophets عليهم السلام, their companions, the siddiqeen (the veracious), the martyrs and those who are close to Allah سبحانه وتعالى in a way which is different to others.


[This short excerpt is based on Lesson 21 of the al Tajrid al Sarih series taught by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 26th October 2001. For a more comprehensive understanding of this topic please refer to that lecture].

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Adorn Your Character


Mawlana Rashid Ahmad Gangohi  رحمة الله عليه, a great a scholar of the Indian subcontinent who died in 1905, wrote an article in which he listed the attributes and characteristics that are manifested in those who reach the rank of ihsaan. We should work towards these attributes which are:


1. To adopt humbleness and regard oneself as inferior.

2. To show kindness to creation and to tolerate inconvenience and hurt from the rest of creation.

3. To conduct oneself with mercy and compassion and to abandon anger and rage.

4. To be sympathetic and to give priority to the rights of Allah’s creation above one’s own.

5. To be generous.

6. To overlook the wrongs of others and to forgive and forget.

7. To always have a pleasant face.

8. Softness in one’s character.

9. To avoid affectation and to behave naturally (i.e. avoid pretence).

10. To spend moderately.

11. Reliance upon Allah سبحانه وتعالى

12. Contentment with little from Allah سبحانه وتعالى (i.e. few worldly possessions).

13. Piety and taqwa.

14. To avoid arguments and retaliation.

15. To abstain from envy and malice.

16. To fulfil one’s promises.

17. To exercise forbearance and patience.

18. To do things calmly.

19. To detach oneself from those who distract you from Allah سبحانه وتعالى

20. To show gratitude to Allah سبحانه وتعالى

21. To spend for the benefit of the creation.

22. To feel shame in front of Allah سبحانه وتعالى out of His respect and fear.



Tazkiya is all of good character and manners ( akhlaaq) and the one on the path of tazkiya should adorn his zaahir (outer self) and his baatin (inner self).


[This short excerpt is based on a brothers’ majlis (gathering for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 4th September 1999].

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Constancy in 8 Things


When a person reaches the stage of ihsaan, his walking, talking, sitting and so on all become ibaadah (worship) because he is conscious of Allah at all times; thus, his whole life becomes ibaadah. However before a person can reach this lofty stage he must firstly become constant in, and perfect, 8 beginning stages:


1.    Constancy in purity and worship,

2.    Constancy in fasting,

3.    Constancy in silence,

4.    Constancy in solitude,

5.    Constancy in the remembrance of Allah سبحانه وتعالى,

6.    Constancy in negating stray thoughts,

7.    Constancy in the company of one’s spiritual guide,

8.    Contentment with the Decree of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.


[This short excerpt is based on a brothers’ majlis (gathering for spiritual training) held by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq on 11th March 2000].

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  • 8 months later...

Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat explains:

Allah Ta’ala says in Surah Saaffaat, “Thus do We reward the Muhsineen”

“If you desire acceptance in this world and in the Hereafter, then become of the Muhsineen, (those who do good deeds). Work hard, adopt Taqwa and become deserving of Sifate Ihsaan.

But what is this quality of Ihsaan?

Worship Allah as though you see Him and if not, then know that if you do not see Him, He definitely sees you. When the notion is born in one that my Allah is watching me at all times, and He is Great and Powerful (Azmat wala, Qudrat wala), so He will reward me on my good but He will punish me on my bad deeds, to have this azmat in one’s heart is called Maqaame Muraaqabah.

When in the heart and mind one is constantly aware that my Allah is watching me and He is the Maalik of Nafaa-Nuksaan (The Lord of benefit and harm), I have to obey Him and not disobey Him, after one becomes firm on this, then this stage develops whereby the person will see Allah’s Qudrat (power) in everything i.e. if the hand is raised then he will realise the hand is being raised. This is Maqaame Mushaahadah.This is Sifate Ihsaan.

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Shaikh Rasheed Ahmad Gangohi (Allah have mercy on him) said,

‘The end result of all forms of remembrances (adhkar), spiritual exercises (ashgal) and meditations (muraqabat) is awareness of being in the presence of Allah all the time.’

It is essential to appreciate that this is not the creation of an abstract idle thought but an actual experience that brings a change in the behaviour and actions of the individual.

That is, Ihsaan as mentioned in Hadith e Jibraeel (Allah’s peace be upon him)




Shaykh Hussain Ahmed Madani

“It is to worship Allah in a fulfilling, humble manner as if He is watching you”




Ma’riful Hadith – by Shaykh Muhammad Manzoor Numani

“Ihsaan denotes nothing more than that Allah should be worshipped and His decrees and injunctions obeyed as if He was seeing us and we were seeing Him. A slave carries out his master’s command with great efficiency and keenness under his master’s eye."

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  • 4 years later...




An individual enthusiastically informed Arif-billah Hadhrat Dr. Abdul Hayy Arifi (RH) that by Allah’s grace he had attained the station of Ihsan. That is, worshipping Allah as though you see Him and if that is not possible then as though He sees you.


Shaykh Dr. Arifi (qaddas sirrahu) congratulated and encouraged him. And then inquired that if this ihsan was attained only in prayers (salah) or it was also present at other times, like dealing with house hold members, especially wife.


The individual looked in bewilderment at Shaykh and informed that he thought this ihsan was only meant to be limited to prayers and ritual worship.


Shaykh Arifi explained to the audience in detail that this is a common mistake. We tend to limit deen to formal acts of worship (Ibadaat). Our all other activities seem to be independent of the fact that each and every moment of our life we are as much a slave of Allah as in prayers and other worship.


The genuine ihsan is perpetual. The slave is aware that he is being watched and he will be accountable for whatever he does. Hence, he has utmost respect and does not do any thing inappropriate. Remember this is an intentional and a voluntary act of thinking.


As per instruction of Sayyidi wa sanadi Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Taqi Usmani sahib (Allah SWT preserve him & allow us to benefit from him abundantly. Ameen) setting aside an allocated time every day to think repeatedly that: ‘I am in front Allah SWT & He is watching me’, is essential for achieving it. It becomes a habit in second nature only by doing it repeatedly. Practice makes perfect. Gradually it becomes almost like an instinctive performance, like breathing or drinking.

Wa ma taufiqi ilabillah!

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