The following is an excerpt from the text Mukhtaaraatul Adab (مختارات الأدب) which was taught to last year’s Dream students by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda. Ali said,
لَيْسَ شَىْءٌ لا أحْسَنُ مِنْ عَقْلٍ زَانَهُ عِلْمٌ ، وَمِنْ عِلْمٍ زَانَهُ حِلْمٌ ، وَ مِنْ حِلْمٍ زَانَهُ صِدْقٌ ، وَمِنْ صِدْقٍ زَانَهُ رِفْقٌ، وَمِنْ رِفْقٍ زَانَهُ تَقْوَى . إِنَّ مَلَاكَ الْعَقْلِ وَ مَكَارِمَ الْأخْلَاقِ صَوْنُ الْعِرْضِ وَ أداءُ الْفَرْضِ وَ الْوَفَاءُ بِالْعَهْدِ وَ اْلانْجَازُ بِالْوَعْدِ
There is nothing more excellent than intelligence adorned by knowledge, than knowledge adorned by forbearance, than forbearance adorned by honesty, than honesty adorned by gentleness, than gentleness adorned by God-consciousness. Surely the master of knowledge and one who has the excellent qualities of character protects his dignity, fulfills the fardh (rights of Allah on us and rights of others on us), sees through mutual covenants to their completion, and takes action on promises he makes.
Commentary from Shaykh Abdul Nasir
Every human has the innate and basic capability to be intelligent, but knowledge is the next step to take in order to make grounded conclusions about things. Knowledge may lead to being judgmental and an ignorant mentality where we immediately react to certain situations, but the ability to wait something out and see how things take shape without being hasty can help temper our urges to instantaneously come to a decision. Being upfront and honest is a key to being forbearing, otherwise personal agendas may come into play and we can end up lying on someone else’s or own behalf or we may end up making false excuses for ourselves, and our forbearance will result in us enabling ourselves and others to do bad. The truth hurts—or should it?
In a hadith, the Prophet ordered us to speak the truth even if it is bitter. The only way to know if something is bitter is for the person himself to taste it within his own mouth. First and foremost, this is speaking about being truthful on an individual level and we need to be honest with ourselves. When talking to others we should rethink the phrase “the truth hurts.” Musa was told to speak to Fir‘awn in a gentle way, and this helps with encouraging others to be more receptive to the truth. What is said is important, but how it is said is also crucial. Being gentle is not a sign of weakness, rather it is a sign of a person being mindful of Allah and reflecting His attribute of mercy. Our behavior with others is accountable to Allah, and keeping Allah in the picture can help guide our social interactions.