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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Character and reputation

Character is not only the face in the mirror, but the real person behind the
face. Character evolves from conscience; is sustained by conscience and is
developed; piece by piece, with every thought, with every choice, and
maintained with consistency and determination. The pursuance of piety begins
by making our reputation a reflection of our character. In many people,
reputation precedes character and there is a distinction to be made...

* Reputation is what you lead others to believe you are, character
is what you really are -

* Reputation may be reflected in the combination of your name and
your image, character is the essence of your being.

* Reputation is the wrapping, character the content -

* Reputation is the outer reflection, character the inner reality -

* Reputation is made in a moment, character is built in a life time
-

* Reputation may be reflected in what people write about you on your
tombstone, character is what angels report about you to Allah -

Changing bad habits

The renowned philosopher, Aristotle, once said; "You are what you repeatedly
do ". Habits are conditioned responses, formed through repetition, until the
actions or reactions become second nature; they end up as unconscious
behavior, automatic reactions in a particular situation; (e.g. the way you
sign your name, the reprehensible habit of cigarette smoking after a
meal...)

It was the English writer, Shakespeare, who said; " First we make our
habits, then our habits make us ". Thinking in a particular pattern creates
a mental path, the mental path affects our attitude and our behavior, and
these reflect our personality and character. In other words, our thoughts
affect our attitude which affects our actions which determine our habits
which reflects our character which could determines our destiny. The Roman
poet Naso Ovid rightly said, "habits eventually become character ".

Virtues and vices

According to Islam, habits are classified as virtues or vices, as repeated
actions that are in conformity with or contrary to the rules of morality.
Virtuous character emanates from good habits and good habits emanate from
resisting negative temptations. Good habits, unfortunately, seem so much
easier to give up than bad habits.

Bad habits are like a comfortable bed; easy to get into but difficult to get
out. The chain of bad habits is generally too light to be felt until they
are too strong to be broken. Remember though, that every habit; whether good
or bad, is acquired and can be developed or disowned. Habits decrease or
disappear by abstaining from exercising them and then replacing them. In the
words of Roman orator, Cicero, " consuetudo consuetudine vincitur = habit is
overcome/ conquered by habit.

Ramadan is an ideal training period for filtering out bad habits, developing
virtuous character and is thus referred to by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a
shield against evil and wrongfulness. We are obligated to nurture our noble
qualities; control our passions, our anger and emotions. We are instructed
to be considerate, generous and compassionate.

Moral improvement and spiritual rejuvenation

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) referred to Ramadan as a blessed month in which
Allah has made fasting obligatory on those who are able; whosoever denies
himself of the benefits of that month denies himself many virtues. As we
undertake the physical duty and spiritual responsibility of fasting in the
blessed month of Ramadan, we reflect on the words of our beloved Prophet
Muhammad (pbuh) who said that the practice of faith will not be correct
unless actions are correct and actions will not be considered correct unless
the heart is correct.

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