The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said:

عـن أبي يعـلى شـداد بـن اوس رضي الله عـنه ، عـن الـرسـول صلى الله عـليه وسلم قـال : إن الله كتب الإحـسـان عـلى كــل شيء ، فـإذا قـتـلـتم فـأحسـنوا القـتـلة ، وإذا ذبـحـتم فـأحسنوا الذبحة ، وليحد أحـدكم شـفـرتـه ، ولـيـرح ذبـيـحـته .
رواه مسلم

Translation: Indeed, Allah prescribed ihsaan in all things. Thus, if you kill, kill well; and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters. [Saheeh Muslim]

In this crucial hadith, the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) explained to us this concept of ihsaan. What is ihsaan?

Ihsaan is often translated as “excellence.” Ihsaan means to do things with excellence–properly, at the highest level. And we can see this in the example the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) gave us–if you’re performing zahiba, slaughtering a sheep for food, then sharpen the knife! Scholars mention that doing so will make the cut cleaner and less painful for the animal.

And that’s the crux of Ihsaan–that you do things properly, and at the highest level of excellence.

And ihsaan is really a way of thinking, a state of being–not something you do now and then; you should strive to do ihsaan in everything you do, thus becoming one of the Muhsineen.

One striking contemporary example of ihsaan that comes to mind is job interviews–if you’ve ever seen someone who was serious about a job prepare for the interview, you’ll know ihsaan–a man migt take an hour to prepare–dress properly, iron his shirt and suit, tie his tie properly, straighten it, even apply polish to his shoes! He’ll set his alarm early–even though he doesn’t wake up early for Fajr–wake up, eat properly; he might spend hours researching mock interview questions and preparing, making sure he’s ready for anything.

And that’s ihsaan. When the interview comes, he sails through, smooth and smiling and confident.

And if Allah has willed it, he gets the job.

That’s ihsaan.

And Allah says:

هَلْ جَزَاء الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ

Translation: Is there any reward for ihsaan other than ihsaan? [Surah Ar-Rahmaan, verse 60]

With that in mind, what are some examples of ihsaan that we can apply on a daily basis in our lives?

And remember–intentions! If you’re doing ihsaan to show off, or for some haraam dunya purpose–like to net a girlfriend–you’re wasting your time. The reward with Allah is better and longer-lasting then any fleeting desire you might have right now.

  • Cleaning Your Room: don’t just clean half of it, or hide everything under the bed and cram it into yours shelves–take the time to put everything into the proper place. Fold your clothes properly and stack them up neatly. Arrange papers into folders. Throw out anything you don’t need.
  • Be an A+ Student: Study hard, make good notes, and aim to get 110% on the exams. Help out those who need some extra help. Don’t bum around, skip class, and aim to just pass your tests and exams. (One side note–you’ll find your teachers will like you more–because good teachers need good students.)
  • Ihsaanified Blogging: think through your blog. What are you hoping to accomplish through it? Have a strong purpose and vision in mind, a need to fill–yours or others. Pick a pleasing design, and tweak it to your writing. Write regularly–whether daily, weekly, monthly, or whatever your schedule. Review and edit posts for spelling and grammar mistakes, inconsistencies, etc.
  • Become an Exemplary Employee: When you get assigned work, don’t waste time–jump into it, and get it done. Make sure you do whatever you have to do well. Double check it–if you wrote code, test it. If you tabulated numbers, verify them. If it’s a contract you’ve written, re-read it. If you designed something, re-evaluate it. Then submit it.

Insha’Allah if you have any great examples of ihsaan specific to some task or person, post it in the comments insha’Allah.

May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) allow us to understand and implement this amazing virtue of ihsaan into all aspects of our lives, and allow us to reap the rewards of it in the Akhira, ameen!