I’ve heard quite often that the order of good person in Islam is being a Muslim; and then above that a Mu’min; and then the highest, a Muhsin. This is basically inferred from the quite well-known hadits, i.e. the one when Angel Gabriel visited Prophet Muhammad saw; and inquired about the meaning of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan. He hadits is the following, in case you don’t remember.
“Umar r.a. narrated: 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.” (HR Muslim)
Previously, I kind of having trouble in understanding what Ihsan really means. Obviously, as it is the highest rank in Islam, I really want to achieve it. However, in Indonesian language, it is simplistically translated as being good, or doing good works. This translation, obviously, is not really helpful to understand what Ihsan really means. Alhamdulillah, my understanding improved last Sunday.
Last Sunday, I went to London Central Mosque, the biggest Masjid in London. While making wudhu’ (ablution), someone (i.e. a stranger) touched my back and said, roughly, “Brother, you should sit down; we are doing it for Allah; we should do it at the best possible way!” Then I looked at the wet small chair provided. He kind of understood what I thought, and said, “Brother, even though it’s wet, it’s okay; we’re doing it for Allah”. Obviously I don’t want to sit on a wet chair, besides, as far as I know it’s not compulsory to do ablution while sitting; nonetheless, I have no interest to argue with him, and then just moved finding a dry chair ablution facility. Later on, I kind of think what he just said to me. “We are doing it for Allah; we should do it at the best possible way”. Even though it’s very simple, I then found it very profound.
Doing something at the best possible way, in a more familiar word means being professional in doing something. I know what it means and what I takes of being professional in doing my work, in doing paper presentation, writing paper, etc. In doing paper presentation, for example, I understand-and has been practicing it-that every single move or body language should be measured; the intonation, the volume, etc. should be done in a measured way. Yet, the notion of being professional in doing something for Allah, i.e. ‘ibadah, in the sense that I should do at the best possible way, a clearly measured move, etc., has just never crossed my mind before. Suddenly, Alhamdulillah, I understand what Rasulullah saw means by Ihsan. I believe, to be precise, Ihsan should be translated as being professional, or doing something at the best possible way. I am very embarrassed and regretful, that how could when doing presentation, work, paper writing, etc., I can do it in a very very good way; while in ‘ibadah, such as praying, I didn’t regards it as something that should be perfectly done.
Since that day, Alhamdulillah, I think the quality of my sholat or praying has improved. When I stand up for praying, I tell myself, I should be as professional as possible in this sholat; be it in terms of perfect movement, good concentration; clear recitation, etc. Also in doing dzikir, for example, if previously while doing dzikir, quite often I might think about something else, now, Alhamdulillah, I understand that Allah is watching me, thus I want to act as professional or as good as possible in front of Him. Now I understand, what Rasulullah saw said about Ihsan, “It is that you should serve Allah as though you could see Him; for though you cannot see Him yet He sees you.”
Now, I internalized myself, that when I’m doing ‘ibadah, I am facing my Rabb, the Lord of the World, obviously, I should do it a perfect manner. All thanks to Allah swt who showed me the way; and obviously, many thanks to the (unknown) brother that is willing and courageous enough to remind me. Alhamdulillah, may we become a Mushin, someone that is professional in his ‘ibadah.