Three Degrees of Ihsan
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said (): “Ihsan has three degrees:
The First Degree: Ihsan in intention, i.e. to purify and clean the intention. The Muhsin () should have a clear intention and pure determination of doing goodness for the sake of Almighty Allah.
The Second Degree: Ihsan in condition, i.e. to maintain the condition of being a Muhsin. It is to stay Muhsin towards Almighty Allah and towards people despite the change of circumstances. Things and times change, what counts is to be loyal and persistent in your state of Ihsan and to avoid inconstancy.
The Third Degree: Ihsan in time, i.e. to stay a Muhsin despite the passing of time. It is never to give up dedication in worship or weaken your perseverance. It is to make your state of immigration to righteousness eternal”
This means: Your intention should be pure and devoted to Almighty Allah and no one else. The highest Ihsan is only related to Allah, for Ihsan is an attribute of Him because badness, which contradicts Ihsan, is a result of inability and incompetence, and both descriptions can never be related to the Creator. Allah tells us about the perfection of His creation of the universe. He says (what means): “The handiwork of Allah, Who has consummated everything; surely He is Ever-Cognizant of whatever you perform” (An-Naml: 88). He also Says (what means): “In no way can you see in the creation of The All-Merciful any disparity; so return your gaze; (Literally: “your” beholding) do you see any rent?” (Al-Mulk: 3). Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: “Who perfected in the fairest (shape) everything He created” (As-Sajdah: 7)
Attaining Ihsan is a Command from Allah:
When Almighty Allah created Adam and the human race, He trusted and authorized them to fulfill the message of life. Almighty Allah commanded them to be lordly slaves (teachers of Divine Law and devoted worshipers of Allah), namely to seek perfection in saying and deeds, and if their weaknesses overcome them and they could not attain Ihsan, they should keep trying. Almighty Allah says (what means): “And the ones who have striven in (our way), (Literally: in us) indeed We will definitely guide them to Our ways; and surely Allah is indeed with the Muhsinin (fair-doers).” (Al-Ankabut: 69)
Ihsan should be in everything the believer does in his daily life, even with animals. Islam teaches us how to treat animals and how to be Muhsin to animals and respect their feelings. Shaddad Ibn Aws said: “I memorized two hadiths from the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be upon Him), he said: “Verily, Almighty Allah has prescribed Ihsan (excellence) in all things … if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him comfort the animal he slaughters.” ()
The Prophet (PBUH) put this in application when he ordered us not to torture animals during slaughtering them for meat whether it is torturing them physically when they are taken to be slaughtered or by the dullness of the knife or by letting them see the knife that will be used. Otherwise, it will be as if giving the animal two deaths. Abdullah Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that a man had placed his foot on the side of a sheep and was sharpening his blade (knife) whilst the sheep was glancing towards him with its eyes. The Prophet (PBUH) remarked, “Why (did you) not (sharpen the blade) before this? Do you wish to give the (poor) animal two deaths?” ()
This clearly shows animal rights in Islam. Animals enjoy safety, security and comfort as long as they are living in society that is living under the Islamic civilization.
() Madarij al-Salikeen by Ibn al-Qayyim (2/479), published by Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah
() Muhsin: the believer who attains Ihsan by perfecting his deeds, intentions and sayings for the sake of Almighty Allah
() Muslim (1955), Abu Dawood (2815) and al-Termidhi (1409)
() Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain by al-Hakim (4/231, 233), Mu'ujam al-Kabeer by al-Tabarani (11748), Mu'ujam al-Awsat by al-Tabarani (3728), Majma al-Bahrain fi Zawa'id al-Mu'jamain (Majma al-Zawa'id) by Ali ibn Abu Bakr al-Haythami (33/4) and corrected b