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Background reading material by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. for Year 2 Semester 2 PPSD Session on Wednesday 20th February 2008



Character is what determines what type of individual you are. Good character is a great virtue. The best gift that a parent can give a child is good character.

Habits and behaviors are quite consistent. Behavior is likely to be repeated. When you observe bad behavior even once make a note of it because it is likely to be repeated.

Character is internal and is related to basic personality. Behavior is its outward manifestation. A habit is a persistent, repeated behavior which after a time becomes unconscious.

You can not judge people’s character unless you have interacted with them and seen their behavior.

Bad manners and behavior reflect a bad character. Good behavior reflects good character. There are exceptional situations when a behavior may not be reflection of underlying character. These are the exceptions and are only temporary. Consistent observation of behavior over a long time reveals true character.

The following are some of the components of a positive character: Piety, generosity, charity, chastity, trust, humility, balance, moderation, patience, endurance, cooperation, forgiving, ignoring stupid company, reconciliation, honor and dignity, shyness, modesty, integrity, courage, and wisdom. These traits are best manifested in an atmosphere of positive attitudes, optimism, and behavior.

Positive behavior includes: controlling the appetite by eating little, fasting, sexual self-control, fulfilling needs of others, mercy, good words and acts; and good deeds which wipe out bad ones.

Integrity, amanat, is when actions are in conformity with your values. Values are universal. Knowledge of what is bad is innate. Evil is what scratches your chest making you uncomfortable. Religious teachings of what is right and what is wrong only reinforce what good nature already knows. Integrity in essence means successfully carrying and discharging the trust. The trust may be moral or material. Moral trusts include being truthful, trustworthy, and keeping promises and undertakings. Material trusts are property and financial rights of others that must not be violated.

Integrity is needed in work, leadership, and moral guidance of others. A distinguishing human attribute of humans is acceptance to carry trust. A person with integrity fulfils the trust. Believers are conscious of the trust. Any breach of integrity is a breach of the trust. Never utter an untruth. It is better to keep quiet even in situations in which silence makes you look a fool. There are no white lies. All lies are an untruth and should never be uttered. Your promises and commitments are sacred. Never make any if you are not sure of keeping them. Keeping promises indicates both integrity and efficiency. An organized person who knows what he can or can not do and who manages his time well is less likely to make promises he can not keep.

Courage: The essence of courage is to stand up to evil with the full realization that such a stand may invite unpleasant consequences for you. This is under the general rubric of forbidding evil. The supreme level of courage is to face one self and stand up to the inner desires and passions. The high level of courage is to attempt to change evil physically. The middle level is to speak out against it evil. The lowest level is to hate evil in the heart. Courage is needed morally, physically, and emotionally. Moral courage is needed to know your-self, self-criticize, and decide to improve. Social courage is needed to stick to morally right choices in your life even though the society around you may behave differently. Physical courage is needed to stand up for your rights and face the consequences.

Wisdom, hikmat ,  is a sign of maturity. Being given wisdom is being given a lot of good. Learn the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Wisdom is a higher level of understanding and using knowledge taking into consideration previous experiences and high moral guiding principles. You are better off with less knowledge and more wisdom. A lot of knowledge with no wisdom is positively dangerous.

Patience, sabr, is needed to deal with problems of life. Problems must be met with inner strength and a sense of hope. Lack of patience is associated with wrong choices and moves. Endurance and perseverance are part of patience. Patience and perseverance is the ability to stick it out and weather all adversities with a strong heart. You must arm yourself to avoid the human tendency to be impatient in expectation of an event or when afflicted by a calamity.

Humility is the beginning of wisdom and is part of faith. Know that you have limitations. Do not deceive yourself that you are superior whatever you may be endowed with. Always remember that there are others who may be your equals or actually better than you. Whatever you may have, you are insignificant in front of God.

Self-restraint has a lot of rewards. A human has passions and inner evil promptings that if not controlled will lead to evil action. There are also many temptations in the external social environment that can lead to evil unless countered by a strong self-restraint and self-control. Sex is the most powerful drive in humans that can lead to evil. Chastity and sexual discipline is necessary for individual and societal well being. Keep away from zina and what could lead to it. Zina is taken in its comprehensive sense and not the physical act of fornication. Zina of the eye, the mouth, the tongue are destructive to marriage and society in general.

Modesty is a very important component of character and is considered part of faith. To be modest is to set limits beyond which there is immorality and sin. A modest person stays shy of those limits and will refrain from things that are clearly permissible but if done in excess can lead to transgression of the limits. Such transgression could also occur by mistake with no malicious intent. If one has no modesty at all then he can do anything. Modesty is therefore the protecting barrier against evil. Modesty is always good and can never be negative. Modesty is a decoration of the person who has it.

Simplicity is beauty and power. Make your daily life simple; you will get strength. Do not live in much luxury or crowd your mind with so much of worldly concerns. Consider your physical environment as an aid to fulfilling your mission and not an end in itself. Wealth and its accumulation can be a temptation.

Equilibrium and moderation: Moderation is the best approach. Be balanced in your attitudes and actions. Avoid extreme positions because you can never have all the facts and full understanding of a particular situation. Taking a middle path gives you a chance to change positions and follow what is right and what is best. You however should never be moderate where evil and immorality are concerned. You must take a clear and extreme position for what is moral and right. Stick your head up high to be counted among supporters of the good and the moral and among opponents of evil. Your actions regarding an evil situation should, however, be moderate to avoid creating new problems that may be worse than the original problem. Be moderate in expenditure; not wasteful and not miserly. Be calm and controlled in moments of emotional arousal, good and bad. Wrong and inappropriate decisions are likely at moments of anger or emotional excitement when the normal balance is lost

Good acts and words wipe away or neutralize the bad. You should hasten to do good. While always engaged in doing good, there is little room for the bad. Never injure anyone with your tongue. Say good or keep quiet. Learn to work with others in doing good and forbidding bad. Sharing and helping others helps you become even a better human being. It gives you a sense of mission beyond your physical needs. Give charity continuously; it cleanses both your wealth and your soul. Putting interests of your brothers in front of yours helps you discover your humanity and conquer your egoistic tendencies. Altruism involves doing good for others at the expense of some inconvenience to yourself for the sake of brotherhood with no expectation of any reward.

Keep good company. Look for and stay in the company of wise people. You will learn the good from them. Their company will reinforce the good in you. Time spent in such good company is time taken away from possible bad company or bad influences. Do not trust or deal with bad people except in trying to correct and lead them to the right. Ignore stupid and immoral company. They will have a negative impact on you however careful you are. The least they can do is to decrease your sensitivity to evil and increase your toleration for it.

Principled and purposive life: You must have a principled life. To succeed you must be guided in life by high moral principles and not expediency. You must make responsible choices and stick with their consequences. You must understand that there are limits to freedom. You may be constrained by previous commitments in making a new choice. After making the first choice you have only a limited range of later choices that you can make. A complete and well- balanced personality requires consistency, constancy and moving ahead following well defined goals and milestones. Life must have a purpose and goals. The highest purpose is achieving the pleasure of Allah. In addition to seeking the pleasure of Allah, you must set personal goals both long and short term. The goals have to be reasonable expectations, and imaginative. Personal goals must be specific, actionable, attainable, and challenging. You must be committed to the goals and must be attuned to any feedback that helps refine or modify goals. If you are without a clear sense of direction, you will make many mistakes and eventually fail. Personal goals should stay permanent for a reasonable period of time. Frequent shifting of goal posts is a cause of failure.


Writings of Professor Omar Hasan Kasule, Sr

This section provides thoughts in Islamic Epistemology and Curriculum Reform.
This section covers motivation of a medical student and development of personal skills: social, intellectual, professional behavior etc. It also equips the medical student with leadership skills that will be required of him as a future physician.

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