بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Take what is given freely, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant. [Qur’an, 7:199]
This verse is so beautiful. We are given three steps to good character:
1- There are three meanings to the first part:
a) Allah tells us to take what is easily given by people, meaning not to overburden them. This can apply to charity or other things.
b) Allah is telling the Prophet (pbuh) and us to “give pardon” as that is one of the meanings of “afw”. So pardon people who have wronged you.
c) Take the best of people’s characters. Look for the good in people.
2- Enjoin what is good: Encourage people to do good and speak the truth. This is of course tempered by wisdom, and we have the best example in the Prophet (pbuh). Once the Prophet (pbuh) was standing with a young companion when a beautiful young woman came to ask him a question. The make companion could not take his eyes off her. The Prophet (pbuh) saw this, and he could have shouted at him or embarrassed him. Rather, he looked at the young companion, and gently turned his face so that he would be looking at the Prophet (pbuh) and not the woman. He enjoined what was good without being harsh. May we learn from his example.
3- Stay away from the ignorant: It doesn’t say to curse them or mock them, but rather to turn away from them especially if you find yourself being influenced by them.