WHAT IS VIRTUE (IHSAN)?
It is the third cardinal principle of Islamic religion, i.e. after faith (iman) and submission to God (Islam). It means excellence or virtuous character. The Prophet, may God bless him and grant him peace, defined ihsan for us as follows:
“It is that you worship God as though you see Him, for if you do not see Him, truly He sees you.”
In other words, Virtue is to worship God Alone with true sincerity, keeping nothing but Him in the heart, and responding to His Presence as though we are able to see Him. Failing this, we are to remain constantly assured and aware that He sees us wherever we are, present through His Knowledge and His other Perfect attributes.
So, virtue, as the state of keeping God always in our consideration and acting only for His Sake, is understood to be the fruit of knowledge and the goal of our perseverance. There are two foundational principles to be observed in our seeking of Virtue: a) To turn to God Most High in repentance; and b) to turn away from the attachment of the heart to creation. Without these, Virtue cannot be attained.