It ought to be remembered that in the likeness of transmittable diseases, excellent qualities too must be contagious. A believer has been commanded to elevate their morals to a degree where they become contagious. For even the finest of actions cannot be admirable or worthy of emulation until it possesses an inherent radiance and magnetism; its luminescence draws in the attention of others while its magnetism attracts them. Ultimately, the outstanding merits of the action itself encourages a person to act accordingly. One may observe that Hatim has a good name because he was renowned for his generosity, though I cannot say for certain whether his generosity was sincere. Similarly, Rustam and Asfandyar’s courage are known to all, though we cannot say without a shadow of doubt that they were sincere.
It is my faith and belief that until a person becomes a true believer, their acts of virtue, irrespective of how magnificent they may be, cannot be free from the gild of ostentation. Nonetheless, since the actions themselves are virtuous at their root, it is this valuable essence which is seen as honourable in every instance. Therefore, despite the gild of deception and pretentious display, such actions are held in esteem.
On one occasion, Khwaja Sahib related a narration to me and I have read this story myself as well.
When Sir Philip Sidney was wounded in the siege of the fort at Zutphen in the Netherlands during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in his throes of death, at a time of intense thirst, a small vessel of water was brought for him. At the time, water was scarce. Another wounded soldier lay nearby and he too was terribly thirsty. The soldier began to look at Sir Philip Sidney with intense longing and desire. Upon noticing the soldier’s wish, Sidney did not drink the water himself, but rather gave it to the solider as an act of selflessness, saying: ‘Thy necessity is yet greater than mine.’ Even in the face of death people do not refrain from ostentation. Often, those who wish to establish or portray themselves as possessing sublime morals do perform such deeds.
Therefore, human beings do not always do good with pure intentions when confronted with tribulation or death. However, the question is why does man not follow all that is good?
In response to this, I would say that man by way of his nature does not follow anything until it possesses the fragrance of perfection. It is this very secret, on account of which Allah the Exalted has always raised the Prophets, peace be upon them, and maintained the institution of Reformers (Mujaddidin) after the Seal of the Prophets, because along with their own practical example, these personages command a spiritual attraction and influence, and virtue of the highest degree can be observed in their persons. This is because a human being inherently seeks to follow perfection.
If the nature of human beings had not possessed this faculty, there would be no need for the institution of Prophets, peace be upon them.
(Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, Malfuzat, Vol. 1, pp. 220-221)