The scholars of the past were, when young, told to learn manners from their teachers before they learnt knowledge. Abdullah ibn Mubarak (RA) said “We are in more need of little manners than more knowledge”.
The religion of Islam has rules of etiquette and a moral code involving every aspect of life, and are applicable to society as a whole, regardless of age and gender. There is a difference between correct manners in Islam and the customs and traditions that people follow. There is a difference between etiquettes and manners:
- etiquettes – these are superficial, they belong to a certain position a person holds in society, and they promote inequality… how? they reinforce your place in society, and that affects the behaviour you portray to the person in question; e.g. a person’s etiquettes towards the rich are different to his etiquettes towards the poor… etiquettes do not necessitate respect, but necessitate a certain behaviour.
- manners – these are deep, they belong to everybody, and they promote equality… how? you behave with everyone in a certain way, in a good way, irrespective of their position in society AND THIS IS ISLAM.
Etiquettes can be taught to a monkey, manners cannot… Etiquettes do not make a person better, they do not change you, manners do. There are two conditions for good manners: 1) taqwa (fearing Allah) 2) tawaadu’ (humility). Arrogance and pride are reasons for bad manners, or lack of manners. Hasan al Basri (R) said “A person does not have humility unless he deeply believes that everybody is better than him”.
The next few articles will focus on different manners, inshaAllah, and we ask Allah to give us the ability to follow the manners and character of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW):
“And indeed, you are of a great moral character.” (68:4)
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said to his Companions (RA) “You are on your way to meet your brothers, put on nice clothes and fix your riding so you appear distinct among people, as a fleck on a beautiful face. Allah does not like roughness nor rough manners.”
ENTERING AND LEAVING A HOUSE
Enter and leave your house with your right foot first, as was the tradition of the Prophet (SAW). Walking on the right side of the road is also preferable. When opening or closing a door on entering or leaving, do so gently with your hand, as required by the gracefulness of Islam. Aisha (RA) narrated that the Prophet (SAW) said “Gentleness adorns every act. Its absence will tarnish it.”
ARRANGING A VISIT
Time is the most precious commodity that we have. Once it has been wasted, it cannot be replaced. This is why, when you make an appointment to visit someone, be it a friend, relative or colleague, be it for leisure or business, you must do your utmost to keep to that appointment. It is the right of the other party; it is a promise you have made to them.
Choose an appropriate time for your visit, not at an inconvenient time such as a meal time. The length of the visit should be in accordance to how well you know the host. Do not overstay your welcome and become burdensome.
When you talk during your visit, say only that which fits the situation and be brief. If you are the youngest among those sitting, then do not speak unless you are asked to, unless you are sure your words will please the host and other guests. Do not prolong your speech and use a proper tone of voice. Aisha (RA) said “The Prophet’s talk was so little that you can count his words” salAllahu alayhi wa sallam (Bukhari).
Recognise the status of the elders and give them respect. When walking with them, walk slightly behind them and to their right. Let them enter and exit first. If you meet them, greet them first and respectfully and when discussing something with them, let them speak first. Lower your voice, remain respectful and calm. Samura ibn Jundub (RA) said “Though I was a young child at the time of the Prophet, I used to listen to what he said and memorise it. Nothing prevents me from narrating my knowledge except the presence of men older than me.” (Abu Dawood) The Prophet (SAW) said “Whoever does not respect our elders is not one of us” (Ahmad).
“Kindness to the parents is an obligatory duty and by the grace of Allah it is an easy matter. Kindness means to be humble with them, to speak to them nicely, to look at them with love and respect, to speak in a mild tone that does not surpass theirs unless they are hard of hearing, to give them complete access to your own wealth, and to offer them the best of your food and drink” Imaam ibn ‘Abdul al Barr
If your neighbours happen to be non-Muslim, you must not forget Islamic manners in dealing with them. The recommendation in Islam for a good relationship with the neighbours is for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Prophet (SAW) said “No one is a believer if he does not like for his brother what he likes for himself” (Bukhari and Muslim). The scholars said that the word ‘brother’ here is said in the most common context, and thus means brothers in humanity, including Muslims and non-Muslims. A Muslim would love for his non-Muslim brother, as he loves for himself, to become a Muslim, to enjoy the benefits of Islam and the rewards of Allah (SWT).
EATING AND DRINKING
Eating, as it is an act carried out many times daily (if we are so blessed by Allah), must be done properly, whether alone, with family or friends. Training oneself to eat properly will then become a natural part of one’s behaviour and leave the person at ease at the table.
Based on the book ‘Islamic Manners’ by Sheikh ‘Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah and taught by Sheikh Akram Nadwi