“Nothing is weightier on the scale of deeds than one’s good manners.” Narrated in Bukhari
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
Today’s topic is something a little different.
I talk all the time about how often converts are read the rule-book soon after converting, and how there needs to be more emphasis on care, support and love throughout the journey, but I have found that when it comes to topics I write about, many of them are still from “the rule-book.”
Then I remembered the above hadith. This was the first one that came into my mind, but there are so many other like it. I even came across a blog post recently with a compilation of ten ahadith on the importance of good manners (here if you are interested).
It is a side to our religion that I, and many others, often overlook in our zeal for fasting and sunnah prayers. But you can see from the hadith above, and many others, that it is such an important part of our religion. Worship and good manners go hand in hard, and you will not succeed if you only have one and not the other. And this is a topic that I have sorely neglected writing about here in a space I claim is for those new to the religion…
So today I want to share some of the points that I find most beautiful on how we as Muslims should be interacting with not only our brothers and sisters in faith, but the general society around us. To keep the reading easy, I will be breaking it into two smaller posts, so keep a look out for Part II next week in shaa Allah!
Speaking only that which is good
“Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let his say good or remain silent.” Narrated in Bukhari and Muslim
I love this hadith because it applies to so many types of interactions that we go through everyday. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear it is the fact that Muslims are commanded to leave idle talk, such as gossip and useless conversations, and only talk about what is beneficial and good, such as things that can increase knowledge or remembering Allah swt. During conversations, we should not interrupt whoever is talking.
This can also extend further into the arena of arguments: it’s best just to not. Unless you know you can keep a cool head and speak only good things, don’t even let yourself get sucked into useless debates that end in shouting matches.
Beyond the types of conversations we hold, this applies directly to our actual speech as well. We should not be using coarse or obscene words, no swearing (something I am still working on to this day) and no calling rude names. It can apply to our tone of voice, which should be kind and respectful at least, and not harsh or brash.
Lastly, this applies to speaking the truth. I know white lies and joking lies are a big thing these days, and so much a part of everyday speech that it can be hard to weed them out. But as Muslims, we have to. We are enjoined to truth in so many places in the Qur’an and hadith, and it is not a matter to be taken lightly, though it may seem like such a small thing.
“When you smile to your brother’s face, it is charity.” Narrated in Tirmidhi
Need I say more about this one?
We know all of the benefits that smiling kindly at someone can bring: it can brighten someone’s day, clear any bad feelings between two people, create happiness and a bond of friendship, between spouses it creates more love; it is, as they say, the gift that costs nothing to give.
How lovely that it was one of the characteristics of our Prophet (saws) that he always greeted people with a smiling face!
Modesty and humility
Modesty, in dress and character, is enjoined upon Muslims of both sexes, and pride and arrogance are among some of the most dangerous diseases of the heart.
“Turn not thy cheek in scorn toward folk, nor walk with pertness in the land. Lo! Allah loveth not each braggart and boaster. Be modest in thy bearing and subdue thy voice. Lo! The harshest of all voices is the voice of the ass.” Qur’an 31:18-19
In today’s materialistic culture, this one is a difficult one. We are raised in societies that tell us that all of our self-worth is bound up in what we look like, how much of X, Y and Z we have, and the size of our paycheck.
Perhaps someone is not swayed by those kinds of worldly power and wealth, but this type of pride and “score-keeping” can spill over into our religious lives as well. I pray extra prayers every day, she doesn’t even wake up for fajr. I wear jilbab, she can barely even cover her bum with that tunic. I spend more hours working for the community, she stays at home all day long.
One thing that we can do to begin to remedy this problem, is to spend more time remembering Allah swt, and what He has given us. Yeah, I may have an awesome husband, but quite frankly, I did not do one single thing to get him. Allah swt gave me my spouse, and He can just as easily take him away. When we start to realise that the good in ourselves and our lives comes from Allah swt, and not our own cunning plans, we are more able to humble ourselves in front of people who may have less in material possessions or are not outwardly as “righteous” as we perhaps consider ourselves.
Reflecting on our own journeys is also beneficial: I didn’t always wear jilbab, so why should I look down upon someone who doesn’t? I didn’t always have tons of free time to offer to the community, so why I am looking down on someone who doesn’t?