Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
Today I want to jump right into the continuation of last week’s post, Manners of a Muslim Part I, to continue the discussion of such an important part of our faith, which unfortunately tends to take a back seat to discussions around worship and rules.
So here are three more points that I find particularly wonderful, where Islam emphasises good manners and treatment of other human beings!
Respect and care for children and the elderly
I thin respecting one’s elders is a theme in many societies (though the modern USA tends to see the elderly as more of a burden these days…), but Islam specifically mentions good treatment of the elderly, as well as children, in the very same hadith.
“He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children, nor honor the elderly.” Narrated in Tirmidhi
The Prophet (saws) was known to always greet children with a smiling face and a pat on the head, and take the time to talk to them, making them feel like respected members of the community. He always encouraged them to learn and grow, and seek knowledge in that which was interesting to them.
How often today do we pack our children off with the iPad or the iPhone to go stare mindlessly at a screen, instead of engaging in meaningful conversation with them? Perhaps children would be better behaved if they had the chance to observe good examples from the parents and their guests on what manners and good behavior should look like.
As for the elderly, we are all aware of societal norms such as giving up your seat on the bus for an elderly person, letting an older woman cut in front of you in the grocery store line, helping them to carry or move large objects, and the like, but I think we as Muslims can extend this respect a little bit further. Sit with those older community members in the mosque, listen to their stories and ask them to share lessons from their long lives with you. Maybe ask them to teach you about a certain thing that you know that are passionate about.
I think it is especially important in Muslim communities to start getting the youth and the older generation together, to work on learning from and understanding each other, in order to built a more cohesive and positive community.
Maintaining family ties
There are countless hadiths that emphasize care and respect for your parents, and particularly your mother. We all know the hadith where the Prophet (saws) was asked who was most worthy of one’s good company, and he (saws) repeatedly said “your mother,” until after three times he (saws) finally answered, “and then your father.” The mother is emphasized because of the immense struggle (carrying a child, labor and birth, breast-feeding and caring for a baby) she underwent in order just to bring you into this world. But, of course, as the financial head of the household and the person responsible for providing for you in your childhood, your father is also deserving of immense respect!
This applies not only to parents, but to extended and even (in the case of us reverts) non-Muslim family.
It is part of the good manners of a Muslim that s/he does all s/he can to maintain a good relationship with other family members such as aunts and uncles, grandparents, siblings, and in-laws. In today’s technology driven world, this can be something as simple as a quick text message to say you were thinking of someone today, or a longer catch-up over Skype. I personally like to write old-fashioned snail-mail letters and send them off to family and friends, but I’m sure that’s not everyone’s cup of tea!
Another great way to reinforce family ties is through giving and generosity. Always be willing to help out a family member in need (see next point as well for this one), and give random, small gifts just to show them that you are thinking of them. Giving of gifts is actually encouraged in the sunnah not only between family members but between Muslims in general, as gift-giving really does impart feelings of real love, friendship and brotherhood.
Charity/Lending a helping hand
We all know that giving charity and helping others not only makes us feel good as the givers/doers, but also helps to build a strong and healthy society whose members are taken care of.
This is why there is such an emphasis in Islam on giving to those less fortunate than you, spending your money in the way of Allah swt, and helping out any fellow Muslim who could be relieved of some burden by your hands.
“Every act of goodness is charity.” Narrated in Muslim
It doesn’t have to be a lot, but give whatever you can. Maybe that means buying the homeless guy a coffee on your way to work, maybe it is taking time out to help a sister at the mosque who is struggling with Arabic pronunciation, helping a family with their kids, giving spare change to someone who needs it, moving some rocks out of the road or picking up trash on the pavement, and yes, even a smile at a passer-by can be an act of charity!
Bonus: Being good to neighbors!
OK, I know I said three more points, but I just had to add this one, because it is also so important!
Do you know who your neighbors are? If you do, do you have a good relationship with them?
In Islam, taking care to have good relations with your neighbors is just as important as keeping up good relations with your family, friends, and Islamic community. It fosters a sense of friendship and community, and helps to build a healthy and happy society for everyone to live it.
Again, it doesn’t have to be a lot. Go over and introduce yourself. Bring home-made cookies or invite them over for lunch. Bonus points if they aren’t Muslims, you can also give them the most beautiful picture of Islam possible! Be there for them and willing to help when you can see they are having trouble.
“(The angel) Jibril kept recommending me to treat my neighbour well until I thought that he would tell me to make him one of my heirs” Narrated in Bukhari
So there you have it, some of my favorite points of Islamic etiquettes and manners. You can basically sum them all by saying be a kind and thoughtful person, but it is nice to see clear examples of what that looks like. Did I miss out on any points that you guys love? Maybe someone’s got an awesome example of a time they made someone happy, someone made them happy with good manners, or they just particularly felt that bond of community? Let me know in shaa Allah!