Islamic Social Etiquette

etiquetteAllah (swt) states in the holy Quran: “Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah (swt) Muhammad (sa) you have a good example to follow, if you hope for (the meeting with) Allah (swt) and the Last Day, and remember Allah (swt) much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Therefore, the Prophet (sa) is the best role model for every Muslim that has provided numerous examples in every aspect of human behaviour. The following pearls from his social etiquettes are enlightening.

Spreading the greeting of Salam

The Messenger of Allah (sa) commanded us to do seven things: to visit the sick, to attend funerals, to bless a Muslim, when he sneezes, to support the weak, to help the one, who is oppressed, to spread Salam (peace), and to help people fulfil their oaths. (Bukhari, Muslim)

He also said: “By the One, in whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise, until you believe, and you will not believe, until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something that if you do, you will love one another? Spread Salam amongst yourselves.” (Muslim)

Unfortunately, today in Islamic societies this greeting has been replaced by foreign ones, especially among new generations, who are either ashamed or consider it old-fashioned to use the Islamic greeting. Obviously, they are unaware that a simple ‘Assalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatahu’ can earn them thirty rewards from Allah (swt)!

Not entering anyone’s house without his permission

Allah (swt) commands: “O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that you may take heed.” (An-Nur 24:27)

Islam urges Muslims to do the following, when visiting others: “Whenever the Prophet (sa) came to a door seeking permission to enter, he did not stand facing it. He would stand to the right or to the left, and if he was given permission, he would enter; otherwise, he would leave.” (Bukhari)

Impatiently ringing the doorbell, yelling out the in mates name, and grumbling, when the person we had intended to visit is unavailable, are signs of impoliteness and impertinence. They have no room in a Muslim’s life.

Sitting wherever one finds room in a gathering

In a gathering, a Muslim should sit wherever he finds space. He is neither to push through the people in order to sit at the head of the gathering, nor make another give up his space for him. The Prophet (sa) taught his companions to adopt these etiquettes, when joining a gathering.

Jabir Ibn Samurah (rta) said: “When we came to the Prophet (sa), we would sit, wherever we found room.” (Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “None of you should make another get up, then sit in his place. All of you should move up and make space (for the latecomer).” (Bukhari, Muslim)

The basic instruction is to accommodate and show courtesy. Nowadays, it is common not to leave any space available, because of improper seating arrangements, and the latecomer is usually forced to stand. Similarly, some make grand arrivals without realizing the disturbance they cause to an ongoing gathering or speech.

Avoiding yawning in a gathering

The Prophet (sa) advised Muslims: “If any of you wants to yawn, then let him suppress it as much as possible.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

If the urge to yawn cannot be resisted, then a Muslim should cover his mouth with his hand. The Prophet (sa) commanded: “If any of you yawns, let him cover his mouth with his hand, so that the Shaytan does not enter.” (Muslim)

Yawning is not only rude but a sign of boredom that may hurt the feelings of others. Even the very sophisticated manage to shock you, when they open their mouths as wide as a hippopotamus in the middle of a conversation.

Following the Islamic etiquette, when sneezing

Islam also teaches a Muslim, what he should say, when he sneezes, and what he should say, when he hears another sneeze.

Abu Hurairah (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Allah (swt) likes the act of sneezing and dislikes the act of yawning. When any one of you sneezes and says ‘Alhamdulillah’, then he has the right to hear every Muslim say – ‘Yarhamuk Allah’. But yawning is from Shaytan, so if anyone of you feels the urge to yawn, he should resist it as much as he can, for when any of you yawns, the Shaytan laughs at him.’” (Bukhari)

Not looking into other people’s houses

A true Muslim does not spy on his host or pry into that, which does not concern him. The Prophet (sa) warned those, who let their gaze wander in gatherings in an attempt to see things that are none of their business.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever looks into someone’s house without his permission, then it is permissible for the people of the house to take his eyes out.” (Muslim)

Not finding fault with others

The Prophet (sa) issued a stern warning against the danger of slandering other people’s honour and exposing their faults.

The Prophet (sa) said: “Do not hurt the feelings of the servants of Allah (swt), do not embarrass them, do not seek to expose their faults; whoever seeks to expose the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah (swt) will seek to expose his faults and expose him, even if he hides in the innermost part of his home.” (Ahmad)

Apart from the above, there are numerous other social etiquettes that will be discussed in future issues, Insha’Allah.

Upbringing Children the Prophet’s (sa) Way!

Vol 1-Issue 2 Upbringing Children

When Allah grants us parenthood, He also gives us an enormous responsibility.

Loads of books are being written about the up bringing of children. Various theories are put up from time to time, but for a Muslim the best example is in the life of the Prophet (sa). Now let us understand some basic responsibilities as a parent.

To choose a good life partner

Only a good Muslim woman who knows her responsibilities as a believer can bring up children as good Muslims. So when a Muslim man marries he must first consider this quality. The Prophet (sa) said,” A woman may be married for four reasons: Beauty, wealth, family lineage and faith. So marry a woman of faith.” (Abu Dawood)

Similarly, children need a good Muslim father to have a correct upbringing, so this aspect should be thought of too, and just materialistic concerns are not enough. Think about it, do we not first check the soil in which we plant a seed?

To give our children a good name:

Since a person’s name is a pivotal part of his identity, much emphasis has been placed on selection of the best suitable name for a newborn child. The Prophet (sa) said, “On the day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father’s name. So give yourselves a good name.” (Abu Dawood)

Today we are prone to selecting names that are unique or sweet sounding. It is astounding to know that even parents sometimes have no clue to the meaning of their child’s name. It is a child’s right to be given a name that personifies the character of a strong believer.

To follow Sunnahs of the Prophet (sa) when a child is born:

These Sunnahs are not obligatory but are highly recommended:

A) Reciting the Adhan in the baby’s ear

B) Tahneek (initial feeding of the child at the hands of someone pious)

C) Tasmiya (naming)

D) Aqiqah (sacrifice for the new born / shaving the hair)

E) Khitan (circumcision of the male child)

To provide sustenance to the infant:

The mother of the child has to breastfeed for two years as is clear from this ayah of the Quran: “And the mother shall breast feed their children for two full years for those desiring to complete the (limit of the term of) breast feeding, and the feeding and clothing of them rests upon the father in a suitable manner…” (Al-Baqarah 2-33)

Medicine today proves that children who are breastfed are not only likely to be physically stronger and mentally more intelligent but emotionally also their bonding with their mothers is far better due to the closeness and security they experience in their formative years. Similarly the father is responsible for providing the child’s needs.

To show kindness towards children:

Children should be treated with love. Kindness should be the basic method of teaching. Anas (rta) who served the Prophet (sa) as a child said “I served him for nine years, but I do not know that he ever said to me about anything I did, why I did that, or about anything I had neglected, why I had not done that.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet’s (sa) wife Aisha (rta) said that a poor woman came to her together with her two daughters. Aisha (rta) gave her three dates. The woman gave a date to each of them, and then she picked up the remaining date and brought it to her mouth to eat it but her daughters wanted it. She then divided the date that she had intended to eat between them. This kind treatment of hers impressed Aisha (rta) and she mentioned it to the Prophet (sa). At that, he said, “Truly, Allah has assured Paradise for her because of this (action) of hers, or He has rescued her from Hellfire.” (Sahih Muslim)

To teach them good morals and manners:

To give children religious knowledge is Fard  (obligatory) on a parent. The Prophet (sa) said, “Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years of age, and spank them if they do not pray when they are ten.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)

Prophet (sa) also said, “Allah will give shade to seven (kinds of people) on the day when there will be no shade but His.” The second of those whom he mentioned is ‘a youth’ who has been brought up in the worship of his Lord.” (Sahih Bukhari)

To treat our chidren equally:

One of the methods of wise upbringing is for the parents to treat all their children equally.

The father of a companion of the Prophet (sa), Numan ibn Bashir (rta) went to the Messenger of Allah (sa) and said, “I have given a gift to my son from Amrah bint Rawahah but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (sa) asked, “Have you given (an equivalent gift) to each one of your sons?” The father replied in the negative. The Messenger of Allah (sa) then said, “Fear Allah and be just to your children.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Unfortunately many Muslim societies are influenced by non-Muslim cultures. In these societies daughters are considered inferior to the sons. Although the Prophet (sa) said

“Whoever has three daughters, and is patient, then gives them food and drink and clothes them from his earnings, they will be for him a shield against the fire of the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad)

To show patience towards children:

Shaddad (rta) narrated, the Prophet (sa) went out carrying Hasan or Hussain (rta) and when he came forward to lead the prayer, he put the child down and commenced the prayer. He prostrated himself and stayed in this position for such a long time. I raised my head and saw the child on his back, the people said, “O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated for such a long time.” He said, ” My child was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had had enough.” (Ahmad and An Nisai)

To make friends with our children:

Adolescent children are learning many new things from the outside world. This is the time when they need to be made friends with. The parents’ relationship with them should be such that they can confide in them. The peer pressure at this age can compel a child to choose wrong ways. Parents should act as anchors to children throughout their lives so that by the will of Allah they can be guided to the straight path.

To pray sincerely for our children’s guidance:

Last but not the least, it is important to pray for our children. Quran says: “…Our Lord, bless us with right guidance in all our matters.” (Al-Kahf 18:10)

We may pray: “My Lord, make me steadfast in Salah, and from among my children as well. And, our Lord, grant my prayer.” (Ibrahim 14:40)

It also teaches us to pray, “And seek help in patience and As-Salaat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for al Khashi’un…” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)

Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Sense of Humour

Image Prophet sa humourOne of the foremost qualities that endear a person to us is his or her sense of humour. Humour in good taste is appealing to everyone especially in our stressful lives today. Hundreds of years ago the significance of light-heartedness and laughter was no less. The embodiment of an ideal Muslim’s personality, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw), also displayed a pleasant and dignified sense of humour. He joined in jokes and smiled and laughed; he joked with his Companions and enjoyed the company of children. Let us look through some Ahadeeth pertaining to the Holy Prophet’s (sa) unique sense of humour:

The Nughayr

The Holy Prophet (sa) often spent time in the company of children, playing with them and gently laughing with them. Anas Bin Malik (rta) related that, “The Prophet (sa) used to play with a younger brother of mine called Abu Umayr, who had a small bird as a pet. One day he saw the child looking sad, so he asked, “Why do I see Abu Umayr looking sad?” The Sahabah told him, “The nughayr (a small bird, like a sparrow) which he used to play with has died, O Messenger of Allah (sa).” The Prophet (sa) began to gently joke with the child, saying, “O Abu Umayr, what happened to the Nughayr?” (In Arabic, this is a play on word, because Abu Umayr’s name rhymes with that of the bird’s name). (Reported in Hayat Al-Sahabah, 3/149)

The Sinner

Narrated Abu Hurairah (rta): “A man came to the Prophet (sa) and said: ‘I am ruined!’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Why?’ He said: “I had intimate relations with my wife while I was fasting (in the month of Ramadan).’ The Prophet (sa) said to him: ‘Manumit a slave (as expiation).’ He replied: ‘I cannot afford that.’ The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Then fast for two consecutive months.’ He said:’ I cannot.’ The Prophet (sa) said: Then feed sixty poor persons.’ He said: ‘I have nothing to do that.’ In the meantime, a basket full of dates was brought to the Prophet (sa). He said: ‘Where is the questioner?’ The man said: ‘I am here.’ The Prophet (sa) said (to him): ‘Give this (basket of dates) in charity (as expiation).’ He said: ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Shall I give it to poorer people than us? By Him who sent you with the truth, there is no family between the two mountains (of Al-Madinah) poorer than us.’ The Prophet (sa) smiled till his premolar teeth became visible. He than said: ‘Then you take it.’ (Bukhari)

The Revenge

At the time of Battle of Badr, The Prophet (sa) drew up his army and passed in front of each man to give them good heart and to straighten the ranks, bearing an arrow in his hand. “Stand in line, O Sawad,” he said to one of the helpers who was too far forward, and he gave him a slight prick in the belly with his arrow. “O Messenger of Allah, you have hurt me,” said Sawad, “and God has sent you with truth and justice, so give me my requital.” “Take it,” said the Prophet, laying bare his own belly and handing him the arrow whereupon Sawad stooped and imprinted a kiss where it was due to place the point of the shaft. “What made you do this?” said the Prophet (sa). And he answered, “O Messenger of God, we are now faced with what you see, and I desired that at my last moment with you, if so it may be, my skin should touch your skin.” And the Prophet (sa) prayed for him and blessed him.

The Old Woman

An old woman came to the Prophet (sa) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah (swt) that I will enter Paradise.” He said jokingly, “O Mother of So-and-so, no old women will enter Paradise.” The old woman went away crying, so the Prophet (sa) said: “Tell her that she will not enter Paradise as an old woman, for Allah (swt) says: We have created (their companions) of special creation, and made them virgin-pure (and undefiled)” (Al-Waqiah 56:35-36). (At-Tirmidhi)

The Sahabah saw nothing wrong with joking or having fun, as they saw the Prophet (sa), who was their teacher, occasionally doing so. In Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Bukhari reports from Bakr Ibn Abdullah who said: “The companions of the Prophet (sa) used to throw melon-rinds at one another, but when the matter was serious, they were the only true men.”

The Slave

The Holy Prophet (sa) also used to enjoy the Sahabah’s sense of humour, which made him often laugh. Once, Abu Bakr (rta) went to do business in Basra, and with him were Nuayman (rta) and Suwaybit Ibn Harmalah (rta), both of whom had been present at Battle of Badr. Suwaybit (rta) was in charge of food on the journey, and Nuayman (rta) said to him: “Feed me!” Suwaybit (rta) said: “Not until Abu Bakr comes.” Nuayman (rta) was a fun-loving man with a sense of humour, so he went to some people who had brought livestock with them, and said: “Will you buy a sturdy Arab slave from me?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “He has a big mouth, and he may tell you that he is a free man. If that means that you do not want to take him, then forget the matter, and do not cause trouble for me with him.” They said: “No problem, we will buy him.” So they bought him for ten young she-camels. Nuayman (rta) brought the animals back, and told the people: “There he is!” Suwaybit (rta) said: “I am a free man!” They said: “He has already told us all about you,” and put a rope around his neck and led him away. Then Abu Bakr came, and was told what had happened. He and his companions went and returned the animals and took Suwaybit (rta) back. They told the Prophet (sa) what had happened, and he and his Sahabah would laugh about the story for a year afterwards. (Reported by Imam Ahmed from Umm Salamah)

The Bedouin’s camel

On another incident, a Bedouin came to the Prophet (sa). He entered the mosque and left his camel in the courtyard. Some of his Companions said to Nuayman Ibn Amr Al-Ansari (rta), who was known as Al-Nuayman (rta): “If you slaughter it, we will eat it, because we want to have some meat, and the Messenger of Allah (sa) will pay for it.” So Al-Nuayman (rta) slaughtered it. When the Bedouin came out and saw his saddle, he shouted: “They have slaughtered my camel, O Muhammad!” The Prophet (sa) came out and asked: “Who did this?” They said: “Al-Nuayman.” So he went looking for him, and found him at the home of Dubah Bint Al-Zubayr Ibn Abdul-Muttalib (rta), where he had hidden in a ditch and covered himself with palm branches and leaves. A man pointed to where he was and said: loudly: “I have not seen him, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (sa) brought him out of the ditch, and his face was dirty from where the leaves had fallen on him. The Prophet (sa) asked him: “Why did you do that?” Al-Nuayman (rta) said: “The ones who told you where I was, O Messenger of Allah, are the same ones who told me to do it.” The Prophet (sa) began wiping his face and laughing, then he paid the price of the slaughtered camel. (Reported by Hayat Al-Sahabah, 3/154-155)

Islam is not austere or gray. It appeals directly to our senses and our human nature withholding a balance between when to be serious and when to lighten up. As Muslims we are also commanded never to hurt or harm anyone in our quest to have fun and a good time. Conversely, Islam wants its followers to have light heartedness and a sense of humour, which make a person good-natured and likeable and will enable him to win people’s hearts.