At the departure lounge of Karachi airport, a lady walked towards me and occupied the empty seat on my right. As she settled down, she took out a Mushaf from her handbag and began reading. Glancing at her, I realized I had missed out on my morning Adhkar, while rushing to the airport right after Fajr. I opened the Quran application on my cell phone. In my heart, I was thankful to this lady for guiding me towards a virtuous deed. Eventually, as the announcement for boarding the plane was made, my neighbour put the Mushaf back into her handbag and got up. As I watched her move towards the newly formed queue, my appreciation turned into disappointment the moment she cut the line. Here was an inspiring example of a woman reading from the scriptures, attired in a modest outfit reflecting her religious beliefs; however, as soon as it came to the matters dealing with people, basic etiquette was ignored.
We fail to realize that the religion of Islam itself is manners. Our Deen revolves around etiquette. Everything we do requires certain decorum, which is precisely what beautifies the act. The basis of all virtues is Adab. Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyah said: “The Deen itself is manners. Anyone surpassing you in manners is better than you in Deen.” (Madarij as-Salikeen) Ayesha (rtaf) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “By his good character a believer will attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day.” (Abu Dawood) Sheikh Abdul Hakim Murad comments: “Adab is really the beginning and the end of all religion.”
Let us first take a look into the definition of Adab (manners). Adab refers to the Islamic etiquette and entails good manners, morals, and appropriate actions. The Arabic word ‘Adab’ is derived from the root letters of alif-daal-baa. The Hans Wehr Dictionary defines Adab as “culture, refinement; good breeding, good manners, social graces, decorum, decency…humanity, humaneness”. ‘Aduba’ means “to be well-mannered, cultured, and urbane” and also “to refine, to educate; to discipline”. Adab is not just a quality – it is also a process. Meaning, it is something that can be learnt and established.
Manners of the Prophet (sa)
Allah (swt) speaks about the character and manners of His Prophet (sa): “And verily, you (O Muhammad (sa) are on an exalted standard of character.” (Qalam 68:4) Prophet Muhammad (sa) was the epitome of gentility and as such is worthy of being emulated. Abu Hurairah (rtam) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “The only reason I have been sent is to perfect good manners.” (Bukhari and Ahmad) Masrooq narrated that they were sitting with Abdullah bin Amr who was narrating Hadeeths to us. He told that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The best among you are the best in character (having good manners).” (Bukhari) In Bukhari’s “Book of Manners”, Abu Darda reported that Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Nothing is weightier on the scale of deeds than one’s good manners.”
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