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Good Manners – A Key to Paradise

“Say ‘please’, Amina.”

“Please, may I have…”

“Remember to say thank you!”

“Thank you..!”

The first social skills a little child is taught are more often than not, the magic words: “Please” and “Thank You”.

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Why are parents so adamant to teach these few special words to their children?

Well, it is part and parcel of our fitrah (nature) to do right by our children and bestow them the best manners. And it also goes without saying that little children jump at this opportunity to be polite and well-mannered.

“Please!” they would chime loudly.

“Thank you!”

Having good manners transcends a lot more than just a few words, but it is a strong foundation for those who wish to build good character as they grow older. Whatever imprints we have in our minds as children will be seen through to adulthood, so it is important to understand why good manners is strongly lauded by Islam.

The Man with the Best Manners

The virtues of good manners are seen in varioushadiths, which points to good character that is pleasing to God and His messenger.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) reminded that:

“The most beloved of Allah’s servants to Allah are those with the best manners.” (Al-Bukhari)

best mannersHaving good manners when socializing isn’t just a plus factor when dealing with people in this temporary abode of this life, but even more so, it is part and parcel of pleasing God in His Grandiosity.

In a hadith in Al-Bukhari’s Book of Manners, Abu Darda’ reported that Prophet Muhammad said:

“Nothing is weightier on the Scale of Deeds than one’s good manners.” (Al-Bukhari)

Scales and weight play a recurring role when it comes to good deeds in Islam. Good manners therefore are an important realm in building a character of a true Muslim, one who continuously wishes to emulate Prophet Muhammad for the sake of God.

Prophet Muhammad was one of the mildest mannered icons in history. For someone who was chosen to mould the final faith for mankind in the form of Islam, and to put a helm onto it by championing the faith to perfection, it only makes sense that the Prophet would do so mindfully, with care and compassion. He was very well-mannered in his speech and mannerisms.

Abdullah ibn Amr said:

“The Prophet of Allah was never obscene or coarse. Rather, he used to tell us that the best among us were those with the best manners.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim & At-Tirmidhi)

Even amongst the youth, Prophet Muhammad was very respectful. He never spoke down to the youngsters around him, even if they asked a lot of questions or made mistakes, like many youngsters often do. Instead, he would treat them like adults, appreciate their hard work and ideas and gently advise if he felt advice was needed.

Anas ibn Malik related:

“I served the Prophet of Allah for ten years. During that time, he never once said to me as much as ‘Oof’ if I did something wrong. He never asked me, if I had failed to do something, ‘Why did you not do it?’ and he never said to me, if I had done something wrong, ‘Why did you do it?'” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Prophet Muhammad explained that:

“He who does not show mercy to the young and show esteem for our elders is not one of us.” (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi & Al-Hakim)

The Prophet was always all-encompassing when addressing different walks of life.

Good Manners in a Corrupt World

Good mannersIn other narrations, having good manners is equivalent to spending the nights in prayer and such behavior is also known as one of the keys to Paradise, besides being conscious of God.

But despite its importance, having good manners is not always easy especially when having to deal with all sorts of people in today’s world. It takes a heartbeat to snipe at another person or to behave in a condescending manner without realizing it. The Prophet, being as human as he was, was also conscientious of how he behaved in public. He made sure he remained humble by supplicating to God to bless him with the best of manners:

“O Allah! I ask You for good health, for trust, for self-control, for good manners, and to be satisfied with the divine decree.” (Al-Bukhari)

Good manners encompasses a wide range of social etiquette, from speaking to groups in public; to avoiding backbiting or fault finding; to speak pleasantly of others but to avoid excessive flattery. The Prophet also encouraged giving gifts to one another, as long as it was done fairly and not in excess. Speaking in humility was also equally important.

When speaking in public or addressing a group of people, the Prophet reminded to not whisper, while leaving out another person. This was fine if the other person left out of the conversation had someone to speak to.

Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported that the Prophet said:

“If they are three, two of them should not carry on a conversation from which the third is excluded, for surely that will be distressing to him.” (Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, Muslim & Ibn Majah)

Sometimes, mindless chatter leads to gossip, which could lead to intentional or unintentional defamation or backbiting. Ibn Abbas said on the following verse of the Quran: {Nor defame one another} (Al-Hujurat 49: 11)

“Do not spend your time finding fault with one another.” (Al-Bukhari)

Causing suspicion when speaking to others is also frowned upon in Islam, especially in today’s age where technology causes the world to lose its borders, spying on each other, competing and despising one another can sometimes arise without realizing it.

“Be careful of suspicion, for it is the most mistaken of all speech. Do not spy on others, compete among yourselves, envy one another, or despise one another. Rather, be servants of Allah and brothers! (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Flattery too is something that is abhorred when it comes to speaking to others. Praising a person for the sake of God, i.e., praising God first, is most certainly allowed. However, excessive praise and flattery needs to be mitigated with wisdom.  Abu Bakr reported that a man was mentioned in the presence of the Prophet, and another praised the man. The Prophet then said:

“Woe to you, for you have broken your friend’s neck!, repeating the same several times. “If any of you simply must praise another, let him or her say, ‘I think the person is this way or that…’ if you genuinely think the person to be that way. The Final Reckoner is Allah, and no one can tell Allah anything about anyone.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

In a twist on good manners, the Prophet did encourage gifts for one another. Gifts are yet another way to foster relations based on kindness for each other. Prophet Muhammad advised:

“Give gifts to one another and you will love one another.” (Al-Bukhari)

He never discriminated between Muslim and non-Muslim and when with children of a family, he advised parents to fear God and to ensure each child received a gift to shun favortism or rivalry between siblings.

However we look at it, good manners helps undo divides, bridge differences and bring out the best in people. When one thinks of a person with good manners, he or she would think of someone who speaks kindly and truthfully with an air of humility. Saying “Please” and “Thank you” are important beginnings for a humble Muslim – one who is blessed with shyness for the sake of God, and the best role model of all times would be none other than Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who was guided by God Himself. Of his many characteristics in dealing with others, Prophet Muhammad always remained humble. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said:

“Modesty (shyness) is one branch of faith.” (Muslim)

As Muslims, we should follow Prophet Muhammad in order to become amongst the best of Muslims with the best possible manners as a stepping stone closer to God and a permanent resting abode in Paradise.