I was travelling in a bus one day; it was crowded with school children on their way home. As I tried to tune out the chattering of shrill young voices, I looked around and felt that there was something wrong. Then I noticed that the seats were occupied by children, some as young as six or seven, while adults battled to keep steady standing in the aisle. This prompted me to google ‘Manners’ on the Internet, and I came across an article entitled “Where are our manners?” This is what the writer, Rebecca Brown has to say: “As I crammed myself onto a crowded train this morning, I noticed there was a very pregnant woman standing near me, jammed in tightly and hanging on fordear life. I looked at the passengers sitting in the seats that are supposed to be surrendered to the elderly, physically challenged, and other people who need to sit, and all of them were listening to iPods, texting or reviewing email, reading or watching movies on a laptop. Nobody even noticed the pregnant passenger.
Many of us have forgotten some the old school manners that our parents, grandparents, and teachers taught us. This is of course the key, manners or good conduct is instilled in us by our parents. After all, a child learns by watching, seeing and hearing what those around him do. In this increasingly frenetic world, making a good impression is vital, and good manners and respect for others can go a long way to ensuring that you do. There seems to be a lack of respect for what has been taught in the Quran and Sunnah when it comes to our behaviour. It is not that we do not know how we are supposed to behave; it seems more like a general carelessness in our conduct. "Good Manners” would appear to be a pet dinosaur, which is trotted out from time to time on very special occasions. In our daily life we seem to we care more for our possessions than for those around us. We are so focussed on the material, that we ignore the spiritual. In our drive for the outer trappings we contaminate our souls, and the souls of those around us. It is a basic human need to be acknowledged; when we fail to respect others, we are denying them their uniqueness as a fellow creation of Allah.
All praise is due to Allah who created the universe and taught His greatest Prophet Muhammad (SAW) the best of manners, purified his character and conduct and adopted him as His friend. This is our perfect example; in fact, we are commanded by Allah (SWT) to follow the Sunnah, and if we do, we cannot go wrong. In Surah Imraan, Allah says “Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind); If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. Allah is forgiving and Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, lo! Allah loveth not the disbelievers (in his guidance).Quran: Surah Aali Imran; Verse 31-32. Outer good manners are a reflection of inner good conduct. Our behaviour is a direct result of our thoughts, and good character and conduct is manifested in our actions. When we exert the power given to us by Allah as our Creator, we access the light of secret power within; with good manners this power is expressed outwardly as a rhyme of beauty; the beauty of the soul and that of actions. Our Prophet (SAW) never behaved as if he was greater than others. Nor did He belittle people, or cause them embarrassment or humiliation. He always greeted people kindly, and showed respect to elders as well as to children. He once said: "The dearest of you to me are those who have good manners." (Al-Bukhari)
However, when young people do not bother to greet elderly relatives living on their property, when they go to work and come back without checking up someone who lives a few steps from their back door, is it any wonder that the children do not bother to do so either. When parents shout at their children, address them without any respect for their feelings, are it any wonder that the youth of today are careless and have no respect for others?
Almighty Allah says:
[Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for those who hope in Allah and the latter day and remember Allah much ](Al-Ahzab 33:21)
Muhammad (SAW) was man who practised what he preached; he showed how we should live as individuals and as members of the society. He disciplined himself by staying aloof from quarrels and quibbles. He never engaged in bad language. How refreshing when we consider how most of us cannot refrain from getting involved in the problems of others. His exemplary manners make him a model for us to follow. He stressed the importance of good manners. He said: “The best of you is the best among you in conduct: (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Also: “The heaviest thing to be placed in the balance of a believing slave on the Day of Judgement will be good behaviour. And Allah hates the one who uses bad language” (AL Bayhaqi) Should we not take cognisance of this when next we feel like shouting of insulting those dear to us? When asked what one needs to get to Jannah, his answer was: “Piety and good conduct”
The Rasul (SAW) went even further to declare that we will inhabit different levels in Jannah, based on good manners: “The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who is the beat in conduct..” (Ibn An-Najjaar.
Ethics in Islam is different from any other ethical system because it is derived from a Divine source; the revelation from Allah. It cannot be changed, or manipulated to fit our desires. It applies regardless of time or place. This system has not been changed for thousands of years. What was considered good morals in the past will remain as good morals throughout time. What was considered as bad morals in the past will also remain so forever, even if society accepts it as a norm. The system of ethics is not affected by cultural norms, because Allah is the One who determines what is acceptable and what is not. The Noble Quran is very detailed and clearly mentions the significance of good manners. No other ethical system can match it. It teaches humans how to deal with every aspect of their lives; it is not a man made system; it is the Deen of Allah. He made it complete and integrated.
In Surah 3.164 and 62.2 of the Holy Quran, Allah speaks of how he favoured us by sending us Rasulullah (SAW), so that he may teach us wisdom. During this month of the birth of the mercy to mankind, let us reflect on these words from Allah, study the Sunnah; and let us then resolve to follow it, Insha’Allah. If you want a successful and happy life, then simply apply Islam to it, and you will have wonderful results. Good manners, self respect and respect for others go hand in hand. What a lovely gift to give to our children.
Moulood-un-Nabi Mubarak to all.
The Noble Quran mentions several good acts of morality repeatedly, for example:
• The guidelines for treatment of parents
• Kindness to relatives and neighbours
• Taking care of orphans and the poor
• Practising honesty
• Sincerity of intention
• Fulfilment of promises
• Fair treatment of all people
• Respect for the environment, and this includes avoiding noise pollution
• The correct etiquette of visiting another’s home
• Unlike other ethical systems, Islam's moral system is a very detailed and complete package. Islam addresses every aspect of human life, no matter how minor. It is a complete package - it does not lack anything that needs to be completed nor does it have any defects that need to be amended.
• The Islamic religion guides our morals that deal with the individual, the community, and Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It also guides us on how to deal with rulers and how to honour and respect scholars. Islam even directs us on how to act during times of peace and war.
• How to treat animals
• The Companions once asked the Prophet (SAW) “Do we earn reward if we treat animals in a good manner? He answered: “Yes, surely you earn rewards whenever you treat any living being in a good manner.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Imam Malik (RA) is reported to have said: The Sunnah is like the Ark, those who board will be saved, and those who don’t, will perish.