Islamic manners and etiquettes
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
Our faith has not only given us comprehensive guidelines for a disciplined and successful life, but has also taught us manners and etiquettes to lead it with grace and dignity. A Momin’s life style is a combination of his faith and manners. Islamic manners and etiquettes are not alien or separate from faith, but are its essential and integral part. Adherence to this aspect of our faith endears us to both, our Creator and His creations. Underscoring their importance, a puritan had advised his son in these words: “My son, consider your deeds as a pinch of salt, and give priority to etiquettes in your deeds as given to the flour.” In this parable of making bread with salt and flour, he compared salt to deeds and manners to the flour. Thus manners should be the main substance in our daily life. Even a small deed or action should be accompanied with ample good manners, rather than a big proportion of deeds with less or without manners. Our beloved Prophet (SAW) has taught us manners and etiquettes for all occasions. There are manners for behaving in the family, conducting in the market place, in the Masjid, and in get-to-gathers; how one should behave with juniors and with those who are senior in age, or teachers; how to speak, address and ask or reply to a question etc. etc. Emphasis on manners and etiquettes marks the distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Our beloved Prophet (SAW) once said: “Keep your dress neat and tidy and your saddles in top condition, so that your distinction and grandeur is recognized.”
Islam gives great importance to Salaam (greetings). As and when you leave your home and enter it, say Salaam to the people of your household. It is a supplication as well as a source of blessing.
Anas bin Malik (RA) narrates that Prophet (SAW) advised him: “Dear son, when you enter your house, says As-Salaamu Alaikum to your family, for it will be a blessing both to you and your family.” [Tirmidhi]
Islam has taught us to exchange greetings by saying “Assalaam-u-Alaikum wa RahmatulLahi wa Barakatuhu.” Disregarding it is clear negligence. Teach this to your children at home and see that they make it a practice. Scholar Qatadah (RehmA) said: “Say Salaam when you enter your house, as members of your household deserve your Salaam most.” Saying Salaam while leaving a meeting or gathering is as compulsory as while entering it.
Abu Hurairah (RA) quotes Prophet (SAW), who advised: “When one of you arrives in a gathering, he should offer salutation to those who are already there, and he should also do so when he intends to depart. The first act of greeting is not more meritorious than the last.” [Abu Dawood]
Take initiative and precedence over others in exchanging Salaam. Our beloved Prophet (SAW) said that the one who takes precedence in Salaam is closer to Allah (SWT). Sahih Muslim quotes Prophet (SAW) as saying: “When you meet your brother in Faith, greet him with Salaam. The one who says it first gets greater reward. It is Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW), and its reply: “Walaikum Assalaam wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu” is Waajib, necessary and mandatory. Jurists have also mentioned that it is inappropriate and forbidden to say Salaam at certain occasions and it is not necessary to reply to it. Among such occasions are: 1) When someone is praying. 2) Busy in supplication [du’aa]. 3) Busy in remembrance [Zikr] of Allah (SWT). 4) Giving a speech or sermon. 5) Attending the nature’s call, or is in the restroom. 6) Calling Azan or Iqaamaah. 7) Reading or reciting. 8) Eating or drinking. 9) The person who greets is drunk. 10) A young lady’s greeting, which may cause or give birth to an immodest notion.
It is bad to come and sit between two people while they are busy talking to each other. One should sit either on left or right of those two, who are engaged in conversation. Abu Dawoodquotes Prophet (SAW) as saying: “One should not sit among two people without their permission.” After finding a seat either to their right or left, one should not eavesdrop, or try to listen to their conversation. It is not only indecent, but a sin. According to Bukhari, Prophet (SAW) has warned us against this attitude. He said: “The person who eavesdrops on those who dislike this act. Punishment for such an act will result in the pouring of melting lead into his ears on the Day of Qiyamah. Remember also that when there are three people together, it is bad for the two of them to whisper to each other; it is very unbecoming for a Muslim.
Ibn-e-Masood (RA) quotes Prophet (SAW), who advised: “When three of you are together, two of you must not converse privately ignoring the third till the number increases, lest the third should be grieved.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
At times when visiting someone, people knock the door loudly, or press the call button for long and after quick interruptions. These are but poor manners! The person whose door is knocked may be making his ablution [Wudu], or praying, or any other important work, leaving from which may take him some time. If the person doesn’t come out, then it is appropriate to leave without seeing him. Abu Dawood mentions that while visiting someone, Prophet (SAW) used to stand on either side but not in front of the door. Please follow this Sunnah. Once a lady went to see Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (RehmA) to ask a question, but knocked at his door forcefully. The Imaam came out thinking that police was at the door warranting him. Imaam Bukharimentions this in his book “al-Adab-ul-Mufrad”, that companions of Prophet (SAW) used to knock at his (SAW)’s door softly with their fingertip nails. According to a tradition, Prophet (SAW) considered lack of politeness as a fault and shortcoming. As quoted in Muslim, Prophet (SAW) said that he, who has been deprived of softness and politeness, is deprived of all Khair and blessings.
While visiting someone, please take your seat where your host wants you to sit and don’t rush to sit at a place of your choice as it may be inappropriate in the sight of your host for some reason. Prophet (SAW) once said that no one should intend to occupy someone’s domain. As quoted in Muslim, he (SAW) also advised not to sit on someone’s bed without his permission.
The one who is senior in age and knowledge should be given due recognition and respect. Giving due consideration to your elders and paying them respect is their right and your duty. Listen to them patiently and carefully and pay attention when they speak. Attend to their question with care and give due consideration to their status. Be polite and courteous while addressing them and mind your tone and keep a low voice. Once two brothers came to visit Prophet (SAW) and the younger wanted to initiate the conversation. Prophet (SAW) told him to give his senior his right [Bukhari]. He (SAW) said that he is not from among us, who doesn’t respect his elder and is not kind to his younger and doesn’t recognize the rights of scholars. [Musnad Ahmad]. Not to disturb someone, when he is asleep irrespective of night or day, is also a part of Islamic etiquette. Talk and move quietly around him lest he is disturbed. Miqdaad bin Aswad (RA) says that he used to save the milk of Prophet (SAW)’s share, and when he (SAW) used to return at night, he used to greet us with Salaam in such a low voice that those who were awake could listen and those who were asleep were not disturbed. [Muslim & Tirmizi]. One should keep this in mind while in the Masjid while remembering Allah (SWT), or reciting the Holy Qur’an and make sure that any of your actions does not put any of your brothers in discomfort and distracts him. It is not proper to disturb the concentration of a brother who is praying. When Prophet (SAW) used to get up for Tahajjud, his movements and recitation were not a source of disturbance to those were then asleep.
These are just a few etiquettes reflecting the level of purity, character, understanding, civility, and behavior of a good Muslim. The person who is a source of comfort rather than discomfort or inconvenience is the best person. Win people’s heart by modesty, courtesy, and humility. Be polite in conversation, and give people due respect. Behave with others as you would like others to behave with you.
May Allah enable us to realize the importance of the gift of life and the countless blessings we have been bestowed with and utilize our time prudently and wisely and the way it pleases Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (SAW). Aameen!
SWT = Subhanahu Wa Ta'Ala
SAW = Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam
AS = AlehisSalam
RA = Radhiyallaho anhu
RAnha= Radhiyallaho anha
The Friday Khutbahs are published to enhance your knowledge of Islam. The references of Quran and Hadith are the approximate translation of the Arabic text. The editors have not verified the accuracy of the the English translation. The scholarly reader is encouraged to refer to the original Arabic script if there is any doubt. Kindly notify us if the translation can be enhanced.