Social Etiquette

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"ISLAM IS A COMPLETE WAY OF LIFE.” We often hear this fact and frequently say it ourselves. The point to reflect upon is to what extent do we practice on the “complete way of life.” This complete way of life includes our “aqaaid” - having the correct beliefs. It encompasses our ibadah, all the forms of physical and monetary worship ordained by Allah Ta’ala. For many people, Deen and the complete way of life stops here. That however is very incomplete. Rather Deen also includes our monetary dealings with one another, our inner-self purification (islaah-e-baatin) and social etiquette. The last aspect is perhaps least considered as a part of Deen and perhaps the greatest amount of negligence is found in this regard. Many a person who is conscious of his salaah and other ibadah will be found to be lax about social etiquette.

 

WRONG IMPRESSION

While this is the general attitude towards social etiquette, the Qur’an-e-Kareem contains numerous injunctions pertaining to this aspect. From the injunction of greeting with salaam to the rights of the traveling companion and from the etiquette of seeking permission to enter another person's home to the prohibition of harboring evil thoughts for another person, the Qur’an contains complete guidance on every aspect. The Ahadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) further elucidate these points and contain many more details. It is largely due to the abandonment of much of these etiquettes that many relationships and friendships break down and one time bosom friends become strangers to one another. Worse than this, ignoring the social etiquette taught by Islam when dealing with non- Muslims drives them away from Islam and creates the wrong impression about Deen in their minds. It is therefore necessary to acquaint ourselves with the aspect of social etiquette and practice upon them. A slight peek into this aspect in the light of the Qur’an and Ahadith will indicate the importance of social etiquette in Deen.

 

NEIGHBOURS

Once the condition of two women was mentioned to Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). One of them was described as being a women who engaged in much optional salaah and fasting, etc. However, she also caused difficulty and inconvenience to her neighbours. With regards to her Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said: “She is in the fire.” The other woman was described as one who did not do anything much beyond the basic compulsory actions, but she caused no difficulty to her neighbours and others. “She is in Jannah” declared Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). One’s neighbour may be a Muslim or even a disbeliever. However by virtue of him being a neighbour, he has a right over one. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said:“Jibraeel (alaihis salaam) stressed the rights of the neighbour to such an extent that I thought that he would soon make him an heir.” Once Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) declared: “By Allah he is not a (perfect) Believer.” After he repeated this for the third time, he was asked: “Who is he O Prophet of Allah?” “The one whose neighbour does not feel safe from his mischief,” replied Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).

 

ODOUR

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) was extremely concerned that no person should cause any inconvenience to another in any way, even by some odour. Hence Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) declared that the one who has eaten raw onions or garlic should “remain away from us” (until the odour has been completely removed).

 

SOUND

It is reported that when Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) sneezed, he covered his nose and mouth with his hand or a cloth so that the sound will not cause any disturbance to others. Similarly, Miqdaad bin Aswad (radhiallahu anhu) narrates that once together with a group of people he was a guest at the house of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). After Esha they would retire early to bed while Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) would only come much later. Upon entering the room he would make salaam, but only so loudly that the one who is awake would hear it while the one who is asleep would not be disturbed. The extreme care of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) in this regard is evident. However, do we give it the same amount of importance? The social etiquette in Deen encompass many aspects. It includes the etiquette of sitting in a gathering; of visiting the sick and consoling the bereaved; of rendering service to others; the manner of eating, drinking and sleeping; the etiquette of making a request and of writing a letter, and many more. It is extremely important to learn these etiquette and practice upon them.

 

PAUSE FOR A MOMENT

The bottom line of all social etiquette is to avoid causing any inconvenience or difficulty to the next person, whether by word or deed. This means that we have to learn to pause for a moment before any action and reflect: “Will anybody be inconvenienced in any way?” If indeed someone will be inconvenienced, in the light of the practical example of Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) such an action must be totally avoided. It is only when social etiquette will be given its due importance and be practiced upon that true, sincere love and affection will develop among the Ummah. Besides, it is this very social etiquette as expounded in the Qur’an and Hadith that will draw others to Islam.

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