One of the things I see lacking in many Muslims (old and young alike) is good manners. And this is a shame because all of the Prophets of Allah ordained good manners on their people.
The epitome of these prophetic manners is seen in the example of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He brought a balance to manners that enables justice and righteousness.
The People of the Book who came before Muslims were extreme in their display of manners. In some cases they were too tough and in some cases they were too lenient.
But Islam brings a middle path to manners. One good example is principle of Qisas (retribution).
Qisas in Islam allows the Muslim state to bring justice to the people living within its borders, according to Islamic shariah.
When a person does something harmful to another person, the principle of Qisas allows the same to be done to that person. But Qisas has more depth than just “eye for an eye.”
While Qisas does allow punishments that fit the crime, it also allows for mercy.
Let’s say for example, that a Muslim kills another Muslim by accident. According to the Quran, the killer has to free a believing slave and pay the victim’s family compensation.
And never is it for a believer to kill a believer except by mistake. And whoever kills a believer by mistake – then the freeing of a believing slave and a compensation payment presented to the deceased’s family unless they give charity.
Chapter 4, verse 92.
However, as you can see from the above verse, the family has the right to forgive the killer and let it go. This principle also extends to one who kills intentionally. Only thing is the family has the right to allow the murderer to go free rather than be put to death, as is the punishment for intentional murder in Islam.
As for the people who came before Islam, they did not have such flexibility.
The Jews were required to apply the punishment on every criminal. They were not allowed to forgive him/her.
The Christians went in the opposite direction; they were told to forgive every criminal. Both of these extremes are present in one story in the Bible.
Prophet Jesus (pbuh) was teaching at the temple when the Jews brought a woman caught in adultery to him (kind of funny how they didn’t catch the man she was with).
The Jewish rabbis wanted to trap Jesus so they asked him what he thought about this woman who, according to the law of Prophet Musa (pbuh), should be stoned. They wanted to see if Prophet Jesus (pbuh) would go against the Torah and let her go.
Instead, Prophet Jesus (pbuh) said: “Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone.”
This statement from Jesus reverberates with Christians even today where their leaders and priests are often caught in scandals. Then their supporters encourage the public to let them go by saying things like “we all have done things wrong,” or “none of us are perfect,” or “only God can judge me.”
As important as it is to have good manners with other people, it is even more important to have good manners with Allah. He is even more deserving of our best behavior and respect.
You may be asking yourself: “How do we have good manners with Allah?”
We have good manners with Allah by living according to the following three qualities:
So if these three aspects are already a part of your life, then you are displaying good manners with Allah, Inshallah.
And if not, then you’re displaying bad manners, and we seek Allah’s refuge from that.
We also have a requirement of good manners towards other creatures like animals.
Muslims should be gentle and kind with animals and not abuse them or harm them. Even if we have to kill an animal for food or clothing, we should do so as humanely as possible.
So if we have to slaughter an animal, we must use a sharp blade, and cut across the jugular vein as swiftly as possible.
This allows the animal to bleed out with little pain.
It is also preferable to slaughter the animal in seclusion so that other animals do not see what’s happening.
Good manners with animals goes beyond their slaughter.
We should treat all animals with kindness and respect also.
Most Muslims know the story of the prostitute and the dog. This is a famous story that came to us in a hadith from Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet said, “While a dog was going round a well and was about to die of thirst, a Jewist prostitute saw it and took off her shoe and watered it. So Allah forgave her because of that good deed.”
This story is about a woman who was involved in immoral deeds. And the creature she helped was a dog, which Muslims know are generally despised creatures in Islam which we consider unclean.
But Allah loves good manners so much, that He forgave this woman of her sins and gave her paradise.
I can go on and on about the importance of good manners, but I believe this should be enough evidence.
From this point forward, let’s try to make good manners to all creation a part of our character. Let us speak good and kind words to others even if they say bad things to us.
Let us forgive those Muslims who have done wrong to us.
Let us be kind and gentle with those that are weaker than us, including the animals.
And most importantly, let us strive to have good manners with Allah and pray that He forgives us if we fall short.
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