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* Courtesy & Politeness

I seek refuge from Allah, the All Knowing, the


All Hearing, from the cursed Satan, in the name
of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most
Merciful, we praise Allah, thank Him, seek His
help, guidance and forgiveness. We seek refuge
in Allah from the evil in our souls and the
sinfulness of our deeds. He whom Allah guides,
he is the rightly guided; but he whom He sends
astray, for him you will find no guiding
advocate.
Everybody will find it strange that the manner
that we talk about this time is part of Islam; it is
the manner of (courtesy, politeness, nobility
and high-ranking behavior with other people).
Many of you may wonder: What is the relation
between this manner and Islam? I intend
through this lecture to reach the conclusion that
the origin of this manner is Islam.
First: What is the meaning of courtesy and
politeness?
I mean politeness in dealing with people, I
mean a sensitive spirit, I mean a pretty soul, I
mean beauty, cleanliness, order, I mean the
delicate sensation and perceptive soul that
discerns what is wrong through a glance or a
smile.
This is a real Islamic manner; nevertheless I
know that you are still hesitant and wondering,
“What is the relationship between this manner
and religion?” I also know that the title of this
lecture does not attract you, and that what I
intend to speak about should be addressed to
diplomats for example, or that it should be
taught in foreign schools where they would
value such a speech! So what do we have to do
with it?
In our societies, we have four types of people
depending on how they view and interact with
this manner:
- First type: Those who think that politeness,
courtesy, civilization, progress and high
manners are Western or European values that
we have adopted from them. For this reason we
learn them in foreign language schools, and
send our children there to learn courtesy and
politeness so they may grow up with these
manners. Our speech today is directed to this
type in particular so together we will see the
origin of this manner.
- Second type: Those who grew up with this
manner at home but imagine that Islam is
contrary to it. When they hear of religious
people, this conjures up images of
impoliteness, disorder and uncleanness.
Courtesy therefore becomes a barrier between
him/her and religion. Here I should say to
them: No, this barrier that you have put up
between courtesy, progress, civilization,
politeness and religiousness is but an illusion,
because the origin of courtesy is from our
religion, Islam.
- Third type: Those who view Islam as being
in the mosque only, that it has no relation with
anything outside of it such as politeness,
management and dealings.
- Fourth type: A devout young man, who
understands Islam as worship, prayer,
invocation of Allah, night prayer, but has no
courtesy. As a result, he has made other people
hate the idea of religiousness, and this could
include his parents. They may say, “Look,
since he has become religious, he has neglected
his appearance!” He is religious, sticking to his
worshipping, sticking to satisfying Allah but he
cannot comprehend that courtesy is one of the
Islamic values that our Prophet (PBUH) came
with.
Today I want to address this type saying:
Please comprehend Islam as an integrated
religion, for this reason I consider this type of
manner as one of the most important Islamic
manners which we should adhere to, and it is of
no less importance than honesty or faithfulness.
At the end, my aim is to implant one very
important concept: we are proud because we
belong to Islam.
I know that everyone has grown up and learned
courtesy at home. However, he views it as a
matter of etiquette, especially those who are
from high social standings, and not because it is
part of Islamic teaching. I am here to say that
your dealings with courtesy and politeness
originally stem from Islam.

Let us start our speech after this long


introduction with the types of politeness and
courtesy:
Types of Politeness and Courtesy:
1) Politeness with Allah (SWT)
2) Politeness with Allah's Prophet (PBUH)
3) Politeness with people.
Politeness with people
Let us begin with people and conclude with
Allah the Great and Almighty:
Actually, when I tried to enclose everything
that Islam said concerning politeness and
courtesy, I was lost and I knew that I had put
the different aspects in order. For this reason, I
will start with politeness and courtesy in your
home, then in street, then with those to whom
you pay visits, and so on.
For example, one comes home carrying with
him a kind of food that he likes and has a large
appetite for. He is afraid that his parents may
see it and take it, so what does he do? He hides
it, eats it on his way home, or eats it with his
friends. I repeat, I am not talking here about
being dutiful to one’s parents; I am talking
about the courtesy of a Muslim man with his
parents and Islam’s evaluation of this courtesy.
I will tell you a story:
One of our Prophet's companions was dying,
his brothers asked him to utter the two
declarations of faith but he could not. So they
went to the Prophet (PBUH) as this is a very
serious matter. The companion was a
disciplined man, close to the Prophet (PBUH),
and obedient to Allah (SWT) and His Prophet
(PBUH). “Has he a mother?” the Prophet
(PBUH) asked, “Yes, Prophet of Allah”, they
answered. The Prophet (PBUH) went to his
mother asking her about her son's piety. “He
was dutiful to me”, she said, “but he used to
bring fruits and food and hide them away from
me, feed his kids without feeding me.” So he
could not utter the two declarations of faith
because he did not deal with his mother
courteously! The Prophet (PBUH) then lit a fire
and told the mother that her son would burn if
she does not forgive him, so she said, “I have
forgiven him.” When her heart moved, her
son’s tongue said, “I declare that there is no
God but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's
Prophet.”
Look at this incident and to Islam’s evaluation
of dealing courteously with one’s mother in a
simple situation. This man used to give fruits to
his children and not to his mother, compare this
with your deeds.
Other manners: Your mother calls out to you
and you do not answer her.
Islam sets an example for this point. There is a
very long Hadith narrated by the Prophet
(PBUH) saying, “A time ago, there was a man
called Gureige the worshiper, who used to pray
a lot. Once when he was praying his mother
came, called for him, he said, “Oh Allah, my
mother and my prayer”, he was confused, and
went on with his prayer so his mother went out.
The day after, she came again calling, “O
Gureige.” and he said, “Oh Allah, my mother
and my prayer”, also he went on with his
prayer. Then on the third day, she came, called
for him,” Oh Gureige.” He said,” Oh Allah my
mother and my prayer.” He went on with his
prayer. By then his mother was angry and said,
“Oh Allah, don't make him die until he looks
into the faces of….” and said a word that
means prostitutes. So a prostitute who was
pregnant kept bugging him pretending that the
son was his, so the Israelites(1) began beating
and hurting him until Allah saved him at the
end.” (Authentic Hadith, narrated by Muslim,
Al-Masnad As-Sahih, 2550).
Notice how he was a worshiper and dutiful
towards his mother, but she was hurt because
he had not answered her when she called for
him three times. I present this story to a young
man who goes to Jumua’a prayer and is late for
two hours while his parents are waiting for him
at lunch and not to the young man busy with
worshipping away from his parents. I also
present it to a girl who sits with her friends for
hours and hours while she refuses to sit with
her mother for half an hour.
Even in asking permission to enter one's
parents' room
Can we find a verse addressing politeness in
entering the parents' bedroom in this Qur’an,
which will be read to all on the Day of
Judgment? Yes.
Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as “O
you who believe! Let your slaves and slave-
girls, and those among you who have not
come to the age of puberty ask your
permission (before they come to your
presence) on three occasions” (TMQ 24:58).
(1)
This verse sets one of the rules of courtesy,
children who have not reached the age of
puberty should ask permission three times:
before Fajr (morning) prayer, and while you
take your clothes off for the noon siesta and
after the ‘Isha’ (late-night) prayer. This religion
does not only organize life in the mosque or at
home, it has come to organize life inside the
bedroom! Truly there is no God except Allah
(SWT).
A man came to the Prophet (PBUH), “O
Prophet, should I ask permission to enter my
mother's room?” asked the man, “Yes”, said the
Prophet (PBUH), “ O Prophet, should I ask
permission to enter my mother's room?”, asked
the man, “Yes”, said the Prophet (PBUH), “ O
Prophet, should I ask permission to enter my
mother's room?”, asked the man, the Prophet
(PBUH) then asked, “Would you like to see her
naked?”, “No Prophet”, answered the man,
“Then ask her permission to enter her room”.
(Authentic, Al-Albani, Sahih al-Adab, 809).

Hence, generations grew up with this rule of


asking permission before entering their parent’s
room through the instructions, courtesy and
manners of Islam. So it is Islam that moved
humanity to civilization and culture, for this
reason, such a situation was strange to this
man.
We will now speak about courtesy with the
wife since we are still tackling the issue of
courtesy in the home.
For example, we have all seen how in foreign
films and serials, if the husband is having
dinner with his wife, he cuts a piece of the meat
and puts it in his wife's mouth using his fork.
The youth in particular, like this and say, “How
romantic!”. We grow up imitating theses
dealings pretending modernity through
imitating Europeans, and we forget that what
our Prophet taught us. To whom will you now
refer?
There is another problem. Many homes are
broken and the couples split up right before
marriage because of problems that arise while
setting the basics for a married life. We find
that either the bride’s family is excessive and
extravagant in their requirements, or that the
groom does not want to provide his wife with
the same standard of living she is used to so the
marriage fails. Look at the Prophet’s (PBUH)
courtesy in such cases.
The Prophet (PBUH) married his wives and all
of them lived beside Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque
in Madinah in the desert, which his wives were
all used to. When the Prophet (PBUH) married
Maria the Egyptian, from the land of greenery
and the Nile (this is the Prophet (PBUH) the
leader who is responsible for this message and
for teaching the Qur’an, and to guide the
companions and to undertake night prayers, yet
he still notices these small elements of
courtesy). So he does not house Maria with his
other wives, instead he provides a home for her
in an area named the Awaly as it is a green
area. Can you see this detailed attention and
courtesy in his dealings with his wife? He
could have easily made her live with his other
wives but he didn’t.
I am afraid here that my speech may be
understood that all parents want their daughters
to live beside the Nile. On the contrary, when
the Prophet (PBUH) came to give in marriage
to his daughter, Fatima and was approached by
the best groom one could find, a believer, and
responsible man who would bring happiness to
whomever he married, despite being poor, he
approved the marriage with what the groom
owned; a rug and blanket!
I am not saying that we will do this today;
however we need to understand the groom’s
ability and stop arguing about materialistic
things. At the same time, I again stress that out
of Islamic courtesy we must take into
consideration the social and material standards
of the wife.
We now turn to another aspect in the courtesies
of dealing with the wife:
The wife during the time of her menstrual
cycle: Her mood is changed and many
husbands refuse to deal with their wives in any
way during this time. This shows a complete
lack of courtesy. Look at how the Prophet
(PBUH) acted in such a case.
Aisha, the Prophet’s wife said, “During my
menstrual cycle, I was drinking from a cup and
then the Prophet would pick up the cup and
look for the trace of my lips on it, and then
place his mouth on that same place!”
(Authentic Hadith, narrated by al-Albany,
Sahih al-Nassaie, 270). The Prophet (PBUH)
intended such actions to take care of her
psychologically, at the time she needs such an
act. Can we still refer to the West and their
traditions after this?
I am not stating anything new, for all of these
are Ahadith with which we are all familiar, yet
we do not realize that they lay the foundations
of courtesy and politeness in our interactions.
We must therefore take great pride and a sense
of belonging to this religion Islam.
Other aspects of politeness when dealing
with the wife include taking care of her
when she feels weak or angry:
One time Aisha was sitting with the Prophet
(PBUH) and she raised her voice just as Abu
Bakr As-Sedeek (her father) was entering the
room, he was just about to hit her but the
Prophet (PBUH) stepped in between them and
calmed Abu Bakr, then Abu Bakr left. The
Prophet (PBUH) returned to Aisha, and found
her defeated since she was about to be
humiliated and beaten, so he said to her trying
to make her feel better, “Did you see how I
stepped in between you and him?” It is the
Prophet’s (PBUH) courtesy and presence of
mind in making her feel better at her moment
of weakness.
Many husbands do not deal with their wives
with courtesy or tenderness, always threatening
that they will marry someone else, or that they
will divorce them. This kind of talk even in a
joking manner is hurtful to the woman.
Aisha was once sitting with the Prophet
(PBUH) telling him the story of ten men with
their wives. A very long story and at its end she
mentioned the story of a man named Abu
Zar’e, who was a gentle man and loved his wife
and they lived happily together, however he
divorced her. The Prophet (PBUH) then looked
at Aisha and told her, “I was to you as Abu
Zar’e was to Um Zar’e, however I will not
divorce you.” (Authentic Hadith, narrated by
al-Albany, Ash-Shmael Al-Muhammadiah,
215). The Prophet (PBUH) realized Aisha’s
worry and wanted to quickly remove any
doubts in her mind that a similar thing could
happen to her, all this through his quick
understanding and extreme courtesy.
From the aspects that again show a lack of
courtesy: The husband returns home after a
long workday with a frown on his face and he
sits to read newspapers till he goes to sleep.
This really hurts the wife. Yes, you may be
very tired and exhausted from working all day
however, you are not busier than the Prophet
(PBUH) was. Look at how he (PBUH) was in
his house: All of the Prophet’s wives mention
that he was bright-faced in his home and that he
would always bring a smile to their faces. He
used to sit and talk with them, and not close the
door behind him and say I am tired and busy
with many problems. However, when the call
to prayer came, it was as if he did not know
them and they did not know him.
In the question of appearance and looking
good: The husband always wants his wife to
adorn herself before him however, he does not
pay any attention to his appearance and how he
should look before her.
Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the most
knowledgeable companions said, “I like to
adorn myself before my wife, just as I like her
to adorn herself before me.” Honestly, the
meanings of courtesy in Islam are extremely
high and sophisticated.
The last example that we will speak about
concerns the sexual relationship between the
husband and his wife:
The Qur’an has referred to the courteous
manner of their interaction in bed, for Islam left
neither small nor large matters without
discussing them. Listen to this ayah that can be
translated as, “Your women are a tillage for
you; so come up to your tillage however you
decide, and place forward (good deeds) for
yourselves; and be pious to Allah, and know
that you will be meeting Him. And give good
tidings to the believers.” (TMQ 2: 223).
Therefore, doing some good act for your
yourselves beforehand refers to the tender and
affectionate acts undertaken before the intimate
relation, as this is from the courtesies of the
relationship between a man and his wife.
The Qur’an has referred to this in a word that is
full of courtesy: “Place forward good deeds
for yourselves”.
• Courtesy and Politeness in the home: A
nice example from the Prophet’s life
If you want to enter your home, then it is from
the Sunnah to ring the bell first and wait
seconds before opening the door.
This is for two reasons:
First: Because Islam likes you to see your wife
in the most beautiful image, and her hair or her
dress may be disheveled and so it is not nice for
you to see her in that way. Therefore, you
should give her chance to neaten her self up as
it is also from courtesy for her to look beautiful
for you, as the Prophet (PBUH) said, “if you
look at her, she pleases you”.
Second: Because some men are by nature
suspicious about their wives, and the Prophet
(PBUH) wants to remove this attribute from
their hearts and minds, as they should not treat
their wives in this way. You should always give
her security and knock the door first so that she
is aware of your presence and then enter the
house.
What kind of sophisticated courtesy is this? It
may be simple but it makes a big difference
when dealing with people.
Courtesy and politeness in the street

In fact, the etiquettes of courtesy and politeness


are hard to find in the Egyptian street. We will,
however, go through them one by one.
The way of walking: We were taught at home
that we should not walk idly or kick the stones
on the ground, right?
Listen to what they used to say about the
Prophet (PBUH), “If he walked, he did so
quickly but did not run.” His walk was serious
and full of courtesy and politeness. It was
neither slack nor quick.
Even the Holy Qur'an mentioned the issue of
walking, such as in the ayah that can be
translated as, “And the (faithful) slaves of the
Most Gracious (Allah) are those who walk
on the earth in humility and sedateness.”
(TMQ 25:63). It is therefore a sedate walk that
is courteous and not arrogant.
Another lost etiquette in the Egyptian street
is about honking your car’s horn:
A youth might want to call over his friend
while waiting outside. He would do so by
honking the horn without any courtesy, simply
because he is too lazy to go up the stairs to his
friend's home.
Even this point is mentioned in the Qur'an, as
in the following ayah that can be translated as,
“Verily those who call you from behind the
dwellings, most of them have no sense. And
if they had patience till you could come out
to them, it would have been better for them.
And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
(TMQ 49: 4-5).
Even though the ayah is about the Prophet
(PBUH), it still serves as a lesson in human
behavior.
Another wrong behavior is when you do not
want the car behind you to pass you so you
decide to block the road for it.
Listen to this ayah that can be translated as, “O
you who believe! When you are told to make
room in the assemblies, (spread out and)
make room.” (TMQ 58: 11).
Omar Ibnul-Khattab said, “Three things make
wins over your brother's friendly feelings, one
of these things is; making room for him”.
To move and make room for another is a
concept that applies to everything, whether you
make room for others in the mosque, in the
street between cars, or during times of
condolences! You might realize that whoever
would enter the room would be nervous
because all eyes would be on him. Wouldn't
you put an end to his nervousness if you took
his hand and made him sit down?
This also applies in a college lecture hall where
you should make room for you classmates. All
of this comes from an ayah in the Qur'an that
teaches manners and to make room for others!
Another wrong manner is throwing trash in
the street:
While driving, you check around to see if there
is anybody watching you, and then you throw
your trash. Yet the Prophet (PBUH) taught us
that, “Removing what is injurious from the
street is charity.” Imagine then how horrible it
would be to throw something injurious in the
street? What will his sin be? The Prophet
(PBUH) said, “Faith has over seventy branches
or over sixty branches, the highest of which is
the declaration that there is no god but Allah,
and the humblest of which is the, removal of
what is injurious from the path. Thus, removing
harm from the street is part of faith”.
(Authentic, narrated by Muslim, 35).
This makes courtesy a part of our faith. Making
sure our streets are clean is a charity, as in the
previous Hadith. We should therefore get to
know our Islam correctly. Why are people
afraid of Islam and commitment? It is all
courtesy and politeness.
Think with me: the Prophet (PBUH) said the
following, “Removing harm from the street is
charity,” when the Arabian Peninsula was
mainly a vast desert. On the contrary, we
usually do not feel regret throwing our trash in
the desert while traveling. However, the
Prophet (PBUH) taught us about civilization
1400 years ago as if he is saying this Hadith
today.
What is worse than throwing the trash is
spitting in the street? Listen to this Hadith: the
Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whatever harms
mankind will harm the angels”. (Authentic,
narrated by Muslim, 564). That will be
sufficient for you to apply courtesy in
everything. Think about anything that harms
mankind and remember that it also harms the
angels.
Yes that applies to all: spitting, cigarettes and
the bad smelly socks. Politeness and courtesy
are the basis of faith.
The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Beware! Avoid
sitting on the roads.” They (the people) said,
“O Allah’s Apostle! We can't help sitting (on
the roads) as these are (our places) where we
have our talks.” The Prophet said, “If you
refuse but to sit, then pay the road its right”
they said, “What is the right of the road, O
Allah's Apostle?” He said, “Lowering your
gaze, refraining from harming others,
answering the greeting, enjoining what is good,
and forbidding what is evil” (Authentic Hadith,
narrated by Bukhari, 2465). They were thus
asking about street manners.
Courtesy and Politeness during visits:
I will tell you about the Prophet's (PBUH)
Sunnah or teachings. I don't know whether to
call them teachings, civilization, or precious
values?
First: visiting someone without an
appointment. “O, you who believe! Enter not
houses other than your own, until you have
asked permission and greeted those in them;
that is better for you, in order that you may
remember.” (TMQ 24:27).
Nowadays, seeking permission is by making a
phone call. Examine the Qur’anic expression,
“until you have asked permission”. This
means that you are assured that it is possible to
pay a visit, which can also be inferred from the
person's tone on the phone. Look also into
courtesy in this Qur'anic phrase “and greeted
those in them” Hence, greetings come after
being permitted to visit and after going to that
home.
If the person is not ready to welcome you then
do not be angry, “And if you find no one
therein, still, enter not until permission has
been given. And if you are asked to go back,
go back, for it is purer for you. And Allah is
All-Knower of what you do.” (TMQ Surat
24: 28). The Qur’an thus teaches you that it is
out of courtesy to go back and not to be angry.
If you had an appointment and went on time,
you will then be standing in front of the door.
Remember that when you were a child your
mother taught you not to ring the bell and stand
facing the door directly, because that is not of
courtesy. The Prophet (PBUH) also gives the
same advice. He taught us not to stand in front
of the door, but instead to turn right or left. In
other words, you must stand to the right or the
left of the door. We were also taught not to ring
the bell continuously or more than once in
order not to disturb the households. The
Prophet (PBUH) also teaches us that. He taught
us to ask permission three times. It is from the
Sunnah to wait for a while between each of
these three times to give the one you’re visiting
a chance if he was praying or in the bathroom.
“If anyone of you asks the permission to enter
thrice, and the permission is not given, then he
should return.” (Authentic, Sahih Muslim,
2153). Do not insist then on knocking the door
or ringing the bell because you assume that
someone is in there. “…And if you were asked
to return; then do so.”
When you knock the door and you are asked,
“Who is it?” Then do not say, “It's me” Islam
teaches us that we must directly say our names.
Jaber Ibn Abdullah said that he went to the
Prophet (PBUH) and knocked the door. “I was
asked who I was and I said that it was me. I
then heard him say “me, me?” as if he disliked
it.” The companions then learned that if the
Prophet (PBUH) asked who it is, one should
say I'm Aba-Dhar while another might say I'm
Um-Hani. Thus, the companions learned this
over 1400 years ago. This is Islam, which did
not neglect either large or small issues.
The door was opened for you and you closed it
loudly/harshly behind you. This is not of
courtesy. The Prophet (PBUH) says, “Every act
will be completed with kindness yet without it
this act will be disgraced”. (Authentic, Sahih
Muslim, 2594).
Another thing: You were invited to a banquet
and you went there with a friend. Or if you
informed your mother that a friend of yours
would come and have lunch with you, but then
you surprised her with six, this will not be
courteous.
The Prophet (PBUH) went with five other
companions to one of the Ansar (supporters)
who invited them to eat. While walking,
someone followed them. As soon as they
reached the door of the Ansari, the Prophet
(PBUH) told him, “The sixth one followed us,
if you want you can give him the permission to
enter. If not, then he must return.” The
supporter replied by accepting to take the sixth
man in.
However, we might say that having six people
rather than five is not a big difference and will
not be noticeable. Yet, the Prophet (PBUH)
said, “No”, and taught us something else.
You have now entered your guest's home and
found a phone. You ask to use the phone to
make a phone call but you made an
international call and spoke for about half an
hour. That is neither right nor courteous. The
Prophet (PBUH) said, “What is taken out of
shyness will be ill-gotten.” Whatever you take
from another by taking advantage of his
modesty is forbidden. Imagine the greatness of
this religion.
Assume that you went on a visit and you stayed
for a long time. Allah says what can be
translated as, “and when you have taken your
meal, disperse” (TMQ 33:53). After you eat,
disperse by not burdening the host.
Al-Imam Al-Shafi'ee had a story; Once
someone came to visit him. The Imam brought
him food, he ate it and waited. Once again he
brought him food, he ate it and he waited for a
very long. The man then said: O Imam, I'm
afraid I have been a heavy guest. He said: You
have been heavy, and you're at your home!”
Consider how his admonition was courteous for
the sentence carries a double meaning.
You decided to visit a relative and stay in his
house for two days or one week. His wife
welcomed you. In return, you were so careless
and chaotic to the point that you invited others
and stayed up late at night. The Prophet
(PBUH) tells us about the time when he
immigrated from Makkah to Madinah and
stayed over at Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari’s place
for a while till he built his mosque and his own
home. Abu Ayyub's home was two stories; out
of courtesy he told the Prophet (PBUH) to stay
in the second floor and he would stay in the
first in order not to step over the Prophet
(PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) was also
courteous and told him that because many of
the companions would visit him then Abu
Ayyub’s wife would be disturbed by the
number of visitors; but by staying in the second
floor neither he nor his wife would be
disturbed.
When we visit someone, it is not right to enter
and sit anywhere. You should sit where the
household chooses for you to sit so as not to sit
in a place whereby you could be facing the
whole house.
Imagine a personality that behaves through
these manners. Wouldn't it be loved? Wouldn't
it be civilized? Civilization is not technology, it
is not the price of what I wear, or the car that I
drive. It is courtesy and politeness in how we
deal/treat with one another. What we have
learned while growing up in our homes is what
has prevailed 1400 years ago because our
source is Islam in every large and small issue.
Visiting the ill: Do not stay for a long time
when visiting the ill in order not to make him
tired, except if he was comfortable with your
stay. Yet, generally we must not stay for a long
time.
Four people went to visit Imam Abu-Hanifa
when he was ill and they stayed for a long time.
He said, “Please go, Allah has cured me”.
Courtesy and Politeness with Neighbors
The Prophet (PBUH), in his Sunnah, teaches us
that if one brings home a special kind of food
or fruits, and the neighbors see it; then he
should offer them some. You should not hide it,
but at the same time do not show off. If they
see it then you should offer them some of it.
The person should not come home carrying a
bag of apples, for example, and he gives his
children some in front of his neighbors in order
to show them that he is well off. This is not
courteous.
Courtesy dictates that if you cook food that has
a strong aroma, then you should offer some to
your neighbors. Courtesy also dictates that you
should not build a wall higher than your
neighbor's unless you take his permission. One
of our main problems, nowadays, in most
buildings is that people build more floors and
walls higher than their neighbors depriving
them of sun and air without asking their
permission.
Courtesy in the Mosque
- You should make room for others.
- You should not surpass other people with
your feet while passing.
- You should turn off your mobile phone! (Yes,
angels get irritated from the same things that
provoke humans). One might experience a
moment of khushu' (concentration) in prayer;
however, a mobile phone rings and takes his
concentration away. So, he hates the mobile
owner and he could even curse him during his
prayer. Thus, angels are irritated.
- Sometimes we try to change common customs
that are not based on the Sunnah, in a wrong
manner. A memorable story that demonstrates
this comes to my mind: There was an old man,
who is not very learned about Sunnah, who was
praying in a mosque. After he finished his
prayer, he extended his hand to shake hands
with the person sitting next to him and said,
“Haraman” (May you pray in the Holy
Mosque). These words; Haraman and Gam'an
(May we pray together there), are not attributed
to the Prophet (PBUH) and are hence not
Sunnah, but a habit. So, the young man sitting
to his right shook hands with him and said,
“Gam'an”, while the young man sitting to his
left told him that this is not a Sunnah and
refused to shake his hand. The old man replied,
“Is rudeness, then, a Sunnah?” It would have
been more appropriate for the young man to
shake hands with his elder and then explain to
him that this habit is not based on Sunnah. My
brothers, we need to pay attention to these
simple rules of courtesy when dealing with
each other.
- Courtesy also dictates that you should not
separate two people and sit between them. The
Sunnah advises us to either take their
permission or to sit beside them.
• Courtesy in inviting others to Allah
To the youth and the people who love Islam
and love talking to others about it, these rules
of courtesy are important:
- If you come across someone who acts in a
wrong way, remember Al-Hassan and Al-
Hussein, grandsons of the Prophet (PBUH).
They saw an old man performing ablution in a
wrong way. They devised a smart plan; one of
them went to the man and said to him, “My
brother claims that he performs the ablution
better than me, but I swear that I perform the
ablution in the same way as the Prophet
(PBUH) did. Would you be our judge and tell
us who performs the ablution better?” The first
young man began to perform the ablution
slowly and exactly according to Sunnah. Then
the other young man performed the ablution
exactly in the same manner as his brother. The
man looked at them and said, “I swear that you
perform the ablution better than I do”, and they
replied, “May Allah reward you” and they left.
Examine how they corrected the mistake in a
courteous manner. It is a far cry from one who
tells the man, “O Hajj, what you do is wrong;
look at the right way.”
Once the Prophet (PBUH) was in the mosque,
and a Bedouin started to urinate! Can you
imagine? In the Prophet's (PBUH) mosque!
The companions of the Prophet (PBUH) were
about to kill him, but the Prophet (PBUH) said
to them, “Let him finish what he is doing.”
Look at the Prophet's (PBUH) wisdom in
dealing with the situation; what is done cannot
be undone. And if they attack him while he is
urinating, imagine how he would feel if had to
run in this state.
- It is known that Jibril (AS) (Gabriel) did not
convey to the Prophet (PBUH) the call to
prayers. The Muslims had begun to think how
to gather people for prayer. One of them saw a
vision in which he heard the words for the call
to prayer. Omar Ibn Al-Khattab had seen this
vision as well, so they ran to the Prophet
(PBUH) to tell him of their vision. The Prophet
(PBUH) told them “This is a true vision. So tell
Belal to say it. His voice is more pleasing than
yours.” Even if the speaker is closer to Allah
(SWT), the one whose voice is better and more
pleasing should call for prayers. It is an
aesthetic value in Islam. Afterwards, thousands
of callers for prayers pride themselves on their
beautiful voices, because of a word that the
Prophet (PBUH) said 1400 years ago.
- Imam Abu-Hanifa liked to perform Qiyyam
(night prayer); and his next door neighbor was
a corrupt young man who used to return home
at night completely drunk, and keeps on
singing, which disturbed the Imam during his
prayer. The Imam knew that if he tried to
advise him when he is in this state, he is not
going to listen. The young man used to sing,
“They let me down, they let me down.” One
night, the Imam did not hear his voice, so he
inquired about him, and he was told that the
police caught him because he was drunk. The
Imam decided to call him to Islam in an
indirect way. He went to the police and told
them, “Would you let him go for my sake?”
They replied that he is always drunk. However,
the Imam insisted until they let him go. The
Imam made him ride behind him on his mule,
and he stayed quiet all the way home. When
they arrived home, he asked him, “Have we let
you down, chap?” He replied, “No, by Allah, I
swear by Allah that I will never go back to
drinking (wine) again.” Do you see the effect of
gentleness and courtesy with people?
Courtesy in debating
One of the known manners that does not
demonstrate courtesy is interrupting people
while they are speaking and not allowing them
a chance to talk. Look at this incident that
happened to the Prophet (PBUH). A disbeliever
called Otba Ibn Rabi'a comes to him and offers
him a number of ridiculous proposals, which
reveal disrespect of religion. He tells him “O
Muhammad, I have some offers for you from
your folks, so listen to me.” The Prophet
(PBUH) told the man, “Speak your mind, Abul-
Walid.” He said, “If the aim of what you are
doing is wealth, we can give you money until
you become the richest among us. If your aim
is authority, we can make you our king.” Silly
as these offers were, the Prophet (PBUH)
listened to all of them. Look at the Prophet's
(PBUH) courtesy – in spite of what he heard he
did not interrupt the man. After he finished, he
asked him “Have you finished, Abul-Walid?”
Notice that he calls him with his nick name
“Abul-Walid”. He replied, “Yes, I've finished.”
The Prophet (PBUH) the replied, “Then, listen
to me.” He read him parts of Surat Fussilat,
until he reached the verse which says what can
be translated as, “But if they turn away, then
say (O Muhammad (“I have warned you of a
Sâ‘iqah (a thunderbolt) like the Sâ‘iqah
which overtook ‘Âd and Thamûd” (TMQ
41:13). The man was scared, and he put his
hand on the Prophet (PBUH) telling him “I
plead to you, by our kinship, to be quiet.” So,
the Prophet (PBUH) stopped talking. Do you
see the civil manners of discussion?
On the day of At-Ta'ef, the tribe of Thaqif
threw stones on the Prophet (PBUH). They
harmed him by beating, insults, stones and even
spit at his face. The head of his servant, Zaid
Ibn Haritha, was badly hurt. The Prophet’s
(PBUH) feet bled. So, the Prophet (PBUH)
searched for a shelter to protect him from the
stones. He found a small garden where he could
hide. The garden's owners pitied him when they
saw him covered in blood. They sent a twelve-
year-old Christian boy to him, called Addas.
They told him to give a bunch of grapes to that
man, as they did not know the Prophet
(PBUH). When the boy placed the grapes in
front of the Prophet (PBUH), he took one and
said aloud, “In the name of Allah.” The boy
told him “People of this land do not use these
words.” The conversation began between them
thus:
- The Prophet asked him, “What's your name?”
- “Addas”
-”Where are you from, Addas?”
- “From Nineveh.”
- “It is the city of the righteous man, Yunus Ibn
Matta (Jonas son of Mathews)!”
- “How do you know about Yunus Ibn Matta?”
- “He is my brother; he was a Prophet and so
am I.”
So, the boy began to kiss the Prophet's (PBUH)
feet. When I heard this story, I used to wonder
why the boy kissed the Prophet's (PBUH) feet.
I think I have some explanations now:
1. The Prophet (PBUH) started with, “In the
name of Allah”; so do not hide signs of faith to
make people love you.
2. The Prophet (PBUH) asked him, “What's
your name?” This is a good icebreaker to start
the conversation by asking the person about
their name.
3. He used the name immediately when he
asked him “Where are you from, Addas?” You
might get introduced to a man who tells you his
name is Ahmad, and a minute later you tell
him, “I'm so pleased to meet you, Muhammad.”
You did not pay attention to the name, but the
Prophet (PBUH) did, as he used the name
immediately in order not to forget it, and in
order to get closer to him.
4. Then, he asked him about his country, and
when he answered, he identified the country as
that of the righteous man. When he said
“Yunus Ibn Matta”, he meant to mention his
father's name as a kind of assurance. And he
described him as his brother; and he said, “He
was a Prophet, and so am I”, as if he is
ascribing himself to him, which reveals his
decency.
So, the boy kissed his feet.
It is courteous also not to whisper, and not to be
too talkative. The Prophet (PBUH) also told us
not to be talkative and when he talked he used
to be heard. He also taught us a beautiful rule:
when three people are together, it is improper
for two of them to hold a secret council without
the third one, unless they are standing among
other people, or there are at least four of them.
This protects the feeling of the third person.
I know a British girl who embraced Islam
because of this practice. It is a matter of
courtesy that if two people speak a language
that is not known to another person, it is
courteous in his presence that they speak in the
language he understands. This is to eliminate
the thought that they are talking about him.
This British girl worked with two Egyptians
who used to speak Arabic with each other.
Whenever she was present, they carried their
conversation in English. The girl noticed and
asked them why they do this. They told her that
it is a Sunnah in their religion, and that the
Prophet (PBUH) is the one who ordered them
to do so. She remarked, “Your Prophet is very
civilized.” This girl embraced Islam after six
months, and she says that the first thing that
touched her heart were these rules of courtesy
in this religion.
It is also courteous not to use foul language.
Unfortunately, the youth nowadays are used to
insulting each other. One of Al-Tabi'een
(Followers of the Companions of the Prophet)
was walking with his young son, when a dog
passed in front of them. The boy said, “Walk,
you dog, son of a dog.” The man said furiously
to his son, “Never say this again.” The boy
wondered “Why, father? It is a dog and son of a
dog.” The man replied, “My son, you didn’t say
it as a statement, but for degradation, and you
shouldn’t say such words.”
Let’s examine the behavior of Prophet Yusuf
(AS) (Joseph). His brothers got rid of him by
throwing him in a well, he got lost for twenty
years and he suffered a lot because of them.
However, after the family was reunited and his
vision came true, “And he raised his parents
to the throne…and he said: “O my father!
This is the interpretation of my dream
aforetime! My Lord has made it come true!
He was indeed good to me, when He took me
out of the prison” (he did not say out of the
prison and the well so he would not hurt his
brothers' feelings in their presence) “and
brought you (all here) out of the Bedouin-
life, after Shaitân (Satan) had sown enmity
between me and my brothers” (TMQ
12:100). Although Satan whispered to them in
order to plot against him, he did not like to say
that Satan fooled his brothers, and he ascribed
what happened to the intervention of Satan
between him and his brothers; he even started
with himself. Do you see how courteous he is?
Are you going to abuse your neighbor any
more? Are you going to hurt your husband with
your tongue?
Courtesy with high-rank people
Such as your university professor, a minister, a
scholar…etc.
It is a Sunnah to place him in his due rank,
except in the case of war. When the Prophet
(PBUH) sent a letter to Chosroes, King of
Persia, who worshipped fire, he addressed him
thus: From Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, to
Chosroes, the great King of Persia. When he
sent a letter to the King of Rome, he said: From
Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, to Heraclius,
the great King of Rome. He could have said: to
the disbeliever Heraclius or the disbeliever
Chosroes, but he wanted to give them their due
respect among their people. Do you notice the
courtesy?
Never address your professor at university as a
peer, but you should give him his due respect.
This is Islamic courtesy.

Courtesy with those who have done you a


favor,
Among them is your teacher, do not ever think
that mocking your teacher is an aspect of
manhood; he did a favor for you. Did not he
teach you as well as, those who taught you
religion, and guided you through the path of
Islam and adherence and anyone who has done
you a favor?
Consider Al-Abbas' answer when he was
asked, “Who is older, you or the Messenger of
Allah (PBUH)?” Al-Abbas was older than the
Prophet (PBUH), yet his answer was “He is
greater but I was born before him”.
When the Prophet (PBUH) reached Al-
Madinah on Al-Hijrah (Immigration) with our
master Abu-Baker, the people of Madinah were
still unaware of which one of them was the
Prophet (PBUH), and since Abu-Baker’s camel
was preceding the Prophet's (PBUH), they
thought that he was the Prophet (PBUH), so
they held the halter of his camel. He didn't want
them to feel embarrassed, so he took his gown
off and shaded the Prophet (PBUH) with it,
hence the people realized that he was not the
Prophet and ran towards the Prophet's (PBUH)
camel.
Sometimes, and out of familiarity with your
teacher, you loose your politeness and decency
when you deal with him. For example when he
or she tutors you at home, you start speaking
with him informally; be careful, do not
disparage him, for he is doing you a favor
Think deeply of Imam Shafe'y's saying, “I can’t
turn the pages over in the presence of my
teacher lest I disturb him”
He also said, “Highly esteeming my teacher
stopped me even from drinking water before
him”
Courtesy in Funerals
In funerals in the course of Qur'an recitation,
you may see women, and a man, chatting with
each other while the deceased’s mother, sister
or wife etc… is weeping. The Prophet (PBUH)
said, “Allah likes us to be silent in three cases;
while marching with the army, while listening
to Qur’an recitation and during funerals”.
(Weak Hadith, Al-Albany, 1703).
Courtesy with people:
1. Exaggerated courtesy is no courtesy at all:
Example: while visiting a patient, your visit
must be short, but this patient may insist that
you stay with him a bit longer and you insist on
going saying that you have to leave, because
your courtesy dictates on you to make the
patient's visit short. Quite the contrary,
exaggeration in courtesy is no courtesy at all.
Imam Shafe'y says, “The most tiresome brother
to me is the one who exaggerates and makes
me exaggerate, while the most beloved one to
me is the one who makes me behave freely in
his presence as if I am alone”.
2. Exaggerated seriousness is not a matter of
courtesy:
For example, refraining from laughing to
assume seriousness and courtesy is not really
an act of courtesy.
Courtesy with Allah (SWT)
1. Preserving your thought from attributing any
defect to Allah (SWT), like saying “O’ Allah,
why did you do that to my children”. This is
insolence to Allah (SWT).
2. Preserving your heart from turning to
someone or something other than Allah (SWT).
Is not it shameful to turn to or think about
anything else while you are praying before
Him?
3. Preserving yourself from doing anything that
Allah (SWT) detests such as: looking boldly at
women, dating girls, missing prayers or
committing a certain sin, all this is considered
as a sort of impudence to Allah (SWT).
Ulama’ (Islam scholars) say whoever adapts
these three manners i.e. observes Allah (SWT)
in his thoughts, heart and deeds: deserves the
love of Allah (SWT). Do you see how
preserving courtesy with Allah (SWT) can
elevate you?
Some samples of courtesy with Allah (SWT):
Allah SWT) will ask Prophet Isa (AS) (Jesus)
on the Day of Judgment, saying what can be
translated as, “O Isa, son of Maryam (As)
“Mary”! Did you say unto men, “Worship
me and my mother as two gods besides
Allah?” He answers, “Had I said such a
thing, you would surely have known it. You
know what is in my inner-self though I do
not know what is in Yours” (TMQ 5:116).
He could’ve said, “No, I have not said this,
how can I say that” but he just glorified Allah
(SWT) and exalted His knowledge above saying
such words without previous knowledge, while
He knows everything. Then he went on saying-
as mentioned in the surah what can be
translated as: “Truly, You, only You, are the
All-Knower of all that is hidden (and
unseen). Never did I say to them but what
You (Allâh) did command me to say:
‘Worship Allâh, my Lord and your Lord.’
And I was a witness over them while I dwelt
amongst them, but when You took me up,
You were the Watcher over them; and You
are a Witness to all things. If You punish
them, they are Your slaves, and if You
forgive them, verily You, only You, are the
All-Mighty, the All-Wise” (TMQ 5:116).
What do you think about such politeness?
The story of Prophet Musa (AS) (Moses) with
Al-Kidr (AR):
Al-Kidr did three things: 1) scuttled the ship
2) killed the boy 3) set up the wall for the
two orphan boys. Notice how he talked
about them:
He ascribed the first two deeds which seem
outwardly evil, to himself, he said- as
mentioned in the Surah what can be
translated as, “As for the ship, it belonged to
Masakin (poor people) working in the sea. So I
wished to make a defective damage in it” he
did not attribute this deed to Allah (SWT)
(TMQ 18:79).
“And as for the boy, his parents were
believers, and we feared lest he should
oppress them by rebellion and disbelief. So
we intended that their Lord should change
him for them for one better in righteousness
and nearer to mercy”. (TMQ 18:80). He said,
“We feared …we intended” and did not say,
“Allah intended” in order not to attribute an
evil deed to Allah (SWT) even outwardly.
However, when he talked about the wall he
said-as mentioned in the surah and can be
translated as: “And as for the wall, it
belonged to two orphan boys in the town;
and there was under it a treasure belonging
to them; and their father was a righteous
man, and your Lord intended that they
should attain their age of full strength and
take out their treasure” (TMQ 18:82). Here
he said, “your Lord intended” because it is a
good deed, so it is from Allah (SWT).
People vary in Allah's (SWT) judgment
according to their decency in dealing with Him
that is why Allah (SWT) cursed the Jews and
their impudence towards Him was one of the
reasons of this curse. Allah (SWT) says what
can be translated as, “The Jews say: “Allah’s
Hand is tied up (i.e. He does not give and
spend of His Bounty). Be their hands tied up
and be they accursed for what they uttered.
Nay, both His Hands are widely
outstretched. He spends (of His Bounty) as
He wills” (TMQ 5:64). And, “Indeed, Allah
has heard the statement of those (Jews) who
say: “Truly, Allah is poor and we are rich”
(TMQ 3:181).
This ayah also tells about the Jews who were
cursed for their impudence to Allah (SWT): As
for us, our status varies as well according to our
decency to Allah (SWT).
Some of us give up sins as a sign of politeness
to Allah (SWT). Others; pray Qiyyam (night
prayer), wear their best clothes and perfumes in
preparation to meet Allah (SWT) or use Miswak
prior to each prayer, to get a nice mouth smell,
when they meet Allah (SWT). Or they stand and
listen to the prayer call in glorification for
Allah’s (SWT) rituals, and bow their heads in
submissiveness to Allah (SWT) when listening
to Qur’an.
There are different levels of showing courtesy
towards men, and I'll compare it here to the
meeting of a king with one of his subjects, who
will be allowed to meet the king in your
opinion is he a polite man or a rude one?
Likewise Allah (SWT) will let people meet him
according to their courtesy to Him (Blessed and
Exalted be He), so the most polite people will
be allowed to meet Him.
Therefore the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was
the only one who was permitted to enter to
Sidrat-ul-Muntaha(2) at the night of Al-Isra and
Al-Mi’raj(3) since he is the most perfectly
mannered person ever. That is why Allah
(SWT) described him in this meeting with, what
can be translated as, “The sight (of Prophet
Muhammad) turned not aside (right or left),
nor it transgressed beyond the limit
(ordained for it)” (TMQ: 53:17), in
recognition of his great politeness towards
Allah (SWT).
This is the concept of decency fellow brothers,
and whoever disdains from showing courtesy
Allah (SWT) will surely be deprived from
Sunnah and his sins will increase.
I advise you to be courteous to Allah (SWT), to
the Prophet (PBUH) and to everyone.
______________________________________
______________________________________
_________________
(1) Bani Israel.
(2) TMQ=Translation of the Meaning of the
Qur'an. This translation is for the realized
meaning, so far, of the stated (Surah: Ayah) of
the Qur'an. Reading the translated meaning of
the Qur'an can never replace reading it in
Arabic, the language in which it was revealed.
(3) The lote-tree of the utmost boundary over
the seventh heaven beyond which none can
pass.
(4) The night journey of Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) from Makkah to Jerusalem and his
ascension to the seventh Heaven.
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