The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

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  • The Sunnah: A Source of Civilization

  • Adherence to Virtues

    The first aspect of "Civilized Manner" is that the Muslim should aspire to virtues and beware of inferior and useless matters. In this respect, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Allah loves refined manners and hates low ones. [Note:  Reported by Al-Hakim on the authoriy of Sahi Ibn Sa'd, Sahih Al-Jami'Al-saghir, No.1889]  

    Also, "Allah, the Exalted, loves noble and honorable matters and hates inferior ones" [Note:  Reported by Al-Tabarani on the authority of Al-Husain Ibn `Ali, Sahih Al-Jami' Al-Saghir, No.1890] "Allah is Beautiful and He loves beauty. He loves refined manners and hates low ones " [Note:  Reported by AI-Tabarani in AI-Awsat on the authority of Jabir, Sahih Al-Jami AI-Saghir, No.1744]  


    "I was sent so as to perfect the noble virtues" in another version, "The best manners". [Note:  Reported by lbn Sa'd, vol. I, p.192, also by Ahmad. AI-Raismi said: its transmitters are of the Sahih, vol. 8, p.18. It is also reported by Al Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, No.273, also by AI-Rakim, and Al Baihaqi upheld the same, vol. 2, p. 613, also by AI-Baihaqi in Shu'b Al Iman. All of them reported it on the authority of Abu Hurairah. It is also mentioned in Sahih Al-Jami Al-Saghir, No.2349]  

    Thus, the Prophet made exhorting people to virtues his mission and aim, and thus put the value of manners in the spotlight. Scholars have said that virtues or the noblest manners ensure the righteousness of the Muslim's religion, life and Hereafter. The Prophet's (Peace be upon him) supplication to Allah includes all these meanings as he says: "O Allah! Make my religion righteous as it is my sole savior. Make my life righteous as long as I live. Make the Hereafter righteous for me as it is inevitable. Make life abundant with good things for me and make death my savior from all kinds of evil." [Note:  Reported by Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurairah, Sahih Al Jami' Al-Saghir, No. 1263]  

    Fortunately, Allah gifted Muslims with a model to follow from which excellent virtues have transpired and which were bequeathed by all the messengers. But one model is greater and that is the Prophet whom Allah praises saying: "And surely thou hast sublime morals." (68:4)  


    "Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and who remember Allah much." (33:21)

      `Aishah, Mother of the Believers, (May Allah be pleased with her) was once asked about the Prophet's morality, she answered,"His manners were the Qur'an." [Note:  Reported by Muslim, Ahmad and Abu Dawud on the authority of Aishah, Sahih Al- Jami' AI-Saghir, No.4811]  

    What she meant by this was that he was an embodiment of the teachings of the Qur'an. Not only had the Prophet explained the Qur'an in words but also in deeds. It is Allah's Will and Benevolence that his noble history is preserved and registered in detail from the time of his birth until his death, in particular the time of his Prophethood and most importantly after the migration to Yathrib.  

    Scholars have written and classified his invaluable history in different periods. Until now, for the pleasure of Allah, the Exalted, they continue to write about him, focusing and shedding more light on the greatness of his example and his noble life.  

    Everyone, young or old, single or married, rich or poor, ruler or subject, civilian or the warrior, will find the best example and perfect guidance in this comprehensive Sirah (life story of the Prophet Muhammad) No man in history reached the apex of perfection but Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as the universality of his Sirah ran parallel to that of his message. [Note:  See Muhib Al-Din AI-Khatib's Muhammadan Risalah (Muhammad's Message) a collection of lectures by Sulaiman Al-Nadawi and rendered into Arabic by Muhib Al-Din Al-Khatib and published by Al Matba'h AI-Salafiyah]

    Virtues include the best manners and conduct which the Sunnah upholds and advocates. There are many Hadiths to this effect. The Prophet (Peace he upon him) said:

    "The most perfect in faith among you are those who have the best manners and character. [Note:  Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, lbn Hibban and AI-Hakim on the authority of Abu Hurairah, AI-Haliz Al-lraqi said: it is a Sound hadith, AI-fayd, vol.2, p.97, AI-Ihsan, No.479, AI-Mustndrdk, vol.1, p. 3. and Al-Dhahabi uphld the same]

    "The most perfect in faith among you are those who have the best manners and the most virtuous among you are those who are good to their wives." [Note:  Reported by AI-Tirmidhi on the authority of Abu Hurairah and he said: it is a Good Sound hadith, lbn Hibban and AI-Hakim upheld the same]  

    "The most perfect in faith among the believers are those who have the best manners and who are moderate, and so friendly that the people befriend them in no time!" [Note:  Reported by Al-Tabarani in Al-Auwsat and Abu Nu'aim on the authority at Abi Sa'id and he said, it is a Good Hadith, Sahih Al-Jami' Al-Saghir, No.1231]  

    "Through his good manners, man reaches the same level as the one who prays and worships Allah all night and fasts all day [Note: Reported by Abu Dawud, No.4798. Ibn Hibban, AI-Ihsan, No.4801. Al-Hakim, vol.1., p.60, all of them on the authority of'Aishah]  

    "The heaviest deed in the believer's scale on the Day of Judgment is his good manners, for Allah loathes the one who is obscene in speech (Fahish) and the one who speaks shamelessly to make people laugh (Mutafahish). " [Note:  Reported by AI-Bukhari in AI-Adab AI-Mufrad. also by AI-Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban and Al-Baihaqi on the authority of Abi AI-Darda', Sahih Al jami' Al-Saghir, No.135]

    And finally,

    "Fear Allah wherever you were, blot out evil deeds by doing good deeds and treat people in the best way you can. [Note: Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, AI-Tinnidhi, AI-Rakim and Al Baihaqi in AI-Shu'ab on the authority of Abi Dhar. Also by Ahmad, Al Tirmidhi and AI-Baihaqi on the authority of Mu'adh, Sahih Al-Jami' Al Saghir, No.97]

    Thus, the Prophet set the foundations of Muslim's relationship with Allah, himself and the people.


    A. Kindness, Forbearance and Magnanimity:

    The Sunnah advocates treating people in a kind rather than an aggressive way. It advocates generosity and leniency rather than harshness and vulgarity. It urges the Muslim to control his anger and subdue his rebellious self. Further- more, it encourages him to forgive and forget as much as possible and to be patient at the time of extreme anger. Allah, the Exalted, states some of these virtues saying: "Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant." (7:199)

    Allah also describes the servants of Allah saying:

    "And the servants of (Allah) Most gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, "Peace." (25:63)

    Allah, the Exalted and Almighty, describes the pious for whom He prepared a garden which spans the heavens and the earth saying: "Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity, or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good." (3:134)

    Both the verbal Hadiths and practical life of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) portray for us a detailed way of life and they show an example which comes alive.

    For instance, Jabir reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "May Allah's Mercy be on him who shows tolerance in his buying, selling, and paying or demanding back his money." [Note:  Reported by Al- Bukhari and lbn Majah on the authority of Jabir, Sahih Al- Jami' AI-Saghir, No.3495, also by Muslim in the book of Al-Bir, No.2593]

    `Aishah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Allah, the Almighty is Merciful and loves mercifulness. He rewards mercifulness more than harshness or any other thing".  [Note:  Reported by Muslim, No.2594, and Abu Dawud, No.4808]

    This means that Allah rewards those who are gentle by making their course easy in this life and by rewarding them in the Hereafter.

    In another hadith, `Aishah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Mercifulness is recommended in everything, for anything that is void of mercifulness is faulty". [Note:  Reported by Muslim in the book of Al-Bir, No.2594]

    This hadith is narrated to an occasion when `Aishah mounted stubborn horse in which she spurred several times until the Prophet said "Be gentle ... etc.

    Abi Al-Darda' reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Whoever is bestowed with the blessing of mercifulness has his share of goodness and whoever is deprived of it, is deprived of his share of goodness". [Note:  Reported by AI-Tinmidhi, No.2014, and he said that it is a Good Sound hadith]

    Jurair Ibn Abdullah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:"Whoever is deprived of mecifulness is deprived of all goodness." [Note:  Reported by Abu Dawud, No.4809, and Muslim, No.2592]

      Is there, then, any sensible man who would jeopardize his chance to win all goodness. Abu Hurairah narrated that "A Bedoum once urinated in the mosque. The people caught him but the Prophet ordered them saying: "Leave him and pour a bucket of water over the area he had passed urine, for you have been sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult. " [Note:  Reported by Al-Bukhari, Al-Tirmidhi and AI-Nasa'i]  

    The Prophet's point of view was that the treatment of this kind of vulgar behavior and vulgar man was easy, so why should one make things difficult?  

          Ibn `Abbas reported that the Prophet said to Al-'Ashaj, a man of `Abd Al-Qays' delegation, "You have two qualities which Allah loves and they are meekness and patience." [Note:  Reported by Muslim and AI-Tinmidhi, Sahih Al-Jami' AI-Saghir, No. 2136]  

    Anas reported that:

    "Once I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) whilst he was wearing a Najrani cloak with a thick margin and a Bedouin followed him and pulled his cloak so violently that I noticed the shoulder of Allah's Prophet affected by the margin of the cloak because he tugged so hard. Then, the Bedouin said: "O Muhammad! Give me some of Allah's wealth which is with you." Allah's Prophet (Peace be upon him) turned and looked at him, then he smiled and ordered that he be given something." [Note: Agreed upon, AI-lu' wal Marjan, No.629]

    This privilege of discernment strikes a difference between the civilized and the uncivilized person. The civilized man should excuse vulgar actions which are stimulated and motivated by his Bedouinism, his environment and the way he was brought up. He must defuse his ignorance with meekness, his harshness with gentleness, his vulgarity with good-naturedness and his ill-treatment with good treatment!

    Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) favored some people in the distribution of the booty and excluded others; he gave Al-'Aqra' Ibn Habis one hundred camels and gave `Uyainah Ibn Husain the same amount, and also gave to some of the eminent Arabs and gave preference to them. Then a person came and said: "By Allah in this distribution justice has not been observed, nor has Allah's Pleasure been the aim." I said to him "By Allah I will inform the Prophet of what you have said. And when I informed him he said:"If Allah and His Prophet did not act justly, who else would act justly, may Allah bestow mercy upon Moses, for he was harmed with more than this, yet he remained patient." [Note: Agreed upon, Al-lu'lu Wal Marjan, No.637]

    Obviously, this rude man could not appreciate the higher interests considered by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on distributing the war booty. The Prophet wanted to join the hearts of the people who had newly embraced Islam in case that Islam had not firmly entered their hearts yet. He, evidently, bought their loyalty to Islam, to its message and to its leader with transient worldly things. Allah gave him permission to give them a share of the alms when he said: "For those whose hearts have been (recently) reconciled (to Truth)(9:60)

    From that, they should be given a share of war booty. The Prophet's attitude towards those who are inclined to give hastily judgements and are prejudiced, was one of sincere forgiveness, meekness and patience. He followed in the footsteps of his brothers the Prophets and the Messengers of firm will (Ulu Al-'Azm). [Note: Those are the prophets, Noah, Ibrahim, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Those prophets were faced by a great torture and persecution from their people in communicating Allah's Message to them. But they remained too forbearing and patient and proceeded further in preaching their people. Thus the Prophet Muhammad was instructed to be patient and follow in their footsteps] He ignored the unruly enthusiasm of some of his Companions to punish them severely to make an example of them.

      In a similar case to that of Ibn Mas'ud in which the Prophet was distributing gold from Yemen amongst four persons of those whose hearts are newly inclined to Islam, a man stood up and said: "We are more deserving of this gold than these persons.!" When heard this the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, "Don't you trust me even though I am the trustee of what is in the heaven, and I receive the news of heaven (i.e. Divine Inspiration) both in the morning and in the evening". Then a man rose with sunken eyes, raised cbeek bones, a shaven head and a waist sheet that was tucked up, and he said: "O, Allah's Prophet! Be afraid of Allah." The Prophet said: "`Woe to you! Am I not of all the people in the earth the most entitled to fear Allah." Then the man went away. Khalid Ibn Al-Walid said: "Let me cut his throat." The Prophet said: "No, for he may offer Prayers." Khalid Ibn Al-Walid said: "Numerous are those who offer Prayers and say by their tongues what is not in their hearts." Allah's Prophet said: "I have not been ordered to search the hearts of the people or cut open their bellies." [Note: Reported by Muslim in the book of Zakah, No.144, and Ahmad, vol. 3, p. 4]  

    This hadith highlights someone who was a pioneer in narrow-mindedness. He was not able to perceive the higher aims of the Messenger of Allah. He said what he said out of rudeness and superficial judgment. To him, religion was nothing more than a thick beard, shaved head, and a tucked up waist sheet! In spite of this, the Prophet refused Khalid's suggestion and refused `Umar's suggestion in many other similar situations. He decided to treat this man and others like him as Muslims not with standingly. 

    The Prophet's attitude towards those people was that of forgiveness and pardon and he did not surrender to an emergent anger or deepened envy of any person. In conquest of Mecca, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to the Meccan polytheists, in spite of all such harm and persecution he had received at their hands, "O, people of Quraish! what do expect me to do with you?" They replied: "Peace, a gracious brother and a son of a gracious brother! the Prophet said: "I will say to you what Joseph said to his brothers before: "This day let no reproach be upon you! Go you are free." [Note: See, Sirat Ibn Hisham, vol.2, p.274]  

    Thus, he forgave them completely and open anew leaf with them. Furthermore, he taught his Companions how to vanquish hatred and resentment.  

    Abu Hurairah reported that a man said to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) "Advise me! The Prophet said: "Do not get angry." The man asked the same again and again, and the Prophet said in each case, "Do not get angry." [Note: Reported by AI-Bukhari in the book of AI-Adab, see Sahih Al Bukhari and Fath Al-Bari, No.6116]  

    In another version the Prophet said: "The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength. The strong is the one who controls himself whilst in anger." [Note: Agreed upon on the authority of Abu Hurairah, Al-Lu `lu' Wal Marjan', No.1676]

    Furthermore, "The strong man is not the one who knocks people down. The strong man is the one who overcomes himself ". [Note: Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, AI-Ihsan, No.717]

      The strong man is the one who has a strong body and who can knock people down, but this hadith teaches Muslims that true strength lies in the strength of the soul rather than the strength of the body. However, this does not mean that one should not wish to have a strong body, on the contrary, the believer must prepare himself physically to achieve his message in life. Most importantly, but preparing himself spiritually take precedence. In other words, he must have inner strength to control his desires and whims before any attempt to control others.


    B. Refined manners:

    There are so many Hadiths in the Sunnah that urge Muslims to become good in character and form warm social relations.

    It suffices here to remind the reader that all the books which included the Sunnah, devoted a separate chapter to manners. These books recited a great number of both Good and Sound Hadiths which dealt with refined manners or politeness, or what we may term as Civilized Manners (Suluk Al-Hadari).

    In Sahih Al-Bukhari, the chapter of Manners (Adab) includes 256 Hadiths as Al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar mentioned in his explanation of Al-Bukhari in Fath Al-Bari (The Conquest of the Creator). Although, the book of Al-Jami Al-Sahih includes so many chapters which are relevant to the same subject such as: marriage, asking permission, medicine, the ailing and diseased, Al-Riqaq (Softening of hearts), food, drink, desires and others.  

    In Sahih Muslim the book on Good Manners (Adab) includes 45 Hadiths plus 155 Hadiths on greetings in Al Salam book, and 166 others in the Book of Righteousness (Al-Bir) including relations and manners, and 21 others in the book on Terms (Al-Alfaz) including manners and others along with many others found in different books.

    As for Abu Dawud, the book on Good Manners, of his book Sunan, is classified into 180 chapters which includes 500 Hadiths.

    Imam Al-Bukhari showed much interest in this issue so much so that he devoted a whole book in what he called "The Single Book on Good Manners" (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad) This was done to draw a distinction between it and that mentioned in the book of Al-Jami' Al-Sahih. The Imam did not stipulate the authenticity of his Hadiths precisely as in Sahih Al-Bukhair, therefore, his book included 1322 Hadiths which cover all or most aspects of good behavior. It included the Hadiths that are traceable in ascending order of traditionaries to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) as well as the Hadiths which were reported by the Companions (May Allah be pleased with them) and part of what they have endowed from the light of Prophethood.

    I can not list here the headings of the chapters as there are 644 chapters, but I will mention some of them so that one is able to grasp what is meant by refined good manners which the Imams of Hadith called Al-Adab and which we call Civilized Manners (Suluk Al-Hadari).


    These headings are as follows:


    1. "We have enjoined on man kindness to parents" (29:8)
    2. Being good and dutiful to the mother and the father.
    3. Kind talk to one's parents.... Allah curses who curses his parents.
    4. Being dutiful to a pagan father... The punishment of being undutiful to one's parents.
    5. Being dutiful to dead parents.... Do not sever the relationship between you and your father's friends.
    6. A man must not call his father by his first name, sit down before him, or walk in front of him.
    7. The obligation of keeping the bond of kinship... The bond of kinship prolongs the lease of life.
    8. Who keeps the bond of kinship wins Allah's Love... Being dutiful to the nearest kin.
    9. Mercy does not descend on a man who sever the bond of kinship.
    10. The one who keeps good relations with his kin is not the one who recompenses the good done to him by his relatives.
    11. The reward of the one who keeps the bond of kinship who are unjust.
    12. The one who takes care of three sisters.
    13. The child is comfort of his parents' eyes... Carrying the child on one's back... Kissing the boys.
    14. The mothers are merciful.
    15. The good manners of fathers and his dutifulness to- wards his child.
    16. Being kind to one's neighbor... The right of one's neighbor.
    17. The superiority of the nearest neighbor...One does not feel satisfied with food unless his neighbor is.
    18. The broth is divided among neighbors.
    19. A neighbor should not degrade anything given to her by her neighbor.
    20. The jewish neighbor.
    21. Being good to the pious and the dissolute.
    22. The reward of the one who takes care of an orphan.
    23. The best of houses is one in which there is an orphan who is dealt kindly.
    24. Be like a merciful father to an orphan.
    25. The reward of the widow who takes care of her child and doesn't remarry.
    26. The man is responsible for his family and the woman is responsible for her family.
    27. Reward the one who does good to you .... If you can not manage, ask Allah to reward him.
    28. If you did not thank the people, you did not thank Allah.
    29. Man should help his fellow man... Every good deed is Sadaqah.
    30. The Muslim is the mirror of his fellow man.
    31. The one who leads others to do good is like the one who does it.
    32. Forgiveness towards people.
    33. Cheerfulness towards people... Smiling and laughing.
    34. The one who is consulted is responsible for the advice he gives.
    35. The punishment for unwise advice.
    36. Familiarity between people.
    37. Mutual amity between people... Joking.. . Joking with a child.
    38. Reverence of the elderly. . . The elderly should start to speak and ask first.
    39. If the elderly did not speak, should the younger one speak?
    40. Mercy towards the young. . Hugging and kissing the child.
    41. Kissing a little slave girl ... Saying to the little boy: O my son.
    42. Have mercy on those who are on the earth so that Allah may have mercy on you.
    43. Mercy on children... Mercy on animals.
    44. Visiting the sick.. The reward of visiting the sick.
    45. Visiting the sick boys...Bedouins... Disbelievers.
    46. The supplication of the visitor for the patient ...What he should say to the patient... What the patient should say to him.
    47. Sick men visited by women.
    48. Keeping a secret... Accepting a present.
    49. Being generous to one's guest and serving him one should not stay for too long to prevent embarrassment.
    50. Do not call the hypocrite master.
    51. Singing and fun.
    52. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) liked good name. 
    53. The man is called by his most beloved name.
    54. Changing a bad name into a good one.
    55. Shaking hands ... Spreading greetings ... starts greeting.
    56. The right of a Muslim towards his fellow man is to greet him.
    57. The one who is walking should greet the one who is sitting and the small group should greet the large group.
    58. Greeting children.. . Men greeting women and women greeting men.
    59. Asking permission to enter not knocking more than three times...How the permission is granted?... The things that one should not take permission to do.
    60. The best of assemblies is the most spacious one… Directing one's face towards the qiblah.
    61. The man sits at the farthest end of a gathering... should not sit between two people without taking their permission.
    62. If in a gathering there are two of you then they should not hold secret counsel excluding the third person.
    63. Do not leave fire and go to sleep.. .Lock the door before you sleep.
    64. A believer is not stung twice by something out of the same den. ..The sin of the two-faced person.. .The worst of all people is the one who the people leave to secure themselves from his mischief.
    65. If you do not feel ashamed (of doing something) you can do what you like.
    66. Love moderately and hate moderately.

    These teachings encompass all aspects of life. Every chapter includes at least one hadith which sets the basis for the perfect way of life uniting healthy taste, noble manners, enlightened thought, compassionate heart, and the righteous way.



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