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The etiquettes to be observed in the presence of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.)

By: Ayatullah al-Uzma Nasir Makarim Shirazi from Tafsir i-Namunah
Translated from Farsi into English by Fatima Zabeth Beenesh

In the contents of Surah Hujurat we indicated that in this Surah there are a series of important discussions upon the morals and instructions upon the discipline that qualifies the Surah to give it the name of Surah Akhlaq (Morality). And in the aayaat under discussion which are mentioned in the beginning of the Surah, two parts of the instructions are indicated.
First, one must not precede the Almighty God and His Messenger (SAWA) and another is one must not create uproar and noise in the presence of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.)
And then it said: O those who believe do not bring anything in the lead before Almighty God and His Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and do not make your voice louder than him and do not speak before him in loud voice and do not shout.


The meaning of not preceding anything before the Almighty God and His Prophet (S.A.W.A.) in the activities and avoiding the hastiness before the command of Almighty Allah and His Prophet (S.A.W.A.).
Though some of the interpreters wanted to bring out the limited meaning of the ayat and made it confined to the performance of prayers that are prior to the time or to speak before the statement of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and likewise. But it is obvious that the ayat has wide and extensive meaning which includes every type of activities.
The disciplined duty of the follower before the leader that too before a divine leader affirms that in every affair, speech and activity do not precede with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and do not make haste before him.
But it does not mean that if they have any proposal or advise they cannot present it before the divine leader. Instead it means they had to pave the way before taking their decision and one must not go more beyond the need. Even one must not ask and talk more than necessity in the matters. But one should let the leader himself put forth the matter at its appropriate time that too a perfect leader who is not ignorant of anything. And even anybody who asks him any question the others must not initiate and reply the answer hastily. Indeed, all these matters are included in the meaning of this ayat.
The next ayat points the second command and said: O those who believe do not make your voice louder than the voice of the Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and do not talk in loud voice and do not shout before him. As you do before the others else all your deeds will get destroyed while you do not know.

The first words


The above term is indicating not to make louder your voice than the voice of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) as it is a kind of misbehavior before the auspicious presence of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.). The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) has his own place. This attitude is a discourtesy before the parents, teacher and elders as well.

But the words


Maybe it is emphasizing upon the same first words or signifying a new matter and changing the way of address from Ya Muhammad (S.A.W.A.) to Ya Rasulullah(S.A.W.A.).
But a number of commentators brought forth the difference between the above two terms and they supposed that the first word is witnessing that the people while conversing with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) must not make their voice louder than him. And the second term is related with the occasion when the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) is silent and others are talking they must not raise their voice.
It is clear that this kind of behavior in an attempt to insult the prestige of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) which causes the blasphemy and without that intention it is a sin and cruelty.
The first condition causes the destruction of deeds and subsequently it is a clear blasphemy kufr which causes the devastation of the entire virtues and good deeds.
In the second condition too, this ugly attitude can cause to destroy the virtues of most of the deeds and previously in the discussion we told about the failure of the virtuous deeds because the particular sins are a barrier, same as the elimination of the effects of sins by means of virtuous deeds is certain. And there exists numerous causes in the aayaat of noble Quran or Islamic narrations(hadith) in this regard. Though this meaning is not proved like a total law in all the virtuous and evil deeds. But about certain important virtuous and evil deeds, there exists traditions (hadith) as well as rational reasoning; they are not against each other.
In a hadith it is told: When the above ayat descended Sabith bin Qais [the companion the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) who was an eloquent orator] with an expressive voice told: I was the one whose speech was louder than the voice of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and I was talking in high tone before him, all my deeds are damaged and I am a dweller of hell.
This matter reached to the hearing of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.), he said: it is not like that, he is among the dwellers of heaven (as he performed it in addressing the speech for the believers (Muslims) and before the infidels (Kuffar) which he was carrying out an Islamic duty.
The next ayat, to stress more upon this subject about the reward of the people who follow this divine rule and observe the discipline and good manners before the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.), states that: those who lower down their voice near the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) there are the people, the mighty God made their hearts pure for piety and wide spread and for them there is a great reward and pardon.


The meaning of above term is to lower down the voice and or keeping down the eyes. And contrary to this term is to stare and to upraise the voice.

The above term in fact means to melt the gold and purify it. Occasionally it gives the meaning of spreading the leather. And later it is taken for the meaning of test. Like the ayat under discussion, the test that results in the purity and wideness for the acceptance of piety.
It is interested that, in the previous ayat the term Nabi is used and here the term Rasulullah is expressed. As if both the terms are indicating that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) does not created anything by his own self. He is only sent by Merciful God and he is His Messenger, the activities of behaviors before him are the actions of behavior before the Almighty God.

The word below

is defined to give respect and importance which means the benevolent God grant them a complete and unlimited forgiveness.
After getting cleaned by the forgiveness, He blesses them with great reward. As in the first place the purification from the sins is supported and then grants him the treasure of divine reward.
The next ayat to stress more, indicate towards the ignorance and foolishness of those who threw behind themselves this divine command, define them and say: verily those who call you loudly from behind the residences, most of them do not possess wisdom.


What kind of wisdom is this? Who before a great divine leader does not observe the respect and with a loud voice without any respect such as Arabs of Bani Tamim who used to approach from behind the house and used to shout: Ya Muhammad, Ya Muhammad! Come out for us.
Basically as the level of the human wisdom increases the politeness of the man rises up, as he discovers the values in a much better way. For this reason the impoliteness always indicates the sign of the wisdoms absence, in other term the impoliteness is the beastly manner and politeness is the human character.

The above term means (most of them do not understand) commonly, in the dialect of Arab it gives the meaning of all. This term is used for expressing the politeness and precaution must be taken even if a single person is not an exception in his or her right, he must not go fruitless. The Almighty God by this term wants to state that the right of this person must not be spoiled. As if the benevolent God wants to express that I am your Provider and I have the strong hold in every field of knowledge and while expressing words I too observe the manners. Why do not you observe the mannerism?
Truly, in spite of wise people were present among them, for their lack of attention usually they were making out their voices louder. By this way the Noble Quran is warning them to use their thoughts and brains and never forget the good behaviors.

It is the plural of the term hujra here it is indicating the various rooms near the Masjid of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) organized for his wives.
The weight of the above term is equal to the term ajr and its real meaning is to prevent and prohibit. As the Hujra room prevents the entry to the private life of the people.

The meaning of above term is outside, from all the sides it exists. As the rooms of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) were open towards the Masjid and the unwise and hasty people sometimes were approaching and standing before the door and began to shout: Ya Muhammad! (S.A.W.A.) and the Noble Quran prohibited them of his act.
In the last ayat under discussion, to complete its meaning it adds: and if they were waiting till he comes out and approach them it is better for them.

It is quite true that the haste and hurry often causes the man to reach the destination. But patience and calmness in this condition creates mercy and forgiveness of Almighty Allah and his great rewards are certainly excellent upon everything. Since some people previously unknowingly committed this act, by the descent of this divine command naturally they were awed. The Noble Quran gives them glad tiding as well. That if they seek divine forgiveness they too will come in the lap of his blessings. Hence in the end of the ayat it said: The Supreme God is forgiving and merciful.

The points:

1- Politeness is the best treasure
In Islam most of the importance was given to the matter of following the politeness, meeting with respect and good manners with any person or group who arrives, we indicate some of the narrations as an example.
1- Hazrat Ali (A.S.) said: To observe the gentleness, it is like your costly and ornamental dress.
At another place his Hazrat Ali (A.S.) said: The gentleness makes the man needless of the honors of his forefathers.
In another hadith we read from Imam Sadiq (A.S.): There are five things, if one does not possess them he will not be able to gain the noteworthy qualities and privileges.
They asked: What are they?
He stated: religion, wisdom, modesty, good nature and noble gentleness.
Besides in another hadith we read from Imam Sadiq (A.S.) who said: The prideful persons must never expect any blessed words from the people and the deceiving individuals must never wait for the large number of friends and the people with ill-mannerism must not expect decency and honor from others.
For this reason when we read carefully in the life of the great leaders of Islam and observe that they were strictly following the mannerism even before their younger people.
Basically the religion is the collection of the mannerism, respectfulness before the Almighty God and His Infallible Spiritual Leaders peace be upon them and to be respectful before the teachers, parents, scholars and the learned persons.
By carefully studying the aayaat of the Noble Quran we understand the Almighty God by his boundless status when talks with his servants (the man) he completely observes the mannerism.
Then the obligation of the people before the Almighty God is quite clear.
In a hadith we read: When the starting aayaat of Surah Muminun descended, it commanded them a series of Islamic mannerism. Such as humbleness in Namaz, previously the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) while performing the Namaz sometimes casting his eyes towards the sky then afterwards he was not casting up his head and he was always looking downwards.
Regarding the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.), this matter is so much important that the Honorable Quran clearly says in the above aayat that to make voice louder than the voice of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.), shouting and clamoring before him will cause to depart you from your deeds and destroys the virtues of good actions.
In the ayat 63 of Surah Noor we read as well:

(24:63
)
Do not make [your] calling of the Messenger among yourselves as the call of one of you to another. Already Allah knows those of you who slip out, concealed by others. So let those beware who conflict from the Prophet's order, lest fitnah strike them or a painful punishment.
To which a group of interpreters defines: When you call the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) call him with the respect and gentleness which he deserves. Not like those who call one another.
It is thought-provoking that the truthful Quran in the above ayat estimates that observing the mannerism before the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) is the sign of the pure heart and its capability to accept the piety causes the forgiveness of Almighty Allah and the rewards from the Supreme God. Whereas introduces the ill-mannered people as the beasts and unwise.
Even some of the interpreters widened the aayaat under discussion and included in it, the scholars, intellectual and spiritual leaders. The Muslims are dutiful to follow the good behaviors before them.
Of course in the presence of divinely-ordained spiritual leaders (Imams) this matter is clearer. Even the narrations reached us from the Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) we read: When one of his companions came to his presence in the state of janabat (body pollution). The Imam (A.S.) without any hesitation expressed: Do you not know that in this polluted state one cannot enter the house of spiritual people.
In other narrations it is related that: In the state of body pollution one must not enter the Holy Prophets (S.A.W.A.) house and His successor (Holy Imams) houses too.
In short the etiquette before the younger and elders includes the important part of Islamic orders. If we want to define them all then, it comes out from the state of the interpretation of aayaat. Here we end this discussion by a saying from Imam Sajjad, Ali ibn al-Husain (A.S.) who said: The right of the person who teaches and trains you is that you must respect him wholeheartedly, be humble towards him, love him dearly, to meet him and devotedly hear him. When you sit before him do not make your voice louder than him. Whenever anybody asks him any question you must not make haste in giving the answer. Do not speak to anybody in his presence. So not back bite anybody before him. Defend him whenever anybody slanders your teacher. Hide his defects and express his virtues. Do not sit with his enemies. Never make enemy his friends. When you practice this, the angels of the Almighty God will give witness that you approached him to gain the knowledge in the way of Benevolent Allah and not for the sake of the people.

2- Shouting near the grave of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.)
A group of interpreters and the scholars stated: the aayaat under discussion includes in the same manner as it prohibits the shouting nearby the prophet in his life time. This rule remained after his heavenly departure too.
If they mean the words of ayat apparently related to the period of his life-time such as it is said: Do not make your voice louder than the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) it happens when the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) alive physically and he is in the state of conversation.
But it is certain that here the cause is to respect and esteem the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.). Therefore shouting near the grave of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) is a kind of disrespect and insult. Except it is Azan, recitation of the Noble Quran or addressing the people etc. At these occasions it is not prohibited even in the life of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) nor after his death.
In a hadith mentioned in Usul Kafi by Imam Baqir (A.S.) about the martyrdom of Imam Hasan Mujtaba (A.S.) the prevention created by Bibi Ayesha about his burial near the grave of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and the clamor and disorder was created, we read that it is quoted by Imam Husain (A.S.) who conveyed the reasoning from the ayat mentioned below and said:

This hadith quoted by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.): Whatever the Almighty God prevented the believers in the life time of the Prophet (S.A.W.A.), is also prohibited after his death.
This hadith is another witness which proves the general concept in the ayat.

3-The Islamic discipline in everything and every where
The matters of management and commands never settle down without observing the Islamic discipline. Those people in the cover of management and leadership want to practice without consulting anyone, in this manner the order of the affairs will be tumble down, though the leader is very much capable person.
Most of the groups of people and army who stepped into this wrong path way were trapped in the failures and disappointments. The Muslims too, many a times tasted the bitter taste of violating this command, at the life time of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) or after him. The most obvious one among them was the defeat in the battle of Ohad. It was due to the indiscipline of a small group of people among the Muslim warriors.
The Noble Quran in the above ayat very interestingly and in a compact manner defined this extraordinary important matter in short terms.

As we revealed, the vastness of the meaning of ayat is so much high, that includes every type of precedence, negligence in the manner of conversation and behavior.
In spite of that in the life time of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) we come across many cases that many of the people preceded him in obeying his commands or neglected and stayed behind and they were criticized and condemned severely, such as:
1- When the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) advanced for the conquest of Makkah (eighth year of Hijrah) it was the month of Ramazan and a large number of people were accompanying the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.). A group of them were riding and a group was marching, they reached the location of Kara al-Gameem. He ordered to bring a bowl of water and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) broke the fast and his companions too followed him. But strangely a group of his companions disobeyed the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and were reluctant to break the fast and remained in fasting. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) named them asath the sinners assembly.
2- The other example that happened on the tenth year of Hijrah, on the occasion of Hajjathul Wida the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) commanded the reporter to announce that anybody who did not brought the animal to sacrifice with him must perform the umrah but those who brought with them the animal for sacrifice they are in the state of Haj. They must remain in the uniform of Haj ahram and then added: and if I was not bringing the camel for sacrifice, I was finalizing the Umrah and coming out of the ahram.
But a group of people avoided to execute this command and expressed: How is it possible that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) remains in the ahram and we come out of that. It is not fair to perform Haj after the performance of umrah. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) got upset by this disobedience and indiscipline and reprimanded them severely.
3- The story of violation and not joining the army of Osama bin Zaid at the threshold of the Holy Prophets (S.A.W.A.) death is famous. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) ordered the Muslims to get prepared for the battle with Romans under the command of Osama bin Zaid and told the Muhajireen (immigrants) and Ansar (assisters) to proceed with the army.
May be it was his wish at the hour of his death that the problems regarding his succession which roused could not get materialized and even cursed the violators who did not joined Osamas army. Still a group refused to move and brought the excuse that in this specific condition we cannot leave the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) alone.
4- The story of the pen and ink, in the last hours of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) is famous and shocking. It is better to bring forth exactly as it is mentioned in Sahih Muslim: When the death of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) reached close, a group of people were in the house near him such as Umar ibn Khattab. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: Bring for me, the pen and paper to write a serious matter for you, so that you must never get astray. Umar ibn Khattab said: The ailment casted down the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and He is expressing inappropriate words. The Quran is with us and only the Quran is sufficient for us.
At this stage the dispute started among the Sahaba who were present in the house of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.). Some said: Bring the pen and paper so that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) can write the message in order we must not go astray, whereas some of the people were repeating the words of Umar ibn Khattab. When the improper words and the argument increased, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) said: All of you get away from here.
It is notable that this similar hadith with a slight difference had been mentioned in Sahih Bukhari.
This event was among the important incidents of the Islamic history that needs to be analyzed in detail which has no space to define here. But any way it is the clearest poof when they disobeyed the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.A.) and went against the ayat under discussion:

The important issue is that observing this divinely Islamic mannerism needs the spirit of complete submission and accepting the leadership in every aspect of life and the strong believe upon the status of the divinely-ordained leader.

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