Social and Individual Manners
By: Ahmad Loqmani
Politeness is the ornament of life, the badge of honor, and a symbol of mental development.1
It is the noblest of celestial attributes, preventing us from flaws of diction and action, while keeping us in our appropriate boundaries.2
The sages are fountains from which we derive our codes of behavior. They are the one who have nominated the Holy Qur’an as the “book of divine mannerism”, have interpreted the primary school as the “place of the acquisition of appropriate manners” and have entitled “creation” as a “gaping and infinite school of education and regulation”.3
The best criterion for intellectuality and the worthiest companion of reason is mannerliness.4 The only workshop that transforms the darkness and obscurity of the heart to light and radiance in human entrails is politeness; it is the milestone by which the worth of a person is measured.
Our All-Wise Lord thus demonstrates the heavenly consequences of appropriate manners in the advancement of Prophets’ missions; He advises Moses (AS) to talk to Pharaoh with gentility of diction and subtlety of action.5
“Then speak to him a gentle word; haply he may mind or fear.”6
And the honorable Prophet of Islam (SAW), was blessed with this bounty.
“And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.” 7
And that is how he later said: “Allah has educated me and I have educated Ali (AS).8-9
Fatima (SA), the Embodiment of Individual and Social Mannerism
Fatima (SA) was an outstanding character and one familiar with divine revelations since the beginning of her life. She closely resembled the Prophet’s attitudes, was wise in speaking, intimate in relationships, and polite in conduct, to the extent that people would fall in love with her behavior upon first encounter.
Her father, Prophet Muhammad (SAW), was honored by Allah and by the populace, yet, Fatima (SA) never let her fame and her elevated social stance deceive her into becoming a pompous or a proud person. She was grounded to the boundaries of humility and humbleness, never boasted infront of other ladies and the higher she soared spiritually, the more modest she became action wise. Never did she forget her educational, and humanitarian mission as a role model for the human race.
What amazed her friends and acquaintances most of all was the fact that she was well-mannered ever since her childhood years up until the closing chapter of her glorious life. This was in a way that her step mother Umma Salama- that humble and loving person- once amused: “I was trying to teach Fatima (SA) while in truth she was more educated and mannered than I really was.”10
Now the golden time has come when we can adorn our souls with these celestial attributes and qualities of individual and social graces.
“Salam” -saying: reviving a unique Islamic custom
This unique and effective custom was popularized of our Holy Prophet (SAW) and his descendants while after the elapse of many centuries psychologists have recently discovered its extraordinary results on the psychic health. They hold that saying such greetings as a whole hearted “Salam,” becomes the source of mental health and creates a soothing relaxation over the burdens of routine life.
Salam bears the wonderful meanings of “peace” and “prosperity”, “health” and “serenity”. It is a lasting bond with Islam in that it also means “surrendering to Truth and love”. This in turn, results in the establishment of a sense of security and peace throughout congregations of families and society, and thus it becomes the representation of one of the sublime features of Islam.
Our Holy leaders such as the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) have continually emphasized the importance of this one of a kind custom. Through their action and diction, they have tried to establish this custom culturally so that the believers meet each other light hearted as opposed to angry and discontented. Salam means “peace and health” so let’s benefit from its utterance to the full extent when first meeting our religious brothers and sisters.
It is as though it was Allah Himself Who lighted this melodious fire when he named himself “Salam”11, called the attitude of the inhabitants of paradise as “Salam”, 12 and described them as people who never utter a word in vain because all that they say is “Salam”. 13
Our Holy Prophet (SAW) adhered strictly to the custom of “Salam-saying” as he mentions once: “as long as I live I shall never abandon ‘Salam-saying’ to children and the younger ones, 14 so that it establishes a custom after me.” 15 “The least you can do in the way of paying courtesy to your relatives is meeting them and saying “Salam” to them. There exist such palaces in paradise whose inside is apparent from outside and whose outside is apparent form inside, and whose inhabitants are those believers from my community who utter pure words, say Salam, and never abstain from saying it to their Muslim brothers and sisters,16 and who shake hands and when they part while praying for each other’s blessing and forgiveness.”17
Hazrat Fatima Zahra (SA) too followed the custom of her dear father. On a Friday night, at the time of dawn Gabriel, Israfil, and Michael (SA) appeared to the lady and saw her praying to Allah. They tarried till the end of her prayers and then said: “Allah the All Mighty sends Salam to you” and left her a book, a special book, the “Sahifeh”.
In the last minutes of her graceful life, she feebly said: “I shall send my Salam to my children and descendants up until the Day of Doom”. 18 Then she looks around and says: “Salam to you, ye angels of Allah, and you the trustworthy Gabriel”. Gabriel tells her: “Allah sends His Salam to you; you intimate of Allah, the apple of the eye of His Prophet (SAW), you shall soar to the divine realm today and reside in your destined paradise.” Then she looks away and says Salam to another group of angels and says: “truly this is Ezraeal whose wings have filled east and west. My father had informed of this account beforehand. Salam to you, ye taker of human spirit, hasten to take me away and don’t tarry.” 19
Compassion and Open Heartedness towards Other People
Wise Loqman consoled his son thus: “my child, make a hundred friends and yet not even one enemy. You have only two assets in this transient world: your divine blessing and your temperaments. Your divine blessing is your faith and your temperaments are set by the attitude you show when mingling with other people. Treat not your acquaintances vindictively or spitefully and accustom yourself to righteousness and good humor”.20
Open heartedness and good humor are truly infinite treasures, much worthier than material belongings. No covetous or greedy person can rob your of that possession. This truly divine bounty is as a breeze of mirth and bliss which clears envy, hatred and vice. Satanic knacks and deceptions are impotent in its domain. Good humor lets your loosen up a little, let’s you “take it easy” and approach life with a freer less worrisome glance, in a way that your days become easy and breezy, filled with light, life and radiance. Such a person becomes a magnetic attraction of friends on foes alike, and becomes the corner stone of comfort and relaxation of everyone that his or her rays touch.
This is such a crucial duty of all human race that Allah has sent down a revelation concerning the slightest grumpiness moodiness and bad temperedness. Islam is the religion of peace, mirth and love, and has sent its message to all Muslims thus: “He frowned and turned (his) back, Because there came to him the blind ma. And what would make you know that he would purify himself, Or become reminded so that the reminder should profit him.” 21
A practical way to attain this quality is to remember that appearances can be deceptive and that the glamour of life does not set the criterion for the true “worth” of a human being. Anyone who may improve, even in future, deserves our uttermost respect.
After being told of the present she was going to receive from her to-be husband, Fatima (SA) asks her father: “all girls demand gold and silver coins as a present from their future husbands. If I would ask the same, what would set the difference between the daughter of Allah’s Prophet (SAW) and them?” then she said humbly: “I only ask you to let my present be the forgiveness of the sins of your followers by Allah.” 22
And also it is said that:
“Show cheerfulness and joviality when meeting other believers, for it will grant you Allah’s paradise, and be lighthearted in the face of the envious and the quarrelsome, for it will distant your from the Fire of the inferno.” 23
Courtesy towards Neighbors:
A neighbor is so nominated due to the fact that it is closer to us than our friends and relatives, and thus, it is aware of every event that takes place in our lives. At times of need, it is our neighbor who gives us a hand and kindly witnesses private scenes our lives. Our neighbors are our secret keepers, our faithful and compassionate acquaintances. In a nut shell, it is hard to value the high worth of neighbors and their effects on our lives, be it positive or negative. Taking this into account, there is a passage in the Holy Qur’an that informs thus:
“... to the near of kin and the orphans and the needy and the neighbor of your kin and the alien neighbor, ...” 24
The affectionate Prophet of Islam (SAW) has uttered a comprehensive saying on bad neighbors:
“I take refuge to Allah from the bad neighbor for he is always envying your life and never leaves you in peace; he will grieve at your prosperity and rejoice at your misfortune.” 25
Neighbors are responsible towards each other. When someone asks the Prophet (SAW): “are we responsible economically for any other payment than Zakat?” he answers:
“Yes, you are to visit your relatives and show mercy upon your Muslim neighbors. If you sleep well-fed while your neighbor is starving your faith is not strong enough. Gabriel always reminded and recommended me of my neighbors to the extent that I fancied that my neighbors will inherit from my property after my death.”26
Any one who mistreats his neighbors shall be forbidden to the scent of paradise, and shall be placed in hell. 27
Imam Ali (SA) in an inspiring passage has so portrayed the duties of neighbors:
“The rightful property of a mosque is forty zera’, while anyone living in the area of forty houses from the four corners of your house is considered among your neighbors.” 28
Such a profound social approach has positive effects on society and on our own development as a fully functional person. Caring about our neighbors lets us share in the misfortunes of others and in a way, helps us in becoming more compassionate and open hearted believers. This is the Fatima’s (SA) style, through which she approached both the material and the spiritual realm. The breadth of her soul, her patience, her wisdom and her divine tolerance helped her to help others, the less fortunate and the indigent. She was wont to cheer up the beggars and she always encouraged her neighbors to ask for their needs.
It is one of her wisest saying which goes like this: “paying your relatives a visit and looking after them brings you the blessing of a long life and further prosperity”29 or: “if you reserve your tongue not to falsely accuse other people in society, you will merit security from Allah’s damnation. Just in the same way, being trustworthy results in the creation of a pious society. It is also true that giving of zakat to the indigent and the needy causes cleanliness from sins, purity of soul and the accumulation of prosperity.” 30
This profound insight and divine knowledge will dawn on anyone who does not forget his or her responsibility towards Allah, towards other people and towards himself or herself. You must consider yourself as a higher being, and one that can never be chained by the deceiving appearances of the transient pleasures of this world.
1- Imam Ali (AS), Nahjosa’da, p.50
2- Majma al Bahreyn , Turaihi, p. 51
3- Ayatullah Hasanzade Amoli.
4- Imam Ali (AS), Ghorarol Hekam
5- Imam Ali (AS), Meshkatol Anwar, P. 135.
6- Qur’an Taha, 20:44
7- Ibid. Qalam, 68:4
8-9 Nawader Rawandi, Biharul Anwar, p. 231
10- Annaghz, p. 656
11- Qur’an, Hashr 59:23
12- Qur’an, Nesa 4: 87
13- Qur’an, Nahl 16:32, Maryam 19:62
14- Biharul Anwar, Vol. 76, p. 10.
15- Ibid. Vol. 74, p. 104.
16- Ibid. Vol. 76, p. 2.
17- Ibid. p. 5
18- Dalael ul Imamat, p. 44.
19- Dalael un Nobovaa, p. 43.
20- Maa’ni al Akhbar, p. 253.
21- Qur’an, Abasa 80:1-4.
22- Al Janatul Asemah, p. 179.
23- Ketab Awalem, Vol. 11, p. 628.
24- Qur’an, Nesa 4: 36.
25- Usul Kafi, Vol. 2, p.669.
26- Amali, Vol 2, p. 134.
27- Biharul Anwar, Vol. 74, p. 150.
28- Ibid. p. 151.
29- Kitab Shafi p. 231
30- A’alam un Nisa, Vol. 4, p. 116