By Dr. Muzammail H. Siddiqui
Speaking about Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w.), Allah T’ala says in the Holy Quran:
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
“Indeed you stand on an exalted standard of character.” (Al-Qalam 68:4)
Morality is an important aspect of Islam. In the Islamic terminology it is called “khuluq” and its plural is “akhlaq”. There are two aspects of a human being: one is “khalq” that is the physical aspect and the appearance. The other is “khuluq” and that is character, behavior and inner dispositions. Islam emphasizes that we take care of our physical appearance by keeping it clean, properly covered, healthy and nourished with Halal food and drinks. In a similar way it tells us that we should take care of our character and behavior.
The Prophet was sent by Allah to teach the humanity the noblest morals (makarim al-akhlaq). He said,
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَكْمَلُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِيمَانًا أَحْسَنُهُمْ خُلُقًا وَخِيَارُكُمْ خِيَارُكُمْ لِنِسَائِهِمْ خُلُقًا -الترمذى
“The most perfect believer in faith is the one who is best in moral character. The best of you are those who are the best to their spouses in manners.” (al-Tirmidhi 1082)
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ يُدْرِكُ بِحُسْنِ خُلُقِهِ دَرَجَاتِ قَائِمِ اللَّيْلِ صَائِمِ النَّهَارِ – مسند أحمد
‘Aishah -may Allah be pleased with her- said, “I heard the Prophet -peace be upon him- say, ‘Indeed the believer by his good morals reaches the ranks of those who spend the whole night in prayer and whole day in fasting. (Musnad Ahmad, 23219)
Abu al-Darda’ reports that I heard the Prophet -peace be upon him- say, “There is nothing in the Balance heavier than the good morals. Indeed the person of good morals will reach by them the rank of the person of fasts and prayers.” (al-Tirmidhi 1926)
There are many Ahadith that indicate the high place of morals and manners in Islam. The good morals and manners should be observed in one’s personal life as well as in one’s relations with others.
Some Ahadith on Islamic manners:
عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ الْمُسْلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ الْمُسْلِمُونَ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ وَالْمُهَاجِرُ مَنْ هَجَرَ مَا نَهَى اللَّهُ عَنْهُ -البخاري
“The Muslim is he/she from whose hand and tongue other Muslims are safe and Muhajir is he/she who leaves what Allah has forbidden.” (al-Bukahri 9)
None of you will be a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” (al-Bukhari 12)
Faith has more than seventy branches (or he said more than sixty branches). The supreme branch is the statement that ‘There is no god except Allah’ and the lowest branch is the removal of obstacles from the path. The modesty is a branch of faith.” (Muslim 51)
These issues are not small; they are very important. No macro change can come without the micro change. Bad manners have sometimes drastic social affects.
Some of you may have heard of some interesting research on crime, called the “broken window” effect. Two researchers did the following test. They put one car in the poorer areas of New York, with the hood open. They put another car in a really affluent suburb in California. The car in New York got pulled to pieces within 24 hours. The car in California remained untouched for two weeks. Then one of the researchers smashed one window in the car and within a day, the car ended up like the one in New York.
They concluded that by breaking the window on the car, they essentially marked the car as “neglected” and thus people thought of it as “fair game”, even though it was in a good neighbourhood. Similarly, the authors concluded, if you allow little things to get away, like the breaking of windows, unless the window gets fixed very soon, all the windows get smashed.
Three years ago, in New York, they had a new police commissioner. He decided to implement this idea, by ensuring that the police no longer just attack the big issues, the homicides, the car stealings, the breaking and entering; but also the little things, like making sure streets were clean, fixing broken windows. The net effect? Crime rates in New York, formerly one of the world’s crime centres, fell by almost one third in three years. Why does this work? By taking care of the little things, you give people a sense of security.
We observe good morals and manners to obey Allah and His Messenger. This is part of our faith. Our faith leads to good morals and manners and they in their turn reinforce our faith. On the other hand, we should also keep in mind the best da’wah is to live among people with good morals and manners.
Before listening to our message people see us and our behavior. Non-Muslims sometimes say when they see the bad example of Muslims, “If your religion has not made you a good person, how can it be a good religion for us.” We have a big responsibility and we must take our actions seriously.
Reference url: http://www.isna.net/services/library/khutbahs/MoralsandMannersinIslam.html
Khutbah at ISOC – 24 Shawwal 1421/ January 19, 2001 By Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi