In an increasingly hectic and blunt world, there are countless examples of bad manners and poor ethics that are unfortunately regarded by society as the mark of a “successful” and busy individual. The gradual detachment of society from an emphasis on good morals and ethics has set the framework for many of the interpersonal, social, and family relationship conflicts that place. Islam rejects the notion that any individual is able to attain worldly or heavenly success without striving to cultivate ethics and manners. In fact, Holy Quranic verses and the traditions are filled with examples of praiseworthy conduct just as they present to us in clear distinction the characters we should not develop.
Leading By Example
Amongst the most famous narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) are those related to ethics and manners: “I was sent (to mankind) in order to perfect their ethics.” (Bihar al-Anwar) The Holy Qur’an is a prescriptive blessing left to Muslims regarding our conduct, and yet how many of us make a conscious effort to incorporate its sublime teachings into our lives? The Prophet Muhammad is the ultimate role model and leader when considering our own morals and manners which are, to be generous, lacking in the greatest degree in considering the teachers we have had. In fact, Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) stresses our responsibility towards Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them), “Be conscious of God, and be a source of pride, and not a source of shame for us.” (Bihar al-Anwar)
Our Duty to God
“But God cautions you (to remember) Himself; for the final goal is to God.” (3:28) Islam is not a difficult religion to adhere to if we simply consider that all (good) actions can be done for the sake of gaining nearness to God. For example, if we embark upon our careers for the sake of God and Islam, how can we allow ourselves to be degrading, rude, or negative towards our co-workers, customers, and others whom we interact with at our employment? If we begin volunteer work in the name of God, we must remind ourselves that work done for God must be carried out in a manner God approves of. Imam al-Sadiq has said, “On the Day of Judgment, the faithful believer does not present to Allah anything more dear to Allah than good behavior with people.”
The Rights of Your Own Self
Our tongues are among the greatest blessings given to us by God, and yet, how many times a day do we abuse this blessing to disobey His commandments? “He has created man: He has taught him speech (and intelligence).” (55:3-4) When we commit sins and trespass on the rights of others, we are also abusing the rights of our own self and our own tongue, ears, and eyes. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) said regarding the tongue, “Its mass is small, but its sin is great.” In fact, our tongues are the most determining factor in deciding our final residence: heaven or hell. The Prophet Muhammad reinforced the importance of monitoring our speech: “Feed the hungry. Quench the thirst of the thirsty. Advise the people to do good deeds, and admonish them against evil deeds. If you are not able (to do that), then just guard your tongue from whatever is not good.”
The Rights of Others
Islam adamantly opposes lying and theft. However, when we exhibit low manners and undesirable characteristics towards others, we are guilty of stealing their right to truth, respect, compassion, and common courtesy. When we demonstrate a lack of manners and respect, we are destroying our own soul and taking away the rights of other humans. It is natural to encounter individuals who have wronged, oppressed, or violated our rights in a manner we perceive to be unacceptable. It is also here that we begin to appreciate the beauty of Islam, because Islam rises above human pettiness and elevates us towards human perfection by giving rights to even those who have wronged us.
Unfortunately, rudeness, meanness, and other diseases of the soul are prominent occurrences in our society. However, this does not justify allowing ourselves to sink to this disliked status before God and the Infallibles. Instead of responding to disrespect with the like, we must respond with kindness and respect, as these are the qualities the Prophets, Imams, and the Friends of God: “Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but persons of the greatest good fortune.” (41:34-35)
Common Courtesy Exemplifies Character
Our strength as Muslims stems from consistency in small acts of kindness and devotion repeated daily and with everyone we meet. The chief of martyrs, Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) stressed the value and merit of acts of courtesy: “Know that acts of courtesy earn praiseworthy results, and end in rewardable gains. If you were to see acts of courtesy personified as a man, you would perceive him to be good and handsome, pleasing for people to behold, and transcending all the worlds. And if you were to see acts of vileness personified, you would perceive an ugly, revolting, disfigured man, whom the hearts would be averse to, and whom the eyes would turn away from in disgust.” (Mustadrak al-Wasail)
God willing, we all begin to transition towards performing acts of goodness and compassion for our own sake, rather than expecting others to also do good things for us. The reward alone far outweighs mere thanks from others. Imam Ali reinforces the need for intrinsically motivated goodness: “People who perform acts of courtesy towards others benefit more from them than the recipients of their kindness, for verily they have the reward for them, the [rewarding feeling of] pride for having helped someone as well as a mention. So however much good a man may do for others, it ultimately always starts by benefiting himself, such that he never seeks thanks for the benefit incurred by himself through helping others.” (Kashf al-Ghamma)
Kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and common courtesy are all character traits we can work on and enhance, because Islam’s beauty is that it never requires more from its servants than they can fulfill. The only question to ask ourselves every day is: have I made the Ahlul Bayt proud with my actions today?
Article Courtesy Of: http://islamicinsights.com