Lecture by Shaykh Tahir ul Qadri
Summarised and Translated by Alveena Salim
As Muslims we often pride ourselves on being the Ummah with the ultimate truth. So equipped with this information we become intent on preaching to others, insistent they listen to us regardless of our own actions and deeds. Often we become aggressive and sometimes appear arrogant since we are secure in the knowledge that we are right. However the religion our Prophet preached placed great emphasis on Akhlak (good manners), to be gentle and kind, tolerant and patient. That we should always speak the truth but use wisdom and tact, foresight and prudence In Sahih Muslim, the Prophet narrated ‘the one who has a gentle character; has a gentle tongue, gentle voice, gentle way of thinking and is gentle when he meets others has gentility embodied in his entire character’.
In today’s era we convey gentleness to people but to those who we think are either stronger or richer than us. We only portray gentleness to people who we think are more superior to us in some respect. However this is not a sign of gentleness but is a sign of cowardliness.
We should bear in mind that whoever manages to acquire gentleness in his/her character automatically receives an increase in inner beauty and status, whereas whoever is deprived from gentleness in his/her character is automatically deprived from receiving inner beauty and status.
Presently we do not follow this concept, but believe and follow the opposite. We believe that we should show arrogance and pride to others else people may think that we are not worth anything. We scorn at the ones who portray gentleness to others looking down upon them as inferior. However this is a very dangerous and misleading concept and goes entirely against the teachings of Islam and entirely against the religion our Beloved Prophet (SAW) brought us.
It is stated in Sahih Muslim that ‘whoever loses gentleness loses all good’. It is also stated in another Hadith that the Holy Prophet told his followers that “hell is made Haram (forbidden) on those who looks after their relatives, are gentle hearted and have good manners”. Therefore the stress on good manners is found in all situations and the emphasis is always the same that is; ‘the most perfect believer in respect of faith is he who has the best manners’.
If we take a good look at ourselves we can automatically realize that we do not abide by these rules. We all, at one time or another twist, our words, play games, are two faced, lie and backbite portraying a severe lack of gentleness, love and compassion for others in our characters.
A true Muslim believer is the one who presents ease for others and saves them from hardships. A true Muslim believer makes life easy for others and is the bearer of good news and presents the call for Islam (da’wa), in a pleasant manner that is easy to adhere to. Allah (SWT) states in the Holy Quran regarding the eminence of our Beloved Prophet character, ‘By the grace of Allah (SWT) you are gentle towards the people, if you had been stern and harsh hearted they would have dispersed from around you’. This is how our beloved Prophet brought us Islam and this has proved to be the most effective method of da’wa.
Today however all aspects of Humanity have vanished from within us, we have became walking, talking animals, our religion has became ritualized and lacks morals, ethics and spirituality. We think that just by abiding by the pillars of Islam we are following the principals of Islam. The five pillars of Islam are the basic obligatory principals of Islam but there is more to Islam then just fulfilling these obligations. Islam is a way of life.
Unfortunately we have lost the main concept of Islam. We believe that if we keep a long beard, spend the nights in prayer, keep many fasts and perform many religious pilgrimages we are fulfilling the rights of Islam. Although these are the fard (obligations) of Islam, true Islam consists of much more. It is an ethical code of morals and manners guiding us on how to interact with others, how to behave towards our family and friends and how to live in society. Only then are our obligatory duties accepted by Allah (SWT).
The beauty of Islam is in its Adab (manners) which covering every sphere of life. See for instance the Sunnah of table manners. According to our Beloved Prophet , we should all eat together, start eating with what is in front of us, and we should not leave the table until everyone has finished. Therefore abiding by the Sunnah constitutes real Islam.
Even if we have read many prayers, kept many fasts, performed many religious pilgrimages etc, if the way we live causes any discomfort or pain to others then all the good deeds that we have done are considered pointless in the eyes of Allah (SWT).
Western society has adapted these concepts of Islam. They may not believe in the Kalima (declaration of faith) but they abide by the main concepts of Islam in respect to manners and behaviour. They are more polite, cheerful and courteous with each other then us. If we walk down the street and our eyes meet with an old lady we automatically receive a smile. However we do not smile at each other as much as we should, despite the fact that smiling is an act of sadaqa (charity), expiates some sins and doesn’t cost anything.
In Sahih Al-Bukhari it is narrated that :
‘ A man entered Masjid-ul-nabvi and committed the disgraceful act of urinating. The companions of the holy Prophet became angry and stood up to punish him. However the Holy Prophet told them not to punish or scold him, but to go and pour water over the area where he had urinated so that he would automatically realize the mistake that he had made indirectly, without feeling too ashamed or embarrassed. The holy Prophet (SAW) told his companions that ‘it is your job to bring people into Islam and not to push them away’. He also said that ‘we don’t know anything about the character of this man, if we rebuke him he may never come to the mosque again’.
It is a well-known fact that we cannot fight fire with fire; fire can only be defeated with water. Unfortunately, these days, due to lack of patience and compassion for others, we are quick to retaliate and do not overlook the faults and mistakes of others.
In another incident narrated in Sahih Muslim and Bukhari, ‘once the Holy Prophet was wearing a beautiful outer garment with detailed embroidery. He was walking and a poor Arab came running towards the Holy Prophet and tugged at his garment and demanding that he (the Holy Prophet should give him some of what Allah (SWT) had given him. The garment the Holy Prophet was wearing became entangled around His blessed neck and left a mark. However our beloved Prophet never became angry or rebuked the man, but merely smiled and gave him what he had asked for’.
In another incident the Holy Prophet had just started to read his prayer in Masjid-ul-Nabvi, when an Arab burst in shouting loudly disturbing everyone’s prayer. He demanded that the Prophet should ‘fulfil his requirements immediately’. The holy Prophet (SAW) did not tell him to ‘be quiet’ or to ‘show some respect’ but left his prayer to attend to the needs and demands of the man before returning to his prayer. This is true Islam which consists of fulfilling the rights of people, (i.e. family, friends and neighbours).
This is the main reason why it is difficult for us to preach Islam, and to attract the attention of people so they may to listen to us since we severely lack in love, understanding, patience and compassion for others. It is difficult for us to preach what is not present in out hearts.
In conclusion it is impossible for anger and goodness to co-exist together, as it is impossible for good and evil to be together. If we desire to have good manners and gentility imbedded in our personalities we must learn to control our anger. A true Muslim is the one who has Adab (good manners) instilled inside him/her and the one who lacks in Adab also lacks in Deen (religion).