بسم الله و الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
Have you ever heard the quote: "Islam is perfect, Muslims are not perfect. Judge Islam, not Muslims."?*
When we start thinking like this,we set up a situation where we relinquish all responsibility from upholding our religious values and morals. It's saddening that we are perpetuating this kind of mentality, because if we look at the times of the Sahaba (May Allah be pleased with them), they said "Look at Muslims, and you will know Islam." If we look at the Muslim Ummah now, what would we learn about Islam? Probably not that much. Many of the mannerisms and customs that are present are in fact the opposite of what Islam was sent to teach us.
As an Ummah, we need to take a more active role in our religion, so many people want to spread dawah yet they can't even uphold basic courtesy and manners with their own families.
Your actions carry weight, We are each callers to Islam. Whether we realize it or not. As Muslims, we have to realize that we stand for something greater than ourselves. So think about this, what am I calling for? What do my actions, character, and speech say about me? What do they say about Islam?
"Thus We have appointed you a model community (Ummah), that you may be witnesses against mankind, and that the Messenger may be a witness against you". [Quran 2:143]
|وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونالرَّسُولُعَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا|
Islam does not exist in books and words, it exists in the hearts and actions of believers, and once this goes, what hope do we have for spreading a prosperous Ummah?
Sometimes, one can become accustomed to the norms of the society they live in, so rather than following the manners and behavior of a Muslim, they follow what society says is "normal." If you think you can't break the cultural norms of the society you live in, look at the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, when sin and corruption were the norm. Did that stop them from enjoining good and forbidding evil?
Islam differs from all other religions because we have rulings on the proper way to live in all aspects of our life. While some may see this as restrictive, we know that a Muslim is NOT simply Muslim during prayer time, and religion encompasses all aspects of our lives, both big matters and small.
We need to realize the importance of emulating the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and his companions, not just in their prayer and worship, but we need to copy their manners, their characters, their treatment and concern for their fellow humans.When we make an effort to be respectful, considerate, and helpful to other people with the intention of upholding our Islamic values, this is a form of worship, and every act of goodness is an act which will bring us closer to Allah سبحانه وتعالى . "Whoever is fulfilling the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs."
We may overemphasis certain aspects of Iman and neglect the very simple and root matters (usool al deen) the foundation of our deen is our Adab (good manners, good characters, and respect)
The Prophet Muhammed صلى الله عليه وسلمsaid "The only reason I have been sent is to perfect good manners." (Bukhari)
"There is no gift a parent can give his child that is better than good manners." (Tirmidhi)
"Nothing is heavier on the scale of good deeds on the day of judgement than one's good manners." (Bukhari)
“The nearest of you to me on the Day of Judgement will be the one who is best in character.”
These are only a few of the many ahadith teaching us about the importance of character and manners.
"Whoever does not think that his speech is part of his deeds and his character is part of his religion will be destroyed without even realizing."-Abu Hurayrah
Worship is meant to bring us closer to Allah سبحانه وتعالى , but it is also to come closer to the ideal He wants us to uphold. If you worship and practice Islam and it's having no effect on your manners and character, you need to re-evaluate the quality of your worship.
The purpose is to become the best man/woman you can become, the best family member, the best community member. Because as Muslims we know that we don't exist in a bubble, we must better our actions so that we can contribute to helping the whole Ummah. But when each person separates themselves from the equation, and removes responsibility from himself to uphold such values, we will never build a righteous community.
Our goal as Muslims should be to align our beliefs with our thoughts, words, and actions. As a Muslim you are indebted to protect the religion, and when you have bad manners and morals, you are putting the religion in a bad light. What better way to protect our religion than by manifesting it's teachings through our manners, character, and treatment of others?
"Allah helps a person as long as he is helping his brother." (Sahih Muslim)
People are so wrapped up in what others can do for them and forget to think about what they can do to help others. You should be happy whenever you have the opportunity to help someone, for Allah is giving you the opportunity to receive ajr (rewards) through them!
We know the Qur'an will testify against us on the day of judgement, and we will be asked about our prayers. But what about all those people we neglect in our lives? What about the person who made salam which you ignored simply because you were in a bad mood that day? What about the person who needed help on an upcoming exam, and when they asked you for help you said you were too busy? Will the person in need that you ignored testify against you on the Day of Judgement?
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ ۚ أُحِلَّتْ لَكُمْ
“Oh you who believe! Fulfill your obligation to Allah.” (5:1)
We owe our Lord everything, part of this obligation is to treat our fellow man with respect, consideration, honor, and dignity.
وَجَعَلْنَا بَعْضَكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ فِتْنَةً أَتَصْبِرُونَ ۗ وَكَانَ رَبُّكَ بَصِيرًا
"We have made some of you as a trial for others: will you have patience? For Allah is One Who sees (all things)" (25:20)
Before you rectify how you treat others, you need to start with your family. You have to make treating your family well a main priority. It’s not extra credit: it’s a duty! Without doing this our faith isn’t complete. Some treat people so politely at work, at school, and in the community, out of fear of hurting their image, but when someone is in the privacy of their home, sometimes the bad qualities and manners can come out. We need to treat our own families with more respect, more politeness, and more kindness than we would our bosses at work, or a stranger. Adab starts at the home. It's easy to be polite to strangers, and it's not always easy with family.
I'm going to share a story:
Once while I was praying duhr, the sister in front of me rushed out of the musala, knocking me in the head with her purse as I was coming up from sujood. I was so bewildered that after coming out of a state of prayer, someone could be completely careless regarding those around them. Now, I'm not telling this story to shame the sister or make her look bad, I never even saw her face! I'm simply using it as an example of how we neglect the simple and common courtesy of Adab, and we forget that character and manners are part of faith. How can one go from a state of worship and then forget about their manners? This example is not even that bad in comparison to what I'm sure many of us see and experience every day. Let me mention something about prayer: When people meditate and pray in other religions, they close their eyes. Why do they do this? In order to increase their awareness and concentration, it helps them to worship more fully. But we as Muslims DO NOT close our eyes, because we need to worship Allah fully and wholly, but we need to do so without separating ourselves from this world, we need to interact with people, socialize, and always remember Allah while going about our daily life: Live and pray with our eyes open. Be aware and considerate of those around you.
In university people act as if they are on mission impossible, I realize we all are busy and have classes to get to, but is it really necessary for a brother to push a sister while going down the stairs? (Or even a sister pushing another sister) Is it necessary for everyone to be back-to-back, close together pushing while waiting in line to buy food? Where is the haya? Where is common courtesy and respect for one another? We have become people who only think of ourselves. We’re so absorbed in ourselves we don’t even consider those around us.
People may seem pious on the outside, but sometimes you may find out after dealing with them that the "cover" of righteousness is only a disguise. We need to make sure our characters are just as righteous as the way we look. Just because you where jilbab or have a beard doesn't mean you're finished and don't still need to work hard to improve your faith and treat others well: it also doesn't make you better than other people, and if you think you're better because you dress this way, you've missed the whole point.
A few times, I have entered the musala at University to find a group of righteous looking sisters, and when I greet them, no one returns the salam. When they see trash on the ground no one picks it up, no one bothers folding the piles of prayer clothes ملابس الصلاة, sisters talk loudly and laugh right next to their sister who is trying to concentrate during salah. If you don't have respect for a place of prayer, what do you have respect for?
A new survey by a leading US academic has found that Ireland leads the world in embodying Qur’anic teachings of justice and Islamic values. (read the article here)
Why is it Ireland that embodies the teachings of the Qur'an when only 1.1% of the population is Muslim? Why not a Muslim country? Why do we put the priority on so many other things and neglect religion, always leaving it as an afterthought?
This has come from corrupt governments, and the penetration of our countries by unIslamic influences. So government is an issue, but people always blame authority and blame the government when it comes to the state of our country, and they neglect the part they must play when it comes to furthering and helping the community as a whole, even if the part you play is only within your family. In the words of JFK, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Improving you manners and character doesn't have to be difficult: they can be simple gestures which you don't even have to go out of your way to do, if you see someone drop something, pick it up for them, if you see someone struggling, offer your help! Even simply by looking happy, instead of grumpy all the time is a good start! The Companions say that they never saw the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم except that he was smiling! Do you think you have suffered more in your life than the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم? What are you frowning about?
Our manners are a manifestation of what is inside our hearts, and our manners and actions over time become what resides within our characters and hearts.
Here are some simple tips to help us all
1. Serve others: this means different things for different people. For some, maybe they are able to volunteer in charities, refugee camps, or events. Some of us are maybe not able to do those things, but you can still serve others in different ways: serving others can be as simple as helping your siblings with homework, helping your mother cook or clean, visiting your grandparents and spending time and energy on making them happy, bake a cake and send it to your neighbor. Show simple gestures of kindness without expecting anything in return.
2. Respect others: in the way you talk to them, and about them. When you speak about someone, you should say only the best things! Even if you don't like the person, make an effort to force yourself to say something nice. Respect others even if you don't know them, respect your professor and your taxi driver the same amount, because we know in Islam that the one is not better than the other. Brothers, respect your sisters in Islam and don't stare!
3. Think the best of others: don't always be suspicious of people, expect the best and doubt the bad!
4. Don't be hard to please: don't have such high expectations of others that you're never satisfied with anything, learn to be happy with the simple things.
5. Don't get angry easily: we are all prone to sometimes being grumpy and losing our temper, but we always have to fight that urge and try to be positive instead. You'll end up feeling happier, and have much more energy, since being angry all the time drains you of both those things.
6. And most importantly: Remember Allahسبحانه وتعالى always! When you're about to say something rude, or do something mean, just remember that Allah always sees you. Do you want this to be written down for you?
Don't be a Muslim only during prayer time. Be a caller to Islam in everything you do! How will anyone be able to know the true message of Islam if we don't take it upon ourselves to represent it? During the Prophet Muhammad's صلى الله عليه وسلم Khutba of his farewell Hajj, he said
"Those who are present should convey (my message) to those who are not". (Bukhaari) In today's world, this means that those who have heard and learned the message need to convey it: and the very best way we can convey this is through perfecting our characters. The Companion Umar ibn al-Khattab رضي الله عنه said "Invite people to Islam even if it is without words." They asked "How?" He replied,"With your manners."
I ask Allah سبحانه وتعالى to bless us with the best of manners and the best of characters, I ask Him to guide us towards helping this Ummah and the world as a whole. And I ask Him to help us to follow the example of he who had the very best of characters (Prophet Muhammed صلى الله عليه وسلم)
*Regarding the first quote, I know that Muslims are not perfect and will never be perfect, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't all aim and try to improve in order to become closer to the Muslim ideals.
All correct and beneficial knowledge is from the mercy and guidance of Allah, and I apologize for all incorrect information which is an unintentional error only from myself. And Allah knows best. والله أعلمُ بالـصـواب