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The Ethics of Islam

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  • The Ethics of Islam

    The Ethics of Islam
    Talal Sabih

    Sydney, New South Wales

    Imam Al-Qarafi said in his book "Al-Fourouk" in the course of talking about the position of ethics compared to action, and the indication that it is favoured in rank: "Know that a little ethics is far better than lot of action." Consequently, Rouwan the pious scholar said to his son: "O son, let your work be as salt and your manners be as flour. It meant an increase in the acquisition of manners until the overall rate is equal to that of flour to salt in the dough. Lots of manners with little of righteous deeds is better than action with lack of ethics".

    Beauty Spots

    Should some simpleness and obviousness be seen in some of such manners, it would not be strange to warn them. For a good number of us commit mistakes in such obvious issues. This tends to affect our Islamic character, which should be distinguished in its beauty, perfection and features. While our Messenger (s) was with some of his noble companions, he said to them: "You are coming unto your brothers, dress well, fix up your caravans so you look like a beauty spot* amongst the people. For Allah (Glorified and exholted) abhors obscenity or indecency". This hadith was narrated by Abu Dawood, Imam Ahmad, Al Hakim in "Al-Mustadrak", related by Sahl bin Al-Hanthliah (may Allah be pleased of him). The beauty spot, al-khal, is a black dot in the face and originally found on the body. What is meant here is that they should be apparent in their charm, cleanness, nice smell and good appearance. The beauty spot appears in the beautiful face. It adds of its beauty and charm.

    A Muslim should be known to be a Muslim, from his nice clothes, his harmonious and simple appearance, and Allah is the Guidance to the straight path.

    Do not slam the door

    Should you enter or leave your house, do not slam the door or let it close on its own forcefully. This is in contrary to the gentleness of Islam that you are honoured with. Instead, close the door with your hand gently, and perhaps you have heard what A’isha (ra) related of the sayings of the Messenger (s): "Whenever gentleness is applied to a matter, it increases its value. Should gentleness be removed away, it discredits it."

    Greet relatives

    Should you enter or leave your house, greet female or male relatives with the Muslim greeting of: "Assalaamu `alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh." Do not replace this Islamic greeting with others, such as "good morning" or "hello" or words to that extent. For the use of another expression tends to kill it, and it is the motto of Islam and the slogan of Muslims which the Messenger drew up for them verbally and practically. For such he taught his respected servant Anas (ra) who said: "Allah’s Messenger said to me: ‘O my son, when you enter unto your family, greet them, for blessings would be placed upon you and your family’." (Al-Tirmithi)

    Qatadah, a most eminent second generation scholar said: "If you enter your house, greet your family, for they are worthier of your greeting than those you have greeted." Abu Hurayrah (ra) said: "Allah’s Messenger (s) said: ‘When a person is in a gathering, he should greet. Should he decide to leave, he should greet. The fact is that the first greeting would not replace the last’." (Al-Tirmithi).

    Warn before entering

    Should you enter your house, let those inside the house know that you are about to enter before reaching them, so they are not scared with your surprise or they may consider you suspiciously spying on them. Abu ‘Ubaida ‘Amir bin Mas’ud (ra) said: "Whenever my father, `Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, entered the house, he would make the inhabitants of the house notice his presence and he would speak and raise his voice so they were familiarized with him."

    Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (rh) said: "When a man enters his house, it is desired that he cough "hmm" or stomp his feet. `Abdullah, Imam Ahmad’s son said: "Whenever my father returned home from the mosque, he would beat [the floor] with his foot before entering the house, until the beating of his soul is heard upon entering the house. He would probably also "hmmm" to warn the inhabitants of his entering.

    Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of Jabir that Allah’s Messenger (s) didn’t permit a person arriving home late unexpectedly from a journey to enter his home, as if he were mistrusting of those at home seeking their mistakes.

    Ask permission to enter

    If some of your family members are resting in their rooms and you intended to enter, you should ask for permission so you wouldn’t see them in an undesired position. Regardless whether this person was one of the unmarriageable or marriageable persons or others, such as your mother, father, daughters or sons.

    Imam Malik narrated in "Al-Muwatta", on the authority of Ata’ bin Yasir that a man asked Allah’s Messenger (s): "Do I ask permission when entering onto my mother?" He said: "Yes." Then the man said: "I am present with her at home." Allah’s Messenger (s) said: "Ask for her permission." The man said: "I am her servant." He said: "Ask for her permission. Would you like to see her naked?" He replied: "No." Allah’s Messenger (s) said: "Then ask for her permission".

    A follower [of the second generation], the son of the companion Musa bin Talha bin Ubaidullah (ra) said: "My father and I called on my mother, he entered and I then followed him. He turned around and pushed me in the chest until I sat on the floor. He said: Do you call on without permission?" Nafe’, Abdullah bin Omar’s servant (ra) said: "Whenever one of Ibn Omar’s boys reached puberty - adulthood - he would separate him away from his room [father’s room], and would only allow the permitted persons to call on him.

    Ibn Abbas said: "The permission - that is asking for permission - is compulsory on all people." Ibn Masud said: "The man asks for permission to call onto his father and his mother, his brother and his sister." Jabir (ra) said: "The man asks for permission to call onto his son and his mother even if she was old, his sister and his father". Al-Bukhari narrated most of these citations in his book "Al-Adab al- Mufrad". This was also narrated by Ibn Katheer in his Quranic explanation of the earlier mentioned verse.

    Knock gently on the door

    Whenever you knock on your brother’s or friend’s or some of your acquaintances’ door, or some one you are heading to, gently knock on the door so that he would be aware of the knocking. Do not knock fiercely, like the oppressors and the hell guards. For such would terrify him and violates the ethics of Islam. A woman came to Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (ra) inquiring about some religious issues. She banged on the door a bit violently. So he came out saying: "This is the banging of the police."

    The companions used to knock on the door of Allah’s Messenger (s) with the finger nails, as was narrated by Al-Bukhari in "Al-Adab al-Mufrad". This gentle and friendly knocking is required if the person is sitting near the door. In case he is away from the door, the door should be knocked gently, so he could hear it from his position.

    The Prophetic Hadith has been mentioned earlier: "Whenever gentleness is applied to a matter, it tends to increase its value. Should gentleness be removed from it, it discredits it". He (s) also said: "He who is denied leniency, is denied of all goodness." (Muslim)

    You should leave a reasonable period of time between the two knocks, so the person performing an ablution can complete it and the praying can finish his prayer at ease, and the one eating can complete his bite at leisure. Some scholars estimated the waiting time between two knocks to be the equivalent of praying four prostrations - for he might have started praying at the start of your knocking on the door.

    If you knock three separate times and feel that the person is not engaged and he would have come out, then you should leave. For Allah’s Messenger (s) said: "Should one of you ask permission three times and is not answered, then he should leave." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    You shouldn’t stand in front of the door opening when waiting for permission, but instead stand either left or right. "Whenever Allah’s Messenger approached the people’s door, he wouldn’t face it directly, but instead he would stand either to its left or right side".

    Give your name when asked

    Should you knock on one of your brother’s door, and you were asked: "Who is it?", then say your real name. Do not say "someone" or "I" or "a person". For such words do not enable the speaker behind the door to identify the knocker, and you shouldn’t rely on the fact that your voice is known to whose door you are knocking at . The fact is that voices can be ambiguous and a tone may sound similar to another, and not every one in the house may know your voice. In fact, hearing can wrongly or correctly identify voices.

    Allah’s Prophet (s) disliked the knocker’s saying: "It is I," because it doesn’t benefit any thing. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (ra) who said: "I came to Allah’s Prophet (s) and knocked on his door. He said: "Who is it?" I said: "It is I." Allah’s Prophet (s) said: "It is I, it is I?" As if he hated it.

    Accordingly, the companions (ra) used to give their names if they were asked. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of Abu Tharr (ra) who said: "One night, I went out for a walk and I saw Allah’s Messenger (s) walking alone, so I kept walking in the moon light. He turned and saw me and said "Who is this?" Then I said: "Abu Tharr."

    The homeowner may apologise

    Should you visit one of your brothers with or without a prior appointment, and he apologises for not being able to accept your visit, then you should excuse him, because he is more aware of his circumstances at home. Some special obstacles might have arisen or he may be embarrassed and could not welcome you in. He could therefore apologise without embarrassment. Qatadah bin Da’aamah As-Saddusi, an honorable [second generation] follower, said: "Do not stand by the door of people who have turned away from their door, because you have business and they have work, for they are worthier than you of the excuse."

    Imam Malik used to say: "Not every person can talk about his excuse." Thus, it was the pious predecessors manner when visiting, that the visitor would say to the host: "You might have had an excuse," to facilitate making an excuse if the host ever apologised.

    Due to the importance of such manners, and in order to remove whatever might have stuck on some souls as a result of the apology, Allah (swt) stipulated in His noble Quran in the course of visits, permission and entering: "If you were asked to go back, go back: That makes for greater purity." (Surat An Nur, verse 28)

    Along this great Quranic manners, there is an alternative to which some people resort when embarrassed by the visit of undesired visitors. Consequently, the host is compelled to inform that he is not present at home, while he is, and so he lies. Also, his children learn from him such an undesired character trait. This conduct may result in enmity and hatred.

    The Noble Quranic guidance prevents us from falling into this. It allowed the visited person to kindly apologise to his brother and ask his him to accept his apology: "If you were asked to go back, go back. That makes for greater purity." (Surat An Nur, verse 28)

    Bibliography:

    Ghuddah, A.( 1992). Ethics of Islam. Islamic Print Press, Allipo, Syria.
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