Question: What Does Islam Teach On Manners And Dealing With Others?
Islam places great emphasis on manners and on the proper way to deal with others, whether they are Muslims or not. Relations between people are very important in Islam, and maintaining good relations with others should be a main priority of a practicing Muslim. In fact, Islam teaches that Prophet Mohammad said: "I have been sent to perfect the best of manners". He summarized the goal of his entire message into the perfection of the best of manners. The following is just a sample of some of the teachings of Islam regarding manners and relationships with others.
Having mercy on people and even on animals is an important trait that every Muslim should have. To emphasize the importance of mercy, every chapter of the holy Quran starts with the words: “In the name of God, the most merciful, the most compassionate”. Also, God describes the purpose of sending Prophet Mohammad as a messenger to mankind in the Quran as: “We have sent you for no other reason but to be a mercy for mankind” (Quran 21:107). Islam teaches us that mercy and kindness in any matter only makes it better, and the lack of mercy and kindness in any matter only makes it worse. In fact, the Quran teaches us that mercy and kindness can change an enemy into a close friend: “Good and evil are not equal. Repel (evil) with what is best, and you will find that the one you had mutual enmity with him will become as if he were a close friend” (Quran 41:34). Muslims are instructed to be merciful not only towards human beings, but to all living things. Prophet Mohammad also teaches us to practice mercy in order for God to have mercy on us: “Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful (God). Be merciful to those on the earth and the One in the heavens (God) will have mercy upon you.”
Islam teaches us that we are to be honest in all our dealings with all people. There is no justification for lying and being deceitful. The Quran teaches us to be honest and fair: “And when you speak, be fair, even if it were against a relative” (Quran 6:152). It also teaches us that God hates for us to say what we don’t do: “O believers! Why do you say what you do not do? How hated it is in the sight of God that you say what you do not do!” (Quran 61:2-3). The Prophet teaches that a person who cheats others is not among the believers.
Prophet Mohammad taught us the importance of hard work in Islam, saying that: “God loves that when you do work, that you perfect it”. He also taught us that there is value in doing work even when we won’t see the direct benefits: “If the day of judgement comes while you are holding a sapling of a plant, then you should plant it”. Muslims believe that we are rewarded when other people or even animals benefit from the work we have done: “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as an act of charity.”
Kindness to Parents
Islam has raised the importance of kindness to parents to the highest possible level. The Quran teaches: “God has decreed that you worship none but Him. And honor your parents. If one or both of them reach old age in your care, never say a word of disrespect to them, nor yell at them. Rather, address them respectfully. And be humble with them out of mercy, and pray, “God, be merciful to them as they raised me when I was young” (Quran 17:23-24). Muslims are instructed to take care of their parents, especially in their old age, just as their parents took care of them when they were young and weak. Muslims are forbidden from uttering even a single word of disrespect towards their parents.
Kindness to Spouses
There is a lot of emphasis in Islam on kind and fair treatment of spouses. The Quran describes marriage as tranquility and contentment, and teaches that God has created feelings of love and mercy between the spouses. In fact, the Quran further describes spouses as being garments for each other, in a reference to the sense of protection and warmth that spouses should provide to each other. Prophet Mohammad forbade Muslims from mistreating and being unjust to their spouses. He went even further by saying that the best of men are those who treat their wives in the best way.
Kindness to Neighbors
Islam greatly emphasizes the relationship with neighbors. Muslims are expected to treat their neighbors in the most kind and gentle way, and are strictly forbidden from harming them. In fact, the Prophet Mohammad said that a person who hurts their neighbors is not a believer. He also said that a person is not a true believer if he sleeps full while his neighbor is hungry.
The Quran teaches us that we should be generous and give the needy and share our wealth. In fact, Islam teaches us that the poor have a share in our wealth, so it is not optional to give charity. It is their right. Also, Islam teaches us to be generous and to give others from what we have, even if we have a real need for it. When the early Muslims of the city of Al-Madinah received refugees from the city of Makkah, they divided their entire wealth with them in half, sharing with them their houses, farms, animals and money.
Islam takes friendship to a higher level, referring to Muslims as brothers and sisters, and expecting them to treat each other as such. A Muslim is expected to wish for others that which they wish for themselves. Also, a Muslim is expected to give honest advice to friends and to be there for them and help them whenever possible. Muslims are forbidden from abandoning or boycotting a friend with whom they have had a disagreement for more than three days. After the three days, they are expected to forgive their friend and resume the friendship.
Islam forbids backbiting, which is to talk about others behind their backs. Prophet Mohammad taught us that mentioning anything negative about a person when they are not present is backbiting. When asked: "What if this negative thing is really true about this person?" The Prophet replied by saying that if it’s true, then that is backbiting. But if it’s false, it’s even worse than backbiting because it’s also a lie.
Do Not Curse or Ridicule
Muslims are forbidden from ridiculing or cursing others. The Quran teaches us that we should not do this because the person we are cursing or ridiculing may be better than us in many ways. Also, engaging in these types of actions casts doubt on the strength of the belief of a Muslim. Islam teaches us that God despises those who use foul language and continually curse and ridicule others.
Removing Obstacles From The Way
Islamic teachings even extend to clearing an obstacle from a path. Prophet Mohammad taught us that one of the traits of a true believer is that they remove obstacles and harmful things from a public path or street.
Islam teaches us that smiling when others look at you is regarded as a form of charity for which Muslims get rewarded. Muslims are also instructed to greet each other when they see each other with the best possible greeting.