When you go out into the world and interact with people, you notice some things. Lately, while having conversations with middle-aged professional non-Muslim men, I’ve noticed they tend to be extremely well-mannered. I am generalizing (obviously) because I’ve only interacted with a certain group but it’s there. I’ve had my chair pulled out for me before I sit down at a dinner. Doors are always held open. In conversation, I feel like whatever I say it important – even if I’m commenting on something as simple as the weather.
When I compare it to my interactions within the community, there’s a huge difference. Yes, there are those with manners, alhamdulillah. The majority, however, feels like another case. I’m sure they know what manners are but when it comes to interacting with a female Muslim, they move from respect mode to avoid-all-interaction-and-run-away-mode. This shouldn’t be the case at all. (I mean last time I checked, Muslim women don’t bite…)
Islam is all about moderation. So in our opposite gender interactions, there should be moderation as well. One can have a respectful conversation whilst remaining polite and charming *without* it seeming like it has turned into a flirtation. It doesn’t always have to go there. (Sometimes I feel like we really need to get out minds out of the gutter.)
I posted the story earlier of the Prophet, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, interacting with Umayyah bint Qays who was a young girl. There are countless other examples of how he interacted not only with his wives and daughters but with the women of all ages in the society. I mean, the Prophet sat through halaqahs with women discussing very personal topics – without being vulgar or inappropriate, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Women aside, even in general, the Prophet made each person feel like he or she was the most important person in the world. He instilled so much love just by his simple actions that he defined charisma. Yet no one accused him or any inappropriate motives or actions. Even those who didn’t believe in him couldn’t deny he had manners or was extremely honourable and truthful.
‘Abdullah bin AlMubarak, rahimahuAllah, said, “Mukhlid Iibn AlHusayn once said to me, ‘We are more in need of acquiring adaab (good manners) than learning hadith.” This is something we need to live by. We should be intent on increasing our knowledge all the time but that’s not enough. We are in a month in which the focus was deeds such as fasting and praying but these things mean so little if they are followed through with bad manners. We can fast, pray, and seek as much knowledge as we want but if we cannot interact with other human beings politely, what does it say about our supposed ‘good’ deeds?
*I didn’t get to post yesterday so inshaAllah I’ll be attempting to post 2 today.