His Exemplary Character in Manners

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How was the exemplary character of prophet muhammad in manners? How was character of prophet muhammad?

To live the religion in its most perfect way is possible by observing good manners. The word adab means good morality, manners, civility, abashment, elegance, good behavior, and establishing good social relations. In other words, adab or adab-i muasharat are the principles of civility.

These principles first indwell into one’s personality and then reflect upon society. Thus an orderly and prosperous society can be founded. Good manners are the most important principles that Islam and its Prophet want to show people. By means of adab a believer knows the limits of his/her responsibilities towards Allah and other human beings. Because observing the customary actions of the Prophet (pbuh) is necessary to fulfill obligatory deeds properly. Moreover, observing the commendable actions is a requirement to follow the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah. Finally, in order to reach the ideal level in observing commendable deeds it is necessary to comply with the rules of adab. In other words, without the principles of adab obligatory deeds cannot reach the level of perfection. Maybe this is why the Prophet (pbuh) taught his ummah certain rules of manners in every aspect of life.

The object of the principles of manners is to establish a conscious order in believers’ lives. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), who has been a paradigm for his followers, said that:

“It is a fact that I am like a father to you. I discipline and sanctify you; and teach you the information that you need…” (Abu Dawud, Taharah, 4) Thus, he stated that he also observed these principles of manners in his own life.

A polytheist told Salman al-Farisi (r.a.) mockingly:

“I see that your friend Muhammad teaches you even how to relieve excrement.” Salman (r.a.) confirmed seriously what the polytheist said saying:

“Yes, he really does.” Then he stated the Prophet’s teachings about the manners of going to the bathroom. (Muslim, Taharah, 57-58)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) expressed the significance of manners saying: “Good manners, acting thoughtfully, and behaving prudently are one twenty fourth of the prophethood.” Friends of Allah also said that: “O servants in love! Adorn your selves with manners, for all the ways to the love for Allah are made up from manners.” Therefore in order to achieve divine love one needs to adorn his soul with good manners.

Good manners have two sides: external and internal. Most people think that manners means to just fulfill the external side, while for people of spiritual manners it means to be careful about one’s internal side just as much as the external aspect and to be in a state of constant spiritual reverence of Allah the Almighty. The internal side of the manners is like the soul compared to the body.

In the following lines, Jalal al-Din Rumi (q.s.) elegantly states that a believer needs to pray and ask for good manners from Allah the Almighty and for spiritual and moral beautification, for those manners are one’s only weapons to beat the Devil:

“Let us implore Allah to help us to maintain self-control: one who lacks self-control is deprived of the grace of the Lord. The undisciplined man does not maltreat himself alone, but he sets the whole world on fire. …. Anyone behaving with irreverence in the path of the Friend is a brigand who robs men, and he is no man. Drowning in the sea of sadness and regret is the end of those who behave irreverently on this path. Through discipline this Heaven has been filled with light, and through discipline the angels became immaculate and holy. By reason of irreverence of the moon the sun was eclipsed, and insolence caused an ‘Azázíl (Devil) to be turned back from the Divine door.” (Mathnawi, v. I, verses: 79-80; 90-93)

Below is the translation of Muhammed Esad Erbili’s (q.s.) some verses about good manners:

“Even though my eyes have seen many blessings of good manners in this world, it is impossible to get enough of their blessings. It is necessary for those who ask for an elixir from Hidir to drink a sip from the fountain of adab. I have never seen a more effective cure than manners for the illnesses like pride, vanity, and ignorance.

An intelligent person who holds tightly to good manners has obtained the throne of high value and the state of esteem. The light of the candle of Sufi training (sayr-u suluk) takes the spirit to the Beloved and the bright moon of manners enlightens the eyes. If the taste of manners does not touch the lips, the joy of beauty cannot be seen in the lips and words of friends. O Esad! Bring some pearls from the sea of manners when coming back to your abode from your journey or sayr-u suluk.” (Diwan, p. 24-25)

In conclusion, in order to ascend up the spiritual steps and to succeed in life it is necessary to follow the manners taught by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

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