Courteousness

Being polite and showing others respect are admirable traits that both Islamic law [shari‘ah] and the methodology of religious leaders have advised us to follow. The Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) placed great importance on such principles and always preserved the dignity of others by treating them with respect. There are numerous instances of the Prophet's behavior that teach us to honor others. Here reference is made to a few of such instances:

1. "Whenever a man would sit next to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), he would not get up until that man got up."1

2. "He (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would address his companions by their kunyah (referring to one as the father of such-and-such or the mother of such-and such which was a sign of respect in Arab culture), in order to show them respect and win their hearts. And he would give a kunyah to whosoever did not have one and, thereafter, such a person would be addressed by this kunyah. Similarly he would give kunyahs to women who had children as well as those who did not. He would also give kunyahs to children."2

3. One of the memorable things the Commander of the Faithful (peace be upon him) reported about sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) was that: "The Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would never stretch his legs towards anyone."3

4. The Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would even treat his servants with courteousness. Anas ibn Malik is quoted as saying, "I swear by the One who dispatched him (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) with truth! Never would he say, 'Why did you do that?' if I did something he didn't like. And whenever one of his wives would blame me for something, he would say, 'Leave him alone. This was prescribed and (divinely) ordained."4

5. He (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) would show extraordinary respect to guests. Escorting his guests to the door is one of the customs of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family). Similarly, when the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) entertained guests, he would eat with them and he would continue to eat so long as his guests had not finished eating.5

  • 1. Makarim al-Akhlaq, vol. 1, p. 15.
  • 2. Ihya’ al-‘Ulum, vol. 2, p. 363.
  • 3. Makarim al-Akhlaq, p. 22.
  • 4. Ihya’ al-‘Ulum, vol. 2, p. 361.
  • 5. Sunan an-Nabi, p. 67.