Apart from Islam, our traditional culture is intertwined with the Asian value of politeness. Politeness in our daily interactions should be doubly ingrained in us. Our manners and Adaab should always be upheld, whether in greeting others with Salaam, or polite in words when meeting your neighbour at the Mamak stall or to the mothers of our friends during Eid visits.
Back in my teens, I was deeply shocked when my school friends do not even talk to the mothers when they prepare delicious Eid foods for their children’s friends. What they did was watching and laughing at the television shows, laughing at funny pictures from their smartphones, and laughing at each other’s jokes.
And the mother just sat there at the corner with her guests, smiling and offering food and drinks. It was embarrassing to be the only one trying to include and make conversations with the hosts (of all the houses we visited), when others are showing blatant rudeness.
Perhaps it is because of the slowly smaller number of face-to-face meetings that we soon are forgetting our manners for non-virtual interactions. We forgot that Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam looks to the eye and turns his whole body when someone is speaking to him. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam, with his high status, humbly shows respect and gives his utmost attention when others are talking to him, not looking around or getting distracted.
I cannot describe how annoying it is to talk to someone (directly or within a group) whose nose is buried on his smartphone screen and keeps texting and laughing at that Whatsapp group chat. We say we are smart and civilised adults, but we cannot even carry a conversation with Adaab like our fellow Muslims did a thousand four hundred years ago. I admit that that might be an important text (yes, I should practise husnuzzon), the least you could do is politely apologize and excuse yourself for a second.
The depiction of Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam’s kindness towards others can reduce one to tears. Who else would have the purest of hearts and still visited the old woman whose purpose in her remaining life was to put thorns on the everyday route Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam would take?
Far from enjoying in vindictive pleasure that she was sick in bed, he paid her a visit when no thorns was scattered on his route that day. Such high virtues he has, completely lack of ego, pride and arrogance. Rasulullah sallallahu alaihi wasallam wasn’t only showing kindness, but extreme thoughtfulness, compassion, concern and humbleness, even towards those seemingly undeserving.
If he is that virtuous towards an ill-mannered person, what more towards his family members, relatives, friends and fellow Muslims?
The easiest way to practise kindness is by exercising thoughtfulness in our kind words, because we interact with people daily (and it’s free!). It was said that before uttering, your words have to pass three gates; is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? If they are fail one of these ‘checkpoints’, then it’s better not to utter them at all.
Furthermore as Muslims, avoiding tactless and insensitive words should be second nature. Islam places high importance on taking care of social interactions, so much that when there are three in a group, two of them shouldn’t whisper to one another, to avoid potential ill-feelings in the third. Which other religion teaches such sensitivity?
Showing thoughtfulness is a very rare quality, I think. The simplest of acts can be thoughtful. Opening the doors for the nearest people behind you; bringing along a little something for a friend after a long overdue outing; buying your sibling’s favourite wadeh from the stall you walk pass just because; speaking a common language which everyone in the group understands (even when we are not talking to him directly, to avoid any ill thoughts).
My grandmother is a thoughtful woman I adore, who went all the way to our house to give us fruits and vegetables, pink scarves and hand-knit sweaters, without any need of reason. These are little acts of kindness that go a long way. Imagine being at the receiving end of thoughtful acts, you’d appreciate that wouldn’t you?
Hazimah is a graduate of Biomedical Science from International Islamic University Malaysia. She is passionate about Science, enthralled by Arabic linguistics and Malay poetry, loves National Geographic,and is a Harry Potter fanatic.