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One of the core aspects of good manners in Islam is only to speak good or keep silent. Our faith tells us how to conduct ourselves in relation to Allah as well as our fellow human beings. When it comes to our relationship with mankind, our speech is something that has a serious impact. However, the effect of our words can be incredibly positive or devastatingly destructive, depending on how we use our tongues.
In a well-known Hadith on good character in Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) told us that the believer who has faith in Allah and the Day of Judgement should speak good or keep silent, and be hospitable to neighbors and guests.
Importance of the Hadith on good manners
The Hadith enjoins good speech as well as good actions. It addresses those who have faith in Allah and the Day of Resurrection. This shows us that these manners are among the numerous merits of faith itself. Acting on the principles mentioned in the Hadith is essential. It is vital to ensure we fulfill the rights of others in accordance with our religion’s teachings.
One who falls short in observing all the manners mentioned in the Hadith – whether it is a shortcoming in his speech, or a failure to be welcoming and hospitable to neighbors and guests – is one who has incomplete faith and needs to work on bettering himself in this regard.
Believers should always speak good or keep silent
Muslims should always ensure that what they say is good and useful. Just as Islam urges beneficial speech, it orders us to abstain from the opposite, which is speech that lacks virtue. When we say something that has no benefit in it, it could potentially be something that is untrue or detrimental. When Muslims talk, they should be honest and truthful, and their words should result in good for others.
Like Allah says in Surah Al-Ahzab, Muslims should always fear Him and say what is correct. Allah will thus set our actions right for us and pardon our wrongdoings. Indeed, obedience to Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) is a splendid accomplishment. Allah also mentioned some of the things that count as good speech in Surah An-Nisa. These are the enjoinment of charity or what is right, or the attainment of a settlement between people. Allah will reward those who do so with the aim of pleasing Him.
We must always abstain from talking negatively about other people. One should always resist such urges and remain silent when his words, instead of doing good, would hurt others. However, one is permitted to speak up if he has been wronged by someone and is pursuing justice, as Allah informs us in Surah An-Nisa.
Speak good or keep silent: Consequences of evil speech
Our speech can be an immense force for good. What we say can be of great benefit in the world and the Hereafter. On the other hand, evil speech can have terrible consequences. Hence, the results of our words can differ significantly, depending on how we use our tongues. Ultimately, we will have to answer to Allah for not only our deeds but also our words. Allah tells us in Surah Qaf that an observer is prepared to note everything we say.
In a Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) says that one will say something that pleases Allah while considering it to be minor, yet Allah will elevate him by many degrees for it. Meanwhile, one will say something that earns Allah’s displeasure while deeming it trivial. Nevertheless, Allah will dispatch him to Hell for it.
Thus, we must pay very close attention to our words, without underestimating their potentially grave consequences. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a few words will do no harm. However, we must always observe God-consciousness when speaking, just like we are supposed to remember Allah before every action. Like the Prophet warned us in a Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, one may talk without considering the repercussions of what he says, but due to it, he will fall deep into Hell.
Other manners: Being hospitable to neighbors and guests
The good treatment of neighbors and guests is among their rights in Islam. After all, Allah expects us to observe noble conduct in all our dealings with people. In Surah An-Nisa, Allah orders us to worship Him without associating any partners with Him. He also tells us to be kind to fellow human beings, naming several categories of people.
Islam places such strict emphasis on the rights of neighbors that the Prophet (PBUH) said in a Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari that Gabriel was telling him about the rights of neighbors for so long that the Prophet (PBUH) thought he might even go on to say that they have the right to inherit. Muslims are supposed to help their neighbors when they face hardship and look after their needs in such situations.
We should always be kind and generous to our neighbors and guests. As per a Hadith in Sahih Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) said that the right of a guest is to offer him the finest for a whole day and to treat him in a hospitable manner for three days. After that, any further kindness to one’s guest is charity. In a Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said that we shouldn’t stop our neighbors from putting their rafters in our wall. Therefore, we are supposed to make life easy for our neighbors in all circumstances.
Generosity towards one’s neighbors is also a facet of Islamic conduct. In a Hadith in Sahih Al-Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said to the believing women that they should not consider any gift they give to their neighbor to be paltry. Even if the gift is simply the trotters of a sheep, one shouldn’t underestimate it. Hence, it is highly recommended to give presents as it is an honorable act of generosity.