Islam Hadiths: Nawawi’s 40 Hadiths, Hadith 15: Good Manners
Why study Islamic hadiths?
The hadiths of Islam are important for understanding the Muslim religion. Muslims consider the hadiths to be a source of wisdom and guidance (Qur’an 2:151). Some Christians might object and say, “You don’t need to study what is counterfeit. Focus on what is true.” My answer is that my beliefs in what is true compels me to study what others believe so that I can explain the truth more clearly in their context.
The fifteenth Islamic hadith compiled by al-Nawawi, first in Arabic and then the English translation of the Arabic,
عن أبي هـريـرة رضي الله عـنه ، ان رســول الله صلي الله عـليه وسـلـم قــال : ( مـن كـان يـؤمن بالله والـيـوم الأخـر فـلـيـقـل خـيـرًا أو لـيـصـمـت ، ومـن كــان يـؤمن بالله واليـوم الأخر فـليكرم جاره ، ومن كان يؤمن بالله واليوم الأخر فليكرم ضيفه ).
رواه البخاري [ رقم : 6018 ] ، ومسلم [ رقم : 47 ]
Let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day speak good, or keep silent; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his neighbour; and let him who believes in Allah and the Last Day be generous to his guest.
It was related by Bukhari (البخاري) and Muslim (صحيح مسلم).
Listen to Islam’s Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt and hadith scholar, teach about Good Manners as related in the fifteenth hadith of Nawawi. My notes follow
This hadith is about good manners and living virtuously.
“The Prophet (SAWS) said about himself, “I am a gift of mercy”. And said also about himself, “I was sent to fulfill virtuous manners.” The Prophet (SAWS) always commanded people to behave virtuously. If we followt the ahadith of the Prophet (SAWS), we will find that most of them are about ethics related to our creed. The noble prophetic hadith of today [Nawawi, Hadith 15], is a clear example of this.”
Ali Gomaa proceeds to discuss the fundamentals of the Muslim creed:
- Muslims believe in Allah (monotheism)
- Muslims believe in revelation
- Muslims believe in messengers, prophets, and Muhammad
- Muslims believe in Allah’s commands, forbidden things obligations (taklif)
- Muslims believe in the Day of Judgment
Ali Gomaa says, “If you believe in this creed and this complete vision, that controls your behaviour and your life, then you should speak good or keep silent. And you should be generous to your neighbour and guest as well.”
“There are forty good deeds, the best of which is to lend your goat to your neighbor. He who does any of those forty, seeking and believing its reward, Allah will grant him paradise. There is a list of good deeds, the best of which is to lend your goat. It means to lend your goat to your neighbor to have its milk, then return it back toyou as it is, at the end of the day. If you did so, which costs you nothing, for you didn’t spend anything from your pocket. You just lent your goat to your neighbor to make use of it and then return it back to you. This is the best of the forty good qualities. If you fulfilled any of them believing in Allah’s reward, you will be granted paradise.”
Rewarding of good works with Paradise is related to the Muslim belief in the above creed about Allah, his revelation, and the Last Day (4:21-4:46).
My Christian comments about Islam hadiths related by Nawawi and good manners
In order to understand the importance of this hadith of Islam, it is helpful to understand that good manners are central to the life of faithful Muslims. Much has been written on this subject about the importance of good manners. The Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an states,
The Qur’an frequently enjoins the practice of courtesy: in speech — offering greetings (Quran 6:54; 24:61), returning greetings with equal or greater courtesy (Quran 4:86), using gentle words (Quran 17:53; 35:10), returning evil with good (Quran 23:96; 41:34), arguing with opponents in a pleasant manner (Quran 16:125; 29:46), quiet speech (q 31:19); modest behavior (Quran 24:30-31); respect for privacy (Quran 24:27); kindness to parents (Quran 2:83; 4:36; 6:151; 17:23; 46:15); and, in general, observing social conventions for politeness and moral rectitude (al-maʿrūf, e.g. q 3:104). As important as the giving of charity is in the Qur’an, “kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury” (Quran 2:263).
…The Qur’an describes the servants of the Merciful as those who walk lightly on the earth and return the speech of the ignorant with greetings of peace (Quran 25:63). Hadiths concerning the importance of good manners are abundant. Among the virtues extolled here are generosity (Bukhari, Sahih, 1294, 1321), modesty (Bukhari, op. cit., 19, 1309), kindness to parents (Bukhari, op. cit., 1283-5) and to children (Muslim, Sahih, 1243-4), honoring one’s guests (Bukhari, Sahih, 1312), avoiding harmful words and glances, and treating others in a manner in which one would like to be treated (Bukhari, Sahih, 17, no. 13). To these al-Ghazālī adds the virtue of silence and the danger of much talking. Good manners are of the very essence of faith, and much literature is devoted to elaborating on their importance (Valerie J. Hoffman, “Hospitality and Courtesy”).
The relationship between doing good works and the reward of Paradise is a sharp contrast to the Christian emphasis on grace. Our good works never measure up to the standard God’s Law as summarized by love (Matthew 22:36-40). Secondly, our failure to keep God’s demands is deserving of God’s everlasting condemnation and not Paradise (Isaiah 64:6).
- Arabic to English translation, May Allah be pleased with him. [↩]
- Arabic to English translation, May Allah bless him and grant him peace. Often abbreviated SAWS. This Arabic phrase is used after references to Muhammad and his titles. The Quran commands Muslims to use this, or like expression, when referring to Muhammad and promises to reward them ten times. [↩]