Admirable social attitudes

The prophet used to take every chance in order to stress the importance of some social attitudes and practices that are bound to strengthen relations within the Muslim community.

Abu Ayyoob Al-Ansanri mentions six practices which he heard the Prophet describing as a duty owed by Muslims toward one another. Abdullah ibn Mãsood quotes the Prophet as saying:
“A Muslim owes four things to every other Muslim: to visit him when he is ill; to attend his funeral if he dies; to respond to his invitation and to pray God to grant him mercy if he sneezes.”
Related by AlBukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad and Ibn Hibban

If we look at these practices, we find that they are all conducive to close social rela-tions. The first is to visit people when they are ill. This is important because nothing cheers up an incapacitated person more than feeling that his friends and relatives are thinking of him, and praying for his recovery. Spending sometime with a person who is ill is also good for the visitor, because he realizes that his good health is a blessing from God for which he needs to be thankful.

Attending the funeral of a deceased person is the last expression of goodwill we can do for the departed one. As we walk or move to the cemetery we pray for the deceased, and appeal to God to forgive him or her the sins and to admit him/her into heaven. Moreover, we offer our condolences to their family and show them that we share their sorrow.

The third aspect the Prophet mentions is to respond to invitation. This is also impor-tant, because when a friend invites us, he has certainly shown us goodwill which we have to return. This can only be by accepting the invitation. We must not make a decision on whether to accept or decline an invitation on the basis of personal or social considerations, as though our presence would impart honor to our host. The rule is that if we do not have a valid reason to prevent us from responding, we should accept the invitation, because that would improve relations within the Muslim community.

The last of these four is to pray God to grant His mercy to a person who sneezes and follows that by saying a word of praise of God.

A similar Hadith is reported by AlBaraa’ ibn Azib, a companion of the Prophet who says:
“God’s messenger has ordered us to do seven things and to refrain from seven others. He ordered us to visit the ill, attend funerals, pray for one who sneezes, honor the vow of a person who pledges something under oath, support the oppressed, spread the greeting or peace, and to respond to invitations. He forbade us to wear gold rings, use silvers utensils, fine saddles, three types of luxury garments, and silk.”
Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and other

We note that the four things mentioned in the first Hadith are repeated in this second Hadith as strongly recommended. The Prophet also recommends three more things. The first is honoring the vow of another person. If we can help someone in honoring his vows, we should do so. People often make oaths or vows the honoring of which may depend on others as much as on themselves. In this case, we are duty bound to help them to honor their vows. Otherwise they may find themselves in a very difficult position.

Another practice the Prophet was keen to make a part of the standard values of a Muslim is to support a person who is subjected to oppression. God hates oppression and describes it as worse than murder. Hence, it is only natural that the Prophet frequently repeats the duty of every Muslim to support anyone subjected to oppression. We note here that the Prophet does not specify a Muslim under oppression as deserving our help. Muslims are required to support anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, who is subjected to oppression, whether by an individual or a group or a state. Removing injustice and oppression is a great virtue that Muslims should always seek to have.

Spreading the greeting of peace is also helpful in consolidating the tie of brotherhood in the community. Hence the Prophet urges his followers to offer this greeting to all people, whether they know them or not. When a greeting is offered to us, we must return it with at least its equivalent, if we cannot offer a better greeting.

The things the Prophet forbade are all aspects of ostentatious luxury. The Prophet was keen to ensure that in the Muslim community those who are well off do not hurt the feelings of their less fortunate brethren by boasting of their wealth in their appearance. Yes, people may enjoy their luxury, but they do not have to press the point in what they wear. Besides, gold and silk are mentioned by the Prophet on several occasions to be forbidden to Muslim men, but they are permissible to Muslim women.

A similar Hadith is reported by Abu Hurayrah who quotes the Prophet as saying:
“Six qualities sum up the right a Muslim may expect from his brethren.” He was asked to name them, and he said: “If you meet (your Muslim brother) greet him; if he invites you, respond to his invitation; if he seeks your advice, give him good counsel; if he sneezes, pray God to grant him mercy; if he falls ill, visit him; and if he dies, take part in his funeral.”
Related by Al-Bulchari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, AlNassaie and Ibn Hibban

Source : Arabnews Friday October 4 2002 page 19


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