These skills give us physical pleasure, and I do not mean by
this the pleasure of the Hereafter only. Rather, it is that pleasure
one actually feels in this world. So enjoy these skills and practise
them with the old, young, rich, poor, near or far. Use these skills
with them in order to guard yourself from their harm, to earn
their love, or to rectify them.
‘Ali bin al-Jahm was a very eloquent poet, but he was a
Bedouin. The only life he knew was the desert life. The Caliph,
al-Mutawakkil, was very powerful. People would go to visit him
and return with whatever they wished. One day, ‘Ali bin al-Jahm
entered Baghdad and it was said to him, “Whoever praises the
Caliph is bestowed with honour and gifts.”
‘Ali became excited and went to the Caliph’s palace. There
he saw the poets reciting their poems in praise of the Caliph and
returning with gifts. Al-Mutawakkil was known for his authority,
awe and power. ‘Ali began to praise the Caliph with a poem in
which he likened him to a dog, a goat and a bucket, whilst other
poets likened him to the sun, the moon and the mountains!
The Caliph became angry, and his guards unsheathed their
swords and prepared to strike off his neck. But then, the Caliph
realised that ‘Ali bin al-Jahm was from the desert and that his
personality and poetic taste was shaped accordingly. He decided
to change his personality, so he ordered his men to house him in
a section of the palace, be treated with kindness and be given all
the available pleasures.
Al-Jahm tasted some of these bounties and sat on couches
side by side with eloquent poets and authors for seven months.
One day, as the Caliph was sitting in his nightly gathering, he
remembered ‘Ali bin al-Jahm, so he sent for him. When al-Jahm
finally came to him, he said, “Sing some verses to me, O ‘Ali bin
al-Jahm!” Al-Jahm began to move emotions using soft and kind
words, and likened the king to the sun, the stars and the sword.
Notice how the Caliph was able to change Ibn al-Jahm’s personality.
How often have we been upset by the bad behaviour of
our children and friends? Did we ever try to change their nature
successfully? Even more, you should be able to change your own
personality by replacing a frowning face with a smiling one, replacing
anger with forbearance, and miserliness with generosity.
None of this is difficult, but it does require determination and
persistence, so be brave!
Whoever reads the life of the Prophet realises that he
would deal with people with these skills and capture their hearts.
The Prophet would not simply pretend to have these skills in
front of people and replace his forbearance with anger when
being alone with his family. He was never one to be cheerful
with some but sulky with his own family. He was never one to
be generous with everyone except his own children and wives.
Rather, he always acted naturally. He would worship Allah by his
fine manners just as he would worship Him by offering the Duha
or night prayers. He would consider his smile to be a virtue, his
gentleness an act of worship, and his forgiveness and leniency a
good deed. The one who considers good manners to be acts of
worship will always remain well-mannered, in war and peace,
when he is hungry and when he is full, when healthy or ill, and
even when happy or sad.
How many women only hear about the refined manners of
their husbands, such as their patience, cheerfulness and generosity,
but never witness any of these qualities at home? Such
husbands, often when at home, are ill-mannered, impatient, sulky
and constantly cursing.
As for the Prophet , he said, “The best of you is the one
who is best to his family. And I am the best of you to my family.”
(al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, Sahih)
Now read how he would deal with his family: Al-Aswad bin
Yazid said, “I asked ‘A’ishah – may Allah be pleased with her –
how Allah’s Messenger would behave in his house. She said:
‘He would be serving his family, and when the time for prayer
would come he would perform ablution and leave to pray.’’
The same can be said about parents. How often is it that we
hear of the good manners that some display, such as generosity,
cheerfulness and kind behaviour towards others, and yet with
the closest people to them who have the greatest rights over
them, such as their parents, wives and children, they are distant
Yes, the best of you is the best to his family, to his parents,
to his wife, to his servants, and even to his children. One night,
as Abu Layla – may Allah be pleased with him – sat next to the
Prophet , there came to him, either al-Hasan or al-Husayn, so
the Prophet lifted him up and placed him on his stomach. The
toddler then urinated on the Prophet’s stomach. Abu Layla said,
“I saw the urine trickling down from the Prophet’s stomach. So
we leapt up to the Prophet , but he said: ‘Leave my son alone.
Do not scare him.’”
When the toddler had finished urinating, he called for some
water and poured it over his stomach.’ (Ahmad and al-Tabarani,
with trustworthy narrators)
How amazing was the Messenger of Allah to train and
adorn himself with such manners! No wonder he was able to
win the hearts of the young and old. Opinion...
Instead of cursing the darkness, try to fix the lamp.