Inheriting A Lifestyle of Islamic Chivalry

April 25, 2008 § 6 Comments

What is chivalry? Today, we have a very narrow understanding of chivalry and what generally comes to the minds of most Americans when contemplating chivalry is: medieval knights, throwing your jacket over a puddle or some random act of kindness for a damsel in distress. All of which are about as likely to happen in today’s world as owls delivering acceptance letters to teenage children the world over, inviting them to attend the fabled and legendary school of magic.

In other words this kind of chivalry is not likely to happen. But real chivalry in today’s world means having honor and courtesy. But not the kind of courtesy we generally understand, this chivalry, Islamic chivalry has a depth that, when observed, one cannot help but to admire.

It is said that the one who exemplified Islamic chivalry in the way of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) most perfectly was Hazreti Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra). There is a story of Hazreti Ali (ra) that gives us an idea of the spiritual power and sheer faith that it takes to embody Islamic chivalry,

“The perfect example of this level of control and chivalry is demonstrated by the conduct of Hadrat Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA) a companion of the Prophet (SAW) who once, in the midst of battle was about to slay his opponent. As he raised his sword to strike, his enemy spat in his face. Hadrat Ali immediately dropped his sword & refused to kill his opponent, “what is wrong with you, why do you not strike?” the man asked “because before you spat at me I was fighting you for the sake of Allah Almighty” Ali (RA) replied, “but after you spat I was fighting you because I was angry – and as a muslim I can only fight for Allah , never for my own Nafs. “Upon hearing this, Ali’s ( RA) opponent recongnized the nobility & truth of his words and immediately accepted Islam.” [1]

But is Islamic chivalry dead? I can, with a great deal of certainty, tell you that it is not. The essence of Islamic chivalry is found in the Tradition (sunnat) of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). Therefore those who are holding tightly onto the Traditions of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and applying them to their lifestyle, they are the chevaliers.

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Proper Greetings in Islam

September 25, 2007 § 47 Comments

I have on occasion come across Muslims who are sincere but ignorant of some of the finer points of Islamic lifestyle according to the traditions of the Holy Prophet (may Peace and Blessings be upon him). This however, is easy to do in this day and age where there are so many forgotten traditions of the Holy Prophet which if we saw today we may think they are some strange bidat! One of these forgotten traditions is one of the most basic and fundamental elements of our dear religion, the Islamic greeting. The Islamic greeting, as-salaamu ‘alaikum; God’s Peace be upon you, is an element of good Islamic manners. In the proper conduct of greetings one may find keys to good social behavior and the proprieties of friendship and exchanges in Islamic framings. God says in the Qur’an (BismillaharRahmanirRahim),

“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet with better than it or return it. Allah takes count of all things”. (004:086)

So clearly it is preferred to return a greeting by adding to it. But there have been so many times where I have greeted a Muslim and received no greeting at all! And perhaps times where a Muslim has greeted me and received only an equal greeting in return, or worse. These days we greet people we know, and only people we know. When we receive a greeting from someone we don’t know we are silent looking oddly as if someone has violated an unwritten code of ethics. But this unwritten code of ethics is un-Islamic by nature and egoistic at best.

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Teaching Good Manners

September 10, 2007 § 13 Comments

God said to the Believers,

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.” (003: 104)

And as we grow into adulthood, we accumulate various responsibilities. These responsibilities cause pressure, that pressure tends to increase our speed. The speed of our thoughts, our actions and responses. Before you know it we are running, whether running is related to our appetites or our tongues, we end up running. Living in New York City has made me painfully aware of this condition. There are very few places in the world where the collective speed of peoples minds, actions and responses are moving as fast as New York City. This is why the common hyperbole, a New York minute, is used to describe time, in New York City, moving faster than normal.

The pace of each of our lives increases generally as a result of our families, studies, professions and social relationships. But there is a problem here. A problem that tends to go unnoticed in this country because of our disconnectedness to tradition and our hankering for anything modern. The reason seems to be because we assume that a modern convention will ultimately be the solution for a modern problem. And while we grow into complex lives, social orders and family structures our manners stay the same, the same as when they were adopted. This I think is a problem, our manners should evolve but for that to happen mankind needs training.

Indeed, the human condition is frail and fraught with delight and disappointment but despite our upsets we are endowed with the ability to conduct ourselves differently. The God is telling Believers to have faith and be honorable people and avoid bad manners to obtain true happiness. The best of mankind, Sayyidina Muhammad Mustafa (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) was the living example of this ‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr narrated a hadith saying,

“The Prophet never used bad language neither a “Fahish nor a Mutafahish. He used to say “The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character.” (Sahih Bukhari)

The truth in this hadith did not cease after the Prophet left the Earth, it continues on especially now in a time where we are running so fast. Speeding toward our desires and quick with our tongues, we don’t know how to hold our tongues anymore. Today we say whatever comes to our minds with out ever asking if it is worth asking. We simply ask, and deal with the consequences be they good or bad! Our Grand Shaykh ‘Abdullah Al-Daghistani (may Allah keep his Secret) once said,

“Man is in need of training; therefore, Allah is giving him parents to teach him as a baby and a child. But the training of Prophets is most important. Others teach to save us from ego’s desires, because they are endless, asking more and more and still more, without limit. Following the ego’s desires, we tire and die tired. Prophets teach to stop within a limit, keeping one’s self from endless work and tiring. They teach us the purpose of life, show us our destinations. Whoever follows this way has good personality because the Prophet’s training is good manners for everyone. Now the Prophets are gone but their deputies can be found if one is searching for them. They teach people to save themselves from the assaults of their egos.”

Our Grand Shaykh, Shaykh ‘Abdullah Al-Daghestani, a saint whose makam (shrine) is located at the Osmanli Dergah in New York, is saying that the Prophet’s training, their manners, are available for everyone, but where? He is saying that this training can be found with the deputies of their Holy Tradition. And its pretty safe to say that this tradition, the manners of the Prophets, isn’t with those who do not even attempt to preserve the birth place of the Seal of the Prophets (may Peace and Blessings be upon him), let alone the things that he loves.

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