The Value of Respect
O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware. (AL-HUJRAT: 13)
We have honoured the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of our creation. (AL-ISRA’: 70)
The Concept of Respect:
Respect, as a moral value, entails esteeming the self and experiencing feelings of pride, honor, and power. It also means leaving behind feelings of inadequacy or inferiority and respecting others, treating them gently and kindly, listening to them, and appreciating their points of view.
Respecting the Spirits of Animals and other Creatures:
Abu Huraira said, “The Prophet commanded, ‘Be careful that you do not utilize the backs of your beasts as platforms. God, indeed, did subjugate them to you solely in order that they may serve as conveyances and carry you to lands which, were it not for them, you would be unable to reach without nearly insurmountable difficulties. He u has provided you with ground beneath your feet, therefore, upon the ground ought you to conduct your business.”
This constitutes an order to respect animals and treat them mercifully while simultaneously reminding and clarifying to such persons as exaggerate the respect due to animals that, in fact, animals were placed under our dominion by God's order and they are meant to be used as aids to the human being in crossing distant territories while undertaking to fulfill needs. Heshowed his companions a substitute for exhausting beasts of burden by sitting upon their backs and socializing, that being sitting upon the ground.
Abdullah Ibn Jafar said, “The Prophet had me sit behind him one day and told me a secret which I shall disclose to no human being. Now, it happens that the Prophet preferred to take cover within a thicket above all other locations when answering the call of nature,” he said. “He entered a thicket belonging to an Ansari man when suddenly he spotted a camel. When it saw the Prophet it whined and its eyes welled up with tears, so the Prophet went over to it and massaged its earlobes, and it fell silent. Then, Heasked, ‘Under whose control and protection is this camel? To whom does it belong?’ and a young Ansari man came to him and said, ‘It is mine, Oh Messenger of God ,’ whereupon the Prophet remarked, ‘Do you have no fear of God regarding this beast of burden with which He has entrusted you? It complained to me that you allow it to suffer hunger and overwork it.’”
Abdullah Ibn Umar told us that the Messenger of God said, “A woman was severely punished on account of a cat; she imprisoned it until it died, and she was sent to the Fire as a result, for neither did she feed it nor give it water whilst it was in her custody nor did she allow it to feed itself from the vermin of the earth.”
Ibn Abbas related, “The Messenger of God forbade the goading on and incitement to fight of animals.”
The incitement of birds and other animals to fight is considered a game in many countries. It involves inflicting harm upon animals and using them for purposes other than those for which they were created. In these games people with nothing better to do give the animals or birds drugs or other chemicals which cause them to become agitated and attack one another.
This is done to increase the enjoyment of the onlookers. It is both aggressive and indicative of poor manners and morals, accustoming the soul to brutality and the taking of pleasure in others’ pain.
Jabir tells us that the Prophet was passed by a donkey which had markings upon its face. He said, “Have you not heard that I curse those who brand or strike the faces of beasts of burden?” and he forbade it.
Abu Huraira tells us that the Messenger of God said, “When you are travelling through fertile land allow the camels to eat their fill, and when you are travelling through barren land cut through it speedily, and if you desire to rest, do so away from the main road.”
Jabir Ibn Abdullah said, “The Messenger of God prohibited that any creature should be methodically killed by the withholding of food and drink from it, followed by striking it with something until it expires.”
Ibn Abbas related, “The Prophet said, ‘Take not anything possessed of a spirit as a target for practicing one’s throw or shot.”
The Messengerwas, we can see, eager to inculcate respect for and gentleness towards animals into the character’s of his companions because the well-being and uprightness of the soul and a strong foundation focused upon loving and respecting all creation are one in the same thing, regardless of whether the created entity in question is an inanimate object, an animal, or a human being; whether lowly or of high status. Adherence to the methodology is the same, and it comprises respect for creation in deference to its Creator, Who is but One, for disregard for part of the creation, even if only an animal, bodes a corruption within the soul which may lead to disregard for the rest of creation and an irreverence for the Creator.
Respect for Servants and Recognition of their Equality to other Humans:
Abu Musa Al-Ashari tells us, “The Messenger of God said, ‘If a man instructs his female slave in manners and does a good job of disciplining her, instructing her in such a way as to impart an excellent education to her, then sets her free and marries her, his reward shall be doubled. Likewise, if a man has faith in Jesus and later has faith in me, he shall have a double reward. Also, if a slave fears his lord and obeys those to whom he owes allegiance, he shall have a double reward.”
This is an encouragement on the part of the Messenger of God to treat slaves honorably, imparting both manners and education to them, insofar as he clarified that whoever does that for his female slave, then frees her and marries her, is deserving of two rewards from God. His act in so doing is one of respect for her humanity and dignity.
By way of Al-Ma’arur, we hear, “I met up with Abu Tharr near Al-Rabtha and found him outfitted as was his slave boy, so I questioned him regarding that and he said, ‘I spoke ill of a man and impugned his honor on account of his mother, regarding which the Prophet said to me, “Oh Abu Tharr, do you reproach him on account of his mother? Indeed, you are an individual within whom are vestiges of ignorance. These are your assistants and brothers, whom God has placed under your authority. This being the case, whosoever among you finds his brother under his authority, let him feed him of that from which he himself eats, dress him as he himself dresses, and not place upon him demands which are liable to overwhelm him.
Furthermore, if you must place demands upon them, assist them.”
By extension, this is a rejection of every word or deed indicative of a lack of respect for the dignity of the human being, whatever his station may be. It would seem that the impetus for the question asked by a second-generation Muslim (Tabi’i) of one of the Prophet ’scompanions was the strong resemblance between Abu Tharr’s clothing and that of his male servant, all of which is demonstrative of the extent to which the Prophet ’scompanions had absorbed the high moral values with which the Prophet had inculcated them.
Abu Huraira tells us that the Prophet said, “When any of you is brought food by his servant, if he does not actually have him sit down with him for the meal, he ought, at least, to give him a taste of it, offering him a bite or two on account of his having endured smoke and heat in its preparation and the fact that he may have developed a craving for it, having inhaled its aroma as it was cooking.”
Abu Huraira told us that a dark skinned woman (or, perhaps, a young man) used to sweep the mosque. The Messenger of God noted her absence and inquired about her (or, him) and was informed that she (or, he) had passed away. “Did you not think that I ought to have been informed?” he said, as though they had minimized her (or, his) importance. He continued, “Show me her grave,” and was taken to it, whereupon he offered a prayer on her behalf, saying, “These graves are full of darkness to their inhabitants, but God, exalted be He, illuminates them by means of the prayers which I offer there, on their behalf.”
Abu Said relates to us, “A dark pigmented woman was in the habit of sweeping the mosque when she died one night. Upon awakening, the Prophet was informed of her death, and exclaimed, ‘Why did no one tell me about it?’ He and his companions then went to her grave, whereupon he, as well as the people who were behind him, glorified God, prayed for her, then departed.”
This shows that the Prophet considered it important that Muslims be aware of those who undertake to serve them, according them respect and appreciating their efforts. The Prophet was equally concerned about all of his companions, inquiring after them without regard for whether they were of high or low social status. He asked about the woman who cleaned the mosque and felt her absence. He was saddened by her death and reproached his companions for minimizing her importance and concealing her death from him, then went with his companions to the graveyard and searched out the place where she had been buried, lined them up behind him, and prayed over her.
This served as real life training for the companions at respecting others, regardless of their status within society. History has left no record of this woman who used to clean the mosque other than that she cleaned the mosque. Indeed, whether the individual in question was male or female is a matter of some doubt among those who narrated the story. They did, however, describe her as bearing another attribute which seems to have been the source of their disdain for her. Namely, that she was black. However, after what the Prophet did, the meaning of human equality and the fact that there is no room in Islam’s moral paradigm for discrimination among black, white, Arab, and non-Arab, became cemented within them. All are descended of Adam, and Adam was fashioned out of the soil.
How HeInstilled in his Wives the Character Discipline to Respect One Another:
Anis told us that, “upon hearing that Hafsa had called her ‘a Jew’s daughter,’ Safiyya began to cry. The Prophet went to her and found her crying, whereupon he said, ‘What made you cry?’ She replied, ‘Hafsa called me a daughter of a Jew.’ He responded, ‘The truth of the matter is, you are the daughter of a Prophet , your uncle was certainly a Prophet , and you are even married to a Prophet . Of what, then, does she boast to you?’ He then told Hafsa, ‘Fear God, Hafsa.’”
As regards her being the daughter of a Prophet , that refers to Aaron, while the uncle who was a Prophet is a reference to Moses and the husband is, of course, a reference to the Prophet Muhammad s.
In this case, the Prophet first addressed his wife, Safiyya, who was being condescended towards. He elevated her station to a degree which pleased her and allowed her to take pride in herself, taking away her sadness and tears and effacing the misunderstanding which had led her to feel inferior. Afterwards, he reproached Hafsa. Notice how the Prophet ’sstyle assuaged the feelings of the aggrieved party and corrected the aggressor, making it obvious that mutual respect among humankind is what makes peace and love a reality in people’s lives.
This is a corollary of God's statement that ’O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are), not let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil-doers”
Anis tells us, “The Prophet was with one of his wives when another one of the mothers of the believers sent a dish laden with food, and the wife in whose quarters he was struck the hand of the servant, causing the dish to slip and shatter. The Prophet gathered the shards of the dish and began to put the food upon them, saying, ‘your mother is jealous.’ Then, he kept the servant there until such time as a dish was brought from her in whose house he was, and he sent the good plate to her whose plate had been broken, keeping the broken one in the house of she who had broken it.”
Practice Among the Companions at Respecting One Another:
Aa’ith Ibn Amru told us “Abu Sufyan came upon Salman, Suhaib, and Bilal on a campaign and they said, ‘By God, never have the swords of God taken such a toll upon the necks of God's enemies as they now take.’ Then Abu Bakr said, ‘Dare you to utter such a thing to the chief of Quraish and their leader?’ and he went and reported it to the Prophet s, who replied, ‘Abu Bakr, did you, perhaps, anger them? If, indeed, you have angered them, you have angered your Lord.’ Abu Bakr then went to them and asked, ‘My dear brothers, have I angered you?’ to which they responded, ‘No, may
God grant you forgiveness, dearest brother.’”
This indicates that we must respect the identities of others, including their ethnic and religious roots, and not use these differences as criteria for breaking mankind into sub-groups. The Prophet demanded that Bilal the Ethiopian, Suhaib the Roman, and Salman the Persian be respected and accorded honor in recognition of the roles they played and sacrifices they made defending the religion. Herequested that his dear friend, Abu Bakr, appease them, equating angering them with angering God himself.
Khabbab, in giving context to the revelation of ”Repel not those who call upon their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance. Thou art not accountable for them in aught, nor are they accountable for thee in aught, that thou shouldst repel them and be of the wrong-doers.”, said, “Al-Aqra’ Ibn Haabis Al-Tameemi and ‘Uyayyna Ibn Hisn Al-Fazaari arrived and found the Messenger of God sitting with Suhaib, Bilal, ‘Ammar and Khabbab, in a gathering of individuals who were considered to be among the lowliest of the believers. When they saw them surrounding the Prophet they felt disdain for them and approached himprivately saying, ‘We would really appreciate it if you would set up an assembly exclusively for us such that the Arabs will know our status. Arab delegations come to you and we would be ashamed for the Arabs to see us in the company of these slaves. So, when we come to you, send them away and, after we have gone, sit with them then, if you care to. ….Gabriel, upon whom be peace, then descended and delivered the verse ”Repel not those who call upon their Lord at morn and evening, seeking His Countenance. Thou art not accountable for them in aught, nor are they accountable for thee in aught, that thou shouldst repel them and be of the wrong-doers.”….’ Khabbab said, ‘then we drew closer to him until our knees touched his knees.
The Messenger of God continued to sit with us until, when he wished to rise, he stood up to depart from our company, and God revealed ”And keep thy soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not thine eyes pass beyond them”” Khabbaab remarked, “We would sit with the Messenger of God until, when the time for him to leave arrived, we would get up and leave him in order that he might get up.”
This is indicative of the fact that the principle of equality in Islam is equally binding upon all, including the Prophet s. The Prophet was groomed by God and submitted to His will, and the Islamic criteria for determining the nobility of men are rooted in faith, sincerity, and piety. God tells us, ”O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of
Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.”
He u revealed “He (the Prophet ) frowned and turned away when the blind man came unto him,” regarding Abdullah Ibn Umm Maktoom, and the Prophet ever afterwards honored him and, when he would catch sight of him, stand up, spread out his cape for him, and seat him upon it, saying, “Welcome to he whom my Lord chided me regarding.”
‘Uqba Ibn ‘Aamir told us that the Messenger of God u said, “In point of fact, these lineages of yours confer nothing upon any one of you, for there is none among you except that he is a descendant of Adam. The scale, close as it is to being at the limit of what it can measure, is not quite full. None is more meritorious than another unless it be in matters of religion or good works, and the tendency of man is towards obscenity, meretriciousness, miserliness, and cowardice.”
By way of Ibn ‘Umar, “The Messenger of God addressed the people on the day that Mecca was conquered, saying, ‘Oh people, I adjure you to remember that God has relieved you of the arrogance and strictures characteristic of the Days of Ignorance and its boastings regarding ancestry. There are but two types of men; the upright pious man who is honorable in the sight of God and the corrupt, miserable man who is dishonorable in the sight of God. As regards humanity, all human beings are the descendants of Adam, and God, in creating Adam chose soil as His medium.’” God tells us “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.”
Abu Huraira tells us, “The Messenger of God said, ‘Indeed, God u has relieved you of the arrogance and strictures characteristic of the Days of Ignorance and its boastfulness regarding lineage. Pious believer and miserable misanthrope, you are Adam’s progeny, and Adam came from the soil. If these men who are ridiculous in the boastings they make regarding the peoples they are descended of –peoples who are nothing more than fuel feeding endlessly the Fires of Hell, at that- they shall –do not doubt it- wind up more contemptible in the sight of God than the scarab which pushes dung along with its nose.”
Sahl related, “A man passed by the Messenger of God and he queried, ‘What say ye about this one?’ They replied, ‘He is worthy, if he asks the hand of a woman, to be given her in marriage, and, if he intercedes, to have his intercession heeded, and, if he speaks, to be listened to.’ He fell silent. Then, a poor man who was a believer passed by and he asked, ‘What say ye about this one?’ They responded, ‘He is worthy, if he asks the hand of a woman, to have her denied to him in marriage, and, if he intercedes, to have his intercession ignored, and, if he speaks, to not be listened to.’ Then, the Messenger of God remarked, ‘This one man is better than an entire world full of men like that.’”
The Prophet's Respect for Youths and his Companionship with Children:
The Prophet s, with neither arrogance nor resentment, undertook to be a respectful friend to children and youths. Indeed, he did so lovingly and with kindness, all of which increased the efficacy of his moral teachings and the effect they had upon the souls of children, rendering their attachment to hiswords and deeds ever stronger.
Anis Ibn Malik came across some children and extended to them the greeting of peace, remarking, “The Prophet used to do so.”
A sign of his respect for children and the value he placed upon their feelings was the importance he accorded their names, which he tried always to be certain had beautiful meanings suggestive of goodness and rectitude, in order that they would be accepted by society. Ibn ‘Umar remarked that the Messenger of God changed “’Aasiyya’s” name (which denotes “disobedient girl” in Arabic), saying, ‘Rather, you are “Jameela” (which denotes “beautiful girl” in Arabic).’”
Ibn ‘Abbas said, “I was behind the Messenger of God one day when he said, ‘Oh young man, I shall teach you some words which, if you commit them to memory, God shall make a protection for you; “Remember God; you will find Him beside you: If you ask of anyone, ask of God: And, if you seek aid of anyone, seek aid of God. Know, also, that, were the entire nation to band together in an effort to confer some benefit upon you, never would they be able so to do unless it were something which God had pre-determined you would have. In like manner, if they all banded together in an effort to, somehow, inflict harm upon you, never would they be able so to do unless it were something which God had pre-determined would befall you. The pens have been lifted and the scrolls have dried.’”
This shows how the Prophet approached children, endearing himself to them and respecting their minds, for the Prophet directed a question at the boy, saying, “Shall I teach you some words?” encouraging him to partake of knowledge and increasing his desire for information, drawing attention to its importance. At the same time, he was giving his companion practice at approaching others and not being in awe of them, which eases coexistence and communication.
By way of Abdullah Ibn ‘Amru, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘He is not one of us who is neither merciful towards our youth nor accords honor to our elders.’”
Regarding Ibn ‘Umar, “He was in the habit of, whenever he greeted the son of Jafar (or, Ibn Jafar), saying, ‘Peace be upon you, oh son of the one adorned with two wings.’”
In this can be seen the community’s respect for the child of a martyr, as evidenced by Ibn ‘Umar, who addressed that child, the son of (or, Ibn) Jafar Ibn Abu Talib, in such a manner that the orphan was reminded of the status of his father, in order that he might take pride in him and be comforted by the respect with which people regarded him.
By way of Anas Ibn Malik, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘No young man is generous and respectful towards an elderly man but that God appoints someone to likewise treat him generously and respectfully in his own old age.”
The Etiquettes of Gatherings Reinforce Respect for Others:
The behavior of Muslims as council members or when they meet up with others is respectful towards them and considerate of their needs. A Muslim ought to, when a person rises from his place and is expected to return, save his place, and it is neither permissible for him to break up two persons who are seated next to one another nor for him to displace a weak or poor person in order to occupy his seat. These manners and instructions, simple as they may be, are symbolic of greater issues. They have an effect upon the development of character discipline insofar as they refine the soul and elevate its behaviors across the board, for whoever disciplines himself to deal in all sincerity with others and show them respect in trivial matters will find it most difficult to disregard their wishes and behave arrogantly towards them in serious matters. Rather, he will not display so much as a single disrespectful signal which has the potential to result in the group’s loss of cohesiveness.
By way of Abu Huraira, the Messenger of God said, “If one of you stands up (or, according to the wording of Abu ‘Awaana, whoever among you rises) from the place where he is sitting, then returns to it, he has the best right to it.”
By way of Abdullah Ibn ‘Amru, the Messenger of God said, “It is not lawful that a man should separate two persons except with the permission of both of them.”
By way of Ibn Umar, “The Prophet forbade that any man should force his brother to rise from where he is seated in order that he might occupy his seat.” I asked Naafi’, “Is this in regards to the congregational prayer?” and he replied, “It is applicable to the congregational prayer and more”.
By way of Anas Ibn Malik, who said, “A plump domestic goat was milked for the Messenger of God while he was at the house of Anis Ibn Malik, then her milk was mixed with water from Anis’ house’s well. The Messenger of God was given a mug thereof and drank out of it when, as he removed the mug from his mouth, he found to his left Abu Bakr and to his right, a Bedouin. ‘Umar was afraid that he would give it to the bedouin, so he said, “Give it to Abu Bakr, oh Messenger of God.” But he gave it to the Bedouin, who was on his right, saying, ‘Towards the right; always, towards the right.’”
This demonstrates integrity and dedication to the rules governing character discipline. The Bedouin, had the Messenger of God passed the mug on to Abu Bakr, would not have found it to be inappropriate or perceived it as some sort of a slight, for Abu Bakr was his closest friend and deserving of being given priority and treated especially well due to the sacrifices he had made in propagating the religion and for the sakes of the Muslims. Indeed, ‘Umar attempted to redirect the Messenger of God's actions such that Abu Bakr would be put ahead of the Bedouin, but the Messenger of God did not listen to him and passed it on to the Bedouin, allowing him to go first, because it was he who was at the right of the Messenger of God, and the Sunna is that we always start with and proceed to the right.
Whoever shows respect towards others, such persons also receive respect.
This is also a social grace, similar to those rules and manners which have been prescribed regarding behavior at gatherings where eating and drinking take place. Collectively, these manners insure fairness and respect among people. The food is served first to the person in charge, then it makes the rounds to the others, starting at the first person’s right and progressing through the gathering. That is how it goes, whether he wants it or not; whether the guests want it that way or not; whether the status of the person seated to the right is higher or not. This is an etiquette based in the religion which contributes to the development of feelings of contentment, faith, justice, and equality.
By way of Sahl Ibn Saad Al-Ansaari, who said, “The Messenger of God was brought a drink, and he drank from it. A servant-boy was to his right while the chiefs were to his left. He said to the servant-boy, ‘Do I have your permission to serve them?’ The servant-boy replied, ‘God, no! Oh Messenger of God ; I will not willingly turn over to another such a thing as comes from you and is meant for me.’ Then, the Messenger of God placed it in his hand.”
By way of Abdullah Ibn Masood, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘If three of you are together, let not two of you engage in a conversation which excludes the other; wait until you are in a larger group of people, lest he be saddened.’”
Respecting Others by expressing Thanks for and Appreciation of their Efforts:
By way of Abu Huraira, from the Prophet s, who said, “God shows no gratitude to those who are ungrateful to their fellow men.”
Al-Sa’ab Ibn Hathaama Al-Laiythi gave the Prophet a wild donkey/zebra حِمَارًا وَحْشِيًّا while he was at Al-Abwaa’ or Waddaan, but he returned it. When Hesaw the expression on his face he said, “If we hadn’t been in a state of ritual purity we would not have refused it from you.”
From this story you can see that the Prophet was able to discern the change in his companion’s face merely by glancing at him, and Heknew that he felt sad because he thought the Prophet did not value his gift enough to accept it. The Prophet explained to him the reason why he returned the gift, clarifying that it was not because he thought it to be unworthy or that he looked down upon the giver, but because he was in a state of ritual purity, and persons who are in a state of ritual purity are not allowed to accept game.
By way of Ali, “The Prophet ordered Ibn Masood to climb a tree. He ordered him to get something out of it for him, and his companions saw Abdullah Ibn Masoods’ shins as he climbed the tree and started laughing at how spindly his calves were. The Messenger of God told them, ‘Don’t laugh; the leg of Abdullah Ibn Masood will be heavier in the scales on the Day of Judgment than the Mountain of Uhud.’”
By way of Abu Musa, “Asmaa’, when she arrived, met ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, in one of the streets of Medina. He said, ‘An Abyssinian woman, is that what we have here?’ and she replied, ‘Yes.’ Then, he chided her, ‘And a fine people you are; if only you had not rushed to emigrate.’ She said to ‘Umar, ‘You remained with the Messenger of God, who lightened your loads and educated the ignorant among you, while we fled with our religion. As far as this goes, I shall certainly make a point of returning after I have told the Messenger of God what you said.’ Later, she returned and told him, ‘The Messenger of God said, “Rather, you have performed emigration twice; you have emigrated to Medina as well as to Abyssinia.”’”
In these types of scenarios God u orders the faithful to be good to mankind as a whole, in word and in deed. He says, ”and speak kindly to mankind”
By way of Jabir Ibn Abdullah, who said, “The Messenger of God came to us and saw a man whose hair was wild and unkempt, pointing in all directions and remarked, ‘Was he unable to find anything with which he might have tamed his hair?’ Then he saw another man who was wearing dirty clothes and remarked, ‘Was he unable to find any water with which to wash his clothing?’”
This shows that it is incumbent upon Muslims to respect themselves and take care of their appearances so that, when they present themselves among others, it is clear that they have self-respect. He must show that he cares for his hair by brushing it and that he cares for his clothing by cleaning it. These are simple matters which do not take much effort, but they speak loads about how the individual takes care of and respects himself. Your pride and dignity are reflected in your appearance, and taking care of your own person is the first step towards taking care of and showing respect towards others.
Along these lines is the story regarding ِ Abu Qataada Al-Ansaari, who told the Messenger of God, “My hair falls at shoulder length; should I groom it?” The Messenger of God replied, “Yes, and treat it with dignity.” Afterwards, Abu Qataada would always rub oil into it, sometimes twice a day, because the Messenger of God had ordered him to take good care of it.
By way of Abu Sa’id, who said, “The Messenger of God said, ‘Let none of you cause himself to become worthy of disdain.’ They replied, ‘Oh Messenger of God, how could any of us act in such a way as to render his self despicable?’ He said, ‘By observing something about which God has made a command and realizing that something needs to be said, but neglecting to speak up, which results in God, the Exalted and Glorified, saying to him on the Day of Resurrection, “What prevented you from speaking up regarding thus-and-such?” to which he responds, ‘I was worried about and afraid of the people,’ to which God will say, ‘But, it was I whom you ought, really, to have been worried about and in fear of.’”
This touches upon self-respect and feelings of personal responsibility towards the society. Having self-respect makes it easier for you to show respect to others.
The Prophet's Respect for the Opinions of his Companions, Consultation of them, and Praise for them for their Efforts:
1-During the Battle of Badr, when Al-Hubaab Ibn Al-Munthir suggested that the camp site be changed, the Prophet praised him due to the solidness of his suggestion, saying, “Oh Hubaab, you led by foresight.”
2-The Prophet followed the advice of the youths among his companions by going out to meet the enemy at the Battle of Uhud, on the outskirts of Medina. Even though his opinion differed from theirs, he hearkened unto them on account of the bravery and initiative they displayed. He wanted to encourage them and not cause their enthusiasm to wane. Even though they were defeated, some Quranic verses touching upon the event were revealed in which the correctness of his having consulted with them was confirmed and continued consultation was made mandatory. God said “It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).”
3-The Prophet determined that coming up with new solutions by means of independent problem solving and contemplation of the best-interests of humankind would, inevitably, need to be engaged in. He made it his policy that merely offering a prospective solution which was arrived at by using one’s mental faculties, for the common good, was rewarded. By way of ‘Amru Ibn Al-‘As we hear, “I heard the Messenger of God say, ‘When a person faced with a decision uses his mental faculties to come up with a novel solution and gets it right, he earns two rewards. When he comes up with a solution and gets is wrong, he gets a single reward.’”
Indeed, Hemade a habit of directing his companions to discover their individual potentials and make use of their God -given talents, developing them with practice, fighting by that means the mind-set of learned helplessness and dependence. He supported his companions as they made forays into solving problems which had no precedents, offering equal encouragement to those who came up with correct and incorrect solutions, as is evident in the story regarding the incident which occurred with the tribe of Banu Quraitha. This he did in order to encourage the further development of their mental faculties as they tried to sort out issues and apply novel solutions to problems. Ibn ‘Umar tells us, “The Prophet s, on the day of Al-Ahzab, said to us, emphatically, ‘Let none of you pray the mid-afternoon prayer other than among the Banu Quraitha.’ Then, along the way, the time for the mid-afternoon prayer came upon some of them. One faction of them said, ‘We will not pray until we get there,’ while another faction said, ‘Uh uh; we shall pray. That is not what he intended.’ This was mentioned to the Prophet and he reproached not a one of them.”
By way of Anis, “The Prophet passed by a group of people who were cross-pollinating their trees and said, ‘Even if you do not do that all will be well.’ He said, ‘Later, when the crop was in, the fruit turned out to be extremely low quality dried up dates, and he passed by them and said, ‘What happened to your date palms?’ They replied, ‘You said such-and-such’ and he replied, ‘You know better about such matters as affect your every-day lives.’”
Practice and Examples Related to Freedom of Opinion and Choice:
By way of Ibn Abbas, “Buraira’s husband was a slave called Mughith. I can still see him running after her and crying, with tears running down his face and into his beard,” said Ibn Abbas to the Prophet s, who responded, “Oh Abbas, isn’t it amazing the way Mughith loves Buraira and Buraira hates Mughith?” Then the Prophet said to Buraira, “Will you not take him back?” and she inquired, “Oh Messenger of God, are you giving me a command?” Heresponded, “I am naught but a mediator,” to which she replied, “I have no need of him.”
The Prophet taught his companions to respect the differences among individuals, for each human being has a vision which is in accord with the temperament which permeates his spirit, and we must co-exist and communicate with one another. We must acknowledge our differences and not reproach others for differing from us. Aisha tells us, “I heard the Prophet say, ‘Spirits are as conscripted soldiers. Those which recognize and understand one another will get along marvelously, while those which find each other strange and incomprehensible will be at odds with one another.
By way of Al-Husayn Ibn Muhsin, who said that he had a paternal aunt who had gone to the Prophet in some sort of need. She finished her business and he said to her, “Do you have a husband?” “Yes,” she said. He asked, “How do you deal with him?” She said, “I give him nothing more than what I am unable to keep away from him.” He said, “You should watch where you stand with him, for he is no other than your paradise and your hellfire.”
Respect for Others and Thinking the Best of Them:
By way of Abu Huraira, “The Messenger of God said, ‘Be careful as regards conjecture, for truly, conjecture is the least trustworthy of speech. Neither spy nor snoop, seeking to expose the flaws of men which have been hidden from open view. Engage not in mutual hatred, and be as brethren to one-another.’”
Part of respecting others is refraining from thinking the worst of them on the basis of preconceived notions regarding them which may prove to be untrue. Opinions formed on the basis of unfounded conjecture and speculation harm the other person and deprive us of really getting to know the truth regarding them.
Regarding that, Allah u says, ”O ye who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done.” and ”O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin.”
The Prophet was eager to learn about the thoughts of other nations in order to distinguish the true from the false and uncover the essence of their cultures. He ordered Zaid Ibn Thabit to learn the language of the Jewish people as well as Syriac in order that he might be able to correspond with them, call them to Islam, establish dialogues with them, and understand the writings which they read unto him, all of which he wanted to do in such a manner as not to allow his thoughts regarding them to be based upon prejudicial conjectures, speculations, or thoughts.
By way of Abdulrahman Ibn Abu Layla, who said, “Sahl Ibn Hunaif and Qays Ibn S’ad were sitting at Al-Qadissiyya when a funeral procession passed by them and they arose. It was said to them, ‘She is from the local people, that is, the people of the covenant.’ They replied, ‘The Prophet arose when he was passed by a funeral procession and it was said to him, “This is the funeral of a Jewish woman” to which he replied, “Does she not have a soul?”’”
Thinking the Best of your Wife and Respecting her Dignity:
By way of Jabir, who said, “The Messenger of God prohibited men from sneaking up on their families by night in such a way as to suggest that they suspected treachery or in order to catch them misbehaving.”
By way of Abu Huraira, “A Bedouin came to the Messenger of God and said, ‘My wife bore a dark-skinned boy and I emphatically denied that he was mine.’ The Messenger of God inquired of him, ‘Do you have any camels?’ and he replied, ‘Yes.’ He asked, ‘So, what color are they?’ He said, ‘Ruddy.’ He continued, ‘Are there any among them which are more ash-colored?’ He said, ‘In fact, there is an ash-colored one ____ among them.’ He inquired, ‘And, how do you imagine its mother bore offspring which brought such a trait forward?’ He said, ‘Oh Messenger of God, by means of heritage.’ He continued, ‘Could not he, perhaps, have inherited his differences from you as well?’” and he did not allow him to deny paternity of his son.
The Prophet used logical, intellectual dialogue with the companion in order to get him to the point where he expressed good expectations of his wife and showed respect for her dignity. Logical dialogue is an effective teaching tool which helps to develop methodical thinking and potentiate the mind.