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The Prophet’s Teachings: The Art of Honoring Others

by Ustazah Eka Budhi Setiani

It is very well known to all of us that the Prophet ﷺ has a very noble character and deserves to be a model for us. This is also stated in the Surah Al-Qalam verse 4:

 وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ ٤

And you are truly ˹a man˺ of outstanding character.

[Al-Qalam 68:4]

Allah also described the nature of the Prophet ﷺ in Surah At-Tawbah verse 128.

لَقَدۡ جَآءَكُمۡ رَسُولٌ مِّنۡ أَنفُسِكُمۡ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيۡهِ مَا عَنِتُّمۡ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيۡكُم بِٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ ١٢٨

There certainly has come to you a messenger from among yourselves. He is concerned by your suffering, anxious for your well-being, and gracious and merciful to the believers.

[At-Tawbah 9:128]

When Sayyidah Aisyah RA was asked about the character of the Prophet, she also replied:

كَانَ خُلُقُهُ الْقُرْآنَ ) رواه أحمد)

“The Prophet’s character was the Noble Quran.”

[Narrated by Imam Ahmad]

It means that the life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is a real manifestation of the Qur’an ﷺ or can be considered as a ‘walking Qur’an’.

Therefore, we as his people should be able to imitate the morals of the Prophet ﷺ  in everyday life, both morals to the Creator and fellow human beings.

Honoring Fellow Muslims

Muslims are brothers in faith and must respect each other (Unsplash/Ibrahim Abdullah)

As we know that fellow Muslims are brothers (in faith), as mentioned in Surah Al-Hujurat verse 10:

إِنَّمَا ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ إِخۡوَةٌ فَأَصۡلِحُواْ بَيۡنَ أَخَوَيۡكُمۡۚ وَٱتَّقُواْ ٱللهَ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُرۡحَمُونَ ١٠

The believers are but one brotherhood, so make peace between your brothers. And be mindful of Allah so you may be shown mercy.

[Al-Hujurat 49:10]

This is why we are obliged to love, respect, appreciate, and help fellow Muslims. So that there will be peace between all of us for sure. Don’t forget, that one of the characteristics of a true Muslim is when other people feel safe and comfortable with him. As mentioned in a hadith:

المُسلِمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ الْمُسْلِمُوْنَ مِنْ لِسَانِهِ وَيَدِهِ، وَاْلمُهَاجِرُ مَنْ هَجَرَ مَا نَهَى اللهُ عَنْهُ

“A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands. And a Muhajir (emigrant) is the one who gives up (abandons) all what Allah has forbidden.”

[Narrated by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim]

Honoring Parents

We all can agree that a small child is powerless without being nurtured and raised by adults. It is our parents who care for, raise, and educate their children until they become adults and become someone with good character.

وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ وَبِٱلۡوَٰلِدَيۡنِ إِحۡسَٰنًاۚ إِمَّا يَبۡلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ ٱلۡكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَوۡ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنۡهَرۡهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوۡلاً كَرِيمًا ٢٣ وَٱخۡفِضۡ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ ٱلذُّلِّ مِنَ ٱلرَّحۡمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ٱرۡحَمۡهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا ٢٤

23. For your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And honour your parents. If one or both of them reach old age in your care, never say to them even ‘ugh,’ nor yell at them. Rather, address them respectfully.

24. And be humble with them out of mercy, and pray, “My Lord! Be merciful to them as they raised me when I was young.”

[Al-Isra 17:23-24]

وَوَصَّيۡنَا ٱلۡإِنسَٰنَ بِوَٰلِدَيۡهِ حَمَلَتۡهُ أُمُّهُۥ وَهۡنًا عَلَىٰ وَهۡنٍ وَفِصَٰلُهُۥ فِي عَامَيۡنِ أَنِ ٱشۡكُرۡ لِي وَلِوَٰلِدَيۡكَ إِلَيَّ ٱلۡمَصِيرُ ١٤ وَإِن جَٰهَدَاكَ عَلَىٰٓ أَن تُشۡرِكَ بِي مَا لَيۡسَ لَكَ بِهِۦ عِلۡمٌ فَلَا تُطِعۡهُمَاۖ وَصَاحِبۡهُمَا فِي ٱلدُّنۡيَا مَعۡرُوفٗاۖ وَٱتَّبِعۡ سَبِيلَ مَنۡ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّۚ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرۡجِعُكُمۡ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمۡ تَعۡمَلُونَ ١٥

14. And We have commanded people to ‘honour’ their parents. Their mothers bore them through hardship upon hardship, and their weaning takes two years. So be grateful to Me and your parents. To Me is the final return.

15. But if they pressure you to associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them. Still keep their company in this world courteously, and follow the way of those who turn to Me ‘in devotion’. Then to Me you will ‘all’ return, and then I will inform you of what you used to do.

[Luqman 31:14-15]

And the pleasure of Allah lies in the pleasure of parents. The Prophet ﷺ said:

رِضَا اللهِ فِـيْ رِضَا الْوَالِدَيْـنِ، و سَخَطُ اللهِ فِـيْ سَخَطِ الْوَالِدَيْنِ

“Allah’s pleasure is in the parent’s pleasure, and Allah’s anger is in the parent’s anger.”

[Narrated by Imam Tirmidzi]

Honoring Women

Rasulullah ﷺ ordered us to always do good, be gentle, and take care of women. As mentioned in several hadiths below. The Prophet ﷺ said,

اِسْتَوْصُوْا بِالنِّسَاءِ فَإِنَّ الْمَرْأَةَ خُلِقَتْ مِنْ ضِلَعٍ وَإِنَّ أَعْوَجَ شَيْءٍ فِي الضِّلَعِ أَعْلاَهُ، فَإِنْ ذَهَبْتَ تُقِيْمُهُ كَسَرْتَهُ وَإِنْ تَرَكْتَهُ لَمْ يَزَلْ أَعْوَجَ فَاسْتَوْصُوْا بِالنِّسَاءِ

“Treat women nicely, for a woman is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion. So, if you attempt to straighten it, you will break it, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely.

[Narrated by Imam Al-Bukhari]

Rasulullah ordered us all to always do good, be gentle, and take care of women. (Unsplash/Hasan Almasi)

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  also said – when Hajj wada’ reminded his companions:

فَاتَّقُوْا اللهَ فِي النِّسَاءِ فَإِنَّكُمْ أَخَذْتُمُوْهُنَّ بِأَمَانِ اللهِ وَاسْتَحْلَلْتُمْ فُرُوْجَهُنَّ بِكَلِمَةِ اللهِ

“Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the security of Allah, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by the words of Allah.”

[Narrated by Imam Muslim]

Honoring Non-Muslims

Act nicely in Islam is a demand and principle in interacting with others people – even to non-Muslims. Therefore, a Muslim is required to respect each other, also share and maintain good relations, especially if they are neighbors.

There is a popular story about a blind Jewish beggar who converted to Islam because of the Prophet’s ﷺ honorable attitude.

Once upon a time, there lived a blind Jewish beggar in the corner of the Medina al-Munawarah market. He always said bad things about Rasulullah ﷺ day after day. “O my brother, do not approach Muhammad. He’s crazy, he’s a liar, he’s a sorcerer! If you approach him, you will be influenced by him,” said the beggar.

In fact, the Prophet ﷺ came to him with food every morning. Without a word, the Prophet ﷺ fed him while listening to the beggar telling him to stay away from a person named Muhammad. The Prophet ﷺ continued to do so until he died. After the death of the Prophet ﷺ, no one gave food to the blind Jewish beggar.

One day, the companion of the Prophet ﷺ , Abu Bakr visited his daughter, Aisha and asked if there was a sunnah from the Prophet he had not done.

“Every morning Rasulullah ﷺ used to go to the corner of the market with food for a blind Jewish beggar who was there,” Aisyah explained.

Then on the next day, Abu Bakr went to the market with food to give to a blind Jewish beggar. When Abu Bakr began feeding him, the beggar got angry and asked who he was. Although Abu Bakr claimed to be the one who used to feed him, the beggar didn’t believe him.

“No! You’re not the one who used to come to me. If it’s true that you used to feed me, it wouldn’t be difficult for me to chew this food. The person who used to come to me always mashed the food first. Only then did he feed me with the food,” said the beggar.

Abu Bakr could not hold back his tears. While crying he said to the beggar, “I am not someone who usually comes to you. I am one of his companions, the noble man had passed away. He is Muhammad ﷺ the Messenger of Allah.”

The beggar cried after hearing Abu Bakr’s story and said, “Is that so? I always insulted and slandered him all this time, but he never scolded me in the slightest. He comes to me with food every morning, he is so noble.” The blind Jewish beggar finally made his shahada in front of Abu Bakr.

لَّا يَنۡهَىٰكُمُ ٱللهُ عَنِ ٱلَّذِينَ لَمۡ يُقَٰتِلُوكُمۡ فِي ٱلدِّينِ وَلَمۡ يُخۡرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَٰرِكُمۡ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمۡ وَتُقۡسِطُوٓاْ إِلَيۡهِمۡۚ إِنَّ ٱللهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُقۡسِطِينَ ٨ إِنَّمَا يَنۡهَىٰكُمُ ٱللهُ عَنِ ٱلَّذِينَ قَٰتَلُوكُمۡ فِي ٱلدِّينِ وَأَخۡرَجُوكُم مِّن دِيَٰرِكُمۡ وَظَٰهَرُواْ عَلَىٰٓ إِخۡرَاجِكُمۡ أَن تَوَلَّوۡهُمۡۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُمۡ فَأُوْلَٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّٰلِمُونَ ٩

8. Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair.

9. Allah only forbids you from befriending those who have fought you for ˹your˺ faith, driven you out of your homes, or supported ˹others˺ in doing so. And whoever takes them as friends, then it is they who are the ˹true˺ wrongdoers.

[Al-Mumtahanah 60:8-9]

In his narration, Al-Bukhari telling us that Umar bin Al-Khathab had sent a piece of clothing to his brother in Mecca before his brother embraced Islam.

From the verses and hadiths above, we can conclude that a Muslim have to maintain good relations with non-Muslims. A Muslim is not allowed to blame each other, let alone discriminate other that causes non-Muslims become antipathy to Islam.

May respectful attitude towards others that has been exemplified by the Prophet ﷺ can be imitated in our everyday life.

Eka Budhi Setiani

Ustazah Eka Budhi Setiani, Lc is an Indonesia shariah advisor at Muslim Pro. A servant of Allah who has studied at Ushuluddin Alazhar University – Cairo, Egypt. Currently she is devoting her knowledge by teaching at an islamic school under the provincial government. Together with her husband, she also managed her own boarding school in a small town in the province of Banten called Ponpes Balonk Faidhul Barokaat.