Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Understanding Islam - Part III

Published:Saturday | August 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul H. Williams/Gleaner Writer

Islam, founded by the Prophet Muhammad, is a religion of etiquette and manners. There are principles governing virtually every aspect of life. Muslims are encouraged to abide by them to form a complete Islam personality.

Dining etiquette seem to be some of the more stringent. Diners begin eating by mentioning Allah, the one and only God, and end it by praising and thanking him. They use their right hand to eat from the side of the dish nearest to them. The left hand is used to clean the body.

Eating and drinking in excess is prohibited, and so is breathing and blowing into vessels. The food must never be criticised, and the food of others must not be touched. Dining is preferably done collectively rather than individually. Allah's name must be mentioned so that diners be blessed.

The manners governing using the toilet are also very strict because of the nature of the act. Users must supplicate upon entering the toilet and must seek forgiveness upon leaving the space. They should not face Mecca or turn their backs towards it, and must not be seen by anyone when they are relieving themselves. Cleaning and touching private parts should be done with the left hand.

Entering people's house and greeting them are also guided behaviours. Visitors should not enter a house without being given permission. People must also seek permission to enter a room. If permission is sought three times and there is no response the caller should not be persistent.

People are encouraged to greet each other with 'salaam', because it engenders love and friendship. People who are greeted with salaam must return the greetings, even with a greater intensity. There are also rules governing who should initiate the greetings. For example, a rider should greet a person who is seated. A smaller group of people should great the larger first.

In a place where people are seated those who are entering and leaving must greet those who are not. People should make room for others and rise up when told to do so. However, people should not request other people's seat. If people left their seat and it became occupied, they have the right to it should they return. Also, sitting between two people who are already seated, as well as sitting in the middle of a group of people, is not allowed unless permission is given.

 

NEED TO CONSIDER OTHERS

 

When people are gathered in a public space, they cannot do as they like. They have to consider others around them. They should not have a private conversation in the presence of a third person. Those who are talking must not be interrupted. People appearing in public must be well dressed, clean and not malodorous.

A simple act of sneezing in public should be not be taken lightly. If someone sneezed, he must place his hand over his face, lower his voice, and say, " All praise is due to Allah." Those who hear should reply, "May Allah have mercy on you." The one who sneezed should return with, "May Allah, guide you and improve your heart, your living and your affairs." Also, yawns must be stifled as much possible, and people should not belch in public.

Muslims hold the right to be visited whenever they are not well. Visitors should show love and sympathy and make supplication for the sick. Condolences must be extended to the deceased's family to ease their pain and distress. The family of the deceased must be supplicated and encouraged to have patience and think of the reward they will receive from Allah. People should also supplicate to Allah to show mercy to the deceased.

There are also manners and etiquette governing sleeping, travelling, commerce, approaching a spouse, etc.