Good manners are the most important provision of the traveler of the straight path. A person cannot be both pious and quarrelsome and unkind. As a creed, the spiritual essence of Islam is tawhid or believing in the oneness of Allah, and, in practice, good manners, uprightness, and compassion. In this regard, it can be said that Islam is composed of measures of elegance, courtesy, cleanliness or “good manners.” How elegantly Jalal al-Dīn Rumī قدس سره states this
reality in the following lines:
“Open your eyes and look carefully into the word of Allah from beginning to the end. The whole Qur’ān, all of its verses, is but explanation of good manners.”
Friends of Allah have attained such high levels of spirituality through their good manners. Imam Rabbānī قدس سره says that:
“None can make progress towards unity with Allah the Almighty without complying with the measures of good manners. The way of great Sufis is composed of good manners from beginning to the end.” And the most significant of good manners is the ones observed towards our Creator.
We should not forget that the devil was banished from the Divine presence, not because of his lack of knowledge or actions, but because of his bad manners. This is why the thing that the devil hates most is good manners.
How nicely Rumī قدس سره explains this state:
“When Devil refused to prostrate before Adam and disobeyed the command of Allah, he said:
“My essence is fire, while his essence is clay. Would it be appropriate for someone who is eminent to prostrate to someone who is low?”
Because of this impertinent response, Devil is cursed and banished from Divine presence. In addition to his rude response, Devil attempted to argue with his creator.” (Fihi Mā Fīh, p. 159)
Abū ‘Alī al-Daqqāq (may Allah have mercy upon his soul) says that:
“Leaving good manners requires to be banished from Divine presence. Whoever misbehaves in front of the Sultan, he would be sent to the door; and if he misbehaves at the door, he would be sent to the barn.”
Our predecessors advised us to take lessons from the states and fates of ill-mannered people in their saying “Learn your manners from the ill-mannered.” We should think about the end of Demon and take lessons from it.
A servant who shows the appropriate manners towards Allah the Almighty avoids all kinds of reckless actions, and realizes his mistakes and heedlessness in his worship and dealings with others. He protects himself/herself from the illness of too much reliance upon his actions.
One of the greatest objects of Sufism is to raise people to the state of iḥsān or the state of realization of being in the presence of Allah all the time, and thus to show good manners towards Allah. Sufis say that:
“Hold on to good manners externally and internally. Because if someone makes a mistake about his manners externally, he gets external punishment; while those who commit mistakes about their inner manners will be punished internally. Whoever loses his good manners gets away from Allah the Almighty, even if he thinks that he gets closer to Him and even if he thinks that he is accepted, in fact he is rejected.” (Bursevī, Ismail Hakki, Ruḥul Bayān, X, 401)
The most valuable manner towards Allah is to revere Him. And the best manifestation of reverence shows itself in our worship. Friends of Allah state that:
“Worship takes a person to Paradise; while reverence and good manners in worship takes him to Allah the Almighty and makes him His friend.”
Anas b. Mālik رضي الله عنه says that:
“Showing good manners in actions is a sign of their acceptance.” Hiḍir (Alaihi Salaam) advises to say the following prayers:
“Dear Lord! Bless me with good manners in worshipping You.”
Because friends of Allah live being aware of that they are always in the presence of Allah the Almighty, they pay utmost attention to their external good manners in addition to their inward manners. This can be expressed as keeping the state of reverence and respect out of worship as well. In fact Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Qur’ān in this respect that:
“Those who are constant at their prayer” (70; 23)
“And those who keep a guard on their prayer” (70; 34)
Jalal al-Dīn Rumī قدس سره interprets these verses as follows:
“A servant keeps his state in prayer, after he is out of prayer as well. Thus he spends all his life in reverence, respect, and good manners; and watching his tongue and heart. This is the state of real friends of Allah the Almighty…”