Being Clean and Polite at Gatherings

Musa Kâzım GÜLÇÜR

It is clearly of great importance to be clean when going somewhere where other people will be. In addition, scholars and elders should be seated in the places of honour. It is good manners to listen at gatherings or meetings and not to speak unnecessarily. Also, we should make room for those who arrive later and greet them with a smile. It is not proper to stand up for those who arrive. There was no one more beloved to the Companions than the Prophet. Despite this, they did not stand up when he arrived, for they knew he did not like this behaviour. [Tirmidhi, Adab, 13, 2755] As told by Abu Umama, one day the Messenger came to them walking with a staff. When the Companions stood up, he said, “Do not stand up as others do to flatter one another!” [Abu Dawud, Adab, 165, 5230] Another occurrence also demonstrates this well:

One-time Muawiya came to see Ibn al-Zubayr and Ibn Amr. Ibn Amr stood up, but Ibn al-Zubayr stayed sitting (did not stand). Muawiya said to Ibn Amr, “Sit down, for God’s Messenger said, ‘Those who are pleased when people stand up for them should prepare their place in the fire.” [Abu Dawud, Adab, 165, 5229; Tirmidhi, Adab, 13, 2756]

It is not appropriate to sit between two people who do not want to be separated. The Messenger commanded, “It is not permissible to sit between two people without their permission.” In a narration of Tirmidhi, the same idea is expressed: “It is forbidden for a person to come between two other people without their permission.” [Abu Dawud, Adab, 24, 4844–45; Tirmidhi, Adab, 11, 2753]

It is also improper for two people in a group of three to put their heads together and whisper. This could make the third person sad and lead to doubt. The Messenger said, “When you are three people together, two of you should not speak of something between you; this will make the other person upset.” [Bukhari, Istizan, 45; Muslim, Salaam, 36, 2183; Muwatta, Kalam, 13/2, 988–89]

If you need to discuss something with a person, the correct thing to do is to take leave of the other friends and go somewhere else. If someone leaves a gathering temporarily it is not right to immediately occupy their place. When a person left their seat, ‘Abdullah ibn Umar —one of the Companions — would never sit there. [Bukhari, Istizan, 31; Jum’a, 20; Muslim, Salaam, 27, 2177; Tirmidhi, Adab, 9, 2750–51; Abu Dawud, Adab, 18] The Messenger taught us, “If someone leaves for some reason and comes back again, they have the right to sit in the same place.” [Tirmidhi, Adab, 10, 2752]

Translated by Jessica ÖZALP

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