Adab (Islam)

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Literal meaningbehavior

Adab (Arabic: أدب‎) in the context of behavior, refers to prescribed Islamic etiquette: "refinement, good manners, morals, decorum, decency, humaneness".[1] While interpretation of the scope and particulars of Adab may vary among different cultures, common among these interpretations is regard for personal standing through the observation of certain codes of behavior.[2] To exhibit Adab would be to show "proper discrimination of correct order, behavior, and taste."[2]

Islam has rules of etiquette and an ethical code involving every aspect of life. Muslims refer to Adab as good manners, courtesy, respect, and appropriateness, covering acts such as entering or exiting a washroom, posture when sitting, and cleansing oneself.

Customs and behaviour[edit]

Practitioners of Islam are generally taught to follow some specific customs in their daily lives. Most of these customs can be traced back to Abrahamic traditions in pre-Islamic Arabian society.[3] Due to Muhammad's sanction or tacit approval of such practices, these customs are considered to be Sunnah (practices of Muhammad as part of the religion) by the Ummah (Muslim nation). It includes customs like:

  • Saying "Bismillah" (in the name of Allah) before eating and drinking.[4]
  • Drinking in 3 gulps slowly
  • Using the right hand for drinking and eating.[5]
  • Saying "Assalaamualaikum warahmathullahi wabarakaatuhu" (may peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you) when meeting someone and answering with "Wa 'alaikumus salam warahmathullahi wabarakaatuhu" (and peace mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you also ).[6]
  • Saying "Alhamdulillah" (all gratitude and praise is for only Allah) when sneezing and responding with "Yarhamukallah" (Allah have mercy on you).[7]
  • Saying the "Adhan" (prayer call) in the right ear of a newborn and the Iqama in its left.
  • In the sphere of hygiene, it includes:
    • Clipping the moustache
    • Removing armpit hair regardless of gender
    • Cutting nails
    • Circumcising the male offspring[8][9]
    • Cleaning the nostrils, the mouth, and the teeth[10] and
    • Cleaning the body after urination and defecation[11]
  • Not entering a host's home until one has made sure their presence is welcome (hatta tasta nisu)
  • Abstention from sexual relations during the menstrual cycle and the puerperal discharge,[Quran 2:222] and ceremonial bath after the menstrual cycle, and Janabah (seminal/ovular discharge or sexual intercourse).[Quran 4:43][Quran 5:6]
  • Burial rituals include funeral prayer[12] of bathed[13] and enshrouded body in coffin cloth[14] and burying it in a grave.[15]

The list above is far from comprehensive. As Islam sees itself as more of a way of life than a religion, Islamic adab is concerned with all areas of an individual's life, not merely the list mentioned above.

Examples of encouraging Adab[edit]


Sunni hadith[edit]

Abu 'Amr ash-Shaybani said, "The owner of this house (and he pointed at the house of 'Abdullah ibn Mas'ud) said, "I asked the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which action Allah loves best. He replied, 'Prayer at its proper time.' 'Then what?' I asked. He said, 'Then kindness to parents." I asked, 'Then what?' He replied, 'Then jihad in the Way of Allah.'" He added, "He told me about these things. If I had asked him to tell me more, he would have told me more." Kitab Al Adab Al Mufrad p. 29

Shia hadith[edit]

Ali ibn Abi Talib the first Shiite Imam said:" Whoever leads the people must discipline others in his own way, deeds, and behavior before disciplining others with his language, and his instructor and educator deserve more respect than the educator and educator of the people".[16]

and Ali ibn Husayn Zayn al-Abidin said:"It is your child's right to bring him up with good manners and morals".[17]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Firmage, Edwin Brown and Weiss, Bernard G. and Welch, John W. Religion and Law. 1990, page 202-3
  2. ^ a b Ensel, Remco. Saints and Servants in Southern Morocco. 1999, page 180
  3. ^ Ghamidi (2001). "Sources of Islam" Archived 2013-06-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1513.
  5. ^ Sahih Muslim 2020.
  6. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 6234.
  7. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 6224.
  8. ^ Sahih Muslim 257.
  9. ^ Sahih Muslim 258.
  10. ^ Sahih Muslim 252.
  11. ^ Sunan Abi Dawood 45.
  12. ^ Ghamidi. "Various Types of the Prayer" Archived 2013-09-23 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari 1254.
  14. ^ Sahih Muslim 943.
  15. ^ Ghamidi (2001). "Customs and Behavioral Laws" Archived 2013-09-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Translation of Al-Balaghah, Sayyid Razi, Hekmat 70, p. 935.
  17. ^ Makarem al-Akhlaq, Sheikh Hassan, son of Sheikh Tabarsi, vol. 2, p. 345.
  • Bruce Privratsky, Muslim Turkistan, pgs. 98-99