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Good Manners in Dealing with the Ignorant

By Imam Ibn ul Qayyim al Jawziyyah (RA)

After a person turns away from the company of those [ignorant associates], and he turns to the company of those who are absent in person - but whose bounties and good influence continue to exist in the world, he would then inquire a new zeal and a new direction, and he would become stranger among the people - even if he be a relative or a close acquaintance.

This would make him a dear stranger to people. He can clearly see the obscurity that they suffer, but they cannot see the splendor which he enjoys. He excuses them as much as he can, while enjoining and advising them to do good with all of his power. Thus he looks at them with two eyes:

a. With one eye, he recognizes Allah's commands and prohibitions. Based of this, he advises or warns them, and befriends and disowns them, giving them their rights and requiring his.

b. With the other eye, he recognizes Allah's Decree and Measure. Based on this, he sympathizes with them; he makes du`aa' (supplications) for them; he asks Allah (ta`aalaa) to forgive them; and he seeks excuses for them in matters that do not involve violation of Allah's commands and His Shar` (Allah's Divine Law). He engulfs them with kindness, compassion and forgiveness, heeding to Allah's command [to His Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam)]:

"Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish." (Al-A`raaf 7:199)

If a person abides by this aayah, it would suffice and cure him. It calls for:

a.Good manners in dealing with people: by forgiving them and showing them compassion to the limits of one's character and nature.
Fulfilling Allah's rights in people by enjoining what is good, which applies to matters that the minds attest to their goodness and merit, based on what Allah has commanded.

b. Avoiding their evil: to ward off the harm resulting from their ignorance, without trying to avenge himself.

c. How else can a person attain perfection? And what policy and behavior can be better in this world than this? If a man tries to consider every evil reaching him from people (I mean a true evil that results in a loss of honor before Allah (Ta`aalaa)), he will find that it arises from neglecting one or more of these three matters. If he abides by them all, then whatever is inflicted on him by people will be good, even if it appears to be evil. Only good can result from enjoining good, even if it be encased in a situation of evil and harm. Allah (Ta`aalaa) said;

"Verily! Those who brought forth the great slander [against `Aa'ishah (radhiallahu `anhaa)] are a group among you. Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you…" [An-Noor 24:11]

And He addressed His Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) by saying:

"So forgive them, ask Allah to forgive them, and consult them in the affair. Then when you have taken a decision, put your full trust in Allah." [Aal `Imraan 3:159]

This aayah instructs the Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) to fulfill Allah's rights and the people's rights. When people do wrong, they would either be violating Allah's limits or harming His Messenger personally. If they harm the Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), he shoud respond by forgiving them. But if they overstep Allah's limits, then he (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) should ask Allah (Ta`aala) to forgive them and to soften their hearts. Also, he (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) should extract their opinions by consulting them, because this tends to make them more obedient and willing to advise. Once he forms his decision, he should seek advice no more, but rather put his trust in Allah and go forth to fulfill what he decided, for Allah loves those who trust Him.

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