Hadith 15 : Good Character

Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said:

“Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day either speak good or be silent. Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day honour his neighbour. Let whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day honour his guest.”

[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

Whoever Believes in Allah and the Last day

Prophet Muhammad sallalhu alaihi wasalam mention this three times in this hadith underlying the basic foundation that we believe in.

Prophet Muhammad sallahu alaihi wasalam when he said this, he was reminding us, those who believe in Allah and also there is the last day that we will face Allah concerning what we did in our life, then these are the set of things that we must do.

All our actions have underlying motives which are, the believe in Allah and that this life is a temporary one and everything we do now will have its equal compensation in the Hereafter.

Achieving the Perfect Religion

This hadith clearly tells us that, to achieve perfect religion is through manners and behavior. This hadith is also called half of Islam. It contains the rulings concerning the tongue and the behaviour of Muslims towards others. It also emphasises that we are responsible for what we say.

The first part of the hadith, prophet sallallau alaihi salam cautions the believers to not be careless about their speech. The tongue can be the source of harm to him both in the dunya and the hereafter.

We have learned in hadith 12 : to leave alone things that do not concern us
On the authority of Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu, who said : The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said :

Part of the perfection of someone’s Islam is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.”
[Hadith hasan – Recorded by Tirmidhi

This hadith tells us that a believer must consider the result of what he is going to say.

What Should We Say?

The Prophet (s) instructed us to ‘speak good things’ or remain silent. What does it mean to ‘speak good things’? There are numerous types of speech that fall into this category, including reciting Qur’an, remembering Allah, making supplications, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, giving dawah, enjoining family relations, making peace between two people etc.

Speaking good words also implies refraining from bad speech. As we discussed in the hadith concerning the perfection of Islam, it should be remembered that saying something about someone that they would not like to hear, even if it is to say that they are short or fat etc, is considered backbiting in Islam and is a punishable sin. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:

“And do not backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it [so hate backbiting]. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Surah al-Hujuraat:12)

The Prophet (s) once stated that nothing caused people to enter Hellfire like the actions of their tongue. So we need to weigh our statements before we make them. If they contain good then we can say them, but if they contain bad then we should refrain from speaking the words and that will be recorded as a good deed for us Insha Allah

If the speech is deserving of reward from Allah, then say it. Otherwise silence is better.

Remember what Allah said in Surah Qaf 50: 18

18. not a word does He (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by Him ready (to record it).

There are instances though that silence is not always the virtue
i. Silence in the face of injustice which one is able to prevent it
ii. Good advice and da’wah should never be neglected
iii. Prophet salllahu alaihi salam warned that failure to mention Allah’s names in a gathering would result in regret on the Day of Judegement

Perhaps this hadith can remind us further
Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet; said, “A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.”


to honour his neighbour

Allah orders good treatment of the neighbours in the Quran

Nisa 4: 36

36. Worship Allâh and join none with Him In worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masâkin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by Your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom Your Right hands possess. Verily, Allâh does not like such as are proud and boastful;

‘A’isha reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Jibril, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, kept on recommending that I treat neighbours well until I thought that he would order me to treat them as my heirs.” (Bukhari)

Some hadith concerning the status of beighbours.

‘A’isha said, “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, I have two neighbours. To whom should I give my gifts?’ He replied, ‘To the one whose door is nearer to you.'”

Al-Hasan was asked about the neighbour and said, “The term ‘neighbour’ includes the forty houses in front a person, the forty houses behind him, the forty houses on his right and the forty houses on his left.”

Ibn ‘Abbas told Ibn az-Zubayr, “I heard the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘A man is not a believer who fills his stomach while his neighbour is hungry.'”

Generally one should be concerned about his neighbor and assist him, or at least refrain from annoying him. Whether Muslim or non muslim, whether near or far.

What people usually do
i. Sharing some food with the neighbours. If they can take your food (culturally), you can always give some food that you cook extra. By the way cake and sweets are usually accepted by everyone.
ii. When parking your vehicle, try to never block their pathway.
iii. Smiling and asking how they are
iv. Helping as much as you can.


Be generous to guests

If indeed we consider ourselves as believers, we are told to honour our guests. This is part of Islam.
Generosity to the guests mean
– To welcome them when they arrive, and to at least accompany them till the door when they are departing.
– To organise and prepare their necessities, food, sleeping place, etc. due to which they experience ease.
– To treat them with honour and respect, in fact serve them with your own hands.Pleasant speech

Narrated Abu Shuraih Al-Adawi:
My ears heard and my eyes saw the Prophet when he spoke, “Anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his neighbor generously, and anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should serve his guest generously by giving him his reward.” It was asked. “What is his reward, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “(To be entertained generously) for a day and a night with high quality of food and the guest has the right to be entertained for three days (with ordinary food) and if he stays longer, what he will be provided with will be regarded as Sadaqa (a charitable gift). And anybody who believes in Allah and the Last Day should talk what is good or keep quite (i.e. abstain from all kinds of dirty and evil talks).”

However prophet salllahu alaihi waslaam prohibited a guest from causing difficulty for the host

Narrated Abu Shuraih Al-Ka’bi:

Allah’s Apostle said, Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, should serve his guest generously. The guest’s reward is: To provide him with a superior type of food for a night and a day and a guest is to be entertained with food for three days, and whatever is offered beyond that, is regarded as something given in charity. And it is not lawful for a guest to stay with his host for such a long period so as to put him in a critical position.”

Generosity to one’s neighbour and guest, when done in obedience and seeking the acceptance of Allah, is an act of worship. Therefore must be free of extravagance, showing off or expecting reward from the guests.

It’s interesting to note that complete and correct practice of the religion of Islam, entails meeting the rights of Allah through worship and obedience, and the rights of other human beings through acts such as refraining from backbiting and honouring them as neighbours and guests. Both these things need to be perfected before we can perfect our Islam.

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