manners and conduct

Wasted knowledge and rhyming prayers

Ibn ‘Abbās – Allāh be pleased with him – said, “Address the people once a week, and if you must do so more often, then twice; and if you have to do even more, then three times; and do not make people tired or bored with the Quran. Let me not find you coming to the people to exhort them and tell them stories while they are speaking amongst themselves, thus interrupting their conversation and tiring them. Instead, listen, and when they tell you, address them when they desire to listen to your speech. And beware of making your supplications rhyme, stay away from this, for I found Allāh’s Messenger – peace and praise of Allāh be upon him – and his Companions doing nothing but [staying away from this].”

Al-Bukhārī, Al-Ṣaḥīḥ ‘What is hated about making supplications rhyme.’


In this narration, the illustrious Companion ʿAbdullāh b. ‘Abbās gives some guidelines about being wise and aware of people’s condition when teaching them and calling them to Allāh. He advised that a person should not address the people and give talks to them too often, lest they become bored or fed up of hearing the Quran. This consideration is taken from the Sunnah of the Prophet – Allāh’s praise and peace be upon him – as related by Ibn Mas’ūd.

This tradition also expresses the dislike of trying to disseminate knowledge in a way that might be detrimental to its purpose. We are discouraged from spreading knowledge to those who do not desire it or those who are not enthusiastic to receive it and interrupting people while they are speaking. We are encouraged to teach knowledge to those who express their desire for it, because all this means it is more likely that the recipient will benefit from this knowledge.

The narration also warns against the practice of trying to make du’ā (supplication) rhyme. This is because occupying oneself with putting together rhyming prayers conflicts with the state of being humble and imploring Allāh, which is how a person should be when supplicating. There is no contradiction between this disliked behavior and the fact that some of the Prophetic supplications and statements rhyme, because the Prophet never used to have to try and make them rhyme, but was effortlessly eloquent and at the same time fully humbled in front of Allāh.

Adapted from Ibn Ḥajr, Fatḥ Al-Bārī.

I’m the Man [the youngster who puts himself forward]

It is reported that there was a young man who was from the people of knowledge who used to put himself forward, speak and behave haughtily with his knowledge in front of those older than him. This angered Sufyān [Al-Thawrī] and he said, “The Salaf were never like this; they never used to claim leadership, or sit at the head of the gathering until they had sought this knowledge for thirty years, and you act haughty in front of those who are older than you. Get up, I never want to see you even come close to my circ le.”

Al-Bayhaqī, Al-Madkhal ilā Al-Sunan Al-Kubrā 2:74.

Celebrating the Festivals of the Unbelievers

It is reported that ʿUmar b. Al-Khattāb – Allāh be pleased with him – said, “Stay well away from the enemies of Allāh during their festivals.”

He is also reported to have said, “Do not learn the speech of the non-Arabs (unbelievers) and do not enter upon the polytheists in their churches during their holidays, for the wrath [of Allāh] descends upon them then.”

It is also reported that ʿAbdullāh b. ‘Amr b. Al-‘Āṣ – Allāh be pleased with him – said, “Whoever takes residence in the lands of the non-Arabs (unbelievers) and takes part in their Nayrūz and their Mahrijān (two Persian festivals) and copies them until the day he dies will be resurrected and gathered with them on the Day of Resurrection.”

Al-Bayhaqī, Al-Sunan Al-Kubrā Vol. 9 p234. Ibn Taymīyah (see reference below) states that the chain of transmission for the second statement of ʿUmar is ṣaḥīḥ.

Commenting on these narrations, Shaykh Al-Islām Ibn Taymīyah (Majmū’ Al-Fatāwā Vol. 23 p325) states, “So ʿUmar forbade the learning of their language and merely entering upon them in their churches on their festivals, so what about one who does what they do? Or what about someone who wants to do something that is part of their religion? Isn’t agreeing with them in actions even more serious than agreeing with them in their language? Isn’t doing some of the things they do in their festivals even more serious than just entering upon them during their festivals? And if the wrath [of Allāh] descends upon them during their festivals because of the things they do, isn’t the person who partakes in their actions or some of their actions exposing himself to the punishment for this? And the statement of [ʿUmar], ‘Stay well away from the enemies of Allāh during their festivals,’ isn’t this a prohibition from meeting with them and getting together with them? So what about a person who actually does what they do?”

Supplicating for an Unbeliever

‘Uqbah b. ‘Āmir Al-Juhanī – Allāh be pleased with him – once passed by a man who looked like a Muslim, so he greeted him with salām, and he replied, “And upon you [be peace] and the mercy of Allāh and His blessings.” A boy informed him, “He is a Christian!” So ‘Uqbah got up and followed the man, caught up with him and said, “The mercy of Allāh and His blessings are upon the believers; however, may Allāh give you a long life, and make plentiful your wealth and offspring.”

Al-Bukhārī, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad. Shaykh Al-Albānī grades its chain of narration ḥasan in Saḥīḥ Al-Adab Al-Mufrad p444, and notes, “In this narration this illustrious Companion indicates that it is permissible to supplicate for someone to have a long life, even if he is an unbeliever, and so [this can be done for] a Muslim a fortiori…However, the supplicant should make sure that the unbeliever is not an enemy of the Muslims. It is also taken from this [narration] that such an unbeliever can be commiserated with what has been mentioned therein [i.e. the believers are the ones who will receive the mercy of Allāh and His blessings].”

The Unfair Teacher

It is reported that Mujāhid – Allāh have mercy on him – said, “The teacher of the kuttāb (where the children would be taught, the madrasah) will be brought on the Day of Resurrection, and if he was not fair and just with the boys, he will be grouped with the tyrants.”

Abū Bakr Al-Daynūrī, Al-Mujālasah wa Jawāhir Al-‘Ilm article 619.