One of the most striking statements made by the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) is: “I have come to perfect human behaviour.” An examination of his (ﷺ) life, and of his (ﷺ) teachings, indicate that he (ﷺ) was referring to all forms of human behaviour. It must be understood that all the behaviour of Muslims has its origins in the Shariah or the Divine teachings. I do not know if there is anything that we do, or if there is any relationship that we establish that falls outside the realm of the Shariah. I do not think so. Even the drinking of a glass of water, or the way one dresses, have their origins in what Allah (ﷻ) or His Messenger (ﷺ) teach. This is a remarkable thing, and so those who glibly say that Islam is a way of life, are in fact speaking the truth. They should mean, and I hope that they do mean, that all aspects of our lives are governed by the teachings of our religion. They should mean that.
When I look at this Holy Tradition, it appears to me that the Messenger (ﷺ) was also stressing our behaviour with regard to our relationships with Allah (ﷻ), His Messenger (ﷺ), and all people. When we taught you about Futuwwah, if you can remember, we were talking about the most polite behaviour that one gives expression to in these relationships. How polite must we be in our relationships with our Lord? How polite must we be in our relationships with His Messenger (ﷺ); and how polite must we be in our relationships with human beings? The best, most acceptable behaviour according to the teachings of Islam, when one is in these relationships, is of course called Futuwwah.
Sometimes when I listen to people, I don’t always see the most excellent Futuwwah. We are on a road on which we are taught the most excellent Futuwwah. So when we stand in the Divine Court the day, most probably in the Presence of our Lord and most probably in the presence of the Messenger (ﷺ) and the Prophets (a.s.) and all the pious people, we stand there as people of impeccable Futuwwah. We greet first. We withdraw our hand last. We speak in the most polite way. We do not shout. We answer in the most polite manner, and so many, many more things … so many more. I have always said that a Muslim male must be a gentleman and the Muslim female, a lady.
We know that we are not all like this. We also know that it is through hard practice, gentle obedience, subservience, and heart-awareness remembrance, that we acquire those characteristics of Futuwwah that will push us to the forefront of our community, in the forefront amongst those who form the best company with regard to their behaviour. We must understand that how, for example, we treat our guests or how the guests treat their hosts, have to do with Futuwwah and is therefore directly linked to spirituality. All our forms of behaviour, whatever they might be, have direct or indirect links with spirituality; and regression in any form of human behaviour, impacts on that spirituality.
Let me explain what I am talking about. When we are busy remembering Allah (ﷻ), we are busy with His Sacred Words and trying to become sacred, possibly in the company of others who are similarly engaged. Part of the function of the remembrance is spiritual purification. And so when afterwards we lie, or cheat, or speak in vulgar ways, or crack ugly jokes, or whatever the case might be, all of these cause serious damage to our spiritual striving. We cannot use the same tongue that honours one’s Lord by remembering Him and then use it to scandalize; the same instrument of speech we use for our remembrance of our Lord and to scandalize His creation. Or the same instrument of speech is used in a variety of forms of worship and then we use it in a variety of forms of bad behaviour. This is what I am talking about. I know that many of us are still making many mistakes. I have had on occasion to speak to some of the murids about their bad behaviour. I have had to do that to help them on the path. Sometimes when individuals come to me and speak to me, they don’t always exhibit the best behaviour, but I allow this, because they are on a path of growth, at the beginning or somewhere on the path but not at the end. If they were to be at the end, they would not speak to me like that. But this is part of our education.
You see, spirituality has not only to do with different forms of worship or different forms of social activities. It also has to do with those characteristics, which bring dignity into a relationship and which do not cause emotional disturbances within the relationships. And so when we talk harshly to our wives and upset them emotionally, we are damaging the spirituality in which we were engaged. Why do you think when Allah (ﷻ) describes His Messenger (ﷺ) as one with the highest level of human behaviour (Al-Khuluqul Adhim) and why did Sayyidatuna A’isha (r.a.) describe her husband’s behaviour as being the Qur’an? All of these are an ocean of understanding and knowledge. The supporting structure of the Messenger’s (ﷺ) behaviour was the teachings of the Qur’an, and so his behaviour reflected those teachings. This gave him (ﷺ) a form of behaviour that was beyond what we call impeccable.
His (ﷺ) behaviour, of course, is also part of his (ﷺ)’s Sunnah or Prophetic Practice. We are supposed to obey that Practice and so, we must also strive that the Qur’an becomes the basis of our behaviour, and that our behaviour, is therefore, a reflection of those teachings and an imitation of the Prophetic Practice. Of course, this is immensely difficult. Allah (ﷻ) did not fashion us exactly like He fashioned His Messenger (ﷺ). His Messenger (ﷺ) was fashioned and forged to be like this. We also have some of that fashioning, but only a little bit. But even this little bit is enough for us to become people of Futuwwah. We must pray to our Lord that we, in this Order, will strive very hard to exhibit the most impeccable human behaviour under all circumstances. We must pray for this deeply and sincerely, because we need this in our lives and we need the teachings of the Qur’an and the example of the Messenger (ﷺ) to be the support structures in our relationships. I am going to say a very difficult thing, but Islam allows me to say it. In our behaviour, we must be like the Messenger (ﷺ). We ask our Lord for that, and we plead to our Lord for that, amin.