Sunday, April 17, 2011

It’s really nice to see good manners

It’s sad to say that these days it’s not often that we see people displaying good manners. Usually people are angry and agitated and ready to pounce on the next person like a cat waits to pounce on a mouse. Sometimes I find myself stunned at the way in which people treat each other, swearing and shouting without any concern for those around them. Just recently I was picking my nieces up from school when a grandmother of a child had a huge screaming match with the security guard at the school. The poor guy stands there the whole day making sure that children don’t leave the school without permission and taking note of who comes to fetch which children so that their safety is ensured. This woman was angry at him for some reason, but instead of talking to him about her issue, she resorted to swearing him loudly in public. It was so terrible that even my niece’s young friend had to comment on it. Let me just add here that my nieces attend an Islamic school and the woman who was screaming and swearing at the security guard, while he looked at her humbly without uttering a word, was unfortunately a Muslim woman.  Indeed it is sad that we see these examples all the time, and it seems that people just don’t have patience to deal with things in a positive manner.

So it was really nice to actually see someone displaying good manners for a change. On Saturday I was in the queue at the checkpoint of the supermarket, and the lady in front of me was an old woman, who was shopping by herself. The cashier was so nice to this old woman that I had to write about it. She greeted the old woman with a huge warm smile, patiently waited while the woman took a long time to unpack all her groceries, then smiled when the old woman said she could not afford to buy everything and left some items behind. While the old woman took a while looking for change in her purse, the cashier spoke to her happily. Then the old woman bought airtime for her cellphone and the cashier noticed that she was struggling with it, so she actually took the time to take the old lady’s phone and upload the airtime, while explaining to her how to do it. While doing this she apologised to me, as I was the next customer waiting to be served. Of course, I couldn’t be bothered how long she took. I was standing and watching this pleasant exchange with warmth in my heart, finding it reassuring that there is hope left for humanity after all.

When it was my turn to be served, the same cashier smiled at me and told me that they have to work so hard, from about 8am, till 6pm on a Saturday. “This shop is always busy”, she told me; “even when it’s not the end of the month”. I thought to myself that if this woman who had to work so hard, for a salary that’s probably not that great, could still be so nice to people, then what excuse do we have? And I have to add here that Saturday happened to be a cold, grey, rainy day in Johannesburg, and while the rest of us slept comfortably in our warm beds, people like this particular cashier, had to wake up early to go to work. And while we have the luxury of getting in to our cars, which most probably has some sort of heating system, and then go to the shopping centre to buy what we need and some things we don’t really need, this woman and many others like her, have to wait for public transport (which can be a mission in Johannesburg) and then go to work, watching how easily people can spend money on luxuries. Yet, despite all this, she can still have good manners and a lovely smile on her face!

Now, I don’t mean to pick on the faults of others, and I really do pray that Allah makes it easy for all of us to display the best of manners. I also understand that people have bad days and that sometimes we just get so angry that we really can’t control our feelings, but just look at the difference between the first woman I mentioned here, and the second one I mentioned. Look at the example they’ve set and the impact they’ve had on the lives of people around them. Which woman would you rather be around? Of course the answer to that question is obvious.

Our Noble and Beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the most excellent of people and displayed the best of manners. I’m sure you all know the story of the time the Prophet (PBUH) offered to help an old lady with her parcels and while they walked she warned the Prophet (PBUH) to stay away from a man named Muhammad, because she had heard bad things about him. (The bad things were things like he divided the nation by preaching his message, he says that the religion of their ancestors are false, etc, -and no attack on his character as this was impossible). Then when they reach her home she asks the Prophet (PBUH) ; “What is your name young man?” And the Prophet (PBUH) says humbly; “Muhammad”. Can you imagine what good manners and great character the Prophet had? To listen to someone say all these bad things about you and remain silent and humble, and still continue helping them. SubhanAllah. There are so many other stories, but this one always moves me.

The point is that we have no excuse for bad manners and rudeness. No matter how bad a day we’re having, how sick we feel or whatever difficulties we may be going through. Even if the next person has wronged us, there is no excuse to treat people badly. Screaming, shouting and swearing is not the way Muslims are supposed to be. Good manners and good character is an important part of our religion. It’s what attracted people to Islam in the time of the Prophet (PBUH). Without it we will never have an impact on anyone. We should all try to be more like the cashier I met on Saturday, if we were, the world would be a better place.

May The Almighty Allah guide us all and help us to have good manners and the best of characters. Let us remember the teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that even a smile is regarded as charity.


  1. Assalaam Alaikum Zarina,

    Lovely post, MashaAllah. =)

    When you described the encounter you witnessed with the old woman and friendly cashier at the grocery store, I couldn't help but smile. And although I had read the story before, I loved revisiting the example of patience, kindness and humility set forth by the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) in a not so ideal situation.

    JazakAllah khair for the much needed reminder.

  2. Zarina, thank you for sharing this sweet story with us. It brought a happy smile on my face as this woman seems so kind and it is such a great character trait to have.
    And I am glad I could read this story about the Prophet (Peace be upon him) I obviously did not know about - what a great sens of others and may we all learn from him and the nice people, as the cashier you met at the week-end, and work on developping good manners and kindness in all situations.
    Have a lovely day and be blessed for always reminding us the good path.

  3. Sara and Marie

    I'm glad that this story made you both smile. It is very hopeful to see people who are good and kind. Most of the time people just seem too stressed out to bother.

    It's also nice to see people like you sisters who appreciate true goodness in life instead of focusing on material things.

    May you both always come across people who are good mannered.

    Stay well;-}

  4. Nice relations to good manners - the lack of adab in our current day is becoming a frustration.