Rights of the ROAD

AbuTalhah (RA) said: 'While We were sitting in front of the house and talking amongst ourselves, Allaah's Messenger salallahu alayhi wa sallam) happened to come there. He stood by us and said:

'What about you and your meetings on the path? Avoid these meetings on the paths.'

We said: We were sitting here without (any intention of doing harm to the passers- by); we are sitting to discuss matters and to hold conversation amongst ourselves. Thereupon he said:

'If there is no help (for you but to sit on these paths), then give the paths their rights and these are lowering of the gaze, exchanging of greetings and good conversation." (Muslim) 

With regard to people in general, one of the most important issues in life is speech. It is a well-recognized truth that one of the defining characteristics of a person is his or her way of speaking. We are informed, in Islaam, that speech is one of the most important characteristics to bring to light a person's character. Thus the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) urged the believers to speak good or keep silent:

 "Whoever believes in Allaah and the Last Day should speak good or be silent." (Muwatta) 

Any Muslim who wishes to partake in the congregation of the roadside has an additional responsibility to be good in his speech throughout the duration of his sitting. Being good in speech implies that one follows the etiquettes of Islaam in speaking and congregating. The summary of these etiquettes are:

Praising Allaah: Aisha (RA) narrated that when Allaah's Messenger (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) sat in an assembly or  prayed he spoke some words, so she asked him about them and he said (that they were):

"All Praise is due to Allaah, Ipraise Him and seek His help and forgiveness .... " (Tirmidhi)

In everything a sincere believer experience in life, he is a witness to the wisdom, knowledge, and might of A1laah,and bow his head to Him in reverence and this in turn reflect in his language.

Believers are aware at all times that Allaah is rich beyond need of anything, but that all living creatures are in need of Him. Since they have understood the might and greatness of Allah, they are also aware of their own weakness. They know that they can do nothing on their own unless Allah wills it.

Speaking in the knowledge that Allaah is with you at every moment: One of the primary characteristics in distinguishing the style of speech that is unique to believers is that they speak in the knowledge that they are with Allaah at all times. This is cognizance of Allaah's existence, might and grandeur, felt deep in one's heart; It is speaking without forgetting that He encompasses everything and everyone, iswith us at all times, hears and knows everything that we say, for which we will all be called to account.

Those who are aware of these truths speak sincere and honestly. The fear of Allah which they have in their hearts prevents them from uttering a word of which Allaah would not approve.

"Not a word does he (or she) utter, but there is a watcher by him ready (to record it) (Q50[Qaf]: 18)

Employing the Qur'an as a guide in speech:  At every stage of their lives, whether formulating a decision, or speaking, or while offering an interpretation of something, Muslims should consistently use the Qur'an as their guide. Therefore, their every word, every decision, and every form of advice they are prepared to offer must be in agreement with the Qur'an. Those who speak by using the Qur'an as their guide invariably participate in any conversation in the best way.

Showing concern in speech for the lawful and the unlawful: Allaah says:

"Those who repent, those who worship, those who praise, those who fast, those who bow, those who prostrate, those who command the right, those·who forbid the wrong, those who preserve the limits of Allaah: give good news to the believers." (Q9[Tawba]:112). 

Just as believers seek to avoid that which Allaah has prohibited, and carry out that which He has commanded, they must also observe the same bounds in their speech throughout their lives. They must not defend in word or support any behaviour which Allaah has commanded them to renounce. They should also speak in praise of behaviour which Allaah approves of. They should not hold back from saying what is true and right; on the contrary, they should take great pleasure in explaining the morality related in the Qur'an to others. He never gives way to such thoughts as "lf I oppose their ideas, will they take action against me?" or "I wonder what they think of me?," thus remaining silent.

Saying what is Best

"Say to My servants that they should only say the best. Shaytan wants to stir up trouble between them. Shaytan is an outright enemy to man." (QI7[Isra']:53) 

 In the Qur'an, Allaah commands people to say what is best to one another. Before uttering a word, Muslims consult their conscience and try to say only what is best. They take care not to say a single word which will discomfort the other person, or cause doubt or concern in their heart. On the contrary, they will try to speak in such a way as to put their heart at ease, to console, and thus enthuse them. They speak for the purpose of encouraging others, and ensuring that they are strengthened in faith by bringing them closer to Allah.

Speaking in a Humble Manner: Humility is another important factor in the manner of speech of the Muslim. Attention to this matter is drawn to this aspect of their morality in the Qur'an in this verse:

"The servants of the All-Merciful are those who walk modestly on the earth and, who, when the ignorant speak to them, say, 'Peace'." (Q25[Furqan]:63)

The faithful are humble through their knowledge that no matter what qualities they may possess, all are favours from Allaah and that He can take them back whenever He wishes.

Speaking with Tolerance and Forgiveness: Allaah says: "Correct and courteous words accompanied by forgiveness are better than giving charity followed by insulting words. Allah is Rich Beyond Need, All-Forbearing." (Q2 [Baqara]:263)

To live according to this moral code, as defined in the Qur'an, requires a sincere faith and fear of Allaah, because, to demonstrate a superior morality, one of the most difficult responsibilities is in forgiving somebody against whom one has a valid complaint.

Consulting: One characteristic of the speech of those distant from the Qur'an is that they always seek the last word and to come out right in the end. Rather than understanding and benefiting from what the other has to say, they look to express their own ideas and force them to be accepted. In fact, no matter what one's level of knowledge, there are always things to be learned from the other. Even if the other is less knowledgeable, it is always possible for him or her to offer a different perspective on a subject evaluate it more objectively and come. up with helpful insights. Allaah says:

"Over everyone with knowledge is one [more] knowing" (Q12 [Yusuf]:76)

Avoiding Suspicion and Slander: Another important matter which Muslims take care to avoid is making statements on subjects about which they are not informed and based merely on conjecture. In the verse of the Qur'an,

"Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of. Hearing, sight and hearts will all be questioned." (Q1 7[Isra]:36)

Allaah points out that this will become a heavy burden in His presence.

Not Interrupting and Speaking Calmly: Muslims approach each experience throughout the day with the question, "How should I behave to earn the approval of Allaah?" One way of behaving in a way, which is hoped will earn Allaah's approval, is listening politely to a person without interrupting. This shows respect for the speaker and what he or she is saying.

Employing a Style of Speech Appropriate to the Level of Knowledge of the Person Addressed: One of the appealing features of the speech of Muslims is that they use the way of speaking that is the most appropriate, most considerate comprehensible. It is the intelligence that results from faith which endows them with this ability to address people of all ages and circumstances.

This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited