Aadabul Muasharat (Etiquettes of Social Life)

The Shariat consists of five branches or parts:

  • Aqaa-id, A’maal, Muamalaat, Akhlaaq, Husn-e-Muasharat.
  • AOAA-ID (Beliefs), e.g. beliefs in the Oneness of Allah Ta’ala and the Risaalat (Prophethood) of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).
  • A’MAAL (Righteous deeds) e.g. Salaat, Saum.
  • MUAMALAAT (Transactions, Contracts) e.g. trade and commerce.
  • AKHLAAQ (Moral character) e.g. humility, generosity, etc.
  • HUSN-E-MUASHARAT (Beautiful social conduct), i.e. good relationship with people, e.g. abstention from acts which cause others inconvenience, such as disturbing a person in his sleep.

The above mentioned five departments are collectively known as the Shariat. It is essential for Muslims to adopt all five departments of the Shariat. But, in the present age people have abbreviated the Shariat. Some have taken only Aqaa-id, believing that only the proclamation of La ilaaha il lallaahu suffices for immediate entry into Jannat. Such persons, while they believe Salaat, Saum, etc., are Fardh, they do not obtain the good fortune of practically executing these acts of worship. Others again, along with Aqaa-id observe Salaat, Saum, etc., as well. However, they have discarded Muamalaat. In their transactional dealings they are not concerned with the Deen, whether their acts are lawful or not. They are indifferent to the question of halaal and haraam regarding their earnings and dealings. Then there are those who maintain their Muamalaat on a healthy footing, but are unconcerned with the reformation of their moral character. Those who are concerned about Akhlaaq are exceptionally few. In fact there are even such persons who spend considerable time to reform others while others are inconvenienced and annoyed by their behaviour and attitude. They remain unaware of the difficulty they are causing others by their actions and behaviour. They are completely uncaring about their own detestable condition. There are numerous such persons who will not venture to offer Salaam to a poor Muslim along the road. On the contrary they wait in expectation of the Salaam to be initiated by the poor.

Aadabul Muasharat in the Ahadith

  1. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) ordered that while eating in company one should not take two dates at a time without having obtained the consent of one’s friends. Such an insignificant act has been prohibited solely on account of disrespect and because of dislike which this act will engender in others.
  2. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that when eating in company one should continue eating until the others have completed even though one has eaten to satiation.By discontinuing to eat, those who are still eating are put to shame. It is thus clear that one should not act in any way which embarrasses others. Some people, on account of natural shame, refrain from taking something in a gathering although they wish for it. Others again feel it difficult to refuse a request In a gathering although they have no desire of giving. Such persons should not be given things in a gathering nor should anything be asked of them in a gathering.
  3. In the Hadlth It Is narrated that once Hadhrat Jaabir (radhiallahu anhu) came to the house of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). On knocking at the door, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) enquired: “Who is it?” Jaabir (radhlallahu anhu) replied: “It is me.” Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in annoyance, said: “It is me. It Is me.” From this we learn that statements should not be made ambiguously. One should speak with clarity to enable the listener to fully understand. Ambiguous statements which cause confusion perturb people.
  4. Hadhrat Anas (radhiallahu anhu) stated that there was no person dearer to the Sahaabah than Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Inspite of this, he says the Sahaabah would not stand in respect for Rasulullah (saJialiahu alayhi wasallam) because of his aversion for this mode of respect. This establishes that any etiquette, way of respect or any form of service which is displeasing to a person should not be rendered to him. One should give priority to the wishes and feelings of others, not to one’s own desires.
  5. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that it is not permissible for a person to intrude in the company of two people without obtaining their consent. Such intrusion constricts the hearts. Thus, it is necessary to abstain from acts and attitudes which inhibit or cause inconvenience to others.
  6. According to the Hadith, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would cover his mouth with his hand or a handkerchief when sneezing. In this way he stifled the sound to avoid causing annoyance to others. This establishes that one should not annoy or scare or inconvenience one’s companions by means of loudness and shouting.
  7. Hadhrat Jaabir (radhiallahu anhu) narrates that the Sahaabah would sit down in any place where they reached in the gathering of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi)wasallam). They would not pass through others in order to obtain seating place ahead. This attitude of the Sahaabah establishes the aadaab (etiquettes) of a majlis (gathering). The slightest Inconvenience to others was avoided.
  8. Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas, Hadhrat Saeed Bin Musayylb and Hadhrat Anas (radhiallahu anhum) narrate in ahadith of different categories that when visiting the sick one should not remain for a long time. The visit should be short. This narration indicates the degree to which one should go in refraining from inconveniencing others. Sometimes a sick person due to his condition suffers inconvenience by the lengthy presence of others. However, the presence of such persons who are a source of comfort and solace to the sick are excluded from this prohibition.
  9. Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas (radhiallahu anhu), explaining the reason for the need to take ghusl (bath) on Fridays, says that in the Initial period of Islam most people were poor labourers. Soiled garments and perspiration caused bad odours. Hence ghusl was decreed waajib (obligatory) in the beginning. Later, the incumbency (wujoob) was abrogated and ghusl for Jumma’ was retained as a Sunnat act It thus transpires that it is incumbent to refrain from causing the slightest inconvenience and annoyance to anyone.


  1. In a gathering where a talk or discussion is taking place, the person entering should not draw attention to himself by making salaam. He should not become an interference in the talk. He should lower his gaze and silently sit down. When later the opportunity arises, he may make Salaam.
  2. Adopt the practice of mutual Salaam. Whenever meeting a Muslim, say: ASSALAMU ALAIKUM. In reply say: WA ALAIKUMUS SALAAM.All other ways are baseless.
  3. When a person conveys the Salaarns of another to you, reply: ALAYHIM WA ALAIKUMS SALAAM.This is best.If sorneone replies: WA-ALAIKUMUS SALAAM, it will also suffice.
  4. One person of the group making Salaam will be representative of the whole group. His Salaam will be adequate on behalf of the group. Similarly,if from the gathering one person replied, it will suffice on behalf of the whole gathering.
  5. The one who initiates the Salaam obtains greater thawaab.
  6. When replying to the Salaam of a person, the Salaam should be made verbally, not by a sign of the hand or a nod of the head.
  7. Better repayment for a favour will be when the repayment is somewhat more than the act of favour rendered. Thus, the reply should be more than the Salaam (greeting). If ASSALAMU ALAIKUM was said, the better reply will be WA ALAIKUMUS SALAAM WARAHMATULLAAH. If WA BARAKAA TUHU is also added it will be an added merit.
  8. It is waajib (obligatory) to reply to the Salaam which is written in a letter. This reply may be in writing or verbally.
  9. The Fuqaha have said that in reply to the Salaam which is written in a letter, one may say ALAIKUMUS SALAAM or even ASSALAMU- ALAIKUM.
  10. In a letter in which a dua is wriften, the Salaam should be written first since this is the Sunnat method.
  11. Instead of writing or saying the Salaam, to say any other term or to adopt the greeting of any other community is bid’ah. Such an alien greeting is in fact alteration of the Shariah.
  12. A person who is engrossed in a conversation or in some work should not be greeted. The new-comer should not intrude with his hand-shaking. Such an act is uncultured and causes distress to others.

(from Aadabul Muaasharat by Hazrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi(R.A.)