AUTHOR: Shaikh Muhammad bin Saalih Al-'Uthaimeen
SOURCE: Makaarim-ul-Akhlaaq (pg. 23-31)
PRODUCED BY: Al-Ibaanah.com
As for having good manners with the creation, then some of them have defined it as withholding abuse, extending kindness and having a cheerful countenance. This has been mentioned as a saying of Al-Hasan Al-Basree, may Allaah have mercy on him. 
First: The Meaning of Withholding Abuse:
What is meant by withholding abuse is that a person refrains from harming others whether financially, spiritually or socially (i.e. by harming his reputation). So whoever does not withhold from harming the creation, he does not possess good manners. On the contrary, he is ill-mannered.
The Messenger proclaimed the prohibition of harming a Muslim through any means of abuse. He did this during the greatest of gatherings in which he congregated with his ummah, saying: “Indeed, your blood (i.e. lives), your wealth and your honor are sacred for you just like the sanctity of this day of yours in this month of yours in this land of yours.” 
If a man transgresses against people by taking their wealth or by committing fraud or by deceiving them or by hitting them and committing a crime against them or by reviling, backbiting or slandering them, such a person is not good-mannered towards people. This is since he has not refrained from harming others.
And the sin of this becomes even greater every time his bad manners are directed towards someone who has a bigger right over you. So maltreatment of your parents, for example, is worse than you treating anyone else bad. Maltreatment of your relatives is worse than you treating strangers bad. And maltreatment of your neighbors is worse than treating those who are not your neighbors bad. This is why the Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “By Allaah, he does not believe! By Allaah, he does not believe! By Allaah, he does not believe!” They (i.e. the Companions) said: “Who O Messenger of Allaah?” He said: “He whose neighbor is not safe from his calamities.” 
Second: The Meaning of Extending Kindness:
The word nadaa (kindness) means generosity and courtesy, i.e. to extend one’s generosity and courtesy to others. Generosity does not mean what some people think it to be, which is giving money only. Rather, generosity can also be by way of giving one’s self, offering one’s status (to assist), donating one’s wealth and spreading one’s knowledge.
If we see an individual taking care of the people’s needs by helping them, directing their affairs to those who are not able to reach them, spreading his knowledge amongst the people and donating his wealth to them, can we describe this man as having good manners? Yes, we can say he has good manners because he has extended kindness and generosity. This is why the Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Fear Allaah wherever you may be, and follow up an evil deed with a good deed, (for) it will wipe it out. And treat the people with good manners.” 
What falls under treating the people with good manners is: If you are oppressed and maltreated by someone, you should pardon and forgive that person. Allaah has praised those who pardon others, as He says about the inhabitants of Paradise: “Those who spend (in Allaah’s Cause) during times of prosperity and adversity, who repress anger and who pardon people. Verily, Allaah loves the good-doers.” [Surah Aali ‘Imraan: 134]
And Allaah says: “And to forego is closer to piety (Taqwaa).” [Surah Al-Baqarah: 237]
And He says: “And let them pardon and forgive.” [Surah An-Noor: 22]
And He says: “So whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allaah.” [Surah Ash-Shooraa: 40]
A person is in constant contact with people, so he will most definitely encounter some bad treatment from people. But his stance with regard to this bad treatment should be that of pardoning and overlooking. And he should know for certain that by pardoning, overlooking, and responding with good, the animosity that exists between him and his brother will transform to amicability, love and friendship. Allaah says: “The good deed and the evil deed are not equal. Repel (the evil) with that which is better, then behold, the one between whom he and you there was enmity (will become) as though he were a close friend.” [Surah Fussilat: 34]
Those of you who have knowledge of the Arabic language should reflect on how the end-result is derived here via the abrupt mention of “idhaa” (which means “then behold” here). The abrupt mention of this word indicates that the result (at the end of the ayah) will come to pass immediately, and that is: “…then behold, the one between whom he and you there was enmity (will become) as though he were a close friend.”
However, not everyone is granted this same result. This is why Allaah says: “But none are granted it except those who are patient. And none are granted it except those who possess a great portion (of moral character).” [Surah Fussilat: 35]
Do we understand from this that pardoning a criminal is praiseworthy in the absolute sense and that it is something that we were ordered to do? Some people have come up with this understanding based on this verse. However, it should be known that pardoning should only be commended if forgiving is the best and most advisable option. However, if retribution is the best option then doing that is better. This is why Allaah says: “The recompense for an evil is an evil the like thereof. But whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is with Allaah. Verily, He likes not the wrongdoers.” [Surah Ash-Shooraa: 40] So here Allaah has linked forgiveness with reconciliation.
So it is possible that forgiveness may not necessarily mean reconciliation. For example, it could be that this individual who committed a crime against you and was insolent towards you is an evil man who is known for being evil and corrupt, and so if you were to forgive him, he would persist in his evil and mischief. In this situation, it is better that this man is punished for his crime since there is reconciliation in this.
Shaikh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taimiyyah said: “Reconciliation is obligatory whereas forgiveness is optional. So in the event that forgiveness will cause reconciliation to be bypassed, this means that we have given precedence to something optional over something obligatory. And the religious legislation did not come to institute this.” And he has spoken truthfully, may Allaah have mercy on him.
An Important Note:
I would like to take this opportunity to point out something that many people do today with the intention of being good and sympathetic. And it is that when a person gets into an accident and as a result another person dies, the guardians of the deceased come and revoke the blood-money that is owed by this offender that committed the accident. So is their canceling of the blood-money praiseworthy and considered as being from good manners or does this issue have more detail to it?
There is more detail required on this issue. We must reflect and ponder on the condition of this offender who has caused this accident. Is he from among those people who are known to be careless and inconsiderate? Does he fall into the type of people that say: “I don’t care if I run over somebody on the road because I already have his blood-money prepared inside my desk” and we seek refuge in Allaah!
Or is he someone who has fallen into an accident even though he employed complete discretion and complete poise and balance, but in spite of this Allaah had already decreed all things to come to pass?
If he falls under the second category of people, then forgiving him is better. However, even if he does fall under this second category of prudent and well-poised people, before we forgive him, we must look to see if the victim has any debt he owes.
If the victim owes a debt, we cannot forgive the offender. And had we already pardoned the offender, the pardon would be dismissed. This is an issue that perhaps many people are unaware of. We say this because the heirs will assume entitlement of this blood-money from the victim that was killed in an accident, and their entitlement will not be satisfied until they pay back the deceased’s debt if he owed someone money.
This is why when Allaah mentions inheritance, He says: “(The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or a debt (he owes).” [Surah An-Nisaa: 11]
The point is that forgiving people is part of good manners and it falls under the realm of extending kindness to others. This is since extending kindness can either be in the form of giving something or in the form of revoking something, and pardoning falls under revoking something.
Third: A Cheerful Countenance:
Having a cheerful countenance means that your face is radiant and illuminated when you come in contact with other human beings. The opposite of this is to appear with a gloomy face. This is why the Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Do not think little of any good deed, even if it is encountering your brother with a cheerful face.” 
A poet put this understanding into a verse, saying:
“My son, indeed piety can be something so trivial,
as a cheerful face and a soft-spoken tongue.”
So a cheerful face allows happiness to enter into people; it brings out love and amiability; and it causes the heart to expand – both yours and those you encounter.
On the other hand, if you always appear upset, people will run away from you. They will not be happy sitting with you or talking to you. Perhaps you may even be afflicted with psychological problems. You may be suffering from a dangerous disease known as stress. If so, then being happy and having a cheerful face is from the most effective treatments one can use to combat this disease. This is why doctors advise those who are afflicted with this illness to keep away from those things that cause them to be instigated and angered since that will only cause their sickness to grow.
So being happy and having a cheerful face causes this disease to be exterminated. And as a result of these two characteristics, a person will become loved by the people and dear to them.
These are the three foundations that good manners when dealing with the creation revolve around.
Also from the signs of good manners towards creation is: That a person observes good relations with those friends and relatives that he is contact with. He should not be bothered by them nor should he inconvenience them. On the contrary, he should cause happiness to go into their hearts according to the extent that he is able to, within the confines of Allaah’s Legislation. This restriction is absolutely necessary since there are some people who cannot be made happy except with things that are disobedience to Allaah, and we seek refuge in Allaah! So we should not consent with him in this. However, causing happiness and joy to enter into those you keep ties with whether they are your family members, friends or relatives according to the limits of the Religion is part of having good manners. This is why the Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “The best of you are those who are the best towards their family. And I am the best of you towards my family.” 
Many people, unfortunately, display good manners in front of people yet they do not behave in the same manner towards their family. This is extremely wrong and the opposite of how things should be. How can you have good manners in front of strangers yet bad manners in front of your own family?
Someone may say: Because I take care of them and support them! We respond by saying: This is not something that should cause you to display bad manners towards them. Your family members and relatives have the most right out of all people that you should be good-mannered towards them when accompanying and spending time with them. This is why when a man once asked the Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam): “O Messenger of Allaah, who has the most right amongst people of my good companionship”, he (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) replied: “Your mother.” The man said: “Then who?” He replied: “Your mother.” The man said: “Then who?” He replied: “Your mother.” The man said: “Then who?” He replied: “Your father.” 
In spite of this, some people behave contrary to this. So you will find him having a bad relationship with his mother while having a good relationship with his wife. So he gives having good ties with his wife precedence (over having good ties with his mother) whereas the status of his wife before him is like that of a captive. The Prophet (sallAllaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “Take care of the women for indeed they are like captives before you.” 
In summary: Keeping good relations with family, friends and relatives is all part of having good manners.
 See al-Adaab-ush-Shar’eeyah (2/216); There are also other definitions for good manners such as the definition of Al-Waasitee, where he said: “It is when one does not argue due to his complete awareness of Allaah. It is also said it means the relinquishment of immoral characteristics and the adornment of virtuous characteristics. It is also said that it means offering the good while withholding the vile. Sahl was once asked about it so he replied: ‘The lowest form of it is showing, tolerance, lack of retribution and mercy towards the wrongdoer, while asking Allaah to forgive him and showing sympathy towards him.’” [Refer to Madaarij-us-Saalikeen of Ibn Al-Qayyim (2/294), Ihyaa ‘Uloom-id-Deen of Abu Haamid Al-Ghazaalee (3/53) and al-Adaab-ush-Shar’eeyah (2/216)]
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no. 67, 1741 & 4406) and Muslim (no. 29 & 30)
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no. 6016) and by Muslim (no. 73) with the wording: “He whose neighbor is not safe from his calamities will not enter Paradise.”
 Reported by At-Tirmidhee (no. 1987) who said it was “hasan saheeh” and Ahmad in al-Musnad (4/153, 158 & 236) from Abu Dharr and Mu’aadh bin Jabal, may Allaah be pleased with them. It is also found in Saheeh al-Jaami’-us-Sagheer (no. 97)
 Reported by Muslim (no. 144) and in extended form by At-Tirmidhee (no. 1833)
 Reported by At-Tirmidhee (no. 3895) and Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh (no. 1312 of al-Mawaarid) from the narration of ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her; It is found in Saheeh al-Jaami’-us-Sagheer (no. 3314); It was also reported by Ibn Maajah (no. 1977) from the narration of Ibn ‘Abbaas (radyAllaahu 'anhu).
 Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no. 5971), Muslim (no. 201) and Ibn Maajah (no. 2706)
 Reported by At-Tirmidhee (no. 3087) who said it was “hasan saheeh”
Published on: May 20, 2007