Archive for the 'Moments of Adab' Category


Being Scolded in Class

As a continuation of the “Moments of Adab” series. (Previous posts “Peeling an Orange for His Wife” and “Waiting After the Khutbah.”)

Sometimes we think that a person who has good adab (character/manners) must be a pushover and has to act softly and kindly with others all the time–but then, how does this person ever get anywhere or have self-respect and function with others?

3.  Being Scolded in Class

The shaykh said that when he was a student of knowledge, he was sitting in a class of one of his teachers and he did something (maybe fall asleep or didn’t finish all of his reading and couldn’t answer a question or something like that) during class that the teacher called him out on.  He tried hiding behind the really tall guy in front of him, but his teacher called him out anyways. I really wish I could remember what he had done to get in trouble–but basically, he was scolded at, yelled at, and embarrassed in front of his whole class.  The public moment of it is not even the worst part when I think about it.  Getting yelled at by anyone you respect and are learning from is enough to make you feel like scum.

This session that the teacher was teaching was being recorded.  He said that when he feels like he needs to be grounded or needs a reminder of who he really is and where he came from, he goes back to that audio recording, and presses play and listens to him being yelled at in front of the class all over again.  Can you imagine being humiliated like that (and rightfully so), and then returning back to that moment of time to humble himself?

This reminds me of a moment when I thought I had done something really good–a huge act of kindness and perhaps my intentions had gone astray.  Instead of thanking me or praising me, the shaykh publicly announced something really stupid that I had done earlier in the day/in the process of my “good act.”  I was so mortified, that all of the arrogance that I may have been feeling up to that point instantaneously shattered.   I wanted to just melt into the carpet of the musallah and disappear.  I didn’t want anyone to know it was me.  When the mistake from before had happened, the frustration I had felt at that little glitch before (I was thinking, “wow, I get something like this happen to me when I just did something so amazing?!”) clicked for me at that moment–was I doing that thing with the right intention?

I, like the previous shaykh, also have access to a recording of that moment of adab, and when I feel myself falling into a trap of arrogance or self-righteousness, I go online, find that recording and listen to it–and I relish in the burning I feel in my face when the blood rushes up to my cheeks.  Feeling like that reminds me that I need to humble myself, and sometimes being humbled by a teacher is one of the hardest, but most meaningful, ways to remember where you are.

From the life of the Prophet (S), this brings to mind the time when he appointed one of the sahabi as an imam of a rural, farming community (I think it was Mu’adh).  This zealous, young dude (may Allah be pleased with him) lead prayers that were so long that the people came and complained to the Prophet (S) about it.  The Prophet (S) was so angry with this sahabi, that he called him and he scolded him, saying, “Are you being a source of trial for these people?”  He was harsh with him at this moment, and their relationship allowed for him to be that way with this particular sahabi.  I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to hear that from the Prophet (S)’s mouth, and how many times that memory came back and haunted him in moments when he needed a reminder the most.


Waiting After the Khutbah

As a continuation of my “Moments of Adab” series…

(This shaykh is the same one from the previous post “Peeling an Orange for His Wife.”)

2. Waiting After the Khutbah

I had taken a fiqh of salah class with this shaykh and I had reviewed my notes some months later.  I had a question that I thought was answered, but I didn’t understand the answer and needed clarification on it.  This same shaykh was giving the khutbah at the local masjid that Friday, so after the khutbah was over, I stood on a curb in the masjid parking lot, a little ways away from the brother’s entrance so that I could spot the shaykh and approach him to have my question clarified on his way out.  (On a side note, I personally believed that I have gotten pretty good at the art of what I call “awkwardly hovering.” This is how I make my presence known to a shaykh or a brother and let them know that I need to talk to them, so they need to step out of their circle of men or whatever to come speak to me. Of course, hoards of brothers were flocking around him, and I just stood there waiting for them to leave or for the shaykh to break free of them.

I could tell that he had seen me, and he kept trying to make his way over to talk to me.  But every time he’d take a few steps in my direction, another brother or two would come up to him and he would have to stay there and talk to them.  Twenty minutes passed of my “awkward hovering,” and he finally got the chance to come up to me.  He apologized for having me wait for so long and motioned to a spot in the shade that we could move to so that I wasn’t standing in the sun anymore.  Before I asked him my question, he welcomed me to his hometown, as I was temporarily living there at the time.  I finally asked him my question, he sort of laughed at the simplicity of it and the fact that I had waited for 30 minutes to speak to him about it.

This is one example of a shaykh out there that take the sisters of the community very seriously and dedicate time to help them figure their problems out.   Some shuyookh understand the limited access that women have to them, and some of them (like this individual masha’Allah) adjust their priorities to make sure that the women in their communities don’t get the short end of the stick.  This reminds me of how the Prophet (S) would listen to the women who came to him with grievances and how he would dedicate time to spend specifically with the women of his community.

I pray that communities everywhere have leaders that honor and pay attention to their women and continue to  invest their time and efforts towards them.


Peeling an Orange for His Wife

I hear about certain ahadeeth that describe the body language of the Prophet (S), how while he was making dua for this guy, he reached out and placed his hand on the heart of the young man who asked for permission to fornicate with someone; or how he came down to eye level to talk a girl about her bird.

I hear about these moments of adab, of excellent mannerisms, and I think–wow.  I wish that kind of stuff would be something that happens to me and that I am blown away by.  Someone who can treat another person in this way has such a heightened level of body-awareness and has fine-tuned his level of communication to the point where his body language (which psychologists say communicate much more than the words used) becomes the most effective and powerful force in his communication.

And then I hear about some of the teachers my teachers or shuyookh speak about–about their “moments of adab” with them.  The rush of excitement I feel when they recount those private, touching moments is something that I appreciate so much–and as someone who looks up to those people, it makes me happy and feel even more humble that those people who are legendary in my eyes have people who are legendary in their eyes.

So I recently realized that I’ve experienced a few moments of adab myself and I’d like to share them in a series of posts.

1. Peeling an Orange for His Wife

I think it was during my second Ilm Summit, I was sitting at a table in the hotel lobby with a few sisters and the wife of one of the shuyookh who was teaching a portion of the classes.  It was halfway into lunch, creeping into my qayloolah/lunchtime napping session, but I was still sitting at the table, simply too tired to go all the way up to my room and knock out.  The shaykh comes out of the room where the brothers eat lunch and is passing by our table.  He comes to our table, greets us all, and hands the orange that he had already peeled to his wife.  He smiles, excuses himself, and walks away.

From his wife’s reaction, i could tell that she was pleasantly surprised and slightly embarrassed by his gesture because there were a few of us around when it happened.  But–I could tell that she probably felt like one of the most loved women in the world at that moment, and that she truly appreciated it.

This reminds me of the love that the Prophet (S) showed his own wives, and how he was not ashamed of expressing his feelings towards her among friends/the community.  The hadith when the Prophet (S) is asked who the person is that he loves the most is the one that comes to mind, and in a society where it was thought of as unmanly to speak kindly about one’s wife, he was out there expressing his undying love towards her and we even have that narration with us today.

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