Mar 24, 2013

What is Adab ?

What is Adab ?


The word adab is not fully translatable from Arabic to English. It encompasses all the good things a Muslim must do. Adab linguistically means to invite people for food. The Arabic word Ma’duba is a word derived from the word Adab, and means to invite all or many people for all types of food, or a gathering around a table. Adab hence includes all that is good; every noble characteristic, habit, or trait that is included within the scope of adab.

Adab is natural, it isn’t really taught, or learnt, but it is naturally developed. Children acquire adab from their parents, students from their teachers, the young from the elders. We may have much knowledge but lack adab and we may have much adab but lack knowledge; but it is adab that holds the greater value and importance. In today’s society, where parents, teachers, and elders are no longer given their correct honours, respect or rights; basic manners have made a swift exit, whilst we compete for glory, knowledge, or worldly gain.


The Importance of Adab

Ibn Al-Mubarak said, “Mukhlid Ibn al-Husayn once said to me,
‘We are more in need of acquiring adab than learning Hadith’.

This highlights that knowledge alone is insufficient to build a sound and balanced Islamic personality. Imam Zakariya al-Anbari once said:

‘Knowledge without Adab is like fire without wood, and Adab without knowledge is like a spirit without a body’.

So, vast amounts of knowledge and severe lack in adab, means a person is little more than a donkey laden with books. What use are the books to that donkey without being able to read? Similarly, what use is knowledge to a Muslim, without the practical mannerisms and etiquettes that really define us as Muslims?

Traditionally, adab was not taught but acquired and embodied between interactions between people. It has been narrated that Imam Ahmed (رحمة الله عليه) would have had up to 5000 attendees at his gatherings, maybe 500 would write and learn; the rest (4500) would simply learn from his actions, his adab. This has such importance that we learn by what we see, whether that is good or bad, hence it is essential and somewhat detrimental that we teach only that which is good, as the bad habits are perhaps the easier to acquire.

Looking at other classical examples from our pious Ulema; the mother of Imam Malik (رحمة الله عليه) would place an imama on his head and send him to his teacher Rabi’ah ibn Abdurrahman (nicknamed: Rabi’ah Ar-Rai’), to learn first from his manners, his adab and then his knowledge. Indeed the deen of Islam is itself manners, where anyone that surpasses you in manners, is better than you in deen (Ibn al-Qayyim). Abu Huraira (رضى الله عنه) narrated, that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:

“I have not been sent as a Messenger, except to perfect character (Akhlaaq)”
He also said that:
“The nearest of you to me on the Day of Judgement will be the one who is best in character.”

All the books of Hadith have chapters on Adab. For example:

1. Muwatta’, Imam Malik: The book of good behaviour
2. Sahih al-Bukhari: The book of manners
3. Sahih Muslim: The book of dutifulness, ties of kinship and manners.
4. Sunan Abi Dawud: The book of manners
5. Sunan at Tirmidhi: The book of manners, and the book of dutifulness and ties of kinship.
6. Sunan Ibn Majah: Chapters on Manners.

The book Al Adab Al Mufrad was separated by Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) because he was aware of its great importance in everyday living. When we talk about Adab we must first begin with our Adab with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) in terms of akhlaaq, sincerity, actions, avoiding shirk etc. We must qualify our respect for Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and His attributes, His signs, His Symbols (the Quran, the Masãjid and everything connected to Him). Then we must purify and qualify our Adab with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم). In quantifying, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) tells us in the Quran that in His (صلى الله عليه وسلم) manners and style, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) was a perfect example:
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
“Truly, you have the best of manners”
(Quran Al Qalam: verse 4)
more on adab @


There Is No Greater Inheritance Than Adab

Written by Suzalie Bin Mohamad. Posted in The Star 
It has been narrated by many scholars of Islam that if parents have any inheritance, there is no greater inheritance than Adab. Al-Walid ibn Numayr said that he heard his father say ‘righteousness is (a gift) from Allah, but Adab (right conduct) is from parents".

Adab plays an important role in society. The actions of members in society are considered immoral or bad if they lack manners. Indeed, having good manners and doing few good deeds are better by far than doing many good deeds and having no or little manners.

Adab is central to the teachings of Islam. Due to the great importance of Adab in everyday life, Imam Bukhari separated the discussion on Adab in a special book entitled al-Adab al-Mufrad. If one were to survey the books of Hadith, one would discover that each have chapters on Adab. The narrators of Hadith have reserved special elaboration for Adab in their books. For instance;

1. The Muwatta' of Imam Malik: The book of good behaviour
2. The Sahih of al-Bukhari: The book of manners
3. The Sahih of Muslim: The book of duties, ties of kinship and manners
4. The Sunan of Abu Dawud: The book of manners
5. The Sunan of al-Tirmidhi: The book of manners, and the book of duties and ties of kinship
6. The Sunan of Ibn Majah: A Chapter on manners

Adab can be taught. We learn by example. Therefore, it is crucial that we encourage good habits and deeds, although bad habits are perhaps the easier to acquire.

Knowledge alone is insufficient to build a sound and balanced personality. What use is knowledge to us without exemplifying those mannerisms and etiquette that really define us as Muslims? A Muslim scholar mentioned that "knowledge without Adab is like fire without wood, and Adab without knowledge is like a spirit without a body"

Suffice it to say that Adab is acquired naturally, it is not really taught or learnt, but is naturally developed. Children learn Adab from their parents, students from their teachers, the less experienced from the experienced. One may have knowledge but lacks ‘Adab'; and one may have Adab but lacks knowledge; however without Adab, one cannot know which knowledge is more prior.

Today it is painfully obvious that material gain regardless of how it is acquired, has taken priority over virtue. The spiritual development of humanity has fallen far behind its intellectual growth. It would seem that looking back through history, our greatest search for knowledge has been for the knowledge of destruction, and our greatest discoveries are the result of an all-encompassing drive for power.

The destruction and violence of war is obvious. At the touch of a button millions of people die, whole cities are destroyed, and poisons remain to defile our earth for all generations to come. I wonder, if we were to or must struggle and fight among ourselves, could we return to a less sophisticated time when the battlefield was filled only with the screams of soldiers killing soldiers? War is only a word to much of a modern society. Removed by technology, many have never seen the pain in the eyes of a starving child chewing at his or her dead mother's breast. All these are the result of a loss of Adab.

Far worse is that in our daily lives there is an insidious violence, although, perhaps not quite as obvious, one that is just as surely affecting our consciousness and destroying our world. Let us take for example, the modern lifestyle. Sanitation departments and waste disposal systems are overburdened with waste that cannot be disposed of. In addition to this, the requirements for hospital beds and mental institutions are increasing at an alarming rate as our minds succumb to the pressures of insecurity and the stress of modern life. Greed, intolerance, irresponsibility and thinking only for personal economy and comfort seem to be the rule of thumb today. Humanity has become a global parasite, robbing the earth of its richness and rewarding it with poisons. We have created an economic dead end due to our selfishness.

Why is it difficult to control our egos? You cannot touch the ego, you cannot see it. It has no concrete form. Some say one cannot control the ego because the ego is an illusion. But one's actions are manifestation of that ego. We can observe our actions and behaviours, and we can control our actions.

We must set an example through our actions. We must not allow ourselves to become controlled and consumed by power struggle and political conflict which expose us to fear, selfishness and blind following. If one is staunchly selfish, one cannot be free. If one embraces righteousness, such that the embrace is one of fanaticism, zealousness, and extremism, then one cannot extend ones hand to another in friendship. I remember reading the advice of a martial arts master to his students. The master said,

"You must learn the freedom of no desires. If you grab water or air, the essence will escape. If you want to drink, you must cup your hands lightly. If you want o breathe, you must first open you mouth to exhaust the old air. If I give you gold and you grab it as tightly as you can, fearing its escape, you cannot touch the diamond that I offer".

Lying, hypocrisy, oppression, selfishness, and other vices are all detrimental to human happiness and perfection. In fact, casting all virtues aside contributes to the social disasters and untold misery in society.

A society without Adab will perish. For this reason previous great civilizations were destroyed because they were bankrupt of Adab. Thus, it is imperative that those with no Adab are given a serious lesson lest they destroy those virtues that Allah has bestowed upon us. Those people, if not handled in a proper manner, will destroy civilization. There is a Malay poem which refers to this condition;

"Seandainya terdapat seribu orang yang membina yang disusuli dengan seorang meruntuh, itu sudah cukup untuk meruntuhkannya. Bagaimana pula jika hanya terdapat seorang yang membina tetapi terdapat seribu orang yang meruntuhkannya?".

Thanks for coming

Thanks for coming
Terima kasih sudi hadir

Tajuk - Title