One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the fifth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.
Keep away from malice and hold fast to purity in your relationships. Malice is to wish ill for another. Malice is like envy plus. Not only do you want them to lose it, you want ill for them. This is evil. But it can happen.
In relations, you can become resentful. People can have bad qualities that every time you see them repeated can accumulate. Always be wary of the devil’s tricks to get you to sever ties.
Focus positively on the situation. Find an opportunity for reward. Serving one’s family is always something blessed.
Purity Is Stillness
Hold fast to purity. Purity is an ideal of not being harmed, hurt, or negativity. One of the qualities that arises from purity is stillness. One way to acquire it is by having calm in the relationship.
One of the means that facilitates this purity in the relationship, is loyalty to your friends. If you want purity, then hold fast to loyalty. Rights arise from relationships. Deep caring love is what you cultivate with your friends.
Purity arises from having a pure intention, purity of concern, and purity in your conduct. All of them are governed by the fact that you are acting for the sake of Allah. The way you conduct yourself is not about the person, it is not about you, it is about Allah. What is pleasing to Allah?
Keep the company of people who exhibit good character. It is mind-blowing that someone would be so giving, caring, and concerned.
A Friend in Need
If you recognize that you have a strong dislike towards a certain person, realize where those feelings might be coming from. Actively counteract it. Go out of your way to be kind to that person, perhaps get them gifts. Make dua for the person with the highest duas that you can think of.
We are meant to struggle. Knowledge shows you how you should be. Even if you have not yet controlled your anger, have the intention to get rid of it for the sake of Allah. Strive based on knowledge and consulting on how to improve. If you slip, repent.
A friend does not burden or bore their friends. Do not go on and on and do not make others worry unnecessarily. Do not ask for their help unnecessarily. This can happen in the context of family. This is against caring for other people’s good. It is important to understand that this is very different from reaching out to them in need.
There are some needs that you can just deal with yourself but if you are stuck in a difficulty, if you are stuck in a need, then it is sunna to reach out for help.
It is important to appreciate family, friends, community, religious leaders, and others in society. These are means of Allah’s mercy. So when you have a need, you find Allah’s mercy through these means. You are not burdening anybody.
When reaching out in difficulty, consider who would be able to help. Avoiding mere venting. You want to maintain good relations. If someone makes a mistake or error, overlook it. This arises from having a good opinion of the other.
If someone bumped into you, do not think that they are trying to hurt you. Have a good opinion of them. This keeps your heart clear. The scholars say you have to distinguish between types of harm and overlooking them.
Things to Overlook
The first type is minor, unintentional, disliked things. For example, if you asked for coffee with almond milk and they unintentionally gave you oat milk. Just overlook. The sunna is to overlook.
Then some things are not minor or they might be deliberate. Here you consider carefully. It might require addressing. But, if you think it through, it is a big deal. If you are staying at the hotel and ask for eggs that are sunny side up and the waiter comes and comments they are not good for your health. You should eat eggs that are fully cooked.
Although annoying because they did it deliberately, consider, is eating a fully cooked egg actually harmful or just annoyance? You consider. Even if someone did something different. Only if it does need addressing, should you address it (in a good way).
The third type is that which should not be overlooked. This is where something is repeatedly disliked or major. Address it. Failing to do so could harm the relationship.
Keep Safe from Harm
A common example is domestic violence. If there is physical harm happening at home behind closed doors, definitely address it. It is not a time to overlook. The safety of the person is paramount.
There is no harming and no reciprocating of harm. Harm must be lifted. So in that kind of situation, address it in a good way. Take the effective means of addressing the harm. If you are in a situation of repeated or major harm, immediately get out of the harm. Secondly, immediately seek experienced consultation.
The first thing is to get yourself out of the situation of immediate harm.