Those Who Initiate Good Relations

One’s etiquette in social situations is the key foundation to having strong relationships with others. This article is the twenty-eighth in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Discussion on Sulami’s Adab of Keeping Company.

This is an aspect of gratitude. It applies to the one who connected with you first, connected you with a group of friends, helped you settle down, or did any aspect of good relating. Furthermore, consider somebody who helped you such as in finding a job or getting a reference. These people have rights over you.

Our master Bilal reportedly said, “Whoever initiates good out of care has enslaved you in gratitude.”

وَمِنۡ ءَایَـٰتِهِۦۤ أَنۡ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنۡ أَنفُسِكُمۡ أَزۡوَ ٰجا لِّتَسۡكُنُوۤا۟ إِلَیۡهَا وَجَعَلَ بَیۡنَكُم مَّوَدَّة وَرَحۡمَةًۚ إِنَّ فِی ذَ ٰلِكَ لَـَٔایَـٰت لِّقَوۡم یَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And of His truly wondrous signs is having created you, from your own kind, wives to repose in solace to, and made between you tender love and mercy: Verily in all that are a multitude of mighty signs for a people who reflect”  [Quran, 30:21, tr. Keller, The Quran Beheld]

Who is the “for you” referring to? It is referring to all people. Scholars say that the basis of all relations is these two matters: caring love and mercy. You want good for them, that is what none of you believes until they wish for others of the good, that they wish for themselves.

Show Loyalty

Knowing the rights of those who initiated good relations. Knowing it means expressing it. Have loyalty. For example, if you are ordering Islamic books, and you have somebody that you dealt with years ago, prefer to deal with them because of the rights of those who have done good to you in the past. Recognize that and mention it. Allah says:

وَأَمَّا بِنِعۡمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثۡ

“And as for the prophetic blessings of your Lord, speak liberally of them in thanks!” [Quran, 93:11, tr. Keller, The Quran Beheld]

How was that good facilitated for you in life? It is from Allah. If someone does good to you, a part of gratitude is to continue to thank them for it. Also, mention their good. Tell people about them.

This applies in all relations. Very often, we recognize the faults of others and their shortcomings but fail to remember all the good that they have done. Recognize it and appreciate it.

One of the early Muslims said, “Someone who preceded you in good in your relation, there is no way you can pay them back.” Meaning that you should always feel indebted to them.  

Gratitude to Allah

The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly would frequently mention Halima Sa‘diya and Bani Sa‘d with affection. 

One should look back and consider, “Who did good to me in life?” Reach out to them. There are teachers in high school who were good to you, reach out to them and just thank them. Get in contact with old friends or parents of friends who cooked for you. These are ways of recognizing the good that people did. Be appreciative of the good that people did, for the sake of Allah. 

We are not alone. There are so many people doing so much good. Pray for the highest things that you can think of for them. 

“Whoever’s not grateful to people is not grateful to Allah,” said the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). The Prophet also said, “Whoever does good for you, reciprocate.” Recognize the good that others do such as the grocery store owner who stays awake at night so that people have a place to get food from or if you bought some perfumes from a company and you like them, post about it. Express your appreciation.