Adab – Mannerliness

Adap – Mannerliness meaning covers being sensible and reasonable, well-behaved, well-mannered, and treating people kindly. Adap – Mannerliness is used in the terminology of Sufism to defend against errors and to distinguish the factors leading to errors, It is dealt with under the categories of ‘mannerliness in Shari’a‘, ‘mannerliness in services’, and ‘mannerliness before God, the Truth‘. Mannerliness in Shari’a is knowing the commandments of the religion and practicing them in daily life. Mannerliness in services is being ahead of everyone in striving and making efforts but preferring others to oneself in obtaining the Fruits, receiving the wages, and being appreciated and rewarded for the effort. It is also doing all the prerequisites for the desired result but attributing all good and comeliness and success to God. As for mannerliness before God; it consists in ‘refining’ and ‘adorning’ nearness to God; in collectedness and self-possession avoiding excessive claims and reckless or casual speech or behavior.

Another approach to mannerliness is dealing with it under the categories of ‘mannerliness in Sharia‘, ‘mannerliness in tariqa (the spiritual order),mannerliness in the knowledge of God‘, and ‘mannerliness in the attainment of truth‘. The first means practicing the Sunna (the way) of God’s Messenger upon him be peace and blessings, in all his acts saying and all that he approved, whether general or particular. The second means, together utter submission to and perfect love of, the guide serving him, attending his discourses, and refraining from objection to him. The third consists in preserving the balance between nearness to God and self-possession, between fear and hope, and awareness of self-poverty and impotence in the face of the Divine favors coming directly from God. As far the fourth, it is the perfect attachment to God in complete detachment from everything other than Him, without any material or spiritual expectation and anxieties worldly or other-worldly.

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In fact, Sufism means ‘mannerliness‘; it consists in expressing good manners proper to each occasion, each spiritual state, and each rank or station. However, only if a believer has been able to realize all of these good manners on his own self will he really be well-mannered in his attitudes and ways of behavior. Apparent and superficial manners, such as have not been ingrained in himself and becoming an essential part of his nature, will mean no more than an outward show become permanent as habits. Nor is it worth anything in the sight of God, who judges a man by his inner world. With his expressive style, Mawlana Jalal al-Din describes mannerliness with its true and artificial aspects as follows:

For the people of the heart,
mannerliness originates in a man’s inner world,
for they are aware of secrets.
As for the people of the flesh,
they see mannerliness in the apparent behavior of man,
for God has hidden the secrets from them.
We always ask God to enable us to be mannerly,
because one who is unmannerly is deprived of Divine favours.

According to Abu Nasr al-Tusi, mannerliness could be summarized in the following three paragraphs.

1. The mannerliness of literary men who seek beauty and virtue in writing and speech, which is regarded as ‘gossip’ by the Sufis for it does not originate in the heart.

2. The mannerliness of those who represent the religion of Islam at the level of a purely spiritual life, which is regarded as consisting in refining selfhood through disciplines, feelings through love and fear of God, and in meticulously following the religious commandments.

3. The mannerliness of those who through continuous self-control and introspection maintain purity at the level of neither imagining or conceiving of anything contrary to the awareness of always being in the presence of God and overseen by Him.

The concept of Truth and Honesty fall directly in line with the Air Force Core Value of Integrity First. (U.S. Air National Guard Illustration by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

Integrity First
The concept of Truth and Honesty fall directly in line with the Air Force Core Value of Integrity First.

Those who have been able to attain the truth have attached much importance to all kinds of mannerliness and tried their hardest to make it an essential, ingrained part of their human nature. They have many wise sayings uttered in this respect, of which they have themselves striven to be the embodiments ill utmost sincerity. To cite a few examples:

Everything has an aspect of beauty and ornament,
The beauty of man lies in mannerliness.
There are men who, albeit of ignoble descent,
are most noble due to their mannerliness.

The following is a jewel-like saying quoted from Imam ‘Ali, the cousin of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings:

Nowadays misfortunes are common, which is not to be wondered at.
What is to he wondered at is how one could remain upright
and maintain one’s integrity among so many misfortunes.
Beauty is not that which the garment one wears add to him.
Rather, it is the beauty of knowledge and mannerliness.

The following is from Awarif al-Ma’arif by Shihab al-Din al-Suhrawardi:

Belief requires absolute affirmation of Divine Unity, without which a man is not regarded as having a sound belief. This affirmation requires mannerliness without which one cannot be pious.

Truly, one without good manners cannot be pious, for the Prophets travelled their ways through mannerliness, and became each an elect in the Court of God.

In addition to what we have already said concerning the practical aspect of mannerliness or being well-mannered in behavior, the following reflections are worth recalling:

It is mannerliness which a per son should always wear:
with out good manners, one is as if naked.
Mannerliness is to be found in the people of knowledge.
A student without good manners can not be a learned one.
The order of the world is through mannerliness;
Again, through mannerliness is human perfection.

Expressive of purity in thought, uprightness in the heart, and a deep relationship with God, mannerliness in speech has been stressed for centuries in all schools which concern themselves with moral and religious education or with spiritual training.

Wahbi says:

Do not open your mouth for idle talk,
be well-mannered in your speech.
Take care of what you may say so that
aft er wards you do not be come uneasy.

Another voices his thought about mannerliness as follows:

Mannerliness is a crown from the light of God:
wear that crown and be safe from every misfortune.

The words of Mawlana Jalal al-Din in praise of mannerliness are beyond compare:

Know that the soul in man’s body is mannerliness; the light of man’s heart and eyes is mannerliness. Man is from an elevated world, not from a loose one. This dome [meaning the world rotates on the axis of mannerliness, which is also its beauty and adornment. If you prepare your food on the head of Satan, know that it is mannerliness which will kill Satan. One who is deprived of good manners is not truly human, for the difference between men and animals lies in mannerliness. Open your eyes and see that the Qur’an, the Word of God, consists in mannerliness. I asked the intellect what belief was. It whispered to the ear of the heart that it was mannerliness.

Mannerliness with respect to good morals described as words and behavior approved by Islam, and as expressed in the words, actions, and acts of approval of the Holy Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, is beyond the scope of the present answer.

O God! Lead us to what You like and approve. May God’s blessings he on our master Muhammad and all of his family and his Companions.

By M. Fethullah Gulen

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