As Islam is claimed to be a complete religion, then part of this religion must guide us as to how we should carry ourselves with regards to manners and etiquettes.  This article will introduce the concept of etiquettes in Islam and will show that Islam itself, apart from the concept of monotheism, prophethood, and resurrection, has more to do with our lives than simply faith in the unseen.  Rather, Islam is a fully blown way of life that covers all aspects of life, starting from faith, through to minuscule details such as how to eat, sleep, and more.


Etiquette by definition is a noun that means:

  1. conventional requirements as to social behavior; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
  2. a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or other formal observances.
  3. the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other:
    medical etiquette.

Manners is a noun defined as:

  1. a way of doing, being done, or happening; mode of action, occurrence, etc.:[su_pullquote align=”right”]Our goals should therefore be not to just know the jurisprudential issues surrounding our life, but rather, to understand that jurisprudence is the minimum behavior that Islam expects of a Muslim, and that it is only a first step.  Further steps are required, with increased knowledge and faith, to perfect ones etiquettes.[/su_pullquote]
  2. the prevailing customs, ways of living, and habits of a people, class, period, etc.;
  3. ways of behaving with reference to polite standards;
  4. a person’s outward bearing; way of speaking to and treating others;
  5. characteristic or customary way of doing, making, saying, etc.

For the purpose of this article and future articles regarding etiquettes in Islam, manners and etiquettes will be used synonymously.


Human beings are compartmentalised into having three features:

  1. Plant characteristics: Like plants and animals, they grow with time.  In order to do so, they need to energy, and obtain that through sunlight and consumption of foods and fluids.
  2. ِAnimalistic characteristics:  This covers desires and needs, the same that are required by the animal kingdom.  Including reproduction, food and fluid.  This is also related to the plant and growth characteristic.
  3. Human characteristics: The intellect.

The last characteristic is unique to human beings and is not found in any other animal nor (obviously) plant.

Role of Etiquettes:

The role of etiquettes in each of the three characteristics in Islam is the guidance that Islam gives mankind to educate him and cultivate the best form of etiquettes.  While the plant characteristic somewhat relies on the animalistic characteristics (ie the need for consumption of food), it still has its own set of etiquettes that will be discussed later on, Insha-Allahﷻ.

Etiquettes role in each of these items is to guide mankind to the most direct, straight and correct path to perfect manners and etiquettes, and in the process, to reach the ultimate goal of perfection.  For example, the etiquettes of what you eat, whether it is halal or not, clean or not, allowed or not, are all encompassed in the desire to eat.  This in turn has a role on the bodies growth, and upon the mind and soul.

[su_quote cite=”جامع أحاديث الشيعة – السيد البروجردي – ج ١٤ – الصفحة ٢١٤” url=”″]انما بعثت لا تمم مكارم الاخلاق[/su_quote]

“Certainly, I have been sent to perfect etiquettes.”  These are the words of the Prophet, blessings be upon him and his Purified Household.  

A questioner may ask – But then if halal and harram are to do with etiquettes, then what is the role of jurisprudence?  The answer to that is simply that jurisprudence is a form of etiquettes, but of the lowest type.  Our goals should therefore be not to just know the jurisprudential issues surrounding our life, but rather, to understand that jurisprudence is the minimum behavior that Islam expects of a Muslim, and that it is only a first step.  Further steps are required, with increased knowledge and faith, to perfect ones etiquettes.

Worst than cattle, better than Angels:

Mankind has the opportunity to reach heights above that of angels spiritually, and delve in to depths lower than that of animals.  That is because of the third characteristic, the intellect.  By choice, humans can make a choice between what is good or bad, right or wrong.  Furthermore, it is this choice that is able to propel mankind to heights higher than the angels, as angels are infallible and have no choice but to obey their creator.  On the other hand, mankind must make that choice.

On the flip side, man can choose to do wrong and sin, and to follow blindly those who deviate from what is known to be correct intuitively.  This choice, the choice to not use ones intellect and simply accept societies norms, their demands, and be brainwashed, and refusing to spend the time to think and consider, is what can sink mankind in to the depths of darkness.

أُولَـٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ

They are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors([1]).

But why insult humans with the simile that they can be worse than cattle?  Consider Parable 7, and consider that cattle have no choice.  Yes they can roam left or right, look up or down, but they are completely guided by the shepherd and follow each other as a group.  So the human being that chooses to step down from a higher level, the level of intellect, to a lower level, that of animals. is not just like an animal, but having done so by choice, is worse.

Islam and etiquettes:

The Holy Qur’an, being the divine book of Muslims, is divided in to three compartments with regards to etiquettes.

[su_box title=”Three sections of the Holy Qur’an with regards to etiquettes” style=”soft” box_color=”#99b197″]1. Manners of conduct between Allahﷻ and mankind.
2. Manners of Conduct between each other, or societal manners of conduct.
3. Manner of conduct between oneself, the indivual.

Of the first and second, there are at least two parties involved.  The third, which is the jewel of the discussion, is only between the individual and himself, and no one else.  Islam takes great care and pride in ensuring that this point, the point of manners of conduct of the individual within themselves, is emphasised and highlighted.

أَعْدَى عَدُوَّكَ نَفْسُكَ الَّتِي بَيْنَ جَنْبَيْكَ
The worst of your enemies is your self  that is between your sides.
– The Prophet Blessings be upon him and his Purified Household.

Other examples include the identification of the Greater Jihad as that of the struggle with the self, while that of the smaller jihad is military warfare, and Prophet Yousef peace be upon him, saying ” surely the soul of man incites to evil — except inasmuch as my Lord had mercy.” – Surah Yousef 12:53.

The Best Is Sent For The Task:

In order to fulfil the obligation to guide mankind, Allahﷻ sent the best of the best of creations.


وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
surely thou art upon a mighty morality.
Al Qalam 68:4

And when it is Allahﷻ that describes the Prophet blessings be upon him and his Purified Household, as having a “might morality”, then it is clear that our role it to follow the tradition of the Prophet blessings be upon him and his Purified Household, as closely as possible.

Role of the Holy Qur’an:

The Holy Qur’an has been sent for the people so that they may think (An Nahl: 44), comprehen (Yousef: 2) and consider the miracles (Saad: 29).  The prophet blessings be upon him and his Purified Household, and the Holy Qur’an was sent to mankind so that the people are guided, chastised, taught what they did not know before and wisdom, to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, to make halal what is good and forbid what is not.  The Holy Qur’an is a book that has been revealed to make clear everything(An Nahl:29).  A book, and traditions of the purified household that if followed, will lead to salvation and guidance, and to the perfection of mankind, and if ignored, will lead to the destruction and wrath of Allahﷻ upon them.

The Holy Qur’an is an all encompassing book that has teachings in it of all sciences, including biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, jurisprudence, faith, history, rights, and others, as well as etiquettes.

([1]) Al Araaf 7:179