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Whatever happened to manners?

Publishing Date : 12 February, 2019

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


It seems that in the world of today many of us have forgotten some of the so-called old school manners that our parents, grandparents, and teachers taught us. This is the teaching of manners or good conduct that is instilled into us by our parents. But today many of us seem to have forgotten out time honoured ‘manners’.



For example look around today, when young people do not bother to greet elderly relatives living in their homes, some may not even stand up to offer an elder a chair to sit on. As elders when we go to work and come back without checking up someone who lives a few steps from our back door, is it any wonder that the children do not bother to do so either. We don’t even bother to check on our frail and elderly family members and friends.


A child learns by watching, seeing and hearing what those around him do.  In this increasingly chaotic world, making a good impression is vital, and good manners and respect for others can go a long way to ensuring that you do. As parents some of us seem to have missed – or should I say messed up, the opportunity to inculcate and instil morals, ethics, values and all those time honoured cultural and traditional family values that formed the basis of our own upbringing and social interaction. Too many of today’s parents take a don’t care attitude and role in moulding and bringing up their children in becoming responsible adults of tomorrow.


Not only that, homes are no longer the havens of peace, tranquillity and comfort that we once knew. Homes today are filled with family strife, domestic violence, vulgar language, the lack of respect, and a whole host of modern day ills. How then do we expect to raise well-adjusted children in such a poisoned atmosphere?


But when you look around us there are signs of rot in our society with moral decay and degeneration having taken root. What was once a healthy society is now facing a crisis as a result of the rapid social deterioration and degradation of those religious, social and moral values that form the basis of a healthy society have being swept away. Why is it so and what has gone wrong?


Simple, what do children see today? All sorts of serious crimes, corruption, drugs, alcohol, rape, pornography, prostitution, premarital and extra marital sex, nudity, gays and lesbians, same sex marriages, sexual harassment, adultery, and crime increasingly committed by and also against youth and children. Read any newspaper; grannies as old as 80 years and children as young as 4 years are being raped. Has the human race descended to such low levels of depravity?


Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘When promiscuous behaviour becomes rampant in a nation, Allah will send upon them such (strange) diseases that their own ancestors never heard of.’ Let alone ancestors, a generation ago no one ever heard of or even dreamt of the dreaded scourge of AIDS that is so prevalent and taking so many lives in our society today.


Morals have a very high status in Islam; they are what define the standards of ‘goodness’ or the ‘badness’ of a person. If our morals are good then our intentions and actions are good, however if they are bad then our actions and intentions are corrupted and this flows into our corrupted lifestyles.


The moral degeneration establishes itself and filters down in two levels, via us adults and down to our youth. The simple truth is that the errant and deviant behaviour of adults flows through and makes an impression on the younger generation. As the saying goes children may not listen to what you say but they will certainly watch and follow what you do. In other words children may forget words…..but will easily follow footsteps, thus the examples of behaviour of the adults are what is picked up by the youth. It is therefore important to teach them values even just by leading through example.


In Islam we are told by the Almighty: ‘You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Prophet Muhammed PBUH) a beautiful pattern of conduct for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day’.  (Quran 33: 21)  
For Muslims this is our perfect example; in fact, we are commanded by Allah to follow the Sunnah (life and teachings of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), and if we do, we cannot go wrong. Allah says:  O Mohammed, call to mankind; “Say, If you love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. Allah is forgiving and Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, lo! Allah does not love those who reject faith.’ Quran: 3: 31-32.


In Islam children are an ‘Amanah’, (a sacred trust), from the Almighty entrusted to us to raise, nurture, guide, and prepare them for the life ahead. As parents and guardians we have been given that responsibility to equip them with the tools to become responsible adults. Our goal is to equip the child with a solid Islamic personality, with good morals, strong Islamic principles, knowledge and behaviour so as to be equipped to face the demands of life in a responsible and mature manner. This should begin with the proper environment at home that inculcates the best moral and behavioural standards.


The Holy Qur’an says: ‘O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from the Fire of Hell’. (Ch. 66: 6). ‘No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training’ said the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Even the Bible says; ‘Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein’. (Mark 10:14-15) 


This is a crisis of massive proportions we need to do something. We cannot turn a blind eye to this crisis we need to speak out loudly against this moral degeneration within our midst. We need to act swiftly before we lose our children to this maelstrom and vortex of evil. It is impossible to shield our children from all the negative forces that can shape their minds and their behaviour, however, by our own example and showing them better options, we can set them on the true path, which is to obey the commandments of Allah and follow the teachings of our Prophet (PBUH).


That is what responsible parenting is about: guiding, training them and also being the living example of the type of righteous person we want them to be when they grow up. It is said; the darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crises. The choice is in our hands, the Quran says: ‘Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves (with their own souls) – (Qur’an 13:11)

I found these beautiful words that I have quoted on occasion because they encapsulate on how we should deal with our child in order to have a desirable end result:

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.
Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said: "The dearest of you to me are those who have good manners. The dearest and nearest among you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be the one who is the best in conduct.”
The Ball is in our court.

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