In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Abu Dardaa [radiyallaahu anhu] reported that the Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said, “The heaviest [deed] on the scale [i.e. the scale of good deeds on yawmul qiyaamah] is good manners [or good character]”.
This hadeeth contains proof regarding the virtue of good manners and that it is obligated [on a person] to be good mannered. The knowledge of the Sharee’ah is the basis [or foundation] of [good] manners and it is the means to [acquiring it]. If Allaah favours a person with knowledge of the Sharee’ah, then indeed it will lead him to good manners, and thus a Muslim slave of Allaah becomes well-mannered towards people through good dealings – helpful to the weak, honours guests, greets people with the Salaam, teach [others], command good and forbid evil. All these deeds are fruitful outcomes of good manners.
A person cannot be well-mannered until he is from those who are obedient to Allaah [The Blessed and Exalted] and distances himself from acts of disobedience to Allaah- meaning that his manners should be in conformity with what the Sharee’ah has obligated. He fulfils Allaah’s commands and feels shy – in the presence of Allaah – to fall short in that which Allaah has commanded him. He abandons acts of disobedience, forbidden deeds and evil doing out of shyness in the presence of Allaah, and out of being merciful to himself because these acts are a cause of punishment in this life and the next. Also, this is what he does in relation to everything that Allaah has obligated on him [i.e. obedience to Allaah] and he distances himself from what Allaah forbids and hates. And Allaah knows best.
Being well mannered includes: Being well-mannered In The Presence of Allaah by fulfilling the rights of Allaah in the most perfect manner – neither being negligent nor going beyond the legislated boundaries of the sharee’ah.
Being Well-mannered Towards Family; first and foremost – towards one’s wife, son, daughter and others in the family, so that harmony, mutual co-operation and a good feeling towards one another exits between everyone, and there exist neither splitting nor separation. Being Well-mannered Towards Parents; to be dutiful to them and refrain from being undutiful; merciful towards them and supplicate for them; treat them kindly – whether they are alive or have passed away- by supplicating for them, giving charity on their behalf and mentioning them in a good manner. Being Well-mannered Towards Extended Blood Relatives – those who are related to you from your father’s side and mother’s side.
Being Well-mannered Towards Neighbours: Even if the neighbour is a disbeliever, he has rights. And if he is a Muslim, he has the rights of a Muslim and a neighbour. And if he is a relative, he has three rights – the rights of a Muslim, the rights of a neighbour and the rights of a relative.
Being Well-mannered Towards One’s Companions by speaking to them in a pleasant manner and fulfilling the rights of companionship. Being Well-mannered Towards One’s Shuyookh – those Shuyookh of Ahlus Sunnah from whom you seek knowledge – by honouring them, dealing with them in a good manner and always supplicating for them, because a teacher provides tremendous good to his students. As for ahlul bidah wad-dalaal [the people of bidah and misguidance], even if some of them study from others, there is no benefit in their instructions and learning. Good Manners Between Fellow Students, whether they are together in the schools, specific gatherings, a specific lesson in the Masjid or a specific place designated for that purpose. A person should be well-mannered, and this should be manifested in good speech, good deeds, good dealings and being truthful in one’s promises; loving one another based on that love legislated in the Sharee’ah and loving one another for the sake of Allaah. This is why the virtue of this lofty deed [i.e. good manners (or good character)] has been mentioned, just as it has been stated in the hadeeth: “The heaviest thing on the scales [i.e. on yawmul qiyaamah] is good manners” – meaning the heaviest deed on the scale of good deeds is good manners, because it leads to every virtuous deed and opposes all different types of evil. And Allaah knows best. [Ref 1]
Allaah [The Most High] said: [ خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ – Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish]. [7:199]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said: There is no doubt that the one who is obeyed by the people [finds himself in] three situations: Firstly, he commands them [to do good] and forbids them [from evil] for their own welfare. Secondly, he obligates on them that which they must do to obey him [in good]. Thirdly, the people with him are divided into two categories: The loyal ones- those who agree with him, and the obstinate ones- those who oppose him. Both groups have rights he must fulfil. His duty with regards to commanding them to do good and restraining them [from evil], is that he commands them to bring about rectification for them in their personal affairs and forbids them from what is in opposition that.
His Obligations towards the Obedient Ones: He enjoins on them that which is easy [i.e. within the boundaries of halaal and haraam]. He should be generous to those who are submissive and are not hesitant to obey him [in good], and he should not burden them with hardship and difficulties, and thus corrupts their affair.
His Obligations towards the Foolish Ones: His obligation towards the foolish ones – those who act foolishness towards him- is that he turns away from them, neither responding to them in like manner nor taking revenge against them for himself. Indeed, Allaah [The Most High] said to His Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam]: [خُذِ ٱلۡعَفۡوَ وَأۡمُرۡ بِٱلۡعُرۡفِ وَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنِ ٱلۡجَـٰهِلِينَ – Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish]. And what is intended [in this ayah] is not that [you] turn away from the one who has no knowledge and refrain from teaching and guiding him; rather what is intended is that [you] turn away from the foolishness of the one who behaves foolishly and not to respond to him in like manner.
This Aayah embodies the affair of excellent social relations with the people – fulfilling their rights and safeguarding oneself from their evil. And had all the people adhered to this ayah, it would have sufficed them and brought them close to one another, for indeed being forgiving [in reality] is to overlook the [bad] manners of the people and being tolerant towards their characters. [Ref2]
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘At-ta’leeqaat Al-Maleehah Alaa Al-Ahaadeeth As-Saheehah’- By Shaikh Zayd Bin Haadi [rahimahullaah]. Pages 38-39. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: Excerpt from Badaa’i At-Tafseer Al-Jaami Limaa Fassarahu Al-Imaam Ibnul Qayyim Al-Jawzee: Vol: 1: page: 434-436. Slightly paraphrased]