Respect for Others, Falsehood

The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.s.) declares,
‘The most degraded of persons is the one who ridicules others.’
(Nahjul Fasaahah, p. 48)

This statement of the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) reveals that there is no place for narrow-mindedness and prejudice in Islam. While on the one hand, Islam proclaims the Unity of Allah and His Omnipotence, on the other hand, it also invites the people towards the humanistic principles of peace and brotherhood. The principles of culture and ethics imbibed by Islam can be gauged from the above mentioned tradition of the Prophet, wherein he states that undue censure of any person reduces the worth of one who castigates to the extent that he then becomes the most disgraced of individuals, and in fact then crosses over to the realm of savagery. That is why as believers and Muslims, we must be careful and never offend the honour and dignity of others.

Imam Sadiq requests,
‘O my Shias! Fear Allah. Be a source of adornment for us, and do not be a cause of disgrace for us.’
(Al-Kaafi, vol. 2, p. 77)

Besides inviting the Muslims towards goodness and piety, both the aforementioned traditions also display the standards of fraternity and amity as taught by these two holy personalities.

A Shia shall always try to refrain from performing forbidden (haraam) and abominable (makrooh) acts. But he will always strive to perform the obligatory (wajibaat) and recommended (mustahabbaat) actions.

The root of all evil is to abandon the obligatory acts and consider the prohibited acts as trivial and insignificant. Hence if we consider ourselves to be Shias of Ahle Bayt (a.s.), then for the sake of their love, we must perform such actions that will gladden their hearts, and refrain from those actions that will make them sorrowful and grievous. We must never disregard our duties as Shias. Only by doing this will we be able to propagate the message of Ahle Bayt (a.s.) and make the world aware of their excellence.

Salutations (Salaam)
Salaam is the gift of Islam (to Muslims). The Holy Quran and traditions of the infallibles have laid considerable emphasis on it. Hence, the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) exhorts us thus,
"When you meet each other do salaam and shake hands (musaafehah). And when you part, seek forgiveness (for each other’s sins)."
(Biharul Anwar, vol. 76, p. 5)

The most miserly of Muslims is the one who is niggardly in doing salaam. Hence we must make it a point to start our conversations with salaam.

The Holy Imams (a.s.) have always trained the Muslims in observing all Islamic etiquettes and in maintaining the desired decorum, whether at an individual level or in a society. They tried to explain the importance of these etiquettes and proprieties, and implemented these (etiquettes) in their own conduct, without any fuss. Salaam is the one of the basic principles of Islamic brotherhood. It seeks to bind Muslims together. That is why we observe that when the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) and the Imams (a.s.), met a Muslim, they saluted him before he could salute them. They were always the first to do salaam. That is why as true Muslims, it becomes our duty to endeavor to act upon the teachings of the Ahle Bayt (a.s.) and emulate their conduct. We must always show humility and modesty in our behaviour, which is the hallmark of a believer. In accordance with the Imams’ conduct, we too, must take the initiative in doing salaam and not wait for the other person to make the first move. For according to traditions, the one who salutes first, deserves more reward. Thus

Imam Sadeq (a.s.) gives glad tidings,
‘The one who salutes first is closer to Allah and his Prophet (s.a.w.s.).’
(Bihar vol. 76, p.11)

However, our duty is not restricted in doing salaam first. We must also make efforts to make this Islamic tradition customary . Once the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) asked his companions,
‘Should I inform you of the best etiquette of the people of this world as well as the hereafter?’ They all responded in the affirmative. On which the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) ordered, "Make salaam customary in the entire universe.’
(Bihar vol. 76, page 12)

To do salaam is recommended (mustahhab), but its reply is wajib-e-kefaai i.e. if one person in the gathering replies (to the salaam), the others are relieved of this responsibility.

Among the etiquette of salaam is that the young salutes the elder, one mounted (on a steed) salutes the pedestrian, the one standing salutes the seated one and an assembly with fewer persons salutes the assembly with larger persons.

One is not permitted to salute the Jews, Christians, dualists, idol worshippers, one who advocates consumption of alcohol or himself consumes it, chess player, gambler, one who is in the toilet or in the bathroom, that sinner or transgressor who makes apparent his transgression and does not try to conceal his misdeeds.

The Chief of the faithfuls, Ali b. Abi Talib (a.s.), has admonished Muslims not to take liars as friends. He has cautioned us from accepting their companionship, as a liar even when he speaks the truth, does not inspire confidence. Divine wrath is on the liars and Allah does not guide the deceitful. For a single lie, the liar makes himself liable for curses from seventy thousand angels. Among the classifications of falsehood is that, one lies in jest to entertain some gathering, or to make some people laugh or in plain amusement. For instance, to tell some simpleton that so and so lady wishes to marry you, or to say that so and so person has invited you for dinner, etc.

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) cautioned Abu Zar (r.a.),

‘O Abu Zar! One who lies in an assembly, making all the members of that assembly laugh, then for that lie, this liar will be cast in the depths of hell. Pitiable is that person’s condition who lies (simply) to amuse some people. Indeed pitiable is his condition. Pitiable is his condition. O Abu Zar! One who is silent will be delivered. Therefore, never utter lies.’

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) says,

‘Refrain from lies, because lies blacken the face of the liar.’
(Beharul Anwar, vol. 77, p.68, H. 6)

Falsehood is the key for all vices and corruption. The liar shall be tormented with a special chastisement. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) recounts from his ascension to the heavens (Me’raj). The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) saw a man who was made to lie on his back. Another was standing aside him with what looked like an iron rod in his hand. This rod was bent at one end. The person with the rod, was beating that man (lying down), on his mouth. He was cutting the nape of his neck to pieces with the sharp edge of that rod. Similarly he was beating his nose and ears and reached his throat. Then he went to the side and repeated the entire sequence. He did not finish beating him on one side, when the other side recuperated and healed, he went back to that side and repeated his torment. I was taken aback by this and asked, ‘What had this person done to merit this punishment?’ That person replied, ‘He is the one who used to leave his house in the morning and uttered such lies that affected all people around him. He will be involved in this chastisement till the Day of Judgement.’

The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) was asked which act merits the Fire of hell. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) replied, ‘Falsehood.’