Understanding The Prophet's Life
From Issue: 938 [Read full issue]
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "My Lord has taught me manners, and thus gave me the best of manners." [Al-Shawkani] A litmus test of successfully refining the soul is the attainment of beautiful character, which culminates in what some refer to as courteous conduct (adab). The refined person is a beautiful person to interact with. His or her nature is pleasing to be around, and they are a source of ease and comfort to all who know them. This refined manner of interaction is the result of spiritual cultivation and was embodied by Prophet Muhammad.
Some scholars state that courteous conduct (adab) is a product of combining love with humility. The spiteful or arrogant heart cannot manifest courtesy to others. Such conduct is more than the actions we see; it is an expression of an inner beauty and serenity. This expression in turn fosters love between people. Islam's guidelines about the courteous conduct of daily life are meant to enhance overall social harmony, as a means to a spiritually healthy environment.
A believer should personify any conduct considered good-natured by societal norms. While particular manifestations of good conduct may vary in different cultures, a believer rightfully takes up any form of virtue as his or her own. For example, in most cultures it is considered good etiquette to help a weak or elderly person carry groceries or cross a busy street— and so it is clear that a believer should strive to do such things. The universal call to refined behavior may manifest in different ways for different societies, but all are essentially outward manifestations of an inward beauty.
"Being Muslim: A Practical Guide" - Asad Tarsin