The condition of being honoured esteemed or well regarded. This is the most commonly understood definition of respect. Respect as courteous regard for peoples feelings and links respect to honour, kindness, obedience and tolerance. Every Muslim should be generous with their time and their money to help those around them. Righteousness includes everything from praising and glorifying God, to helping people in any way possible even smiling in the face. Allah says:
ذَٰلِكَ وَمَن يُعَظِّمْ شَعَائِرَ اللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقْوَى الْقُلُوبِ
“That, and whoever honours (the) Symbols (of) Allah then indeed, it (is) from (the) piety (of) the hearts.” (Surah Al-Hajj 22:32)
Islam states that it is the responsibility of each individual to treat all of creation with respect, honour and dignity. The most deserving of respect is the Creator Himself. Respect begins with loving and obeying the commandments of God and from this respect flow all the manners and high standards of morality that are inherent in Islam. Allah says:
فَرَاغَ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهِ فَجَاءَ بِعِجْلٍ سَمِينٍ
“Then he went to his household and came with a calf fat.” (Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51:26)
To be one of those who are successful, Islam requires that each individual learn to obey the Creator and thus treat humankind, our environment, the believers and ourselves with respect. Allah says:
وَمَن يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللَّهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ
“And whosoever obeys God and His Messenger, fears God, and keeps his duty (to Him), such are the successful ones.” (Surah An-Nur 24:52)
Below are instructions that have been directly ordained upon us:
- Do not despair of the mercy of Allah
- Decide on affairs by consultation
- Don’t show pride and arrogance
- Do not follow anyone blindly
- Don’t use undesirable titles
- Do not insult others’ deities
- Do not spy and backbite
- Don’t mock others
- Protect orphans
- Give the benefit of a doubt
- Stand out firmly for justice
- Speak to the needy kindly
- Stay away from corruption
- Enjoin right, forbid wrong
- Express gratitude to others
- Walk on earth with humility
- Keep aloof from what is vain
- Be dutiful towards your parents
- Forgive others for their mistakes
- Be kind – even when it’s easy not to
Respect: Every Muslim has rights given to them by Allah. Other Muslims must protect and respect those rights. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stated that the life, property and honour of one Muslim are sacred to another. He also stated that a true believer wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself. Allah says:
وَإِذَا جَاءَكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا فَقُلْ سَلَامٌ عَلَيْكُمْ كَتَبَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ نَفْسِهِ الرَّحْمَةَ أَنَّهُ مَنْ عَمِلَ مِنكُمْ سُوءًا بِجَهَالَةٍ ثُمَّ تَابَ مِن بَعْدِهِ وَأَصْلَحَ فَأَنَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“And when come to you those who believe in Our Verses then say, “Peace (be) upon you. Your Lord has prescribed upon Himself the Mercy, that he who among you does evil in ignorance then repents after it and reforms, then, indeed He (is) Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Surah Al-An’am 6:54)
Case study: how to show respect:
- Respect the property of others. If something belongs to another person, do not steal it, or damage it. If you are lent it take good care of it and return it as soon as you have finished with it.
- Respect the feelings of others. Do not bully or tease; do not frighten them, or upset them without reason. If you have bad news to tell them, tell them gently.
- Respect their privacy. Do not enter their homes without an invitation; do not demand their news but allow them to offer it instead.
- Treat everyone you meet with good manners to show that you recognize that they are as important as you.
- Respect yourself. You are valued by God and have a duty to care for yourself. Keep yourself healthy and fit.
وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ
“And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster.” (Surah Luqman, 31:18)
Religious duties: The religious duties of the Ummah are to carry out the Five Pillars, to celebrate the festivals, to obey the laws of God. It needs judges to settle disputes between Muslims and to rule on matters.
Good actions and Sadaqah: Good actions are expected from all Muslims. The feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood should be so strong that if any Muslim hears that another is in true need.
وَالَّذِينَ يُؤْذُونَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ بِغَيْرِ مَا اكْتَسَبُوا فَقَدِ احْتَمَلُوا بُهْتَانًا وَإِثْمًا مُّبِينًا
“And those who malign believing men and women undeservedly bear upon themselves the guilt of slander and a manifest sin.” (Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:58)
Respect is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important or held in high esteem. It is something to honour, uphold and defend; a trait and feeling that we should always aim towards. Whether it is our parents, grandparents, teachers, mentors or elders, throughout childhood, there are many people who both command and deserve our respect. Allah to remind yourself, again and again, to control yourself and strive to be kind.