If we come to describe a normal tour down some public street what would we find?
We will find Mr. or Mrs. staring, who nothing else grabs their attention except the poor you; if you are female; you will definitely find Mrs. arrogant who looks at you up and down as if she says “you do not deserve to be walking next to ME down the same street ! ”; you will find someone making fun of your clothes (even if you are wearing neatly); you will hear somebody calling you names, who considers the mere sight of you bothering; or someone else who is trying to follow you, or a little boy throwing a banana peel while lurking in the shadows to rejoice the prank, and lastly, you will certainly find somebody who is ill-mannered enough to touch or harass you!
Have you ever experience any of these? Sure you have. Do you want to get acquainted with the street etiquette that Islam calls for to help you retain your dignity in the street? If yes, then explore the following:
-One of the main teachings in Islam is lowering one’s gaze towards strangers. In other words, men and women should not look straight in the eyes of each other and should keep their eyes away from looking at whatever other people wear. This does not mean that you do not feel the presence of people around but the key is to avoid direct eye contact and gazing. This would make you feel more comfortable and would spare you the annoyance of Mr. and Mrs. staring
-One of the greatest things to learn from the street manners in Islam is to remove away harmful things from the streets and pathways. The holy Islam advises us to remove any harmful things from sidewalk such as chunks of glass or debris that could hurt the elderly or young pedestrians. Can you find this anywhere else??
-Avoid arrogance. Allah says in the Qur’an: “and do not walk in the land arrogantly, you will never tear the earth apart and you will never reach the mountains in height” (37: Al-Esraa’). So, one should act with humbleness towards others and not with haughtiness or vanity. In fact, in Islam, all Muslims are equal and there is no difference between a king and a layman, the only difference is in their degrees of faith towards God.
-The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advises us to walk quietly and steadily without neither rush nor haste to avoid hitting others by accident or committing rash mistakes. This should also apply to drivers, who should drive with a constant speed so that they do not draw fear in the hearts of pedestrians or even hit them. How many times have you been boldly hit by a person who is striding fast or running like a bullet without any apology?
-Lower your voice. In the Qur’an, there is a very significant chapter that reads some pieces of advice given by a wise man, named Lokman, to his son, around the street manners in Islam; the chapter is named after him. He says (in the meaning): “the worst voice ever is the voice of donkeys”. Here, Lukman urges his son to speak quietly while being in public and never laugh out loud so as not to tease other people. In fact, among the general manners of the Prophet was calmness and politeness while padding.
-“Cleanness is from faith”, said the Prophet. Contrary to what almost all people around the world do, throwing dirt and leftovers in the public pathways is definitely against street manners in Islam. Apart from the fact that it causes visual disgust and spread of diseases, Islam encourages us to be clean and to keep public places clean as well as if it is a part of our home.
-Among other street manners in Islam are included in one of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) narrations, when he asked his friends to never sit in the public pathways unless they are heading at a certain destination or something, they said that they like to sit and talk. Then, the Prophet told them: “then, respect the rules of street”, They asked: “and what are the rules of the street”, he said: “lowering your gaze, removing away the harmful things, exchange greetings, promoting of virtue and preventing vice”.
Life would be way much better if every single person followed the Islamic manners of street!