Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Islam in Life | Al-Risala November 1987

One day, in Delhi, I was going down the stairs of the mosque after my morning prayers when someone, also on his way out, asked me, “Didn’t you see that the man praying with his sleeves rolled up above his elbows?” Without waiting for me to reply, he added, “Keeping God and the Devil happy at one fell swoop! God save us from such worshippers.” As he spoke, his tone and manner exuded hatred and scorn.

I thought to myself: “How ironic that people should take away from the House of God the lesson of pride, and not of humility; they know that elbows should not be exposed, but do not know that one Muslim is duty-bound to show respect for another. How can a Muslim think he is within his rights in looking down on a Muslim brother and in talking of him with contempt and loathing?” But that, unfortunately, is the way the Muslims behave nowadays.

We would do well to cast our minds back to the way the Prophet of God dealt with such situations, one such incident being related in one of the six correct books of traditions, Sahih of Imam Muslim. It seems that a man who had recently converted to Islam, not being fully apprised of the etiquette to be observed during prayers, began to talk during congregational prayers in the Prophet’s mosque in Medina. He was regarded with an air of disapproval by the worshippers all around him, one of them even going so far as to strike him on the knee to make him silent. Later, however, when the prayer was over, the Prophet of God addressed him with such sublime gentleness that the culprit later recalled: “By God, I have never seen, before or after, a better teacher than he. He did not become angry with me, nor did he insult me, but simply told me; ‘Mosques are for the remembrance of God. It is not appropriate to conduct worldly conversations therein.’” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith No. 537)