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20 Jan. 2012

The Prophet (saw) said: “Be aware of sitting in the street. The companions said: ‘Messenger of Allah, we have no other choice but to sit there and engage in conversation there.’ The Prophet (saw) said:’ If you must sit there, then give the street its rights.’ They asked:’  What are its rights.’ He said:’ Lowering the gaze, refraining from causing annoyance, returning the greeting, enjoining what is good, and forbidding what is evil.’” (Bukhari, Muslim Abu Dawud and Ahmad) 

 

The above amazing hadith teaches us how to guard the rights of the streets and byways and, in the process, give the rights due to all those passing by. 

The first right of the street mentioned by the Prophet (saw) is, lowering the gaze. Neglect of this right has become one of the biggest problems facing the world today. In addition, there is the problem of near nudity, especially among women, increasing day by day. These problems are becoming compounded leading to increasing immorality in all its forms in society. 

Satan, the greatest enemy of humankind, is always keen to tempt and seduce people into committing forbidden acts by alluring and making those acts fair-seeming and attractive. This is exactly how he promotes the promiscuous intermingling of sexes under the name of freedom. He entices pleasure-loving, misguided men and women to disregard the restrictions laid down by Allah (swt) so they will ignore their natural instincts of modesty. Allah (swt) said:” O you who believe! Do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Whoever follows the footsteps of Satan, then certainly, he commands indecency and munkar.” (An-Nur: 21) 

The second right of the street mentioned by the Prophet (saw), is to avoid causing annoyance in the street and roads. This right is comprehensive and includes everything that would bother or irritate other people such as spitting, smoking, being drunk on the roadside, throwing rubbish on the streets, blocking pathways where people need to pass, laughing in a very loud and disturbing manner, hugging, kissing, and public displays of sexual affection.

Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) have forbidden us from causing any form of annoyance to our fellow Muslims and other human beings either by our speech or our actions with any kind of unbecoming behaviour. 

The third right of the street is to reply to greetings which are given, for indeed returning a greeting joins hearts together and creates a sense of love and friendliness between people, thus increasing their faith. Allah (swt) expressly commanded the returning of greetings in the Holy Qur’an:” When a courteous greeting is offered to you, reply to it with a greeting even more courteous, or at least of equal courtesy. Indeed, Allah takes careful account of all things.” (An-Nisa’: 86) 

Thus, it is sinful to ignore greetings and not reply accordingly whenever they are offered to us. We are held accountable for returning greetings as Allah (swt) said in the above verse even the seemingly simple reply to greetings offered. 

Furthermore, The Prophet (saw) expressly indicated that the act of spreading greetings of peace among us brings about love of each other in our hearts and strengthens our faith. Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet (saw) said:” Spread the greetings of peace among you.” (Muslim) 

The last right of the roadway enjoined by the Prophet (saw) is enjoining what is good and pleasing to Allah and forbidding each other from evil. This is a very important matter that helps to reform both individuals and society so that good character and moral values permeate the society. Otherwise, if evil is left to continue in society without being checked, then we run the risk of heading towards total destruction. 

Allah (swt) reminds us about this situation in the Qur’an so that we may take heed saying:” Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of humans have earned (by their oppression and evil deeds), that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah and begging His pardon).” (Ar-Rum: 41)

 Therefore, to be safe from these calamities in the community we must always have people who are enjoining good and forbidding evil. Without such people, immorality becomes more widespread in society, and the punishment of Allah follows.

(Prepared by Abdul Muhaemin Karim)