DEPORTMENT. Arabic ‘ilmu ‘l-mu’asharah علم المعاشرة
Persian nishast u burkhasi. The Traditionists take some pains to explain the precise manner in which their Prophet walked, sat, slept, and rose, but their accounts are not always uniform and consistent. For example, whilst ‘Abbad relates that he saw the Prophet sleeping on his back with one leg over the other, Jabir says the Prophet distinctly forbade it.
Modesty of deportment is enjoined in the Qur’an, Surah xvli 39: “Walk not proudlyon the earth,” which the commentators say means that the believer is not to toss his head of his arms as he walks. Surah xxv 64:
The servants of the Merciful One are those who walk upon the earth lowly, and when the ignorant address them say ‘Peace’!”
Faqii dani Muhammad As’ad, the author of the celebrated ethical work, the Akhlaq-I-Jalali, gives the following advice as regards general deportment: –
He should not hurry as he walks, for that is a sign of levity; neither should he be unreasonably tardy, for that is a token of dulness. Let him neither stalk like the overbearing nor agitate himself in the way of women and eunuchs; but constantly observe the middle course. Let him avoid going often backwards and forwards, for that betokens bewilderment; and holding his head downwards, for that indicated a mind overcome by sorrow and anxiety. In riding, no less, the same medium is to be observed. When hi sits, let him not extend his feet, nor put one upon another. He must never kneel except in deference to his king, his preceptor and his father, or other such person. Let him not rest his head on his knee or his hand, for that is a mark of dejection and indolence. Neither let him hold his neck awry, nor indulge in foolish tricks, such as playing with his fingers or other joints. Let him avoid twisting round or stretching himself. In spitting and blowing his nose, let him be careful that no one sees or hears him; that he blow it not towards the Qiblah, nor upon his hand, his skirt, or sleeve-lappet.
“When he enters an assembly, let his sit neither lower nor higher that his proper station. If he himself is the head of the party, he can sit as he likes, for his place must be the highest whereover it may be. If he has inadvertently taken a wrong place, let him exchange it for his own as soon as he discovers his mistake; should his own be occupied, he must return without disturbing others or annoying himself.”
“In the presence of his male or female domestics, let him never bare anything but his hands and his face; the parts from his knee to his navel let him never expose at all; neither in public nor private, except on occasions of necessity for ablution and the like. (Vide Gen ix 20; Lev xvii,6 xx 11; Deut xxii 30.)
“He must not sleep in the presence of other persons, or lie on his back, particularly as the habit of snoring is thereby encouraged.”
“Should sleep overpower him in the midst of a party, let him get up, if possible, or else dispel the drowsiness by relating some story, entering on some debate, and the like. But is he is with a set of persons who sleep themselves, let him either bear them company or leave them.”
“The upshot of the whole is this: Let him so behave as not to incommode or disgust others; and should any of these observances appear troublesome, let him reflect, that to be formed to their contraries would be still more odious and still more unpleasant than any pains which their acquirement may cost him.” Akhlaq-I-Jalali, Thompson’s Translation, p 292)
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam