Imam Al-Nawawi's Riyad-us-Saliheen
Chapter 129
Etiquette of Attending company and sitting with Companions

825. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Do not ask someone to give up his seat in order to take it, but make accommodation wide and sit at ease.'' It was Ibn `Umar's habit that if a person left his seat for him, he would not take it.
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: Herein, we are told that the space of meeting should be wide enough to accommodate every participant. None should feel the space problem. Good manners disallow a newcomer to get a seat vacated for himself by force, no matter if the occupant is an inferior. Yet, there is nothing undesirable if the latter willingly vacates the seat for a superior. Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) would never agree to availing even a willing offer in this respect. Obviously extreme Taqwa (fear of Allah) and moral scruples lay behind his reluctance to take the place of somebody else. Yet, there are a few exceptions in this regard. For example, if somebody sits in the chair of his teacher, he may be asked to leave it. Also if a man has fixed place in the market to sell his goods, another person will not be justified in occupying it forcibly.

826. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "If someone leaves his seat (for one reason or another) and returns to it, he is better entitled to it.''
[Muslim].

827. Jabir bin Samurah (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Whenever we came to the gathering of the Prophet, we would sit down at the end (of the assembly).
[Abu Dawud].

Commentary:  This Hadith throws light on social etiquette. Suppose, if somebody comes to participate in a meeting, he should not behave in a rustic manner by crossing over the heads of the sitting people. Nor should he attempt to forcibly put himself in the place of another person.

828. Salman Al-Farisi (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "If a man takes a bath on Friday, purifies himself thoroughly, uses oil and perfume which is available in the house, sets forth for the mosque, does not (forcibly) sit between two persons, offers the prayer that is prescribed for him and listens to the Imam silently, his sins between this Friday and the previous Friday will be forgiven.''
[Al-Bukhari].

Commentary: This Hadith highlights eight points. First, to take a bath on Friday is a matter of commendation. Some say this bath is commendable, while others think it is necessary. Second, one should take it in the morning or before going to the mosque to offer prayer. Third, on this occasion the use of perfume or hair-cream is preferable. Fourth, there is a mention of good manners. Instead of crossing over the heads of worshippers, one should try to locate an open space and sit there. To thrust oneself between two sitting persons looks awkward. Fifth, entry into the mosque should be followed by the performance of two Rak`ah prayer, even if the Imam is delivering Khutbah (religious talk). Sixth, an attempt should be made to offer voluntary prayer before the Khutbah. Seventh, complete silence should be observed during the Khutbah to the point that one is not allowed to say to the other person: "Keep silent,'' if one does not want to loose reward. Eighth, if a man offers his Friday prayer by observing the said conditions and prerequisites, his week-long sins will be forgiven by Allah. But these are exclusively minor sins including failure in doing one's duty to Allah. As regards major sins, the sinner will not be forgiven by Allah unless he sincerely repents from the sins. Similarly, a man's failure to do his duties towards his fellow-Muslim brothers or sisters, in case he has wronged them in anyway, will not be pardoned unless he is forgiven by them.

829. `Amr bin Shu`aib on the authority of his father and grandfather reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "It is not permissible for a person to sit between two people without their permission.''
[At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary:  This Hadith tells us that a man is forbidden to push himself between two sitting persons unless they themselves allow him to do that.

830. Hudhaifah bin Al-Yaman (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Whosoever takes seat in the midst of an assembly has been cursed by Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) The Messenger of Allah curses the one who sits in the middle of people's circle.
[Abu Dawud].

Commentary: Herein, we are also told that a man must not push himself into the circles of some sitting people as this shows no consideration for their feelings. A Muslim should not intrude on other people's personal affairs.

831. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: I heard Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) saying "The best assemblies are those in which people make room for one another.''
[Abu Dawud].

Commentary:  This Hadith tells us that the closely-sitting people have a feeling of narrowness and suffocation. On the other hand, in a well-spaced meeting, one has a feeling of relief and comfort. The Hadith urges us to spread out in assemblies and make room for one another to the comfort of everyone.

832.  Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Whoever sits in a gathering and indulges in useless talk and before getting up supplicates: `Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika, ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Anta, astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaika (O Allah, You are free from every imperfection; praise be to You. I testify that there is no true god except You; I ask Your Pardon and turn to You in repentance),' he will be forgiven for (the sins he may have intentionally or unintentionally committed) in that assembly.''
[At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary:  A senseless, boisterous talk, not related to the life to come, is unprofitable and warrants deprecation. But since it is a small sin, it may be pardoned if one sincerely repents of it. Yet, it cannot be classified under the head of major sins and human-right violations which are unpardonable. Scholars unanimously agree that those sins which can be forgiven upon sincerely reciting the above-mentioned supplication are minor sins which relate to the violation of Allah's Rights, as evidenced by other Ahadith.

833. Abu Barzah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Towards the end of his life, Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) would supplicate before leaving an assembly thus: "Subhanaka Allahumma wa bihamdika, ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Anta, astaghfiruka wa atubu ilaika (O Allah, You are free from every imperfection; all praise is for You. I testify that there is no true god except You, I ask Your forgiveness and turn to You in repentance).'' A man once said to him: "O Messenger of Allah! You have spoken such words as you have never uttered before.'' He said, "It is an expiation of that which goes on in the assembly.''
[Abu Dawud].

Commentary:  Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) would recite this supplication at the end of every assembly to teach his Ummah how to gain more rewards and to beseech Allah to forgive the lapses which they might have inadvertently committed during the course of a general conversation. There is no indication in the Hadith that he himself used to engage in idle talk while he was with his Companions.

834.  Ibn `Umar (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) seldom left a gathering without supplicating in these terms: "Allahumma-qsim lana min khashyatika ma tahulu bihi bainana wa baina ma`sika, wa min ta`atika ma tuballighuna bihi jannataka, wa minal-yaqini ma tuhawwinu `alaina masa-'ibad-dunya. Allahumma matti`na biasma`ina, wa absarina, wa quwwatina ma ahyaitana, waj`alhul-waritha minna, waj`al tharana `ala man zalamana, wansurna `ala man `adana, wa la taj`al musibatana fi dinina, wa la taj`alid-dunya akbara hammina, wa la mablagha `ilmina, wa la tusallit `alaina man-la yarhamuna, (O Allah, apportion to us such fear as should serve as a barrier between us and acts of disobedience; and such obedience as will take us to Your Jannah; and such as will make easy for us to bear in the calamities of this world. O Allah! let us enjoy our hearing, our sight and our power as long as You keep us alive and make our heirs from our own offspring, and make our revenge restricted to those who oppress us, and support us against those who are hostile to us let no misfortune afflict our Deen; let not worldly affairs be our principal concern, or the ultimate limit of our knowledge, and let not those rule over us who do not show mercy to us).''
[At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary: This Hadith reveals a prayer through which we may be able to reach all that which is good in this world as well as in the Hereafter.

835. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Those people who leave a gathering in which they have not remembered Allah, will conclude it as if it has foul odour similar to that of a rotten carcass of a donkey. And it will be a cause of grief to them.''
[Abu Dawud].

Commentary: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) has warned us against refraining from the remembrance of Allah because most of the heart diseases are caused by this indifference, and because most of the sins are committed as a result of this indifference.

836. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Whenever a group of people sit in a gathering in which they do not remember Allah the Exalted, nor supplicate to elevate the rank of their Prophet, such a gathering will be a cause of grief to them. If Allah wills, He will punish them, and if He wills He will forgive them.''
[At-Tirmidhi].

Commentary:  Any meeting where Allah (SWT) is not glorified and praised and His blessings are not invoked to elevate the rank of His Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam), will cause grief and punishment to the participants in the Hereafter.

837. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "If anyone sits in a gathering where he does not remember Allah, he will bring grief upon himself (on the Day of Resurrection), and he who lies down in a place where he does not remember Allah, will bring grief upon himself (on the Day of Resurrection).''
[Abu Dawud].

Commentary:  To sum up what has gone in the Ahadith of this chapter, man should remember Allah on all occasions. This will establish and cement his bond with Allah, keeping heedlessness away from his heart and mind. It is heedlessness which prompts man to transgress Divine rules and limits, whereas the remembrance of Allah prevents him from indulging in backbiting and passing slanderous remarks against people in their absence or reproaching and belittling someone at a meeting. Unfortunately, such petty and negative out-pourings are relished at chat sessions in our society. This generates grudge, illwill and hostility in hearts and splits up social cohesion and Islamic solidarity. Every Muslim should, therefore, take care to avoid such gatherings.