I purchased Al-Adab Al-Mufrad by Imam Bukhari  - Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ismail (194-256 AH / 810-970CE) after listening to a talk by Shaykh Navaid Aziz. He mentioned that this book is a must read for every student of knowledge. I don’t hold any pretensions in the department of being a student of knowledge, but I like to try.
My copy was bought in Jeddah and cost 55 Saudi Riyals.
Al Adab Al Mufrad is probably the second most important work of Imam Bukhari after Al Jami as
Sahih to which he devoted more than a quarter of his life and which is generally considered as an authority second only to the Holy Quran. This book deals solely with the subject of moral etiquette in Islam. Compiled in the 9th Century, it is one of the first books to be written on this subject.
It is made up of a Foreword, Introduction, Transliteration table, 644 Chapters and a Subject Index at the end.
It is 274 pages long and the print is big and clear which makes for easy reading. This book is suitable for both the general reader as well as the academic.
Muhammad Mustafa Azami mentions in the introduction ”Al Adab Al Mufrad is one of the most
important books for the individual and the community. It is a barometer by which we can gauge ourselves and the community to find out where we stand, how we can eliminate so many of the vices of society.”
The book in all its essence presents to us the immaculate character of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). It also contains sayings and excellent examples of the moral character of the companions (may Allāh be pleased with him).
Al Adab Al Mufrad starts with a hadith on the verse of Surah Al Ankabut:
“We enjoined Man To Be Kind To his Parents” [Quran: Chapter 29, Verse 8]
and ends with how one should not let anger be the cause of one’s destruction. Under Chapters 1 to 644 the book contains 1322 hadiths. From issues of orphans, neighbours and nobility, to issues of curses, defaming and excellence of visiting; a vast array of topics are covered.
How Can a General Individual Benefit From This Book?
For benefiting the most from this book we need to remember the ayah of Qur’an where Allah (glorified and exalted be He) mentions:
“And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.”[Quran: Chapter 51, Verse 55]
As you read the book use a highlighter and highlight all those hadiths that you need to work on.
This book is not a one time read; you need to keep coming back to it again and again until you
perfect a certain aspect of your character or behaviour. It may be anger issues or the habit of cursing or being disobedient to ones parents.
Importance of Morality and Moral Productivity
Imam Malik’s hadith where he mentions the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saying
“Verily, I was sent for no other reason, except to perfect the noble traits of Character.” [Al Adab Al Mufrad]
is proof of how important manners are. It is to say that one of Rasulallah’s (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) goals, or rather his primary goal was to perfect character and how people behave.
Moral productivity might sound like a tough road to tread but in His infinite mercy, Allah (glorified and exalted be He) has made it easy for us through the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Whenever we want to perfect a certain thing, we select someone who is best at it and imitate him/her. In the same way, to achieve moral productivity we need to imitate our Nabi (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) one hadith at a time. The catch is to not over burden the self by trying to change everything at once. Take baby steps toward achieving good manners. Start by smiling, improving your behaviour with neighbours and your parents and then striving to control your tongue and anger. In the Quran, Allah (glorified and exalted be He) attests to the perfect character of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and how we must emulate him:
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” [Quran: Chapter 33, Verse 21]
That’s where Al Adab Al Mufrad comes in; to help and guide us towards the best of manners and
to protect us from the worst of manners.
This book is a must have for everyone who understands the importance of good character and
wants to perfect it. A little example from Al Adab Al Mufrad:
Abu Hurayra said,
“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), was asked: ‘Messenger of Allah! A certain woman prays in the night, fasts in the day, acts and gives sadaqa, but injures her neighbours with her tongue.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘There is no good in her. She is one of the people of the Fire.’ They said, ‘Another woman prays the prescribed prayers and gives bits of curd as sadaqa and does not injure anyone.’ The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘She is one of the people of the Garden.” [Al Adab Al Mufrad]
Thus, the value of moral values in Islam becomes very clear, and these values are fixed by Allah (glorified and exalted be He), The Most Wise and The All Knowing of what is in our hearts. I leave you with two hadiths to reflect upon and to show how important it is to live by this book
and inculcate all those etiquettes in our lives to please Allah (glorified and exalted be He) for a better akhira.
Abu Huraira (may Allāh be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,
“If one has good manners, one may attain the same level of merit as those who spend their nights in prayer.” [Abu Dawud]
Abu Hurairah (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,
“And what is most likely to send people to Paradise? Being conscious of Allah and good manners.” [Bukhari]
 ISBN: 978187253113 7 (HB) and 9781872531182 (HB)
About the Author:
Shamsiya Noorul Quloob is a child psychologist by profession. She is passionate about psychology and sociology. She aims to eradicate cultural impacts of abuse, gender constraints and recidivism in Muslim community and runs a page Muslims Against Abuse to support the cause. She has served as a freelance writer for Times of India and as the Editor in Chief for Habibi Halaqas. She is an avid reader, believes in living one day at a time and making the most of it.