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Etiquette of correspondence
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Etiquette of correspondence

(1) Do not read the letters of others. If a letter is not intended for you, do not read it.

(2) Do not read any correspondence which is in front of a person. Perhaps the correspondence was meant to have been kept hidden from you. Even if the papers in front of a person happen to be printed matter (not letters), then too, do not read them. It is quite possible that the person concerned does not wish it to be known that he has in his possession that type of literature. (Some people when sitting by an acquaintance or friend have the habit of picking up letters/printed papers, etc which may be in front on the desk. It is not permissible to do so.)

(3) Write very clearly. The topic should riot be expressed ambiguously.

(4) In each letter write your address fully. It is not the duty of toe addressees to remember one's address which may have been furnished in an earlier letter.

(5) If, in a letter, reference is made to a matter which was mentioned in an earlier letter, then include a copy of the earlier letter. This will save the addressee the inconvenience of searching for the earlier letter. Often one cannot even remember the facts stated in the earlier letter. (This rule will not apply where the practice of systematic filing exists, e.g. as we find nowadays in all offices. However, where private persons are concerned, a copy of the earlier Icier should be included. - Translators)

(6) Do not write so many questions in a single letter, which pose an inconvenience to the addressee. After receiving a reply, write the further questions.

(7) If the addressee is one who has many occupations, do not encumber him with requests to convey your Salaams to others; similarly, do not impose this task on any of your seniors.

(8) It is disrespectful to write to a person a request pertaining to something, involvement in which is not appropriate for the addressee.

(9) When a reply is wanted, enclose a reply-paid self-addressed envelope.

(10) Do not write illegibly nor in such faint pencil which makes reading difficult. Do not cram the words nor the lines one on top of the other.

(11) It is not permissible to utilize the stationery of one's employers for one's private letters.

(12) Some people, instead of sending a pre-paid self-addressed envelope, enclose stamps to cover postage. This is incorrect. It is necessary to enclose a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope. This will save the addressee the inconvenience of having to procure an envelope, address it and affix stamps to it.

(13) Do not be wasteful with writing paper. If a letter consists of only a couple of lines, do not use the whole page. Tear the blank portion off.

(14) If the paper is of good quality, then use both sides to write on. Do not waste the one side. Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'aan Majeed: "Do not waste. Verily, the wasteful one's are the brothers of the shayaateen. "

(15) Do not use extravagant titles or flattery when writing. Be moderate in addressing.

(16) Do not be too brief in writing. Address elders with appropriate titles of respect.

(17) A single letter should not comprise of different topics.

(18) The letter should be written in the language of the addressee.

(19) When there is a need to discuss more than one subject in a single letter, do not write confusingly. Number the subjects and write in different paragraphs.

(20) Explain the question thoroughly or clearly so that the addressee is not constrained to write seeking clarity.

(21) An important letter or a letter for which a reply is required should be sent by post, not with a person who happens to be passing by.

(22) Think before writing a sentence. Do not write whatever you feel. Consider the feelings of the addressee.

(23) Fold the letter neatly and insert it correctly in the envelope. Do not insert it carelessly in such a way that the adhesive on the envelope sticks to the letter as well. This creates a difficulty for the addressee. Sometimes a portion of the letter is tarn while opening it.

(24) Do not unnecessarily write lengthy letters. Replying lengthy letters is onerous on the addressee.

(25) It is nonsensical and futile to write a letter regarding a matter which can be stated verbally, e.g. the person concerned resides in the same town and is easily reachable.

(26) When sending a money order indicate the purpose of the money in the space provided for a message. It is an error to desist from stating the purpose on account of a letter which will explain the purpose of the money. Sometimes the letter goes astray in the post and the addressee is left in the dark.

(27) The letters of females should be endorsed with the signature of a mahram male (husband, father, etc.). This closes the door to mischief.


MALFOOZAAT PERTAINING TO WRITING:
(1) In a letter someone posed several questions. In the same letter he informed that he was sending a money order of five rupees. In expectation of the arrival of the money order Hadhrat did not immediately reply the letter. The intention was to reply after receipt of the money order so that the receipt could also be sent together. Several days passed by and it is not known for what reason the money order did not arrive. Finally, after waiting a number of days, Hadhrat wrote to the sender (of the letter):

"Either you should not have informed in your letter of your intention to send the money order or in the same letter you should not have written queries for which replies were required."

(2) From a certain place an insured envelope containing 50 rupees arrived. Without opening the envelope it was not possible to ascertain the purpose for which the money was sent. It was quite possible that after opening the letter I would have discovered that money was intended for a purpose which I was not able to fulfill. In that event I would have had to return the money. It was also possible that the purpose for the money might have been unclear, necessitating a letter of query from me, and until I had not acquired clarification I would have been constrained to hold the money in trust (amaanat). In the event of having to return it, I would have had to unnecessarily undertake the responsibility of returning it. In the past it did happen that without my asking, people had called me to their place and had sent along travelling expenses, but I was unable to go. If the avenue of expenditure for the money was not defined properly or maybe it was defined correctly, but it required investigation in order to dispense the money in the
stated avenue necessitating a letter of query from me to the sender, then while awaiting a reply which may be delayed, I would be obligated to him. One who has many duties to attend to is greatly vexed by such things. For this reason I returned the envelope.

With persons of my disposition it is essential to firstly write requesting or seeking permission, then only should the money be sent. Even with those who 'do not have the attitude which I have, it is meritorious to first write informing them and seeking their permission. Alternatively, when sending a money order specify the purpose of the money in the space provided for a message so that the addressee knows exactly what to do - to accept it or to return it.

(3) The essence of all these aadaab is that others should not be burdened or inconvenienced by any act or statement. There should be no difficulty or perplexity imposed on others.

`This in fact is the essence of noble conduct. By remembering this principle there is no need for elaborate explanation. In regard to this principle it is required that one reflect before making a statement or doing an act. Think if your word or deed is not perhaps hurtful to others. By adopting this habit, commission of errors will be less. After a few days of practice the correct disposition will be inculcated. Then there will be no need for reflection. Speaking or acting correctly will become one's nature. In fact, these things are all natural in man.

(4) THE PROHIBITION OF READING THE LETTERS OF OTHERS
Question:  Is it permissible to read someone's letter without his permission?

Answer:It is not permissible. However, its prohibition is conditional. Among the reasons for this prohibition is the intention of causing harm to the writer of the letter.
The Hadith states:
"A true Muslim is one from whose tongue and hand Muslims are safe."

Revealing the secrets of others is an act of harm or hurt to the persons concerned. In most cases this is the motive for the desire to surreptitiously read the letters of others.

If the desire is not to harm anyone and the letter is read out of curiosity then it will be known as a laghw act which is also forbidden. Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'aan Shareef:

"They (the Mu'mineen) turn away from laghw (futility).'

If the purpose of reading the letter is not the desire to harm nor is it laghw, but is motivated by a genuine good intention, then the prohibition will be waived, e.g. parents censoring the letters of their children; an ustaadh reading the letters of his pupils; a shaikh reading the letters of his mureeds or a sultan reading the letters of his subjects in the interests of the safety and security of the land. Such acts of reading are at times permissible and at times necessary. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had ordered that the letter of Haatib Ibn Balta-ah be forcibly taken from his messenger.

(5) From Pakistan came a letter from a person who desired his islaah (reformation). The writer had left one side of the page blank and commenced on another page. In my reply I asked him for the reason for leaving the one side of the sheet blank. Is this not waste? Allah Ta'ala says: 'Verily, the wasters are the brothers of the shayaateen'. After a few days he wrote back saying: 'Your brief comment has reformed me. When even such an insignificant matter falls within the purview of waste and is sinful, then undoubtedly, all other wasteful expenditures will be major sins. I have now abandoned israaf (waste.)
(This particular malfooz is of Hadhrat Maulana Masihullah Saheb, the
Khalifah of Hadhrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thaanvi (rahmatullah alayh)

(6) Hadhrat Thaanvi wrote a reply on half a sheet and tore off the other half. He commented:
"This extra piece of paper can be used for the purpose of writing ta'weez. If I had not tarn it off, it would have gone wasted."

If the paper was sent by the writer (to be used for replying), Hadhrat would make use of the excess paper only if the sender was a close associate. If not, he would return the excess sheet to the sender.

(7) Even if I write a letter to any of my students for any of my needs, I enclose a prepaid self-addressed envelope. Why should I impose any inconvenience and difficulty on them especially when the need is mine? This appears in conflict with intelligence. Some sincere friends even complain to me about this action of mine, saying that there is no need for sending reply-paid envelopes to them. My answer to them is: Brother! This is best. AI1ow me to remain free and light.

(8) If worldly people keep up a correspondence with Ulama, then slowly they will develop a love for the Deen. Fear (of the Deen) will not remain in them. Afterall, they are Muslims and Muslims heed admonition.

(9) Above the address on an envelope was written:
"In the protection of Shaikh Ma'roof Karkhi."

The belief of these people is that by writing thus, the item will be protected. Take for example this very letter. The sender is under the impression that his letter can never be lost. Such beliefs are clear-cut shirk (association in the worship/power/dispensation of Allah Ta'ala). Ignorant people have fabricated this type of stories in the names of the Auliya.

(10) When writing a question the words should be few but conveying the full meaning. Some people pose a question in such a way that if the addressee is not already aware af the matter, he will not fully understand the question. This will necessitate the writing of a letter seeking clarification. The question should therefore be fully explained, but in few words. (i.e. the question should not be unnecessarily expanded nor should the writer assume that the addressee is aware of the matter.)

(11) The condition of educated people today is such that whatever comes to mouth, they utter and whatever they wish to say, they write. They do not for a moment exercise restraint nor reflect on the grief and inconvenience they are causing others by their actions. There no longer remains any culture. If someone is able to write, but he lacks culture and manners, then this too is a form of Allah's Wrath. Such a person will only cause grief to others with his writing since others suffer as a result of disrespect and ill-manners.

(12) It is nonsensical to write a letter when it is possible to convey the message verbally. The limits are being totally ignored. People are not in the habit of pondering and thinking before acting. Whatever they feel like doing, they do regardless of whether their action is irksome, difficult and onerous to others. They are not concerned about the peace and comfort of others.

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