Habib ‘Umar, in his lecture on the Spiritual Imperative, relates this gem:
One of the companions of Imam Malik son of Anas in the enlightened prophetic city of Medina said I kept his company for 20 years. I spent 18 of those years learning adab and tazkiyah and I spent 2 years learning knowledge. He said then when I lost Malik, I regretted that I did not spend these entire 20 years learning adab, these courtesies.
I often wonder what the ummah would be if we were cognizant of how our behavior effects those around us, if good manners towards Allah (swt) and our fellow man were priority #1? What if we strove to embody the wholeness of the sunnah – the outward actions, and the inward state – and fretted about our adab as we so often fret about x, y and z that we can see visually?
But of course, before I spend all my time pondering the greater state of the world, should I first not turn inward and reflect on my own character and see what needs to be polished within before worrying about the faults of others?