Elders are to be Served First

Give precedence to the elderly or to dignitaries ahead of anyone else. After that, you may proceed with those on their right, which is in accordance with the practice of Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam]. The evidence supporting this manner in addition to the hadith mentioned here, is illustrated in many ahadith, some of which are cited below.

Imam Muslim [Rahimahullah] reported in his Sahih under the chapter of , “The Manners and Rules of Eating and Drinking”  that Sayyiduná Hudhaifah Ibn Yamán [Radiallahu anhu] said, “Whenever we were invited to a meal with Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam], we would not stretch out for the foodwith our hands until he reached for it.”

To emphasise the importance of these manners, Imam An-Nawawi [Rahimahullah], in his book Riyadhus Salihin, cited a large collection of Ahadith and devoted an entire chapter to this subject entitled, “The Chapter of Respecting  Scholars, the Elderly, the Dignitaries, Giving them Precedence and the Best Seat and Acknowledging their Rank.”

Allah said in the Qurán:

“Are those who know equal to those who do not know? It is only those who possess knowledge that receive admonition.” (Surah az-Zumar: 9)

Sayyiduná ‘Uqbah Ibn ‘Amr Al-Badri Al-Ansari [Radiallahu anhu] stated that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “Those who are best at reciting the Qurán should lead the people saláh. If they are equal, then those who are well versed in the sunnah should lead, if they are equal, then a person who emigrated earlier (from Makkah to Madinah) should lead. If they emigrated at the same time, then the elder should lead.” [Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’úd [Radiallahu anhu] reported that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, ” Let your wise men and intelligent ones stand close to me (in saláh), then those that are lower than them in rank, and then those that are lower than them in rank, and so on. (Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said this thrice.)” [Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná  Jábir Ibn ‘Abdullah [Radiallahu anhuma] said, “After the Battle of Uhud, Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] buried two martyrs in a single grave. He would ask, “Which of the two memorized more of the Qurán?” Upon being informed as to who it is, Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] would lay him down first.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Sayyiduná  ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar [Radiallahu anhuma] stated that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “I dreamt I was brushing my teeth with a miswak when two men approached me. I handed the miswak to the younger but then I was instructed to hand it to the elder. Accordingly, I handed it to the elder.” [Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná Abu Musa Al-Ash’arí [Radiallahu anhu] stated that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “Part of paying homage to Allah is to respect an elderly Muslim, whose hair has turned grey, a hafidh of the Qurán, who is neither too strict nor too laz with regard to it, and a just ruler.” [Sunan Abi Dawúd]

Sayyiduná Maimun Ibn Abi Shabib [Radiallahu anhu] recounted that a beggar stopped by Rasulullah’s [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] wife, sayyidatuná ‘Aishah [Radiallahu anha]. She gave him a piece of dry bread. At another time, a properly dressed, well groomed man passed by her. She let him and offered him a meal. When asled about that, she replied, Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “Treat people according to their status.” [Sunan Abi Dawúd and Hákim classified it as Sahih]

Imam An-Nawawi [Rahimahullah] concluded this chapter by citing a hadith as reported by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim in which Sayyiduná Samurah Ibn Jundub [Radiallahu anhu] said, “Though I was a young child at the time of Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam], I used to listen to what he said and memorize it. Noting prevents me from narrating my knowledge except the presence of men elder than me.”

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