Kindness and graciousness are the first requisite for refined manners. This is possible only by following the moral values stated in the Holy Quran and practised and preached by the Holy Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

There are some people who think that refined manners are not very important. They question their significance, because they think that finesse in manners might appear contrived.

We all agree that what is inside your heart, and in your brain, is what really counts. One cannot be truly refined, unless one’s heart and mind are refined. You cannot be truly refined without a refined spirit and mind. The pursuit of refinement, which helps make one a good human being, needed, first and foremost, the acquisition of virtues of compassion and humility.

Thus, by pursuing refinement you are developing your character, heart and mind. And you will also end up with many high quality skills. Your God-given talents will be honed. The pursuit of personal refinement is not superficial at all.

Refinement also helps a person of worth to be more fully recognised and appreciated. It elevates their social standing and confidence. A cultured person gains considerable influence much more easily than a person with slovenly habits.

When a person pursues and values his refinement, not only will he earn the approval of people around him, he will respect and appreciate himself. He increases his feelings of self-worth. When a person’s manners are refined, he also increases his own chances of social acceptability.

Unfortunately often in life, we are given about 30 seconds to make a good impression. If we fail to make a favourable impression, most people won’t stick around to find out if you have a heart of gold or not. If you would like to walk with dignity in society you have to instil in our heart and mind the virtues of compassion and humility, honesty and integrity.

When you encounter a person who is slovenly, careless, blunt or rude, it may seem that he is over-confident and indifferent to what other people think. Whereas, in actuality, he may be experiencing low morale and feeling inferior. As men, we can teach our children and ourselves the value of refined manners.

We should make an effort to speak correctly and be courteous. While this type of training might be rigid, it will produce fine human beings. If you find yourself steeped in insecurity, the pursuit of refinement will help you feel equal to everyone else.

Refinement is a work in progress; it is not innate to anyone. Gentlemen are not born. They are made. If they are fortunate, they are made by persistent parents, with a high sense of moral values. If a person becomes refined, it requires a constant effort to preserve this refinement. And that if we do not constantly strive toward propriety, we will slip back toward the uncivilised. The pursuit of refinement makes you a better person. You end up gaining favour in the sight of God.

The life and sayings of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him) are a true lesson in propriety and refined behaviour. However, nowadays inattention to character building is eating into the vitals of the Ummah. Our focus of attention has always been the rituals - prayer, fasting, Haj and Zakat.

Undoubtedly, they are the pillars of our religion and they do help build character and turn us into finer human beings (if we are sincere in the performance of rituals). Without sincerity and persistent fear of God, prayers become a meaningless exercise of standing and sitting. That is also true with fasting, Haj and Zakat.

The irony is that other nations have profited from the values promulgated in the percept of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) and attained a higher stage of individual and collective living, while we pay only lip service to his teachings.

Even though we believe that Islam is not a mere religion, but a complete code of life, we have virtually negated this concept by confining Islam to the pulpit of the mosque. Let us vow to organise our lives according to the teachings of Islam.

The writer is a freelance columnist. This article has been reproduced from the Khaleej Times.