The Aadaab 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 any 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 not be expressed ambiguously.

  4. In each letter write your address fully. It is not the duty of the addressee 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 adg dressee the inconvenience of searchinfor 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 now a days in all offices. However, where private persons are concerned, a copy of the earlier letter should be included.)

  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 a 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 stationary 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 in 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’aala says in the Qur'aan Majeed: "Do not waste. Verily, the wasteful ones 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 torn 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.

The Aadaab of Istiftaa' (Asking a question to obtain the ruling of the Sharee'ah)