Long ago the Palace of Versailles in Paris would issue invitation cards to those invited to attend official functions, these invitation cards also included a code of conduct that should be observed by the guests. This invitation was called – in French – an “etiquette” however this term soon linguistically shifted to the modern definition of the term, which means a code of good behavior according to society’s norms. Etiquette is something that exists in all human cultures, whether this is western or eastern or even Islamic. This led Saudi etiquette expert, Amira al-Sayigh to say “we should not deal with etiquette as strangers, but we are one of the leading contributors to this and it is our duty to be at the forefront [of this].” We should not be overly preoccupied with the etymology of this word to the point that this prevents us from benefiting from and contributing to etiquette.
Amira al-Sayigh is part of a small group of Saudi Arabians and Arabs who have shown an interest in etiquette and who have investigated the Islamic dimension of this in three important etiquette books, “Etiquette and our Children”, “Etiquette and Our Young Men” and “Etiquette and Our Young Women.” The latter two books were only released a few days ago. All of these books are extremely important and should be put in the hands of our youth so that we can improve their behavior when dealing with others. We need to educate the new generation about the rules with regards to dealing with parents, siblings, neighbors, and others, as well as the etiquette surrounding dining, visiting the mosque, as well as etiquette on the road and other forms of etiquette. All of this should be instilled in the hearts of our youth. All of this has been summarized in these three books which I believe are the best present that any parent can give to their children.
In her three books, Amira al-Sayigh combines maternity with science, sending a message of altruism to our new generations. She is trying to provide a bridge of awareness to our young people in order to help them reach a more sophisticated and polished future in terms of their behavior towards others. Her books are the crowning achieving of this distinguished effort.