لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَة ٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُو اللَّهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرا
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and (who) remembers Allah often.”
(Surat al-Ahzab, 33:21)But what are some of the lessons that have been passed down by the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w and how can we carry them out in our daily lives? Remembering these lessons of compassion, forgiveness, and tenderness isn’t just remembering the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w but also forms part of our worship of Allah s.w.t. The best way to reflect the kindness of Islam is to show it through our own words and deeds, by showing love and mercy in our actions. By seeing how Allah s.w.t’s words in the Quran are reflected in the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w’s own deeds, we can hope to emulate his teachings. Let us relook at the core teachings and message of love and mercy from Rasulullah s.a.w (The Messenger of God):
Love Trumps HateProphet Muhammad s.a.w taught us that we need to be better in confronting hate, rather than stooping to the same level as those who promote hate. We need to have a bigger heart and have more compassion than those who spread negativity. Allah s.w.t tells us in Surah Al-Fussilat verse 34 that we need to,
“Repel that which is evil with that which is better”.As the embodiment of the Quranic values, our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had shown, in many instances, how to rise above hate and enmity. He emphasised that forgiveness is greater than revenge, perseverance is larger than retaliation, and love is better than hate.
1. Forgiveness Over Revenge
اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي، وقلة حيلتي، وهواني على الناس،
يا أرحم الراحمين، إلى من تكلني، إلى عدو يتجهمني، أو إلى قريب ملكته أمري،
إن لم يكن بك علي غضب فلا أبالي، غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي،
أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات، وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة،
أن تنزل بي غضبك، أو يحل علي سخطك،
لك العتبى حتى ترضى، ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بك
“Oh my Lord, I appeal to you for my weakness in my strength, my lack of support and the treatment of contempt and humiliation from people.
Oh The Most Compassionate and Merciful!
To whom do You leave me to? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to a friend you have given control of my affair? As long as you are not displeased with me, then I am in content. I would, however, be much happier with Your protection.
I seek refuge in the glory of Your light, by which all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come are put in their right course against incurring Your anger or being the subject of Your displeasure.
To You I submit, until You are pleased. There is no control or power except that which is by You.”
(Narrated by Imam At-Tabrani)Eventually, an angel came to Prophet s.a.w and was asked if he wished for actions to be taken against those that hurt him. The Prophet s.a.w. responded by saying,
“I'd rather hope that Allah will raise, from among their descendants, people who will worship Allah the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him.”
(Hadith by Imam Bukhari & Imam Muslim)He did not respond with rage and retaliation. Instead, he prayed for those who had insulted and hurt him, and hoped that they would understand his message in a peaceful manner. He rose above hate and enmity. His heart was full of hope and mercy. Today, Ta’if is a beautiful town with its people professing the Islamic faith. From this we can learn that during times of communicating or arguing with those who share different views, a more peaceful and empathetic approach can help to bridge any misunderstandings. Rather than reacting with anger, we can choose to understand both sides in the hopes of peaceful change in the future.
اللَّهُمَّ اغْفِرْ لِقَوْمِي فَإِنَّهُمْ لا يَعْلَمُونَ
“Oh Allah, forgive my people for they do not know.”Rasulullah s.a.w. also explained that this dua was invoked by the previous messengers and showed that indeed forgiveness is greater than revenge.
2. Seeing the Best in OthersThe Prophet s.a.w. also taught us that through love and mercy, one can be drawn to the beauty of Islamic faith. Prior to Sayyidina Umar r.a. accepting the message of Islam, he was a powerful adversary that had challenged the Prophetic message. However, the Prophet s.a.w. prayed to Allah s.w.t to soften his heart. In a hadith by Ibn Umar r.a., Rasulullah s.a.w. supplicated,
اللَّهُمَّ أَعِزَّ الْإِسْلَامَ بِأَحَبِّ هَذَيْنِ الرَّجُلَيْنِ إِلَيْكَ بِأَبِي جَهْلٍ أَوْ بِعُمَرَ بْنِ الْخَطَّابِ
“Oh Allah, strengthen Islam with one of two men whom you love more: Abu Jahl or Umar ibn Al-Khattab.”
(Hadith by Imam Tirmizi)Sayyidina Umar r.a. eventually accepted Islam after he confronted his sister for being a believer. He was in a rage that his sister had abandoned their traditional belief and accepted Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. However, the tenderness of his sister, who did not challenge his confrontation, softened his heart. When he finally read the Quran himself, he received the ray of light from Allah s.w.t and the rest is history. Rather than being forced into accepting Islam, he came to understand its values through witnessing the compassion and kindness of the Muslims around him.
Radiate Love For God’s Creation
3. Love for Fellow Humanity
لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يُحِبَّ لِأَخِيهِ مَا يُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِهِ
“None of you has faith until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself”.
(Hadith by Imam Bukhari)The Syrian scholar Sheikh Mustafa Bugha commented on that hadith in his book Al-Wafi Fi Sharhil Arba’een An-Nawawiyyah, it is mentioned that ‘brother’ here is not limited to just fellow believers, but can be extended to all of humanity as well - ukhuwwah insaniyah (brotherhood in humanity). Hence, we must ensure that what we like for ourselves, we also do it for others. What we do not like for ourselves, we do not do it to others. The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w extended this compassion even to those who (at his time) were not yet seen on equal footing a the rest of society. As mentioned by Ustaz Syazwan Elrani in “4 Beautiful Ways The Prophet Honoured Women ’, “Prophet Muhammad uplifted the status of women, from that of being the property of men to that of equal status in the society with accorded rights and dignity. The Prophet s.a.w. paid special attention to the women in his society, who previously had been denied any rights, freedom and space. He was patient and kind towards them and listened to their plight.” The Prophet s.a.w emphasised that we should be good neighbours. He told us that, as believers, we should not usurp the rights of our neighbours and do things that may disturb and harm them. The Prophet s.a.w also instructed us to look after one another and love the poor and needy. In a hadith, Rasulullah s.a.w. reminded us,
"Love the poor and bring them near you, for He will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection."
(Narrated by Imam Tirmizi)In my article ‘Can Muslims Befriend Non-Muslims?’, I mentioned that Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had co-existed peacefully with people of various faith communities. He lived alongside the Christians and Jews both in Makkah and Madinah. Beyond his social relations with people of other faiths, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. also emphasised that ties of kinship should not be severed as a result of differences in faith. The Prophet s.a.w. taught us that indeed, a society that loves one another and takes care of each other is a society that is strong and cohesive. In a world where there is a proliferation of hate and enmity, as followers of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, let us re-establish this golden rule as a basis of our relationship with others.
4. Love for Other CreationsBeyond doing good to one another, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. also showed how we should treat other living creatures with love and mercy. He warned against harming the animals. In a hadith, Rasulullah s.a.w. said,
“A woman was punished because of a cat which she kept locked up until it died, and she entered Hell because of it, because she did not feed it or give it water when she kept it locked up, neither did she let it eat from the vermin of the earth.”
(Narrated by Imam Muslim)Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was always gentle with other creations. Even though we regard some animals as impure, Muslims are expected to respect and handle them with love and mercy. For instance, in dealing with dogs, the Prophet s.a.w. did not teach us to hate them. In fact, the Prophet s.a.w. told us about the merits of feeding dogs.
" بَيْنَا رَجُلٌ بِطَرِيقٍ، اشْتَدَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَطَشُ فَوَجَدَ بِئْرًا فَنَزَلَ فِيهَا فَشَرِبَ، ثُمَّ خَرَجَ، فَإِذَا كَلْبٌ يَلْهَثُ يَأْكُلُ الثَّرَى مِنَ الْعَطَشِ، فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ لَقَدْ بَلَغَ هَذَا الْكَلْبَ مِنَ الْعَطَشِ مِثْلُ الَّذِي كَانَ بَلَغَ مِنِّي، فَنَزَلَ الْبِئْرَ، فَمَلأَ خُفَّهُ مَاءً، فَسَقَى الْكَلْبَ، فَشَكَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ، فَغَفَرَ لَهُ ". قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّ لَنَا فِي الْبَهَائِمِ لأَجْرًا فَقَالَ " فِي كُلِّ ذَاتِ كَبِدٍ رَطْبَةٍ أَجْرٌ"
"A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile, he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, "This dog is suffering from thirst as I did." So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him. The people said, "Oh Rasulullah! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?" He replied: "Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being)."
(Narrated by Imam Bukhari)Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. emphasised to us that we have a collective duty towards our environment. Rasulullah s.a.w. encouraged us to plant trees as it would benefit other creations.
مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يَغْرِسُ غَرْسًا، أَوْ يَزْرَعُ زَرْعًا، فَيَأْكُلُ مِنْهُ طَيْرٌ أَوْ إِنْسَانٌ أَوْ بَهِيمَةٌ، إِلاَّ كَانَ لَهُ بِهِ صَدَقَةٌ
“No Muslim who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, except that this is regarded as charity.”
(Narrated by Imam Bukhari)Today, with the threats of climate change and global warming, there is a need for us to treat our environment with love and respect. We should make efforts to prevent wastage, over-reliance on single-use plastic, and make efforts not to pollute our waters and the air. We need to inculcate our love towards the environment and make efforts to protect it from degradation and destruction. Showing love and protection towards the natural world around us becomes another way in which we honour and worship Allah s.w.t. Indeed, we need to bring back the teachings of love and mercy of Rasulullah s.a.w. into our lives. In facing the challenges of today’s post-modern society, we need to spread the values of love and mercy. The amplification of hate today needs to be challenged by radiating love and mercy to humanity. We should seek to build bridges with others and not walls. We need to manifest our faith through the prism of love and mercy by showing compassion to those around us, even those who we might disagree with. May Allah s.w.t place us among those who will be granted the love of Rasulullah s.a.w. and be among those who will spread his enduring love to humanity. May we among those who spread love and not hate, spread peace and not conflict, spread unity and not division. Amin. And Allah knows best. This post was written by Ustaz Ridhwan Mohd Basor, who is part of the Asatizah Youth Network. Find more articles on Islamic religious knowledge at muslim.sg.