Monday, October 11, 2004

The Starting Point Is Kindness

For some Muslims, harshness has become the starting point and is resorted to very quickly by some as opposed to being something employed after all else has actually been tried in an attempt to guide others to the correct path.

The fact is that we have too often experienced that those who apply harshness while leap to conclusions and tactics based upon untruths, rumuors or running gossip without always first looking closely at the circumstances of the individuals they apply that harshness towards.

Moreover, although claiming to want to correct and guide others, we find that they often never use the approach of kindness or courtesy of actual personal contact or generosity such as a call or a visit or a friendly meeting to deal with the issue in question.

Many relationships have been damaged and suspicion sewn due to the harsh approach. Our approach as Ahmadis should be that when dealing with with Muslims, the starting point, should be even if astray, or in error, is gentleness and kindness to what some may consider a fault.

Also keep in mind that the error, sin or deviation in question is often only in the perception of others when it may not in fact be the absolute case. More dangerous is that the drive to lambaste or condemn often stems from what amounts to a difference of opinion on a given matter where there is indeed room to differ.

Instead, what usually happens is that rumors get spread and backbiting becomes the order of the day. When good people are attacked and vilified, it is very discouraging to others and demoralizing to the community! Ironically it could be that after such treatment is shown to be clearly unjust, it still leads to the residual effect of creating distrust and disdain of those who initiated such actions and any good they attempt is rejected or negated and relationships get tarnished.

How sad is the resultant build-up of animosity between various family factions in the community pushes those who are not really involved to take sides in disputes and an "You are either with us or against us" attitude develops that poisons relations in the community often over matters that most really have no idea about in detail.

Before treating a Muslim with harshness as to the consequences and justice of such action. The intent should be to guide one's brother or sister in faith for the sake of Allah. We must remember that the foundation of dealing with other Muslims in general is one of employing kindness, having patience and overlooking of faults, while harshness and sternness are the exception and not the rule.

Among the Qualities of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam, are Mercy and Kindness, Allah addresses His Messenger and reminds him and the believer of the favor that He has made his heart and words soft for his Ummah, those who follow his command and refrain from what he prohibits. And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently... meaning, who would have made you this kind if it was not Allah’s mercy for you and them?

And by the mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently... means, "with Allah's mercy you became this kind." Al-Hassan Al-Basri said that this indeed is the description of the behavior that Allah sent Muhammad with.

This aayah is similar to Allah's statement, Verily there has come unto you a Messenger from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He is anxious over you (to be rightly guided, to repent to Allah); for the believers he is full of pity, kind, and merciful (9:127) And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; (5:159) The severe person is he who utters harsh words and "harsh-hearted" is the person who heart is hard.

Had this been the Prophet's behavior, "they would have scattered from around you." However Allah gathered them and made you kind and soft with them, so that their hearts congregate around you." 'Abdullah Ibn 'Amr (radiallahu 'anhu) said that he read the description of the Messenger of Allah in previous Books, "He is not severe, harsh, obscene in the marketplace or dealing evil for evil. Rather he forgives and pardons." [Fathul-Bari 8:449]

Verily there has come unto you a Messenger from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should receive any injury or difficulty. He is eager for you; for the believers he is full of pity, kind and merciful. But if they turn away say: "Allah is sufficient for me. There is no God but He, in Him I put my trust and He is the Lord of the Mighty Throne. [At-Tawbah 128 - 129]

This is similar to His other statement: And be kind and humble to the believers who follow you. Then if they disobey you, say: "I am innocent of what you do." And put your Trust in Allah the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful. [26:215 - 217]

The true Muslim is sincere towards Allah his Book, His Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and to the leaders and the masses of the Muslims as is stated in the hadeeth: The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Religion is sincerity." We asked, 'To Whom?' He said, "To Allah (by obeying Him attributing to Him what He deserves and performing jihad for His sake); to His Book (by reading it, understanding it and applying it to one's daily life); to His Prophet (by respecting him greatly and fighting on his behalf both in his lifetime and after his death, and by following his sunnah); to the rulers of the Muslims (by helping them in their task of leading Muslims to the right path and alerting them if they are heedless); and to their common folk (by being merciful towards them). [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim)

It is no surprise, then, that the Muslim should be sincere towards his brothers and not cheat them or mislead them. Sincerity in this sense is one of the most basic principles of Islam which the first believers pledge to adhere to when they gave allegiance to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam).

This is confirmed by the statement of Jarir Ibn Abdullah; "I gave allegiance to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and pledged to observe regular prayer, to pay zakat and to be sincere towards every Muslim." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) "

In the hadeeth quoted above, we see that the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) summed up Islam in one word -- sincerity is the central foundation of the faith. For without sincerity a man's faith is invalid and his Islam is worthless. This is the meaning of the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam): None of you truly believes until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself (Al-Bukhaari and Muslim)

This is impossible to achieve unless one loves one's brother with all sincerity. No doubt this level of love for one's brother is very difficult to attain, but it is not impossible as long as one is constantly aware that liking for one's brother what one likes for oneself is one of the conditions of faith, and that religion is sincerity. Indeed it is the natural attitude of the sincere Muslim who truly understands Islam" - The Ideal Muslim pp 142

Abu Hurairah (radiallahu 'anhu) used to say: The believer is the mirror of his brother. If he sees any fault in him he corrects it. [Al-Bukhaari in Al-Adab al-Mufrad] Abu Hurairah reports from the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam): The believer is the mirror of his brother. The believer is the brother of a believer: he protects him from ruin and guards his back. [Al-Bukhaari in Al-Adab al-Mufrad]

A man should help his brother whether he is a wrongdoer or is wronged. If he is a wrongdoer then he should stop him, and if he is wronged he should defend him. [Muslim] "The true Muslim does not forsake his brother, whether he is a wrongdoer or is wronged. Islam teaches him to like for his brother what he likes for himself: as long as he would not like for himself to be a wrongdoer or to do wrong, then he would not like this for his brother either.

So if his brother is wronged, he stands by him, supports him and defends him, and if he is a wrongdoer he stands by him and stops him from doing wrong. This is indeed true sincerity and true kindness. The true Muslim who is adhering to the teachings and values of his religion is kind to his brothers and is good-natured and easy-going towards them. In this he is following the guidance of Islam which encourages good characteristics.

The Muslim sees a clear picture of the Prophet's character (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) in his life which is full of kindness, gentleness, honor and good manners. He was never known to use obscene language or to curse or insult a Muslim". The true Muslim does not gossip of backbite about his brothers and friends, or backbite against them. he knows that gossip is haraam as the Qur'aan says; Nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay you would abhor it. But fear Allah; for Allah is Oft-Returning, All-Merciful [49:12]

The true Muslim who is infused with Islamic teachings and manners will be horrified by the depiction given in the Qur'aan of one who gossips as being like the one who eats the flesh of his dead brother. This will deter him from gossiping and if he is guilty of this sin, he will hasten to repent sincerely. He will restrain his tongue and speak only good of his brother, remembering the words of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam): Do you know what gossip is? They said "Allah and His Messenger know best." He said, "It is saying about your brother something which he dislikes," He was asked, "What do you think if what I say about my brother is true?" He said, "If it is true then you have gossiped about him, and if it is not true then you have slandered him." [Muslim] The true Muslim avoids the sin of gossiping directly or indirectly, abhorring the idea of being one who eats the flesh of his dead brother and fearing lest his tongue leads him to Hell."

Gossip is a bad characteristic which does not befit a real man. Rather it is a feature of cowards who look like men, those who gossip to people about their brothers and friends, then when they meet them they smile warmly and make a display of friendship. Hence, the true Muslim should be furthest removed from gossip and fickleness, because Islam has taught him to be a real man, to be straightforward and to fear Allah in all his words and deeds.

It has made him thoroughly despise hypocrisy and fickleness. The two-faced person is regarded as being one of the worst people in the sight of Allah, as the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: You will find among the worst people in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection, the one who is two-faced, who approaches some people in one way and others in another." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, et al]"

, the Exalted, says: "...who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers)." (3:134) "Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don't punish them)." (7:199) "The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal.

Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e., Allah orders the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient - and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter, i.e., Jannah and of a high moral character) in this world." (41:34,35) "And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah." (42:43) 632. Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said to Ashaj Abdul-Qais (May Allah be pleased with him), "You possess two qualities that Allah loves. These are clemency and tolerance." [Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadeeth teaches us to adopt a patient, mild and discreet attitude towards others. Moreover, there is a provision for praising somebody in his presence, provided there is no likelihood of his being conceited. The Hadeeth also provides inspiration for the cultivation of good habits. 633. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Allah is Forbearer (Rafeeq) and loves forbearance (rifq) in all matters." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: Mildness also brings human beings closer to one another, and on this count, Allah likes it very much. 634. `Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said, "Allah is Forbearer and He loves forbearance, and rewards for forbearance while He does not reward severity, and does not give for any thing besides it (forbearance)." [Muslim]

Commentary: Mildness is the opposite of harshness. Allah enjoins softness and dislikes stiffness in human relations. Allah assures of reward for gentle behavior in society, not for unkindness or anything like that.

Commentary: To be soft-spoken is such a quality that by virtue of which a man is not only endeared to people but also to Allah. And by being bereft of it, he not only becomes a contempt incarnate in the eyes of people but also with Allah.

May Allah forgive us for sins and excesses against our soul and verily He is the Generous Provider of Success and all praise is His.

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