Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Virtue of Clemency, Tolerance and Gentleness

The Excellence of Clemency, Tolerance and Gentleness.

By Imam Nawawi

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and Thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of the al-‘ālameen. There is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, Sallallāhu alayhi wasallam, is His Messenger

Allah, the Exalted, says: 
  • "...who repress anger, and who pardon men; verily, Allah loves Al-Muhsinun (the good-doers)." [Al-‘Imran, 3:134]
  • "Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e., don't punish them)." [Al-A’raf 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." [Fussilat 41:34, 35]
  • "And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah." [Ash-Shura 42:43]
632. Abdullah Ibn 'Abbas (radiyallahu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said to Ashaj Abdul-Qais (radiyallahu’anhu), "You possess two qualities that Allah loves; these are clemency and tolerance."  [Recorded by Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith 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 Hadith also provides inspiration for the cultivation of good habits. Two qualities that Allah loves are clemency and tolerance

633. 'Aishah (radiyallahu’anha) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “Allah is Forbearer (the tolerant) and loves forbearance (patience; leniency, kindness, mercy) in all matters.” [Recorded by 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 (radiyallahu’anha) reported: The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "Allah is Forbearer and He loves forbearance, and rewards for forbearance while He does not reward severity, and does not give for anything besides it (forbearance)."  [Recorded by Muslim]

Commentary: Mildness is the opposite of harshness. Allah enjoins softness and dislikes stiffness in human relations. Allah assures of reward for gentle behaviour in society, not for unkindness or anything like that. However, inflexibility is preferred to flexibility when there arises a question of religious matters and the limits set by Allah.

635. 'Aishah (radiyallahu’anha) reported: The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "Whenever forbearance is added to something, it adorns it; and whenever it is withdrawn from something, it leaves it defective."  [Recorded by Muslim].

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 contempt incarnate in the eyes of people but also with Allah.

636. Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu’anhu) reported: A bedouin urinated in the mosque and some people rushed to beat him up. The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: "Leave him alone and pour a bucket of water over it. You have been sent to make things easy and not to make them difficult." [Recorded by Al-Bukhari].

Commentary: This Hadith brings into light the fact that leniency is also vitally needed in the sphere of education and discipline. This is particularly true in the case of ignorant and ill-bred people. This is so because if they are treated unkindly, they will become more indocile on account of their wild temperament and foolishness. A kind handling is indispensable for putting them to discipline, even if they make desperate blunders. This Hadith is very beneficial with regard to the way of Da'wah, guidance and practical education. Another point this Hadith discloses is that the flow of water can wipe out dirt and impurity, and make the place free from its effect.

637. Anas bin Malik (radiyallahu’anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "Make things easy and do not make them difficult, cheer the people up by conveying glad tidings to them and do not repulse (them)." [Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith informs us that preaching, sermons, religious discourses and moral advice all should concentrate on such things as may be helpful to people in being inclined towards gaining religious knowledge. Likewise this aspect should also be kept in view in the exposition and interpretation of religion. Moreover, the tone and mode of expression of religious leaders should not be repulsive and based on sectarian hatred; rather it should pull hearts to religion. In brief, preachers and 'Ulama' must be regardful of the central point of the cause to which they are dedicated.

638. Jarir bin 'Abdullah (radiyallahu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "He who is deprived of forbearance and gentleness is, in fact, deprived of all good." [Recorded by Muslim].

639. Abu Hurairah (radiyallahu’anhu) reported: A man asked the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to give him advice, and he (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "Do not get angry." The man repeated that several times and he (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied (every time), "Do not get angry." [Recorded by Al-Bukhari].

Commentary: This Hadith has already been quoted. Yet the compiler has repeated it on account of its relevance with this chapter. It is to be noticed that an advice should be made as circumstances demand. When Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) perceived by his insight that the visitor was a person of sharp and fiery temper, he repeatedly advised him to resist anger.

640. Abu Ya'la Shaddad bin 'Aus (radiyallahu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: "Verily Allah has prescribed Ihsan (kindness) for everything. So when you kill, you must make the killing in the best manner; when you slaughter, make your slaughter in the best manner. Let one of you sharpen his knife and give ease to his animal (in order to reduce his pain)."  [Recorded by Muslim].

Commentary: By killing is meant the killing of a harmful animal, or the killing of a murderer as retribution and the killing of the enemy in the battlefield. All these situations warrant killing but with a stress on moderation, thanks to Islamic teachings. A believer is told not to let his passions of enmity go wild, and even an enemy or a criminal ought not to be put to a torturous death. In the Pre-Islamic Period of Ignorance it was a prevalent practice that the limbs of a victim were mutilated before he was finally killed. Islam has forcefully forbidden this inhuman custom, stating that the victim should be beheaded with the one swing of sword. Similarly, there are specific instructions regarding an animal's slaughter. First, the knife should be sharpened. Second, the animal must not be slaughtered from its nape, because in both ways it will suffer pain. This Shari'ah rule ensures quick death of the animal. In modern Europe, an animal is slaughtered with one stroke of a cutting-machine. Apparently this method seems to be easy and smooth, yet in this way the animal's blood doesn't flow out from its body completely. So the consumption of the meat of such a kill is injurious to human health. Due to this reason, Islam considers the discharge of blood as a prerequisite to Halal (lawful). Certainly, only the Islamic way of slaughtering an animal is more sound, scientific and wholesome.

641. 'Aishah (radiyallahu’anha) reported: Whenever the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) was given a choice between two matters, he would (always) choose the easier as long as it was not sinful to do so; but if it was sinful he was most strict in avoiding it. He never took revenge upon anybody for his own sake; but when Allah's Legal Bindings were outraged, he would take revenge for Allah's sake. [Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Commentary: The two things between which Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) would make his choice could be religious or worldly. For instance, if he were asked to award one of the two punishments to somebody, he would choose the milder one. And if he had the liberty of choice between two obligations, he would opt for the easier one. Between war and peace he would always go for peace, provided it involved the interest of Islam and Muslims. Moreover, in all matters he used to take the line of least resistance, in case it went without the disobedience of Allah. In this Hadith, a principle has been defined for Muslims in general as well that they are free to take to an easy way but this must not entail a loophole in respect of the Shari'ah. Secondly, the most excellent character of Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) also comes to our view that he never retaliated for personal reasons. His extraordinary concern for the sanctity of Islamic Law is also displayed by the fact that he could never brook the transgression of Allah's limits, and the transgressor was sure to be punished by him. The Prophet's attitude also explains and delimits the sphere of morality that to let the violator of Divine law go scot-free must not be counted as a sign of good manners. Rather it reflects the lack of religious sensibility. Not to take exception to lapses in mundane affairs surely speaks of moral excellence, but we are not allowed to dispense with the evasion of religious rules.

642. Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud (radiyallahu’anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, "Shall I not tell you whom the (Hell) Fire is forbidden to touch? It is forbidden to touch a man who is always accessible, having polite and tender nature." [Recorded by At-Tirmidzi].

Commentary: The Hadith throws light on a kind bearing which is rooted in Faith and saves man from Hell-fire. The second lesson is that prior to discussing something important with somebody we should make him attentive and receptive, so that he may take interest and put faith in what we tell him.

'Abdullah bin Mas'ud (radiyallahu ‘anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) used to say: "Allahumma inni as'alukal-huda wat-tuqa wal-'afafa wal-ghina (O Allah! I ask You for guidance, piety, chastity and self-sufficiency)". [Recorded by Muslim].

Commentary: This Hadith contains four words, the meanings and implications of which constitute its essence. These words are guidance, piety (fear of Allah), chastity and sufficiency. Guidance here means guidance at every turn of life and steadfastness on the path of truth. Fear of Allah is the greatest means of piety and strongest defense against sins. Chastity is the state of being free from what is unlawful. Self-sufficiency is the antonym of poverty and here it means the self-contentment. What it implies is that one should not care for what people possess. In view of all these qualities, the prayer of the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) mentioned in this Hadith is very comprehensive and valuable.

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Excerpted from “The Book of Clemency, Tolerance, Gentleness, Chapter # 74, Riyad-Us-Saliheen” Compiled by Al-Imam Abu Zakariya Yahya bin Sharaf An-Nawawi Ad-Dimashqi (rahimahullāh) Via Guided Ways]

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