By Abu Amina Elias
In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
One of the most beloved qualities of good character to Allah is kindness and gentleness. Allah has reserved a special reward for those who are kind and gentle.
Aisha reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
يَا عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ وَيُعْطِي عَلَى الرِّفْقِ مَا لَا يُعْطِي عَلَى الْعُنْفِ وَمَا لَا يُعْطِي عَلَى مَا سِوَاهُ
O Aisha, Allah is gentle and He loves gentleness. He rewards for gentleness what is not granted for harshness and He does not reward anything else like it.
Source: Sahih Muslim 2593, Grade: Sahih
Kindness and gentleness are traits that are inherently good, and whoever has them has been given his portion of goodness.
Jareer reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
مَنْ يُحْرَمْ الرِّفْقَ يُحْرَمْ الْخَيْرَ
He who is deprived of kindness is deprived of goodness.
Source: Sahih Muslim 2592, Grade: Sahih
Abu Ad-Darda reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
مَنْ أُعْطِيَ حَظَّهُ مِنْ الرِّفْقِ فَقَدْ أُعْطِيَ حَظَّهُ مِنْ الْخَيْرِ وَمَنْ حُرِمَ حَظَّهُ مِنْ الرِّفْقِ فَقَدْ حُرِمَ حَظَّهُ مِنْ الْخَيْرِ
Whoever is given his portion of kindness has been given his portion of goodness, and whoever is deprived of his portion of kindness has been deprived of his portion of goodness.
Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2013, Grade: Sahih
Allah loves kindness and gentleness in all matters, so we should manifest these qualities even when we face abuse and cruelty. On one occasion, the Prophet was insulted and cursed by his enemies but he did not return their curse. Rather, he showed patience and forbearance and encouraged his companions to be kind.
Aisha reported: A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet and when they were admitted they said, “Death be upon you.” I said to them, “Rather death and the curse of Allah be upon you!” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
يَا عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ فِي الْأَمْرِ كُلِّهِ
O Aisha, Allah is kind and He loves kindness in all matters.
Source: Sahih Bukhari 6528, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi
Indeed, Allah sent Moses and Aaron, peace be upon them, to Pharaoh and He commanded them to speak mildly to him and to begin their invitation to Islam with gentleness.
فَقُولَا لَهُ قَوْلًا لَّيِّنًا لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ
Speak to him mildly that perhaps he may remember or fear Allah.
Surat Ta Ha 20:44
If this is how Allah commanded the prophets to speak to the greatest of oppressors, then how much more deserving of kindness are those lesser than him?
وقرأ رجل عند يحيـى بن معاذ هذه الآية فَقُولاَ لَهُ قَوْلاً لَّيِّناً فبكى يحيى وقال إلهي هذا رفقك بمن يقول أنا الإِله فكيف رفقك بمن يقول أنت الإِله
A man recited this verse in front of Yahya ibn Mu’adh and he began to weep. Yahya said: My God, this is Your gentleness with one who claims to be God, then how is Your gentleness with one who says You are God?
Source: Tafseer Al-Baghawi 20:44
Likewise, Prophet Muhammad was commanded to begin inviting the unbelievers of Mecca to Islam with gentleness, even though they were plotting against him and the Muslims.
إِنَّهُمْ يَكِيدُونَ كَيْدًا وَأَكِيدُ كَيْدًا فَمَهِّلِ الْكَافِرِينَ أَمْهِلْهُمْ رُوَيْدًا
Verily, they are planning a plan and I am planning a plan. So give respite to the unbelievers, deal gently with them for a while.
Surat At-Tariq 86:15-17
For this reason, the Prophet was patient and forbearing with their abuse for more than twenty years. Only after the persecution became so intense was he allowed to fight back in self-defense. Even so, the Prophet was given clear instructions to accept their repentance or at least accept their offer of peace.
فَإِن تَابُوا وَأَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّىٰ يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ذَٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَّا يَعْلَمُونَ
If they repent, establish prayer, and give charity, let them go their way. Verily, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. If any one of the idolaters seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.
Surat At-Tawba 9:5-6
Thus, the door of mercy and gentleness is never closed, as even the worst of criminals are given the opportunity to repent and make amends.
Furthermore, kindness and gentleness should be shown to the animals and indeed all of creation.
Aisha reported: I was upon a camel which was misbehaving so I began to beat it. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
عَلَيْكِ بِالرِّفْقِ فَإِنَّ الرِّفْقَ لَا يَكُونُ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلَّا زَانَهُ وَلَا يُنْزَعُ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا شَانَهُ
You must be gentle. Verily, gentleness is not in anything except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it.
Source: Musnad Ahmad 24417, Grade: Sahih
Small acts of kindness, although it might be trivial in the eyes of people, are an important means for us to be saved from Hellfire and admitted into Paradise.
Ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
أَلَا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِمَنْ يَحْرُمُ عَلَى النَّارِ أَوْ بِمَنْ تَحْرُمُ عَلَيْهِ النَّارُ عَلَى كُلِّ قَرِيبٍ هَيِّنٍ سَهْلٍ
Shall I not tell you for whom the Hellfire is forbidden? It is every person accessible, polite, and mild.
Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2488, Grade: Hasan
Therefore, we should train ourselves and our children to be kind and gentle in all matters, among the Muslims, among unbelievers, and even with the animals. We should resist the temptation to indulge in cruelty and savagery. Times will come when must apply justice to criminals, but we have to remember that the opportunity for repentance will remain and even a great tyrant like Pharaoh should be given his portion of kindness.
We ask Allah to beautify our manners with kindness and to protect us from falling into harshness.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.