On Goodness and Compassion
To do an act of kindness, too, is a branch of compassion, or rather, its fruit. It can have many forms, such as, the doing of a favour, the offering of a gift, or the rendering of a service or acting in any other manner that may be a source of joy or comfort to anyone. The Prophet (saws) has urged upon his followers to make all these a part of their social and moral behaviour.
(1) Anas and Abdullah, (both) related to us: the Apostle of God said, “All the creatures are the family of God. (He is responsible for their sustenance in the same way as a person, ostensibly, is responsible for the sustenance of his dependents. Thus, the most beloved of God, in the whole creation, is he who does good to the members of His family (i.e., His creatures).”
In this world of ours, too, we feel drawn to a person who is good and kind to our family. In the above Tradition, we are told that the same is the case with the Lord as well. Whoever shows kindness to His creatures is greatly liked by Him.
Note: It should be noted that such tidings appertain only to those who are not guilty of a mortal sin that renders a man wholly unworthy of Divine benevolence. Take it like this: suppose it is proclaimed by a king that he will reward and raise in honour anyone who does good to his subjects. Will it include even the rebels and professional criminals?
(2) It is related by Huzaifa that the Apostfe of God said: “Do not be of those who do (by others) as the others do (by them), and say that we will do them a favour if they do us a favour, and if they will be mean and unjust to us, then we, too, will be mean and unjust to them. On the contrary, resolve that you will do good if the others do good; and if they do a wrong and act unjustly, even then you will not be unfair to them.”
It tells that a true Believer should always be kind-hearted and amiable to others and an act of goodness should not be done only to those who are good to us, but to such people, as well, who treat us unjustly.
(3) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever exerts himself for the sake of a helpless widow, or a weak and indigent man, is equal in recompense to him who exerts himself in the path of God.” (The narrator adds): “And I think the Prophet also, said that ‘he is like the bonds-man who spends his nights in prayer, and does not feel tired, and the bondsman who fasts throughout the year, and never goes without a fast.”
~ Bukhari and Muslim
As we have seen in the foregoing Traditions, an act of kindness is most pleasing to God, no matter to what kind or class it belongs or to whom it is done. To attend to the need of a poor and helpless man or woman and to take pains in order to bring relief to them is an act of such a high order, in the sight of God, that the bondsmen who do so are worthy of the same reward that is on fighting in the way of God or devoting one’s nights, habitually, to prayer and days to fasting.
Even the Smallest Act of Goodness is Precious in the Judgement of the Lord
(4) Abu Zarr Ghifari related to us that the Apostle of God said: “Let no one of you consider any form or manner of doing good of little value. So, if he has nothing to give to a brother, he should, at least, meet him with a smile on his face. (This, too, is a form of kindness). And when you buy or cook meat, increase the broth, (by putting more water into it), and take out a spoonful from it for your neighbour.”
It emphasizes that everyone should make it a point to be kind and helpful to his relatives, friends or neighbours. He should give gifts to them, according to his means, and if he has nothing worth giving, he should give what he can afford and not hold himself back thinking that it was valueless, so much so that if he was not in a position to offer anything else, he ought to greet him with a cheerful face. It, too, is a form of kindliness, and like the offering of gifts etc., contributes to the promotion of mutual love and affection. Likewise, even a poor person can add water to the broth when meat is cooked in his house and send some of it to the neighbour.
The Prophet (saws) has mentioned these acts of fellow-feeling and kind treatment, obviously, as an illustration; otherwise what this Tradition means is that everyone should be ready to do what favour he can to others, no matter how insignificant it appeared.
(5) Jabir relates that the Apostle of God said: “Do not consider any form of kindness insignificant and one of its forms (which costs nothing) is that you met a brother with a cheerful face, and it, also, (is among the kindly acts) that you poured water from your bucket into the vessel of your brother.”
Like the preceding, it, too, makes use of examples to stress that no act of kindness is insignificant in the sight of God, and a person should not hesitate to render what little service he can to others. Doing good is not the prerogative of the rich.
A superior form of kindliness is that though a person may be needing a thing himself, he gives it to someone who wants it. This is called self-sacrifice, and, without doubt, it is a virtue of the highest order.
(6) Narrates Sahl bin Sa’ad: “(Once) a woman came to the Apostle of God with a mantle (as a present) and begged him to wear it. The Prophet accepted the gift and wore it. His condition, at that time, was such that he really needed a mantle. On seeing him wearing it, a Companion said: ‘Sir! This mantle is very good, Please give it to me.’ ‘Alright,’ replied the Prophet and gave him the mantle. After the Apostle of God had gone, some Companions rebuked the person (who had asked for the mantle), and said: ‘You did a wrong thing. You knew that the Apostle of God needed it himself and it was in a state of want that he had accepted it from the lady, yet you asked for it knowing well that it was his habit to give away whatever anyone asked for from him.’ The Companion replied: ‘I did so for the sake of its blessedness. I thought that as the Apostle of God had worn the mantle, it would make a good shroud for me.’”
(7) Narrates Abu Hurairah that (once) a person came to the Apostle of God and said: “I am a poor and needy person, and in great distress (I am starving).” The Prophet, thereupon, sent word to some of his wives (to send if they had anything to eat for the poor fellow). They replied: “By the Holy Being who has raised you up with Truth, there is nothing to eat or drink with us save water.” The Apostle of God, then, enquired from another apartment of his, and, then, one by one, from all of his apartments, and, received the same reply. At last, he enquired from the Companions (who were with him at that time): “Who, among you can have him as his guest? There will be a special favour of the Lord on him (who does so).” (Upon it), an Ansar, named Abu Talha, stood up, and said: “Oh Apostle of God! I shall have him for a guest.” Abu Talha took the man to his house, and said to his wife: “Do you have anything for this guest?” “There is nothing except the food for the children,” she replied. “(Even we have nothing to eat).” “Then,” said Abu Talha, “put the children to sleep, (somehow), without feeding them, and pretend before the guest that we are going to eat with him. When he stretches his hand for eating, go to the lamp at the pretext of setting it right and put it out (so that there may be darkness and the guest cannot know whether we are eating with him or not).” The wife did as she was told, and while all the three sat down at the meal, it was only the guest who ate, and Abu Talha and his wife remained hungry for the night. When Abu Talha went to the Apostle of God in the morning, the latter named him and his wife specifically, and gave them the glad tidings that, “God very much liked the act of such-and-such a bondsman and such-and-such a bonds-woman of His. He was highly pleased.”
~ Bukhari and Muslim
The incident narrated above speaks of the marvellous sentiments of magnanimity and self-abnegation the Prophet (saws) had produced among the Companions through his teachings and practical example. It is this spirit of self-sacrifice and hospitality of the Ansar that has been extolled in the Quran in these words: “They prefer the needy to themselves though poverty (or hunger) becomes their lot.” (59: 9)
Love and Hatred
The Sacred Prophet has described love and affection to be among the essential qualities of Faith. The Prophet, himself, was an embodiment of love, and each attribute of his was an attribute of Faith indeed.
(8) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “A Believer is a personification of love. There is no virtue in him who does not love others and the others do not love him.”
~ Musand Ahmad and Baihaqi
It shows that to have a loving and affectionate nature is a religious requirement for a Muslim. If he does not care for others and the others do not care for him, he is devoid of virtue and his existence is of no benefit to society. It has a lesson for the dry and unsociable people who imagine detachment and aloofness to be the signs of religiousness and spirituality, and do not feel warmly for others nor let others come close to them. It should, however, be taken for granted that the love and affection of the Believer is for the sake of God and subject to His Will and Command.
Love and Hatred for the Sake of God
(9) Abu Zarr Ghifari related to us, saying that the Apostle of God said: “Among the acts of a bondsman, the most pleasing to God is love which is for the sake of God, and hatred which is for the sake of God.”
~ Abu Dawood
He, of course, dwells on a high moral and spiritual plane who loves whom He loves and hates whom He hates solely for the sake of God. In another tradition, Abu Zarr Ghifari is reported to have said that the Apostle of God said to him: “The strongest document of Faith is love and affection for the sake of God, and hatred and enmity for anyone for the sake of God.”
They become the Beloved of God who Care for Each Other
(10) Muad bin Jabal related to us: “I heard the Apostle of Allah say, ‘Says the Lord: ‘My love is due, as of right, to those who love each other for My sake, and unite and sit together for My sake, and spend on each other for My sake.’”
The bondmen who have subordinated their love and attachment and social relations to the good pleasure of God and whose state is that they love whom they love, and meet whom they meet, and sit with and spend on one another wholly for gaining His countenance are, surely, worthy of His special love and good graces.
(11) It is related by Abu Hurairah that the Apostle of God said: “A person set out to meet a brother who lived in another town (or village), and the Lord caused an Angel to sit by the road by which he was travelling and wait for him there. (Thus, when the man arrived at that place), the Angel asked him: ‘Where are you going?’ ‘I am going to such-and-such a town (or village) where a brother of mine lives,’ replied the man. ‘Is he under a debt of gratitude to you which you want to cause to grow and become stronger by your going?’ the Angel asked. ‘No,’ the man replied. ‘There is no other reason than that I love him for the sake of God.’ The Angel, thereupon, said: ‘(Now), I tell that the Lord has sent me to inform you that He loves you just as you love His bondsman for His sake.’”
The incident related above, apparently, appertains to a person who belonged to an earlier Ummah. We, further, learn from it that angels can, sometimes, also, come to a non-Prophet, by God’s leave, and talk to him face to face. The coming of Gabriel to Mary, for instance, is mentioned in the Qur’an though it is known that she was not a Divine Apostle. The substance of it is that for a man to love his brother for the sake of God and to go to meet him for the same reason is an act that makes him the farvourite of the Lord, and occasionally, He also makes it known to him through an angel.