“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer, for he is concerned over you and to the believers he is kind and merciful.”
[Surah At-Tawbah, Ayah 128]
The beautification of our character is a hallmark of faith. Compassion and the embracing of sisterhood and brotherhood is the mark of a believer, the way of the Messenger and the basis of this Ummah – one body, indivisible upon the Sunnah.
Of the loftiest and most noble effort a Muslim can strive towards is the development of good character. The development of both a compassionate heart and of true sisterhood and brotherhood begins with the understanding of one’s own self. The one who recognizes the weaknesses of their own soul, its yearning to attain the pleasure of Allah, and the blessing in which Allah has greatly favoured them with – as a sign of His Mercy and not of us being deserving of them – those people are the ones who will easily open up their hearts towards compassion and strive for good character.
“Know – that harmonious friendship and union is the fruit of beautiful character, while aversion stems from bad character. This because beautiful character lead to mutual love and mutual agreement, while bad character bears the fruit of mutual hatred and turning away from each other.”
[Mukhtasar Minhaj al-Qasidin, ibn Qudamah al-Maqdisi]
The kindness of a believer matters. Whether it is appreciated by others does not. But your kindness, your compassion, your generosity, your ability to forgive, open hands and an open heart, gentle words and good thoughts – that all profoundly matters. Understand that just a bit more kindness and compassion can transform our circumstances significantly – kindness can fundamentally change people’s lives, change our communities and change this Ummah. Never allow yourself to be forgetful of placing effort in cultivating a compassionate heart and of gifting kindness towards your sisters and brothers freely and frequently.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Those of you whom I love the most and who shall sit nearest to me on the Day of Resurrection are those with the best character. Those of you whom I hate the most and who shall sit farthest away from me on the Day of Resurrection are those with the worst character.”
There are no hidden secrets when it comes to what must be done to enter the ranks of the most beloved servants of Allah. Strive towards the beautification of your character, have a compassionate, kind, good, pure, well-wishing heart. Don’t let yourself stop working on developing that kind of heart. Your hidden, tireless efforts belong towards cultivating and living with a heart so wonderful and so connected to your faith, that others can only guess at the reality of what you have.
“The people who love Allah look by the light of Allah and they are compassionate with those who disobey Allah. They hate their actions but show mercy to them so that through their warnings (sinners) might leave their actions. They are afraid that the Hellfire will consume their bodies. The believer will not truly be a believer until he is pleased for people to have what he is pleased for himself.”
[Jami’al-‘Ulum wal-Hikam, Ibn Rajab]
Our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was both kind and just, and he was the most excellent example of both and the most balanced example of both. Part of his compassion was that he warned people away from that which displeases Allah. Part of his compassion towards his community was that he made things easy for them. Part of his compassion is that he showed us the means to making up for our shortcoming. Part of his compassion is that he exemplified for us how to become beloved to Allah.
Part of Allah’s Mercy towards mankind is that He gave us a Messenger who he beautified with His own attributes of compassion and mercy. He sent a Messenger from among ourselves, who was the most noble of us, the purest of us, the greatest of us, the most abundant in knowledge and understanding of us, the strongest in certainty and resolution of us, the one with the greatest compassion and mercy towards us.
Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Shall I not tell you what distinguishes the best of you from the worst of you? The best of you are those from whom goodness is expected and people are safe from their evil. The worst of you are those from whom goodness is not expected and people are not safe from their evil.”
“One of the signs of love for the Prophet is having compassion for his community, giving them good counsel, striving for their best interests and removing what is harmful from them just as the Prophet was (compassionate, merciful to the believers.)”
[Ash-Shifa, Qadi ‘Iyad]
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give charity and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have mercy upon them, for Allah is Almighty and Wise.”
[Surah at-Tawba, Ayah 71]
It is incumbent upon you to be gentle, compassionate and speak the truth. That you guide other towards what is right and away from what is wrong, and in turn you accept the very same guidance. It is incumbent upon you that you do not be uncivil or arrogant, and do not be envious towards your fellow believer. It is requirement of faith that you journey towards the beautification of your character, that you develop love towards your fellow believers, that you do not harm them and that you preserve their honour.
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the most false of tales. Do not seek out faults, do not spy on each other, do not contend with each other, do not envy each other, do not hate each other, and do not turn away from each other. Rather, be servants of Allah as brothers.”
A compassionate heart knows to be kind to others. To think well of them. It give their sisters and brothers an abundance of excuses. A compassionate heart is forgiving of people’s shortcomings. It allows you to treat everyone you come across with good manners and gentle words. A compassionate heart leads one to tread a path of becoming both beloved in the earth and in the heavens.
Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “The servant does not reach the reality of faith until he loves for people what he loves for himself of goodness.”
[Sahih Ibn Ḥibban]
So we must ask ourselves, are we as compassionate as we can be when we can be? And if not, then we should often seek to humble ourselves with a reminder of the truth that;
“…Surely Allah is Ever Gracious and Most Merciful to humanity.”
[Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 143]