Allah is gentle to His slaves. He is gentle in His actions – He creates all created beings in stages according to His wisdom and benevolence. Even though He is truly capable of creating the whole creation (heavens and earth) with one word, He chose to create it in six days. From the wisdom behind this is that we may learn how to take things gradually, step by step. Whoever studies Allah’s legislations and sees how they were revealed step by step, will see that this bears testimony to His gentleness, may He be glorified.
وعن عائشة -رضي الله تعالى عنها- قالت:
استأذن هط من اليهود على النبي -صلى الله عليه وسلم- فقالوا: السام عليكم، فقلت: بل عليكم السام واللعنة، فقال يا عائشة إن الله رفيق يحب الرفق في الأمر كله، قلت: أولم تسمع ما قالوا! قال: قلت: وعليكم
This hadith is related concerning a situation where some Jewish men passed by the home of the Prophet, peace be upon him. As they passed, they said to him, “Assam Aleikum” meaning “death upon you,” instead of “As Salaamu Aleikum, which means, “peace be upon you.” He simply replied “Wa aleikum”(and to you). However, Aishah, his wife, became annoyed and she replied angrily to them, saying, “Death and a curse upon you!” The Prophet, peace be upon him, told her, “Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness.” She said, “Didn’t you hear what they said?” He replied, “Yes, and I said, ‘The same upon you.’” (1)
Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy upon him, said:
“He is Kind and loves people who are kind; through His kindness He gives them more than they can wish for.”
Allah loves His names and attributes and those who act according to them. One must make it a priority to seek knowledge and understanding of Allah’s names and attributes and act according to what you learn. One must correct and adjust his behavior and manners according to what Allah loves and is pleased with. Accordingly, anyone who learns and understands this name “Ar-Rafiq” will benefit tremendously, if Allah wills. Allah created us and He handles all affairs; each and every detail, with perfection and completeness. So Allah, The Creator, The All-Knowing, has shown us the way to treat people and handle all situations we find ourselves in. In a world where people are unjust, He has taught us how to tolerate and interact with them in the correct manner. This can only occur when we learn what Allah has commanded and guided us to with regards to dealing with people.
When one is gentle, Allah gives him success and enables him to achieve whatever he desires of those things which are permissible. So one should not act in haste or be harsh; rather, he should take each situation step by step.
Allah is The Gentle, and His gentleness is reflected clearly in His commands to us. Let us reflect on these verses of Quran in order to understand more clearly:
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَالله يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
The believers are those who spend in charity during ease and hardship and who restrain their anger and pardon the people, for Allah loves the doers of good.
Surah Al-Imran [3:134]
خُذِ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْجَاهِلِينَ
Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the ignorant.
Surah Al-‘Araf [7: 199]
قال الله تعالى: وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered 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.
Surah Fussilat [41: 34]
If someone has been unfairly harsh to us, Allah has advised us in these verses from the Quran to defend ourselves with the best of manners. We should be calm and remain polite. In this way, the one who is being unfair to us will feel ashamed of his behavior, as he sees that we are being polite even though he is being rude. Allah has guided us to these manners, including the knowledge of how to deal with the people, situations and circumstances around us.
The Prophet was an example to us of how to truly apply the teachings and guidelines found in the Quran. He acted upon every matter, issue and characteristic that was mentioned in the Quran. He applied them in each and every way; in matters of faith, correct belief, love of Allah, thankfulness to Allah, fear of Allah, having hope in Allaah, and loving paradise more than this world,.
In Saheeh Al-Bukhari it is narrated:
قام أعرابي فبال في المسجد ، فتناوله الناس ، فقال لهم النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم : دعوه وهريقوا على بوله
سجلا من ماء ، أو ذنوبا من ماء ، فإنما بعثتم ميسرين ، ولم تبعثوا معسرين
A bedouin stood and urinated in the mosque. The people yelled at him. The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said to them, “Let him be. Pour a bucket of water onto his urine. You were sent to make things easy, and not to make them difficult.” (2)
This is an example of the Prophet’s application of gentleness, kindness and good manners when dealing with the people. They had not been previously taught concerning this matter, so Allah excused their bad behavior in this instance, and the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, informed them of what was correct.
And here are some words of the Prophet, peace be upon him, advising us with gentleness. He said:
عَلَيْكِ بِالرِّفْقِ فَإِنَّ الرِّفْقَ لَا يَكُونُ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلَّا زَانَهُ وَلَا يُنْزَعُ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلَّا شَانَهُ
You must be gentle, for verily, gentleness is not found in anything except that it beautifies it, and it is not removed from anything except that it disgraces it. (3)
What is meant by this hadith is that being hasty and harsh will make things defective and difficult, whereas being lenient and gentle decorates and beautifies everything. If we ponder over how this happens in our daily life we will find many examples that illustrate this. For example, your husband upsets you and you want to clarify matters. If you speak in a nice way he may apologize and listen to you; but if you shout and sulk the two of you may not speak for days. The children will be sad and the house full of anger and tension. Another example is when teaching the children. You teach your child something and then you want to see fruits of this immediately. You think, “I gave her a lesson and I expect her to be perfect tomorrow” or, “She is not acting upon what I have taught her!”. Where is your patience and forbearing? Instead, one must keep reminding the children in a gentle way of what they have been taught, or else they may, for example, dislike making their prayers. They will tell you they have prayed, but in reality they have lied just to get rid of you. However, if you tell the child in a gentle manner to be truthful with you, and remind her that it is not that you see her, but that Allah sees her which is important, then perhaps she will listen. Make it clear to her that you remind her to pray only due to your love for her, and that Allah loves those who pray, so if she truly loves Allah then she should show Him by following His command in regards to the prayer and other things as well. The Prophet, may Allah’s peace be upon him, spent thirteen years in Makkah spreading da’wah, calling to tawheed of Allah. He did not give up, even though most people did not believe in him until eight or nine years later. How long has Allah been forbearing with us, and yet we do not want to be forbearing with our own children?
In all circumstances we must deal with others with kindness, gentleness, and politeness, and this will beautify your whole life.
It is narrated in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad that the Prophet, peace be upon him said,
مَنْ يُحْرَمْ الرِّفْقَ يُحْرَمْ الْخَيْرَ
“He who is deprived of gentleness is deprived of goodness.” (4)
Kindness and gentleness are attributes that Allah loves in mankind, and by way of these He gives to one that which He will not give to anyone else. Without these attributes of compassion and gentleness, He will not assist you due to His hatred of the way one speaks and deal with others with harshness. If a person performs an act that Allah does not love, then what can he expect to gain?
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah’s peace be upon him said, as narrated in At-Tirmidhi and the Musnad of Imam Ahmad:
أَلَا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بِمَنْ يَحْرُمُ عَلَى النَّارِ أَوْ بِمَنْ تَحْرُمُ عَلَيْهِ النَّارُ عَلَى كُلِّ قَرِيبٍ هَيِّنٍ سَهل
Shall I not tell you for whom the Hellfire is forbidden? It is forbidden for every person who is accessible, polite, and mild. (5)
Allah likes us to be easy going and deliberate; to take things as they come and handle them without hastening unduly. Allah created our hearts to love this way of dealing with things and to love those who behave in this manner. One finds that even the person who is harsh cannot stop himself from having love for a gentle and kind person.
The opposite of these praiseworthy characteristics are being harsh, difficult to please and difficult to deal with. Allah does not love these characteristics. Allah is Ar-Rafeeq.
Allah praises His prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, for his gentleness and his mercy. Allah says:
فبمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِنَ اللهِ لِنْتَ لَهُمْ وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لانْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ
And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs.
Surah Al-Imran [3: 159]
We must strive to follow the example of our Prophet, peace be upon him. This means that if one wants to advise or guide someone, he should take their hand and gently bring them toward the correct path He should be lenient, kind, gentle and merciful in his dealings with the person, or he will make them turn away. These are from the conditions of calling to Allah. If one approaches others with kindness and mercy then they will love that person and wish to listen to him with open hearts). If a person does not come with these good characteristics, then the person he is giving da’wah to may remain stubborn and not accept from him.
Calling to Allah can be by writing, speaking, or by one’s actions. Dealing with people in a tolerant, honest, helpful, gentle, merciful and compassionate manner, can be more effective than just speech alone.
We need to start changing in accordance to what we learn about Allah. Do not allow your soul to do whatever it wants; instead, place everything within the framework of our beautiful and complete religion, Islam. Islam is not only praying and fasting. It covers everything in your life. There has to be a frame, and one must find a way to allow his soul to adjust and fit within its boundaries. One can begin simply by saying, “Allah, I want to change myself and attain these attributes of gentleness”, then he must strive in order to correct himself by resisting tendencies towards speaking and acting with hastiness, anger and harshness. He must start dealing with issues in an easy, gentle way. When he does this, his life will become easier as well. One will only get what Allah has decreed, so he must go slowly, step by step, and have patience.
It is enough a virtue of gentleness that it is beloved to Allah. Allah loves the person who is gentle. Isn’t this enough to make one want to change?
We ask Allah to guide us to this attribute and to what He loves.
Above is a transcription of a class given by teacher Zaynab El-Kateb.
1- Collected by Al-Bukhari
2- Collected by Al-Bukhari
3- Collected by Muslim
4- Musnad Imam Ahmad
5- At-Tirmidhi – Musnad Imam Ahmad