The Muslim is merciful, for mercy is one of the traits of a Muslim, since it is the source of a pure soul and spirit. By being kind, doing righteous deeds, staying away from evil, and shunning corruption, the Muslim's soul abides in purity and his spirit remains in goodness. Since this is the case, then mercy would never separate from his heart at all. It is for this reason that the Muslim loves mercy, he spreads and encourages it and calls others to it, believing in Allah's saying:
"Then he became one of those who believed and recommended one another to perseverance and patience, and (also) recommended one another to pity and compassion. They are those on the Right Hand (i.e. the dwellers of Paradise)."
And acting according to His Messenger's saying:
"Allah is only merciful with those who show mercy to others."
"Be merciful to those on the earth, so the One above the heavens will be merciful to you."
And being guided by his saying:
"He who does not show mercy to others, will not be shown mercy."
"Mercy is only removed from the miserable."
The Muslim actualises the saying of the Prophet, peace be upon him:
"The believers in their mutual love, mercy and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with sleeplessness and fever."
Since the reality of mercy is a kindness of the heart and a compassion of the soul that leads to being forgiving and beneficent, it does not merely exist as internal kindness without external results. Rather the heart's mercy is the essence of external results who physical reality is visible. Among the external effects of mercy are: pardoning those who slip, forgiving those who are mistaken, helping those in trouble, assisting the weak, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, tending to the sick, and consoling the grieved. All of these, as well as many other things are among the effects of mercy.
The following are some real cases of examples of mercy:
1. Al-Bukhari recorded that Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "We went with Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, to the blacksmith Abu Sayf, and he was the husband of the wet nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet, peace be upon him). Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, took Ibrahim and kissed him and smelt him. Later we went to Abu Sayf's house and at that time Ibrahim was in his last breaths, and the eyes of Allah's Messenger started shedding tears. 'Abdur-Rahman bin 'Awf said, 'O Allah's Messenger even you are weeping!' He said:
'O Ibn 'Awf, this is mercy.'
Then he wept more and said:
'The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.' "
Allah's Messenger, on whom be peace, visited his (youngest) child at the house of the child's wet nurse. He kissed and smelt him. Then returned to visit him out of compassion and kindness whilst he was sick and upon his last breath. Then he wept, his eyes shedding tears of sorrow and grief. This behaviour is an example of the manifestation of mercy in one's heart.
Al-Bukhari reported that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said: "Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said:
'A person was walking on his way when he became extremely thirsty. He (suddenly) came upon a well and so went down into it so that he could drink from the water. Upon coming out, he saw a panting good eating the dirt (searching for water). The man though to himself: 'This dog is as thirsty as I was,' so the man again descended down into the well, filled up his leather sock with water, and holding it in his mouth, climbed back up and quenched the thirst of the dog. This act, Allah held in high esteem and so forgave the man.'
The Companions asked: 'Shall we be rewarded for showing kindness to the animals too?' He, peace be upon him, said:
'A reward is given in connection for every living creature.' "
This man descended into the well, filled his leather sock with water and holding it in his teeth, climbed up, and quenched the thirst of the dog. This was done out of his affection, kindness and compassion, otherwise he would not have undertaken such an act.
To exemplify this further, there is a saying recorded by Al-Bukhari (through Abu Hurayrah) that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
"A woman was punished in the Hell-Fire because of a cat, which she imprisoned until it died. It was said to her, 'You did not give it food nor drink whilst you imprisoned it, nor did you release it so that it might have eaten of the vermin that live in the earth.' "
The behaviour of this woman was a manifestation of a heart enveloped by evil, devoid of mercy, and mercy is not removed but from the miserable.
Al-Bukhari reported that Abu Qatadah said that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:
"When I enter prayer, I intend to prolong it. Then if I hear the crying of a child, I shorten it knowing that the crying causes the mother difficulty."
The Prophet, peace be upon him, considered the mother whose infant was crying along with the long recitation he had intended on reciting. This is another manifestation of the heart's mercy that Allah has ordered upon His servants.
2. It is reported that while Zayn al-'Abidin 'Ali ibn Al-Husayn was going to the masjid, someone verbally abused him. His servants followed the man in order to punish him. However they were prevented by Ali ibn Al-Husayn out of mercy for the man. He said, "O so and so! I am more than what you have said. What you do not know about me is more than what what you do know. If you want to know more, I will tell you." Upon hearing this the man felt ashamed and shy. Then, Zayn al-'Abidin took off his own cloak and gave it to him along with granting the man one thousand dirham.
This is an example of pardoning, and such benevolence would not occur except as a manifestation of the mercy in the heart of the grandson of Allah's Messenger.
From Minhaj al-Muslim Volume 1, published by Dar-us-Salam Publications