The Prophet's Mercy and Compassion

Living Shari`ah Staff

Allah’s Messenger was the kindest of men just as he excelled all others in courage and valor. He was so kindhearted that his eyes brimmed with tears at the slightest sign of inhumanity. Ibn `Abbas related that a man once threw a goat on its side and then started sharpening his knife. When the Prophet saw him he said, “Do you want to kill it twice? Why didn’t you sharpen the knife before throwing it on the ground?”

The Prophet forbade his Companions to keep the dumb creatures hungry or thirsty, or to disturb or overburden them. He commended kindness to animals and putting them at ease as meritorious acts tending to bring man nearer to Allah. Abu Hurayrah reported the Prophet as saying, “A traveler who was thirsty saw a well on the way. He got inside the well and when he came out he saw a dog licking mud because of thirst. The man thought to himself that the dog should be as thirsty as he was and so he got into the well again, filled his leather sock with water and carried it out holding it with his teeth. And thus he quenched the dog’s thirst. Allah was pleased with this act of kindness and pardoned his sins.” The Companions asked, “O Messenger of Allah, is there recompense in the matter of beasts and wild animals also?” The Prophet replied “There is recompense in regard to every creature that has a living heart.”

`Abdullah ibn `Umar reported that the Prophet said, “A woman was doomed to enter the Fire because of a cat. She imprisoned it and neither fed it nor set it free to eat the rodents of the earth.” `Abdullah ibn Ja`far narrated that once the Prophet entered the enclosure of a young man from the Ansar (the people of Madinah) where there was a camel that started groaning on catching sight of the Prophet, tears running down its eyes. The Prophet approached it and patted its hump and face, which set it at ease. Then the Prophet asked who its owner was. The Ansari young man came and said: “O Messenger of Allah, it belongs to me.” The Prophet said to him, “Do you not fear Allah in the matter of this beast although He has made you its owner? It complained to me that you bore hard upon it and always kept it at work.”

Abu Hurayrah quoted the Prophet as saying, “When you travel in a fertile country do not deny the camels their due from the ground, and when you travel in a land barren and dry, cover it with speed. When you encamp at night keep away from the roads, for they are where the beasts pass and are the resorts of the insects at night.” Ibn Mas`ud reported, “While we were on a journey with Allah’s Messenger, he went a short distance from where we had encamped. There we saw a small bird with two of its chicks and caught them. The bird was fluttering when the Prophet came back and so he asked, ‘Who has distressed it by taking its chicks?’ Then he asked us to return the chicks. There we also saw an anthill and burned it out. When the Prophet saw he asked, ‘Who has burned it?’ When we informed him that we had done it, he said, ‘Only the Lord of fire has the right to punish with fire.’”

The Prophet strongly enjoined kindness towards and generous treatment of the slaves, servants and labor engaged for manual work. Jabir related the Prophet of Allah as saying, “Feed them with the food that you eat, clothe them with such clothing as you wear and do not cause trouble to Allah’s creatures.” The Prophet is further stated to have said, “Those whom Allah has made your dependents are your brothers, servants and helpmates. Anybody whose brother has been made subservient to him ought to feed him with the food he eats and clothe him with the clothes he wears. Command him not to do that which he is unable to do and if it becomes necessary to do so, then he should help him in doing the job.”

`Abdullah ibn `Umar said that once a nomadic Arab came and asked the Prophet, “How many times should I pardon my servant in a day?” The Prophet replied, “Seventy times.” He also quoted the Prophet as saying, “Pay the wages of a laborer before his sweat dries up.”

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