by Lena Tleib
Going out of your way to help someone else is not always simple. At times, we give from our time and our hard-earned wealth, and maybe lose some precious sleep. Feeling another’s pain, while alleviating their suffering, is compassion. Compassion is not only a feeling of sympathy, but an action to aid those in need through their hardship. We can learn compassion and mercy from Allah (swt), the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. The first words that begin our journey through the words of Allah, the Holy Quran, are:
In the Name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful (Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem) [1:1].
Allah first introduces us to His Mercy.
Allah (swt) loves all of His creation and showers His mercy equally on all of them. Imam Al-Ghazali said Ar-Rahman is “the Entirely Merciful” whose “all-inclusive mercy is given to both the worthy and the unworthy. The mercy of Allah is perfect by being all-inclusive. It is perfect in the sense that He not only wills the satisfaction of the needs of the needy but actually satisfies them. It is all-inclusive in that it includes the worthy and the unworthy, this life and that which is to come, and encompasses the essentials, needs, and advantages which go beyond them. Thus, He is in truth the Compassionate, absolutely.” Allah does not judge us by the language we speak, the color of our skin, or what is in our bank accounts. We should always try to imitate His attributes to the best of our ability through loving humanity, internally and externally. Those we know and those we do not know; those we love and those we do not love. Imam Ali (as) said to be “like the flower that gives its fragrance to even the hand that crushes it.” We should do acts of goodness with the intention of pleasing Allah (swt).
Compassion is among the best qualities a person can have. Through Allah’s words in the Holy Quran, a Muslim is responsible for treating all people, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, kindly and justly, protecting the needy and the innocent, and “preventing the dissemination of mischief.” Mischief comprises all forms of anarchy and terror that remove security, comfort, and peace.
Looking at those suffering all around the world in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and here in the United States, we cannot help but say, “How can I help?” When hearing the news reports and seeing the images of the people and their living conditions, we cannot help but think, “What if this happened to me and my family?” How would we want people to help us? How would we feel if people just turned their backs? We cannot turn our backs knowing there are individuals who are in desperate need of basic living necessities and do nothing about it. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
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 [Muslim]
We cannot see people hungry and not feed them. We cannot see people hurt and not aid them.
Sometimes, we become numb to the suffering around us. We get so caught up in our own lives that we lose the connection to others and cannot empathize with their hardships and struggles. It is important for each of us to take time specifically to reflect on what it means to be a sister or a brother to a fellow human. This is a call for us all to clothe ourselves with compassion, humility, kindness, love, mercy and patience towards all of Allah’s creation.