Gentleness Beautifies

 بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Today’s Friday sermon at the mosque was about how to love Allah, and, as a consequence, to please Him by doing what He loves.

As a prerequisite to pleasing Allah, one must first understand Allah and what He loves. The imam shared with us various stories about the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), and told us what Allah loves.

Allah loves gentleness.

Hadith: Allah is gentle

Hadith: Allah is gentle

It was also reported that, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), said: “Gentleness beautifies everything. Harshness disfigures.” (Muslim).

Al-Imam Abu Yusuf, the judge, was from the most famous Hanafi scholars. He was the most prominent student of Abu Hanifah. Abu Yusuf was very poor during his childhood and his father would forbid him from attending Abu Hanifah’s lessons and instead order him to go to the marketplace to earn a living. Abu Hanifah was very keen for him to attend the lessons, and would reprimand him if he missed his lessons.

One day, Abu Yusuf complained to Abu Hanifah about his father. Abu Hanifah called his father and asked him, “How much does your son earn in one day?” He replied, “Two dirhams.” Abu Hanifah said, “I will give you two dirhams if you allow him to study.” Thus, Abu Yusuf studied with his teacher for years.

When Abu Yusuf grew into a young man and became distinguished amongst his colleagues, he became afflicted with an illness that left him bedridden. When Abu Hanifah visited him he noticed that his illness was very severe, he became sad and feared that he may die. He left Abu Yusuf saying to himself, “Alas, Abu Yusuf! How I wished that you would serve the people after me!” Abu Hanifah went along dragging his feet to his study circle where his students were waiting.

After a couple of days, Abu Yusuf recovered. He took a bath, wore his clothes and went off to attend his teacher’s lessons. Those around him asked, “Where are you going?” “To the Shaykh’s lesson”, he replied. They said, “Even now you are studying? You don’t need to. Haven’t you heard what the Shaykh has said about you?” “What did he say?” he enquired. They said, “He has said: ‘I wished that you would serve the people after me’, meaning, you have acquired all the knowledge of Abu Hanifah, and if the teacher were to die today, you would have sat in his place.”

Abu Yusuf felt amazed at himself, and went to the Masjid where he saw Abu Hanifah’s study circle in a corner, so he went to another corner and began to teach and pass verdicts! Abu Hanifah noticed the new study circle and asked, “Whose study circle is this?” They said, “Abu Yusuf’s.” “Has he recovered?” he asked. “Yes”, they said. Abu Hanifah then asked, “Why didn’t he come to our lesson?” They replied, “He was informed of what you had said, so he began to teach the people, since he isn’t in need of you anymore.”

Abu Hanifah then thought about how to deal with this case in a gentle manner, and came up with an idea to teach Abu Yusuf a lesson. He turned to one of his students and said, “O so-and-so, go to the Shaykh sitting over there – i.e. Abu Yusuf – and say to him, ‘O Shaykh! I have a question.’ He would be very happy with you upon you asking him questions, for he has only sat there to be asked questions! Say to him, ‘A man gives his garment to a tailor to get it shortened. When he returns to him after a few days to collect it, the tailor denies that he ever had his garment. The man goes to the police to complain, and the police enter the shop and recover his garment for him. The question is: Does the tailor deserve the payment for shortening the garment or not?’ If he says to you, ‘Yes, he deserves it’, tell him he is wrong. And if he says to you, ‘No, he does not deserve it’, tell him he is wrong.”

The student was pleased to learn this complex question and went off to Abu Yusuf and said, “O Shaykh! I have a question.” Abu Yusuf said, “What is your question?” He said, “A man gives his garment to the tailor…”, and before he could finish, AbuYusuf replied,”Yes, he deserves payment, as long as he has finished his work.”

The questioner said, “You are wrong.” Abu Yusuf became surprised and thought about the issue deeply and said, “Actually, he does not deserve payment.” The questioner said, “You are wrong, again.” Abu Yusuf looked at him and said, “By Allah, who sent you here?” The man pointed towards Abu Hanifah and said, “The Shaykh sent me.”

Abu Yusuf stood from his gathering and went to Abu Hanifah’s circle and said, “O Shaykh! I have a question.” Abu Hanifah ignored him. Abu Yusuf then came and sat on his knees in front of the Shaykh, and said with all due respect, “O Shaykh, I have a question.” He said, “What is your question?” Abu Yusuf said, “You know what the question is.” “The question about the tailor and the garment?” asked Abu Hanifah. “Yes”, replied Abu Yusuf. Abu Hanifah said, “You answer the question. Aren’t you a Shaykh?” He replied, “Rather, you are the Shaykh.” 

Abu Hanifah then said in response to the question, “We check how much he shortened the garment by. If the garment was shortened to match the man’s height, then it means he did the work completely. But then it occurred to him that he should deny having his garment. In this case, he shortened the garment for this man, and therefore he deserves to be paid. But if he had shortened the garment to suit his own height then that means he shortened the garment for himself and therefore does not deserve any payment.”

Upon hearing that, Abu Yusuf kissed Abu Hanifah’s forehead and remained his student until Abu Hanifah passed away. Only then did Abu Yusuf sit in his place to teach the people.

How beautiful is gentleness!

Khawlah bint Tha’labah – may Allah be pleased with her – was from the righteous companions of the Prophet (PBUH). Her husband, Aws bin al-Samit, was an old man who would often become angry very quickly. One day he came back from a meeting and spoke to her regarding an issue. She responded inappropriately and they quarreled. The man became angry and said, “You are like my mother’s back!” and left the house enraged. To utter this phrase during the pre-Islamic era of ignorance was considered a divorce. This was not the case in Islam, but Khawlah did not know the Islamic ruling concerning the issue. 

Aws came back to his house to find his wife avoiding him and keeping him at a distance. She said to him, “I swear by the One who has Khawlah’s life in His Hand, you will never approach me after having said what you did, until Allah’s Messenger gives a judgement.”

Khawlah then left to visit the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and told him what had happened. She also complained to him about how she was treated by her husband. The Prophet (PBUH) admonished her and advised her to remain patient, saying, “O Khawlah! He is your cousin and an old man, so fear Allah with regards to him.” She said in response, “O Messenger of Allah! He married me when I was young, my stomach became flabby due to pregnancy, and now, when I have become old and unable to have any more children, he has divorced me! O Allah! I complain to you!”

The Prophet (PBUH) heard her words and waited for Allah to reveal a verdict regarding her case, and while Khawlah was with the Prophet (PBUH), there came Angel Jibreel from the heavens and revealed unto the Prophet (PBUH) the ruling concerning her and her husband. 

The Prophet (PBUH) turned to her and said, “O Khawlah! Allah has revealed a verse concerning you and your husband.” He then recited: “Allah has heard the saying of she that disputes with you (Muhammad) concerning her husband, and complains unto Allah. And Allah hears your argument. Indeed Allah is the Hearer, Knower…” until the end of the verses from the early part of Surah al-Mujadilah.

The Prophet (PBUH) said to her, “Order him to free a slave.”
She said, “O Messenger of Allah, he doesn’t have a slave to free.”
He said, “Then tell him to fast two consecutive months.”
She said, “By Allah, he is an old man who doesn’t have the strength to fast.”
He said, “Then let him feed sixty poor people a wasq (160 kg) of dates.”
She said, “O Messenger of Allah, he doesn’t have that to give.”
He said, “In that case, we will help him with some dates.”
She said, “O Messenger of Allah, I will help him with some dates myself.”
The Prophet (PBUH) said, “This is very good of you. Go and give charity on his behalf, and look after your cousin.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud, Sahih)

SubhanAllah – the Prophet (PBUH) was granted the quality of gentleness and leniency, even when dealing with the personal problems of others!

The Prophet (PBUH) would also display the best form of treatment with children. He would be kind and playful with them. Whenever he passed by children playing, he would greet them. Whenever he visited the Ansaar, he would greet their children and place his hand on their heads out of compassion.

One day as the Prophet (PBUH) was performing ablution, there came to him Mahmud bin al-Rabi’ who was only five years old. The Prophet (PBUH) took some water in his mouth and jokingly blew it out in his face. (al-Bukhari) 

The Prophet (PBUH) was lively and merry with everyone. He would always try to make people happy. He would always be easygoing with everyone so that people would not become bored in his company. 

The Prophet (PBUH) would always be just, even with the disbelievers – ready to sacrifice his life in order to call them to Islam and rectify their affairs. He would bear their evils with patience and try to overlook their harms.

They would insult him and instigate trouble, whilst he would continue to be gentle with them.

A’ishah – may Allah be pleased with her – said, “The Jews once passed by the Prophet’s house and said: ‘as-Saam ‘alaykum” (i.e. death be upon you), and the Prophet (PBUH) replied: “And upon you, too!” A’ishah couldn’t bear it, so when she heard it, she responded, “And death be upon you, too, and Allah’s curse and anger!” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Take it easy, O ‘A’ishah! You should be gentle. You shouldn’t curse or be harsh.” She said, “Didn’t you hear what they said?” He said, “Didn’t you hear what I said? I prayed against them and that prayer will be accepted, whereas their prayer against me will not be accepted.”

Allah said, “Speak to people with kind words” – there is no need to respond to insult with another insult 

The Prophet (PBUH) was always easygoing, light-hearted, gentle, forbearing and sensitive with all, including animals and non-living things. 

Once, when the Prophet (PBUH) was on a journey with his companions, he stopped over. Meanwhile, some of his companions noticed a bird with two chicks. One of the companions took the chicks away. The bird came and began to circle around them flapping its wings.When the Prophet (PBUH) came and saw the scene, he turned to his companions and said, “Who distressed the bird by taking its chicks from it? Return the chicks to the bird!”

This, by Allah, is the real joy of life, to feel that you worship Allah by every little thing you do, even the manners with which you deal with others. How often is it that people are turned away from Islam due to the bad treatment they receive at the hand of some Muslims?

May Allah increase our gentleness, leniency and empathy for one another – ameen.

(N.B: I added some extracts and stories from the book ‘Enjoy Your Life‘, by Dr. Muhammed Abd Al-Rahaman Al-Arifi. You can download the book here.)  

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It was narrated that Anas bin Mâlik said: The Messenger of Allah said “Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim.”

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