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Sunday, 12 July 2015

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Mercy Kindness and Forgiveness

Half of the compulsory fast is gone and the faithful believers have devoutly sought the mercy of Allah in the first ten days and forgiveness in the middle ten days and are now ready to seek their salvation from the hell fire.

In a Hadith recorded in Bukhary, the Prophet Muhammad has said: "This is a month (referring to the month of Ramazan), the first part of which brings Allah's Mercy, the middle of which brings Allah's forgiveness and the last part of which brings emancipation from hell fire".

The meaning of Mercy attributed to Allah is the universal Mercy that not only is the expectation of the person seeking that Mercy, but also the Creator's expectation that all His believers extend to each other and to other creations of God. As much as one expects mercy from God, being merciful to others is an important conduct expected from Muslims. In a Hadith recorded in Bukhari and Muslim, Abu Hurairah (RA) reported that the Prophet (Sal) said that "Allah has divided mercy into one hundred parts; and He retained with Him ninety nine parts, and sent down to earth one part. Through this one part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoofs over its young lest it should hurt it".The most important of Allah's attributes is mercy.

For it is through His mercy that we are provided with our needs purely because we are His creations irrespective of whether one believes in Him or not. Muslims as believers have a great responsibility to extend this mercy to everything around us - that means to our family, our kith and kin, our neighbours our friends and generally all others including animals and insects.

The Prophet (Sal) emphasised in another Hadith recorded in Muslim that "Whosoever relieves from a believer some grief pertaining to this world, Allah will relieve from him some grief pertaining to the Hereafter. Whosoever alleviates the difficulties of a needy person who cannot pay his debt, Allah will alleviate his difficulties in both this world and the Hereafter.

Whosoever conceals the faults of a Muslim, Allah will conceal his faults in this world and the Hereafter. Allah will aid a servant (of His) so long as the servant aids his brother". Whosoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, Allah will make easy for him a path to paradise. No people gather together in one of the Houses of Allah, reciting the Book of Allah and studying it among themselves, except that tranquillity descends upon them, among those who are in His presence. Whosoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage" The mercy that one is expected to show towards his parents is emphasised in the Qur'an itself in Surah 17 verse 22 where Allah commands us "And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say 'My Lord have mercy upon them as they brought me up (when I was) small. Thus it becomes incumbent upon all Muslims to visit their parents at least at the beginning of Ramazan (if they have not done so) and attend to their needs in order to seek the mercy of Allah.

Mercy towards those in need

An essential attribute of a society where mercy truly prevails is taking care of those in the rest of society who are in need of help irrespective of their beliefs and faith. Allah does not differentiate between a Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu or of any other faith or even someone who does not believe in God (an atheist). Allah in His absolute mercy provided food and sustenance to everyone. Health, wealth, prosperity of whatever nature is shared out to everyone. People go through stages of wealth, poverty, good or poor states of health and it becomes the duty of a caring society to take care of the weak. Allah the Most Merciful, therefore expects us to extend that mercy to others in society.

Mercy to and Caring for Animals

The Prophet (Sal) cited an anecdote where a man who was thirsty went down a well and after quenching himself came up to find a dog with its tongue hanging of thirst and licking mud. The man went down the well again and brought some water from it in his shoe and made the dog drink it. This man was forgiven of his sins by God. When asked by his companions whether there was reward from animals the Prophet (Sal) replied "there is a reward in every living thing".In a narration by Abu Umama the Prophet (Sal) is reported to have said "Whoever is merciful even to a sparrow, Allah will be merciful to him on the day of judgement".In another Hadith it is recorded that "a good deed done to an animal is like a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as cruelty to a human being".

In a Hadith recorded by Abu Dawud narrated by Sahl Ibn Handaliyyah, it was reported that the Messenger of Allah saw a camel that was so emaciated that its stomach was sunk in hunger and said "Fear Allah in these beasts for they cannot speak". Cruelty to birds is strongly forbidden by the Prophet (Sal). In a Hadith narrated by Abdul Rahman bib Abdullah and recorded in Muslim the Messenger of Allah has said "Who has hurt the feelings of this bird? Return its young ones at once", when he saw the companions having taken the young birds from their nests from the parent bird.

The Prophet (Sal) also admonished his followers from mistreating animals when he saw a donkey having been branded on its face, by saying "May Allah curse the person who branded it" (Muslim).

Pets are to be treated equally with kindness and mercy. In a hadith narrated by Abdullah Ibn Umar recorded in Muslim, the Prophet (Sal) said that "a woman was once punished after death because of a cat which she had kept confined until it died, and because of this she entered the Fire. She had deprived it of food or drink while being confined and had not let it free to go and eat the creatures of the earth".

Mercy to and Caring for Plant Life

The Prophet had great concern about caring for plants and their protection and said in a Hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah and recorded in Bukhary that "the example of a believer is that of a fresh tender plant, from whatever direction the wind comes, it bends it, but when the wind quietens down the plant becomes straight again". In another Hadith it is reported that the Prophet (Sal) said "if the Hour (the day of resurrection) is about to be established and one of you is holding a palm shoot in his hand let him take advantage of even one second to plant it before the Hour is established". Thus great emphasis has been placed on planting trees by the Prophet (Sal). It is also considered as charity (Sadaqah) to plant trees as confirmed in this Hadith recorded by Bukhary "If a Muslim plants a tree or sow seeds, and then a bird or an animal or a person eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (Sadaqah) for him.

Environmental Preservation

A good clean environment is a mercy from Allah it is upto us to prevent it from pollution.

The Prophet (Sal) passionately advocated protection of the environment even in the use of resources for religious rituals.

In a Hadith recorded in Ibn Majah, the Prophet admonished Sa'd (a companion) who was performing ablution next to a river from 'squandering'. When asked by Sa'd 'can there be an idea of squandering (israf) in ablution?' The Prophet answered 'yes, even if you are by the side of a flowing river'.

Environmental cleanliness was higher priority in the Prophet's agenda when he said"Beware of the three acts that cause you to be cursed: [1] relieving yourselves in shaded places (that people utilise), in a walkway or in a watering place." In another narration by Abu Dhar Al Ghaffari the Prophet is reported to have said "removing harmful things from the road is an act of charity".

It is now upto us who have undergone this 'workshop' to implement it. Let us take the challenge and as much as we expect mercy from God let us ourselves show mercy to one another, to the animals and plants and some consideration for the environment that God has given us in His absolute Mercy. RAMAzAN MUBARAK.

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