THE MEASURE OF MERCY
Allah Almighty declares in the Qur’anic chapter, az-Zumar:
“…Are they ever equal, those who know and those who do not know?” (39:9)
This means that this is the true learning. Why have we come to this world? Why has Allah Almighty given us knowledge, information, and the like? This is not in question for other creatures. His other creation does not have the knowledge of medicine, of geography, of mathematics, physics, astrophysics, etc. Why has Allah Almighty given these to the human being?
This means that the human being needs to think: who placed the laws for these branches of knowledge? Look, if you throw a stone, it falls to the bottom of the ocean. A huge ship carries thousands of tonnes across that same ocean.
A plane flies in the air. Who gave such qualities to the air?
The earth prepares separate tables for all kinds of creation.
That is to say, knowledge is to be able to know Allah Almighty. From the product to the maker, the cause to the Creator of causes, from the art to the artist. But this if hearts advance… If this does not happen, knowledge only harms a person. This is why the Messenger of God says, ‘ilmin la yanfa’u (knowledge with no benefit). He says, “I seek refuge in You, O Lord, from knowledge without benefit.” (See (Muslim, Dhikr, 73)
In other words, there needs to be profundity in the heart in order for there to be such a knowledge. Wisdom is to become manifest in the heart. Allah Almighty declares that He created humankind as vicegerent on earth. (See 2:30) There has to be this vicegerency, this sensitivity, this profundity. They have to practice the religion and enable others to do so too.
What does He declare, as a result?
The first condition: of course they are to practice the shari’a, in accordance with the Book and the Prophet’s Sunna.
The second condition: they need to observe worship during the night. They are not to condemn the night to sleep. Yes, sleep is to allow them to rest, but they are also to rise in the hours before dawn.
Allah Almighty declares, sājidan waqāiman. “…prostrating and standing…” (29:9)
Similarly, it is declares:
And again, “The (true) servants of the All-Merciful who spend (some of) the night (in worship) prostrating before their Lord and standing.” (See 25:64)
Again, Allah Almighty declares:
wal-mus’taghfirīna bil-asḥār “…and who implore God’s forgiveness before daybreak.” 3:17)
Allah Almighty opens the doors. He both opens the doors of the heart and closes the doors to sin. This is the call of Allah Almighty. Not the call of a mere servant. How much regard do we show for the invitation of a servant and how much regard will we show to Allah Almighty’s invitation?
So, the hours before dawn are to become nourishment for the heart, nourishment for the spirit.
They are not to forget Allah, glorified and exalted be He. Why did He create me? Why have I come to the world? In Whose dominion am I? Where will I go?
yaḥdharu l-ākhirata, “fearing the Hereafter.” (See 39:9)
What is the state of my Hereafter? As atoms will be accounted for. Atoms will be weighed.
faman ya’mal mith’qāla dharratin khayran yarahu waman ya’mal mith’qāla dharratin sharran yarahu
“And so, whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it; And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (99:7-8)
wayarjū raḥmata rabbihi
“…and hope for the mercy of their Lord…” (39:9)
They are to live in a constant state of supplication. “I have done all this, this many recitations of the entire Qur’an, this much prayer, all these things…” All of these are dependent on acceptance. Our worship, like our supplication, is in need of acceptance. This is why the servant is to always be in a state of seeking refuge in Allah.
And of course, a friend of God, as required by these attributes:
is not foolish, above all. That is, they do not prefer the world to the Hereafter, when there is Divine eternity.
They are not miserly. Why does Allah give wealth? All dominion belongs to Allah.
They are not arrogant – God forbid.
In short, the heart is to be together with Allah Almighty. An effort, an exertion is required in this regard. Every person has an innate sense of love, one that is in their nature. This innate love is to be directed towards Allah Almighty. And it is to attain perfection in this way.
Abu Hurayra relates the supplication of Prophet Dawud, upon him be peace:
“O Lord, allow me to love You, to love what You love, and grant me the deeds of righteousness that will lead me to Your love.” (See (Tirmidhi, Da’awat, 72)
So, as a result of these deeds of righteousness, ‘amalan salihan, the servant is to love Allah Almighty, love what is loved by Allah Almighty, and in this way acquire esteem in the eyes of Allah.
alā bidhik’ri l-lahi taṭma-innu l-qulūb
“…Be aware that it is in the remembrance and of and whole-hearted devotion to Allah that hearts find rest and contentment.”(13:28) The heart will experience the great pleasure of togetherness with Allah Almighty.
Similarly, Imam Rabbani says:
“Love of Allah and His Messenger will not become established in a servant’s heart until they shed themselves completely of carnal desires.”
We have to be careful in our commercial lives. If we are civil servants, we have to be careful in our civil service. We need to be careful in our family lives. We have to show great care in raising our children.
Again, it is stated:
“The veil between the servant and their Lord is not the world, but their own selfhood.”
Carnal desires. That is to say, the heart needs to be together with Allah Almighty and thus find peace. This is why Allah Almighty declares:
“They remember and mention Allah (with their tongues and hearts), standing and sitting and lying down on their sides…” (3:191) At each and every stage of life. The result:
“They…reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. (They conclude and say): ‘Our Lord, You have not created this (the universe) without meaning and purpose. All-Glorified You are, so save us from the punishment of the Fire!'” (3:191)
And Allah Almighty demands a wakeful, vigilant heart from us. Again, Allah Almighty declares:
“…when Allah is mentioned, wajilat qulūbuhum, their hearts tremble with awe…” (8:2)
He declares, “…and when His Revelations are recited to them, it strengthens them in faith…” (8:2)
“…and they put their trust in their Lord.” (8:2)
La ya’lamu ‘l-ghayba illallah None knows the unseen save Allah. Our surrender and submission, for we do not know the Unseen…
“They establish the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, and out of whatever We have provided for them they spend (to provide sustenance for the needy, and in God’s cause, purely for the good pleasure of God and without placing others under obligation.)“(8:3)
It is in this way that Allah Almighty demands from us a wakeful, vigilant heart. Such a heart, of course, can only come about through togetherness with the Messenger of Allah. For Allah Almighty has sent him to the worlds as a mercy. A human being always takes example from those in front of them. The Messenger of Allah says,
Al-mar’u ma’a man ahabba
“The person will be with the one they love.” (Bukhari, Adab, 96)
Likewise, the 78th verse of the Qur’anic chapter al-Hajj is telling:
“…that the (most noble) Messenger may be a witness for you (as to the ways you follow), and that you may be the witnesses for people…”
For the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, to be a witness for his community and for us to be a witness for the people.
“…God named you Muslims previously [in previous scriptures], and in this Book, [the Qur’an]…” (22:78)
This means that we have to protect the glory, the honour, the dignity of being a Muslim.
In other words, in whatever way the Messenger of Allah has taught and instructed us, we need to put this into practice and communicate it accordingly. This is what the Qur’anic verse demands, what Allah Almighty demands.
So, the believers need to exert themselves in way of representing Islam in the best way to other believers as well as other communities. The most important (quality) that this togetherness invests the believer with is ‘mercy.’
Allah Almighty reveals His Names the “All-Merciful and the All-Compassionate” the most. In the Qur’anic verse that was recited, it is stated that the Messenger of Allah, is raūfun raḥīmun, “full of pity and compassion.” (See 9:128)
Compassion is the most distinguished jewel of our humanity that enables us to attain spiritual union with Allah. A compassionate believer is generous, is humble, is a person of service. And at the same time, they are akin to a doctor of the heart, a spiritual physician who gives spirits a vaccine of life.
An example of this is the compassion of Abu Bakr…
The compassion of the Messenger of Allah is of course a given; it is certified in the Qur’anic verse. The Messenger of Allah himself says in any case:
“…I will say ‘My community, my community!’ in my grave and until the Day of Judgement.” (See ‘Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, XIV: 414)
“…Your righteous deeds come to me and I am pleased, while I seek forgiveness for your improper deeds.” (Haythami, IX:24)
What a beautiful example of an altruistic believer is Abu Bakr. Abu Bakr, who says not, “Me! Me!” but “My community, my community!” says:
“Four people are among the righteous servants of Allah:
(What will we see in these four things? We will see altruism. We will see a person’s compassion and mercy for someone other than their own self.)
One who rejoices in seeing a penitent person. (They are happy that the person is repenting and that they will be saved.)
One who implores their Lord for the forgiveness of those who sin.
One who prays for a fellow believer in their absence.
And one who offers help and service to a person who is in need.”
The compassion of the Messenger of Allah. He sees an ant’s nest and is horrified by what he sees. He says, “Who can burn, who can take a life that is given by Allah Almighty?” (See Abu Dawud, Jihad, 112)
When something comes to him, he immediately and invariably shares it with his community. He cannot find rest until resolving the troubles of his community. He always exudes mercy. Again, he says:
“I am nearer to the believers than themselves, so if anyone dies leaving property, it goes to his heirs, and if anyone dies leaving a debt, its payment is my responsibility.” (Muslim, Jumu’ah, 43; Ibn Maja, Muqaddima, 7)
What kind of mercy, in other words?
The Conquest of Mecca… They persecuted the Muslims for twenty years. The Conquest of Mecca was the perfect time for retaliation. But the Messenger of God forever exuded mercy.
During Mecca’s conquest, he gave the standard to Sa’d ibn ‘Ubada. He was at the front of the army. He was the army’s commander. When walking past Abu Sufyan, he cried out,
“O Abu Sufyan, today is a day of great battle!” A day when the dead would be laid forth. “When what is prohibited in will be permissible. The day of God’s abasement of the Quraysh.”
News of this reached the Messenger of Allah. This grieved the Messenger of Allah deeply. He then appointed his son Qays ibn Sa’d as commander.
The Messenger of Allah, said:
“This is the day of mercy…” He stated that this was a day of mercy, yawm al-marhama, towards those who persecuted the Muslims for twenty years. “…The day on which God has exalted the Quraysh.” (Waqidi, II:821-822)
In short, all the Meccans embraced Islam in the face of such mercy.
Again, the following serves as a great lesson, a warning for us, as to what our approach should be towards creation:
Once again when the Messenger of Allah was on his way to Mecca with ten thousand people, for the Conquest, there was a female dog on the way, nursing her young. He posted Suraqa there, instructing him, “Suraqa, let those who come, pass from the other side.” (See Waqidi, II:804)
The Messenger of Allah, then said:
“Allah is merciful to one who has mercy on others. Have mercy on those on earth that those in the heavens may have mercy on you…” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 16: Abu Dawud, Adab, 58)
With the events in the world today, the events in our country, we have to measure ourselves up with the emigrants coming to our country.
In the same vein, a Companion once said:
“O Messenger of Allah, We, all of us, are merciful.”
“No,” said the Messenger of Allah. The mercy to our children, our relatives, etc, this is mercy of course, he said. This exists in a snake and in a scorpion also.
“True mercy is an embracing, all-encompassing mercy. A mercy which comprises all God’s creation.”(Hakim, IV, 185/7310)
Al-mar’u ma’a man ahabba
“A person is with those they love.”(Bukhari, Adab, 96)
Being able to resemble the Messenger of Allah… What is the distance between Allah’s Messenger and us?
Humility: We came from nothingness. We did not come here with any capital. This is why Allah Almighty declares:
“The (true) servants of the All-Merciful are they who move on the earth gently and humbly…”(25:63)
This means that for a believer to attain perfection, they first need to be humble. In other words, there is to be no “me”. Saying, “me,” is, at a certain point, a sign of egocentrism. They are to say, “You, O Lord! You bestowed me with this!”
The Conquest of Mecca was a great victory.
idhā jāa naṣru l-lahi wal-fatḥ wara-ayta l-nāsa yadkhulūna fī dīni l-lahi afwāja
“When God’s help comes and victory (which is a door to further victories), And you see people entering God’s Religion in throngs.” (110:1-2)
Allah Almighty says you will see people entering Islam in throngs. But, He declares:
fasabbiḥ biḥamdi rabbika wa-is’taghfir
“Then glorify your Lord with His praise, and ask Him for forgiveness…” (110:3)
This is a reward of the Almighty. This is not from you, but is something Allah Almighty has favoured you with.
The same is true for Badr. A verse in the Qur’anic chapter al-Anfal reads:
“You (O believers) did not kill them (by yourselves in the battle), but God killed them; and when you (O Messenger) threw, it was not you who threw but God threw.” (8:17)
And so, a believer is to always say in a sense of complete nothingness, “You, O Lord!” They are to always say, “You, O Lord!”
This is why the Messenger of Allah always warned:
“O Allah, there is no life except the life of the Next World.”(Bukhari, Riqaq, 1)
In other words, we have come here for the life of the Hereafter.
Generosity: Being beneficent and generous. Allah Almighty loves the generous.
There is a Prophetic Tradition mentioned in Ghazali‘s Ihya:
“If a generous person falls, Allah (metaphorically speaking) holds them by the hand and lifts them back up.” (Haythami, VI, 282)
Of course this generosity is an all-encompassing generosity. Not the generosity to theirs and those close to them. To be able to share…
When the Messenger of Allah set off on a military expedition, he would be at the forefront. But on the return, he would be back at the very end. He would help whoever was in need, take them upon his pillion and offer them consolation.
This self-sacrifice is very important.
A Bedouin once came and said:
“O Messenger of Allah, I am going to become a Muslim.”
Okay. The Messenger of Allah enumerated the Pillars of Islam.
“Okay,” the Bedouin said. “Just no jihad and no charity. I can’t do either of these, he said. I can’t do jihad, he said, because my life is precious. I can’t put in any extra time, he said. As for charity, I have only what is barely enough for myself. I accept all the others, but excuse me in the matter of these two, he said.
The Messenger of Allah held his hand and shook it like so.
“You will not exert yourself in the way of Allah, you will not give charity, you will not spend in His way, then how are you to enter Paradise?” (See (Ahmad, V:224; Hakim, II, 89:2421; Bayhaqi, Shu’ab, V:8; Haythami, I:42)