A perfect believer is a man of heart. Mercy and altruism are his most distinctive characteristics and essential nature. In a faithful heart, compassion is like a fire not to be extinguished. The road to mature faith goes through the steps of mercy and service. Mercy is a Divine essence which is the evidence for our faith in this world.
The men of service should contemplate Allah the Almighty’s names al Rahman and al Rahim (The Most Gracious and Most Merciful) and base their conduct with regards to creation on mercy and compassion, because, service is a matter of mercy. All beauty can be achieved as a result of services performed with mercy, compassion and modesty. The most apparent sign of mercy is giving in charity. That is why the men of service should also be generous; because high morals and characteristics complete each other. A merciful person is a generous one; a generous person is a modest one and a modest person becomes a real man of service. The messenger of Allah (pbuh) says:
“Allah the Almighty is the Most Generous and the Most Benevolent; He loves generosity and high morals…” (Suyuti, al-Jami’ al-Saghir, 60)
On the other hand bad morals and characteristics are also connected. One who is devoid of mercy and compassion becomes stingy; a stingy person becomes arrogant, and arrogant person avoids serving others.
Therefore, we cannot expect any good results from service performed in a rude, harsh or offensive manner. This issue presents more significance in matters of education and teaching the message of Islam. The following verse addresses the entire Muslim nation:
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِنَ اللّٰهِ لِنْتَ لَهُمْ وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظًّا
غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لاَنْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ
“Thus it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; …”(3; 159)
Once the Messenger of Allah told A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her):
“O ‘A’isha, verily Allah is kind and He loves kindness and confers upon kindness which he does not confer upon severity and does not confer upon anything else besides it (kindness).”(Muslim, Kitab al-Birr, 77)
Again in another tradition, the Prophet (pbuh) says:
“…Allah the Almighty loves every soul who teaches goodness to people who are sorrowful for their mistakes and merciful people and invites them to obey Allah the Almighty. He hates those hearts that are harsh, waste their time in vain, sleep whole night without knowing that whether their soul will be returned to them or not, and barely remember Allah.”(Daylami, Musnad, I, 158)
Outward aspects of religion are learned by reason and the inward dimension or its essence is, on the other hand, learned with the heart. In educating and managing human affairs, mercy and love would produce better results, because many people who cannot be controlled by brute force can submit to mercy and love.
In fact love felt for a teacher increases the connection and affinity to him, since his approach to people with love and mercy makes his teachings to be learned by heart not by reason. In this way, inculcation takes a more appropriate form and influences the recipient’s heart to the utmost level, which is why students especially must be approached with compassion and love, because humans submit to mercy and love. Hence the real conquerors are the conquerors of hearts.
Because the selfish statesmen who lack mercy and love cannot control the hearts of those under their rule, they use force to ensure the obedience of the people. They try to spread their poison around, thus their success is limited to the physical realm only. Ultimately they are doomed to be drowned in the whirlpools of hate. To assign posts for these people is the real oppression upon the people.
In reality, oppression is the result of the absence of love and mercy. Those who lack these two lofty characteristics would always be inclined to oppression. Mercy is the fruit of love. Just like peace, tranquility and blessings cannot exist in families which are not founded on love, we cannot expect auspicious results from service which lacks love.
People who need our help and service are like wounded birds. What can benefit them are the services performed with compassion and love. We also need a special training to obtain these qualities. The essence of this training can be acquired by methods taught and observed in Sufism. In other words, it can be achieved through spiritual schooling.
The attributes in the heart of a man which represent “selfishness” and “assertion” must be replaced with love and mercy.Delicate flowers of the tree of mercy can only sprout by love. Those who have reached the perfection in mercy and love always look for creation in need in order to help; because, they feel their pain in their hearts.
All institutions, especially those that offer spiritual education, have to be a school of mercy, altruism and service. Instead of giving empty chunks of knowledge inside their four walls, their training should concentrate on the love and excitement of serving others. Because an insensitive teacher who does not inoculate his students with love; an imam who does not make his congregation feel the rapture of faith and not let the innocent minds of his students feel the love for Qur’an; an employer who does not protect his employees and show them mercy are all the destitute of compassion who are removed from Divine mercy. Those who do not feel anything for the sick, disabled, poor and lonely people are the selfish ones who do not have any share from serving others.
It should not be forgotten that Allah the Almighty is with the oppressed and the downhearted. Those who escape from human justice with numerous tricks will, one day, despairingly face Divine justice of Allah the Almighty.
Efforts of arrogant educators of the Qur’an who sometimes act like a judge and sometimes like an executioner; who teaches Qur’an with the force of stick instead of love and mercy will just be vain tiredness.
All believers, especially those who have the responsibility to serve others, should remember the following warning of the Prophet (pbuh):
“Shall I tell you of the people of Hell? They are those who are violent, miserly, cruel and arrogant.”(Bukhari, Ayman, 9)
Just like scenes of rose and flowers make even the harshest man smile, man of service should have a nature of rose and should be able to soften the hardest hearts, and make the stern faces smile.
One of the names of Allah the Almighty, al-Afuw or the Most-forgiving, is about His forgiveness. Men of service should have the same forgiving nature.
In a verse it is stated:
“Take to forgiveness and enjoin good and turn aside from the ignorant.”(7; 199)
Forgiveness is the natural result of loving Allah and being adorned with His morals. Being able to look at creation through the eyes of the Creator prepares the ground for forgiveness. Forgiveness emerges from the heart. Those who want to excel in Divine love are the ones who radiate forgiveness from their hearts, because through forgiving others we can deserve our own forgiveness. People who cannot forgive in reality prepare their own destruction.
Forgiveness means to be able to pardon a faulty person when having the power to punish him. The real merit is to suppress the anger of the self and prefer forgiveness. General amnesty issued on the day of Mecca’s conquest by the Prophet (pbuh) is the best example of this manner.
Men of service should not search people’s faults but conceal them. In fact the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) says:
“Whoever covers (the fault of) a Muslim, Allah will cover his sins on the day of resurrection; and whoever reveals (the fault of) a Muslim, Allah will reveal his faults and disgraces him even he is in his home.”(Ibn Majah, Hudud, 5)
“Whoever criticizes his Muslim brother for a deficiency will not die unless he gets afflicted with the same deficiency.”(Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 53)