Mercy is a favour from Allah which He places in the hearts of whomsoever He wills. Verily, Allah will have mercy on His servants who are merciful. Allah is the Most Compassionate the Most Merciful. He loves the merciful and calls to mercy. He orders His servants to enjoin patience and mercy. A person may lack mercy for any number of reasons, among them, an abundance of sins and disobedience. They stain their hearts so much so that they ultimately blind them until their hearts become harder than stones. Allah says of the Children of Israel: "And yet, after all this, your hearts hardened and became like rocks, or even harder." (2:74).
Allah also says about them when they opposed and rebelled against the divine law: "Then, for having broken their solemn pledge, We rejected them and caused their hearts to harden." (5:13).
Among the things that cause a loss of mercy is arrogance with wealth and pride with riches. Allah says: "Nay, verily, man becomes grossly overweening whenever he believes himself to be self-sufficient." (96:6-7).
The day the heart is disciplined with faith and good deeds it fills with mercy and kindness.
Another reason for the weakness of mercy is an abundance of gluttony and saturation. They give rise to contempt and recklessness. Hence the month of fasting was prescribed to crush this unruliness and ill discipline. The fasting person is naturally among the most merciful people. That is because he has tasted hunger, experienced thirst and endured hardship. His soul is, therefore, enveloped with mercy, care and gentleness for Muslims.
Mercy is something which every Muslim is required to render to his brother Muslim. It is a requirement from every responsible custodian toward those under his care. He should feel sorry for them and be lenient toward them. Prophet Muhammad sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said: 'O Allah! Whoever was entrusted with authority over any affair of the Muslims and made it difficult for them, please make it difficult for him. And whoever was entrusted over any affair of the Muslims and was kind toward them, then be kind toward him.'
In a related hadith Allah's Messenger also said: 'Whoever oversees an affair for my nation and disappeared or abandoned them without fulfilling their needs while impoverishing them, Allah will debar him from his needs and impoverish him on the Day of Judgement.'
Mercy demands that the scholar and teacher should be gentle toward his students and lead them to the easiest and best ways to love him and benefit from his teachings. If he does this Allah will decree for him the most excellent and abounding reward. Listen to the manner in which Allah praises His Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam : 'And it was by God's grace that thou [O Prophet] didst deal gently with thy followers: for if thou hadst been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from thee' (3:159).
Mercy further requires from the imam that he should not make worship difficult for his followers or cause them harm. On the contrary, he should be merciful, kind and wise. The Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said: 'Whoever from you leads the people in prayer must make it easy because among them are the old, the sick, the young and the needy.' It was narrated that when Mu'adh once extended the prayer the Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said to him: 'Are you a troublemaker O Mu'adh? Are you a troublemaker O Mu'adh? Are you a troublemaker O Mu'adh?'
In the same manner, when Uthman ibn Abi al As al Thaqafi requested: 'O Messenger of Allah, make me an imam of my people.' The Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said: 'You are their imam so lead the prayer according to the weakest of them and take a caller to prayer who would seek no payment for doing so.'
Mercy dictates that the one who calls to Islam must advise those whom he is inviting with tenderness. That he should, moreover, clarify issues to them with concern. He should not hurt, defame people or even revile the disobedient in public. Allah advised Moses and Aaron to employ the following methods in their call to the tyrant Pharaoh: 'But speak unto him in a mild manner, so that he might bethink himself or [at least] be filled with apprehension' (20:44).
He also says:
'Call you [all mankind] unto thy Sustainer's path with wisdom and goodly exhortation, And argue with them in the most kindly manner' (16:125).
The eminent jurist and Islamic scholar, Imam al Shafe'e wrote:
Support me with your advice in private,
and avoid advising me in public.
Surely giving advice among the people is a kind of reproach,
which I would rather not listen to.
If you disobey and ignore my wish,
don't be saddened if you are not obeyed.
Mercy is required from a father to his children. This matter was previously discussed in the lesson (No. 18) on how we train our children. The mercy of the father or mother toward her children has the greatest effect on their integrity, well-being and obedience. Self-praise and harshness only open the door to despair. The Prophet sallallahu `alaihi wa sallam said: 'Kindness was never bestowed upon something except that it beautified it, and it was never removed from that thing except that it made it ugly.'
O you who fast and cause hunger to your stomach, there are thousands of stomachs more awaiting a meal. Will there not arise from among you those who would feed them? O you who fast and cause thirst to your liver, there are thousands more who await a mouthful of water. Will there not arise from among you those who would quench their thirst? O you who fast and wear the finest garments, there are naked people out there awaiting only a piece of cloth to cover their bodies. Will there not then come forth from among you those who would clothe them?
O Allah! We implore your extended mercy that will forgive our sins and erase our misdeeds and errors.
By Sheikh Aa'id al-Qarnee
Excerpted from "Thirty Lessons for Those Who Fast"