Compassion

The Quran

“It is a mercy from Allah  that you were gentle with them. If you had been rough or hard of heart, they would have scattered from around you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them, and consult with them about the matter. Then when you have reached a firm decision, put your trust in Allah. Allah  loves those who put their trust in Him” [Qur’an; 3:159]

“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds” [Qur’an; 21:107]

“Go to Pharaoh; he has overstepped the bounds. But speak to him with gentle words so that hopefully he will pay heed or show some fear” [Qur’an; 20:43-44]

“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.’” [Qur’an; 39-53]

“When the Qur’an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: that ye may receive Mercy.” [Qur’an; 7:204]

“And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what He has given you. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful.” [Qur’an; 6:165]

 

Hadith

On the authority of Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) from the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  is that among the sayings he relates from his Lord (Glorified and Exalted be He) is that he said:
Allah has written down the good deeds and the bad ones. Then He explained it [by saying that] he who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten (10) good deeds to seven hundred (700) times, or many times over. But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Anas reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If there is roughness in anything it is bound to disgrace it. Allah is compassionate and loves compassion.” [Adab Al-Mufrad]

“Whoever has been given his portion of compassion has been given his portion of good. Whoever is denied given his portion of compassion has been denied his portion of good. Good character will be the weightiest thing in the believer’s balance on the Day of Rising. Allah hates a coarse, foul-mouthed person.” [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad]

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The Compassionate One has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you. [Abu Dawud]

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Verily, Allah when He created the creation, He wrote with His Hand concerning Himself, that: ‘My mercy prevails over My wrath.’” [Tirmidhi]

Allah created one hundred (parts of mercy) and He distributed one amongst His creation and kept this one hundred excepting one with Himself (for the Day of Resurrection). [Sahih Muslim]

”He who is deprived of forbearance and gentleness is, in fact, deprived of all good.” [Muslim]

“Avoid envy, for envy devours good deeds just as fire devours firewood.” [Abu Dawud]

“Envy is permitted only in two cases: A man whom Allah gives wealth, and he disposes of it rightfully, and a man to whom Allah gives knowledge which he applies and teaches it.” [Bukhari and Muslim]


The opposite of attributes like compassion and contentment is envy (known as hasad in Arabic). Hasad is to feel discontent about the blessings of another person and to wish for that blessing to be taken away from them. At its root, hasad is a manifestation of being discontent with the wisdom of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) in distributing His provision across His creation.

A believer accepts that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) does not distribute His provision in a haphazard manner. A believer submits to Divine decree and wholeheartedly acknowledges that he does not possess knowledge of the past, present, future, and unseen matters related to every individual.

Hasad is an evil that troubles the soul, disturbs one’s peace of mind, and eats away good deeds. One who cannot control his animosity would be embroiled in a state that deprives him of spiritual, emotional, and physical productivity. This manifests in a lack of contentment and he complains about what others have been given and what he has seemingly been deprived of rather than accepting what Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) has decreed.

The problem, therefore, is not a minor matter. It can grow into major unrest and disruption in society when it is linked with power struggles, race struggles, etc. We see, for example, how people refused to accept Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as the Messenger of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) simply because they thought there were others in that society who were more fitting to be in such a position.

If one cannot find compassion for others and contentment for self in simple matters, how would he cope with bigger difficulties? In neglecting to be positive, he misses out on appreciating the beauty and blessings of his state. One may complain that the rose bush has thorns, or he may appreciate that the thorn bush has roses.

Five Reasons for Envy

  1. Refusal to accept what Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) has bestowed upon others
  2. Refusal to accept what Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) has bestowed on one’s self
  3. Anxiety over matters that one cannot control
  4. Love of the material world (hubb-ud-dunya), such that the criteria for success is based on money
  5. Lack of remembrance of Allah (dhikr)

Three Signs of Envy

  1. Feeling bad upon hearing about the good bestowed on others; i.e. wondering why he/she was given such good.
  2. Having a neutral reaction when hearing about the good bestowed on others. This is bordering on envy.
  3. Having a non-compassionate response upon hearing about a hardship that has been placed on others.

One who finds himself feeling envious would do well to seek refuge in Allah from the devil (Shaytan) by reciting Surah Al-Falaq and Surah An-Naas. Shaytan has a role to play in triggering envy (hasad). Envy has caused trouble since the early times, such as in the dispute between two sons of Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) and between the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) and his brothers.

A person who is concerned about monitoring his heart and furthering his spiritual development can monitor his reactions to news he receives about other people and their circumstances. When a person’s heart is not filled with the remembrance of Allah, it becomes overtaken by vain matters. When one hears of another’s good, let him pray to Allah for the other’s benefit and perhaps request the same for himself through supplication. If he does not receive the same, then let him submit himself to the wisdom of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) in appropriating gifts to whomever He wills. It is far less dangerous to one’s health and far more productive to find joy in what one already has rather than dwelling on what he does not.

Further Reading

Rahmah – Not Just Mercy
10 Cures for Envy
Diseases of the Soul: Envy (Hasad)