Mercy for the whole creation

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Why did The Qur'an declare that The Prophet Muhammad was sent as a Mercy for the whole of creation?

The beginning of existence was an act of mercy and compassion Without mercy the universe would be in chaos. Everything has come into existence through compassion and by compassion it continues to exist in harmony.

Muslim sages say: ‘The universe is the breath of the All-Compassionate One’. That is, the universe was created as a manifestation of God’s Name, the All-Compassionate. Its subsistence depends on the same Name. This Name manifests itself, first of all, as the All-Provider so as to secure the subsistence or survival of living creatures through food or nourishment. Besides, life is the foremost and most manifest blessing of God Almighty, and the true and everlasting life is the life of the Hereafter. Since man can deserve this life by acting in a way to please God, God sent Prophets and revealed Scriptures out of His compassion for mankind. For this reason, while mentioning His blessings upon mankind in the sura al-Rahman (the All-Merciful) in the Qur’an, He begins:

Al-Rahman (the All-Merciful). He taught the Qur’an. He created man. He taught him speech. (al-Rahman, 55.1-4)

All aspects of this life are a rehearsal for the afterlife and every creature is engaged in action to this end. In every effort order is evident and in every achievement compassion resides. Some ‘natural’ events or social convulsions in the human order which seem to man disagreeable at first sight should not be regarded as incompatible with compassion. They are like dark clouds or lightning and thunder, which, although frightening for man, bring us good tidings of rain. Thus, the whole universe, from minutest particles to gigantic galaxies, sings the praises of the All-Compassionate.

The universe is, in the language of Muslim sages, God’s ‘created book’ issued from His Attribute of Will. To write a book which no one could understand would be an exertion in vain and God is absolutely beyond such futility. So, He created Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, one who would instruct people in the meaning of the universe. Second, He taught man His Commandments through Muhammad in the Qur’an. Only by acting in accordance with these Commandments can man gain an eternal life of happiness. The Qur’an is the ultimate and most comprehensive form of Divine Revelation, Islam is the last, perfected and universal form of Divine Religions, and the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is the embodiment of Divine Compassion, one whom God sent not save as a mercy for all the worlds.

The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, is like a spring of pure water in the heart of a desert, or like a source of light in the darkness enveloping the universe. Whoever appeals to this spring can take as much water as to quench his thirst and is purified of all his dirt or pollution, spiritual or intellectual, and illumined with the light of belief.

Mercy was a like a magical key in the hands of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. He opened with this key the doors of the hearts so hardened and rusty as one thought it was impossible to open them, and lighted a torch of belief in them.

God’s Messenger preached Islam, the religion of universal mercy. Despite this, some so-called ‘champions of humanism’ accuse Islam of being ‘a religion of the sword’. However, this is a sheer deception. They seem to wail over an animal killed in some part of the world or raise their voices whenever one from them is harmed, but they do not bat an eyelid when Muslims are massacred. Their world is built on personal interest. It should be pointed out that the abuse of the feeling of compassion is as harmful and sometimes more harmful than being devoid of compassion altogether.

The amputation of a gangrenous limb is an act of compassion to the rest of the whole body. Likewise, oxygen and hydrogen, mixed in the proper ratios, form one of the most vital of substances. However, when this ratio changes, each element resumes its original combustible identity. It is likewise of great importance to apportion the amount of compassion and to identify who deserves it. ‘Compassion for a wolf sharpens its appetite, and not being content with what it receives, it demands even more.’ Compassion for a rebel makes him more aggressive, encouraging him to offend against others. Compassion rather requires that one should be prevented from doing wrong. God’s Messenger says: Help your brother whether he be just or unjust. The Companions asked: ‘How shall we help our unjust brother?’ He replied: You help him by preventing him from doing injustice. So, compassion also requires that those who take pleasure in poisoning like a snake should either be deprived of their poison or prevented from poisoning. Or else, the administration of the world will be left to ‘cobras’.

The compassion of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, encompasses every creature. Indeed, he was also an invincible commander and an able statesman. He knew that to leave the world to blood-stained, blood-thirsty people would be tyranny of the most terrible kind to all the oppressed and wronged people. His compassion therefore required that lambs should be able to live in the utmost security against the attacks of wolves. He desired, of course, the guidance of everyone. This was his greatest concern, as stated in the Qur’an:

Yet it may be, if they believe not in this Message, you will consume yourself, following after them, with grief. (al-Kahf, 18.6)

But what could he do for those who persisted in unbelief and actually waged war against him in order to destroy him and his Message? He had to fight against his enemies out of his universal compassion that encompasses every creature. It was because of this compassion that when he was severely wounded in the battle of Uhud, he held his hands open towards God and prayed: O God, forgive my people, for they do not know.17

In Makka, his people inflicted on him every kind of suffering eventually forcing him to emigrate to Madina, and then waged on him war for five years. However, when he conquered Makka without bloodshed in the twenty-first year of his Prophethood, he asked the Makkan unbelievers, awaiting his decision about them: How do you expect me to treat you? They responded unanimously: ‘You are a noble one, the son of a noble one.’ He announced to them his decision:

You may go away! No reproach this day shall be on you; may God forgive you. He is the Most Compassionate of the Compassionate.18

The same announcement was made by Sultan Mehmed, the Conqueror, to the defeated Byzantines, when he conquered Istanbul, eight and a quarter centuries later. Such is the universal compassion of Islam.

The Messenger’s compassion towards the believers was of the utmost degree. The Qur’an describes his compassion in the following verse:

There has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves; grievous to him is your suffering; anxious is he over you, full of concern for you, for the believers full of pity, compassionate. (al-Tawba, 9.128)

He lowered unto believers his wing of tenderness through mercy (al-Hijr, 15.88), and was the ‘guardian’ of believers and nearer to them than their selves (al-Ahzab, 33.6). When one of his Companions died, he asked those present at the funeral whether that Companion had left any unpaid debt. On learning that he had left a debt, he mentioned the above quoted verse and announced:

I am his guardian. Let the creditors appeal to me to collect their debt.19

The compassion of God’s Messenger even encompassed hypocrites and unbelievers. Although he recognized the hypocrites of his time, he never disclosed them so that they could enjoy the rights of full citizenship to which their outward confession of faith and practice entitled them. Since they lived among Muslims, their unbelief in eternal life after death may have been reduced or changed to doubt, and therefore their fear of death and the pain caused by the assertion of eternal non-existence after death might have been diminished. As for unbelievers, God removed the collective destruction from them. He had eradicated many peoples before. God says:

But God would never chastise them while you were among them; God would never chastise them as they begged forgiveness. (al-Anfal, 8.33)

This verse refers not only to the unbelievers in the time of God’s Messenger, but also to all those coming later. God will not destroy peoples altogether so long as people who follow the Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, continue to live in the world. Besides, He has left ‘the door of repentance’ open until the Last Day. Anyone can accept Islam or beg God’s forgiveness, however sinful he is. For this reason, a Muslim’s enmity towards unbelievers is, in fact, in the form of pitying them. When ‘Umar, the second Caliph, saw a priest of eighty years, he sat down and sobbed. When asked why he was sobbing, he replied: ‘God assigned him so long a life span, but he has not been able to find the true path.’

‘Umar was the disciple of God’s Messenger, who said:

I was not sent as one to call down curses on people, but I was sent as a mercy.20

He also said:

I am Muhammad, and Ahmad (praised one), and Muqaffi (the Last Prophet); and I am also Hashir (the final Prophet in the presence of whom the dead will be resurrected); and the Prophet of repentance (the Prophet for the cause of whom ‘the door’ of repentance will always remain open), and the Prophet of mercy.21

The archangel Gabriel also benefited from the mercy of the Qur’an, which was revealed to God’s Messenger. Once he asked Gabriel whether he had any share in the mercy contained in the Qur’an. Gabriel answered, ‘Yes, O God’s Messenger,’ and explained,

I had not been certain about my end. However, when the verse (One) obeyed, and moreover, trustworthy and secured (al-Takwir, 81.21) was revealed, I felt secure about my end.22

When Ma‘iz was punished for fornication, one of the Companions reproached him saying: ‘He disclosed the sin he had committed secretly and died like a dog.’ God’s Messenger frowned at him and said:

You have backbitten your friend. His repentance and asking God’s pardon for his sin would be enough for the forgiveness for all the sinners in the world.23

A member of the clan of Banu Muqarrin beat his maidservant. The poor woman referred the matter to God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, who sent for the master and said to him: You have beaten her without any justifiable right. So, set her free.24 Setting a slave free was far better for his or her master than being punished in the Hereafter because of the slave.

God’s Messenger was particularly compassionate towards children. When he saw a child crying, he sat beside him or her and shared his or her feelings. He felt the pain of a mother for her child more than the mother herself. Once he said:

I stand in prayer and wish to prolong it. However, I hear the cry of a child and cut the prayer short for the anxiety which the mother is feeling.25

He took children in his arms and hugged them. He was once hugging his beloved grandsons, Hasan and Hussayn, when Aqra ibn Habis told him: ‘I have got ten children. So far, I haven’t kissed any of them.’

God’s Messenger responded:

The one with no pity for others is not pitied.26

According to another version, he said:

What can I do for you if God has removed from you the feeling of compassion?27

Once, he said:

Take pity on those on earth so that those in the heavens should have pity on you.28

Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubada once became ill. God’s Messenger visited him in his house and, on seeing his faithful Companion in a pitiful state, he was moved to tears. Then, he said:

God does not punish because of tears, nor because of grief, but he punishes because of this, and he pointed to his tongue.29

When ‘Uthman ibn Mad‘un died, he wept profusely. During the funeral, a woman remarked: ‘ ‘Uthman flew, like a bird, to Paradise.’ Even in that mournful state, the Prophet did not lose his balance and corrected the woman:

How do you know that he went to Paradise while even I do not know, and I am a Prophet?30

God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, always protected and supported, both prior to and during his Prophethood, widows, orphans, the poor and disabled. When he returned home in excitement from Mount Hira after the first Revelation, his wife, Khadija, told him:

I hope you will be the Prophet of this Umma, you always tell the truth, fulfill the trust, support your relatives, help the poor and weak, and feed guests.31

His compassion encompassed not only human beings, but also animals. We hear from him that a prostitute was guided to truth by God and ultimately went to Paradise because she gave water to a poor dog dying of thirst, whilst another woman was condemned to the torments of Hell because she left a cat to die of hunger.32

Once on return from a military campaign, a few Companions took away the chicks of a bird from their nest to stroke them. The mother bird came back and, when it could not find its chicks in the nest, it began to fly around screeching. When informed of the matter, God’s Messenger became angry and ordered the chicks to be put back in the nest.33

Once he told his Companions that one of the previous Prophets was reproached by God because he set on fire a nest of ants.34

He was in Mina when some of his Companions once attacked a snake to kill it. However, the snake managed to escape. Watching this from afar, God’s Messenger remarked: It was saved from your evil, as you were from its.35

As reported by Ibn ‘Abbas, when God’s Messenger once saw a man sharpening his knife directly before the sheep he would slaughter, he said to him: Do you desire to kill it many times?36 ‘Abdullah ibn Ja’far narrates:

God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, once went to a garden in Madina with a few of his Companions. There was a very scrawny camel in a corner. On seeing God’s Messenger, it began to shed tears. The Messenger went to the camel and, after staying beside it for some time, severely warned the owner to feed the camel properly.37

The love and compassion of God’s Messenger for all kinds of creatures was not of the kind claimed by today’s ‘humanists’. He was sincere and balanced in his love and compassion. He was more compassionate than any other person. He was a Prophet raised by God, the Creator and Sustainer of all beings, for the guidance and happiness of conscious beings – mankind and jinn – and the harmony of existence. So, he lived not for himself but for others; he is a mercy for all the worlds.

17. Bukhari, “Anbiya’,” 54; Muslim, “Jihad,” 104.

18. I. Hisham, Sira, 4.55; I. Kathir, al-Bidaya, 4.344.

19. Muslim, “Fara’iz,” 14; Bukhari, “Istiqraz,” 11.

20. Muslim, “Birr,” 87.

21. I. Hanbal, 4.395; Muslim, “Fada‘il,” 126.

22. Qadi ‘Iyad, al-Shifa’, 1.17.

23. Muslim, “Hudud,” 17-23; Bukhari, “Hudud,” 28.

24. Bukhari, “Adhan,” 65; Muslim, “Salat,” 192.

25. Bukhari, “Adab,” 18.

26. Bukhari, “Adab,” 18; Muslim, “Fada’il,” 64; I. Maja, “Adab,” 3.

27. Tirmidhi, “Birr,” 16.

28. Bukhari, “Jana’iz,” 45; Muslim, “Jana’iz,” 12.

29. Bukhari, “Jana’iz,” 3.

30. Muslim, “Ayman,” 31, 33; I. Hanbal, 3.447.

31. I. Sa‘d, Tabaqat, 1.195;

32. Bukhari, “Anbiya’,” 54, “Musaqat,” 9; Muslim, “Salam,” 153; I. Hanbal, 2.507.

33. Abu Dawud, “Adab,” 164, “Jihad,” 112; I. Hanbal, 1.404.

34. Bukhari, “Jihad,” 153; Muslim, “Salam,” 147.

35. Nasa’i, “Hajj,” 114; I, Hanbal, 1.385.

36. Hakim, Mustadrak, 4.231, 233.

37. Suyuti, al-Khasa’is al-Kubra’, 2.95; Haythami, Majma‘, 9.9.

 

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