Could you describe the mildness and forbearance of God's messenger?
Mildness is another dimension of the character of God’s Messenger, upon him
be peace and blessings. He was a bright mirror in which God reflected His Mercy.
Mildness is a reflection of compassion. God made His Messenger mild and gentle,
not harsh and stern. Due to his mildness, God’s Messenger gained many converts
to Islam and surpassed numerous obstacles on his way to ultimate victory.
After the victory of Badr, the Battle of Uhud was a severe trial for the
Muslim community in Madina. Although God’s Messenger was of the opinion that
they should face the enemy on the outskirts of Madina, the majority of the Muslim
army urged him to go out into the open for a pitched battle. When the two armies
met each other at the foot of Mount Uhud, God’s Messenger positioned fifty archers
in the pass of ‘Aynayn and ordered them not to leave their place without permission,
even if they saw that the Muslims had won the victory decisively.
The Muslim army, one third of the enemy in number and equipment, had almost
defeated the Makkan polytheists at the beginning of the battle. Seeing the enemy
fleeing the battlefield, the archers forgot the Prophet’s command and left their
positions in pursuit of them. However, Khalid ibn Walid, the cavalry commander
of the Makkan army, saw this and, riding round the mountain, attacked the Muslim
army from behind. The fleeing enemy soldiers turned back, and as a result, the
Muslims, caught in the cross-fire, experienced a reverse. More than seventy
Muslims were martyred and God’s Messenger was wounded. He might have reproached
those who urged him to come into the open for a pitched battle and the archers
who left their place contrary to his orders. But he did the reverse and showed
leniency to them. The Qur’an says:
It was by the mercy of God that you were gentle to them; if you had been
harsh and hard of heart, they would have dispersed from about you. So pardon
them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them in the affair. And when
you are resolved, then put your trust in God; surely God loves those who put
their trust (in Him). (Al ‘Imran, 3.159)
This verse shows, besides the need for leaders to be mild and lenient to
those who make well-intentioned mistakes, the importance which Islam attaches
to consultation in public administration.
The mildness and forgiveness of God’s Messenger was a reflection of God’s
Names, the All-Mild, the All-Clement and the All-Forgiving. God does not stop
providing for people despite their rebellion or unbelief. While the vast majority
of people disobey Him either in unbelief and explicit or implicit association
of partners with Him or transgression of His Commandments, the sun continues
to send them its heat and light, clouds come to their aid with their tears –
rain – and the earth never stops feeding them with its various fruits and plants.
This is because of the Clemency and Forgiveness of God Almighty, which God’s
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, reflected through his compassion,
mildness and forgiveness.
Like the Prophet Abraham, whom he used to say that he resembled, God’s Messenger
was mild, imploring, clement and penitent (Hud, 11.75), and also gentle to believers
and full of pity and compassionate for them (al-Tawba, 9.127). Abraham, upon
him be peace, was never angry with people, however much they tormented him.
He wished for good even for his enemies. He implored God and shed tears in His
Presence. Since he was a man of peace and salvation, God made the fire into
which he was thrown cool and safe for him (al-Anbiya’, 21.69). Like him, God’s
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was never angry with anybody because
of what was done to him. When his wife ‘A’isha, may God be pleased with her,
was made the object of a slander, he did not think to punish the slanderers
even after ‘A’isha was cleared by the Qur’an. Bedouins often came to his presence
and behaved impolitely, but he did not even frown at them. Although extremely
sensitive, he always showed forbearance towards everybody, whether friend or
foe. His sensitivity was such that if, for example, a needle pierced his finger,
it would give him more pain than others feel when speared. Despite this, he
tolerated all the impudence of people.
As recounted earlier, he shared out the spoils of war after the Battle of
Hunayn, when a man named Dhu l-Huwaysira objected, saying: ‘Be just, o Muhammad!’
This was an unforgivable offence against the sacred character of a Prophet whose
role was to establish justice in the world. Unable to endure such offences against
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, ‘Umar reacted: ‘Let me kill
this hypocrite, o God’s Messenger!’ But the Messenger did nothing other than
Who else will show justice if I am not just? If I do not show justice, then
I have been lost and brought to naught.38
According to another version, he said:
If I am not just, then, by following me, you – the people – have been lost
and brought to naught.39
In addition, he implied that that man would later take part in a seditious
movement, which came true during the Caliphate of ‘Ali. Dhu l-Huwaysira was
found dead among the Kharijites killed in the Battle of Nahrawan.
As related by Anas ibn Malik, a Jewish woman offered a roasted sheep to God’s
Messenger after the conquest of Khaybar. Just before he took the first morsel
to his mouth, God’s Messenger stopped and told the others at the meal not to
eat of it, saying: This sheep tells me that it is poisonous. Nevertheless, a
Companion, named Bishr, died immediately after he took the first morsel. The
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, sent for the woman and questioned
her on why she tried to poison him. The woman replied:
If you are really a Prophet, the poison will not affect you. If you are not,
I wanted to save people from your evil.
God’s Messenger forgave the woman for her conspiracy to kill him.40
While the Prophet was once returning to his house after talking to his Companions
in the mosque, a Bedouin pulled him by the collar and said rudely: ‘O Muhammad!
Give me my due! Load up these two camels of mine. For you will load them up
with neither your own wealth nor the wealth of your father.’ To this impertinence,
God’s Messenger gave the response, without showing any sign of offence: Give
that man what he wants!41
Zayd ibn San’an narrates:
Once, God’s Messenger borrowed some money from me. I was not yet a Muslim
then. I went to him to collect my debt before its due time, and insulted him,
saying; ‘You the children of ‘Abd al-Muttalib, are very reluctant to pay your
debts!’ ‘Umar became very angry with this insult of mine and shouted; ‘O enemy
of God! Were it not for the treaty between us and the Jewish community, I would
cut off your head! Speak to God’s Messenger politely!’ However, God’s Messenger
smiled at me and, turning to ‘Umar, said: Umar, pay the man his debt! And add
to it the amount of twenty gallons because you have frightened him!
‘Umar relates the rest of the story:
‘We went together. On the way, Zayd spoke to me unexpectedly: ‘O ‘Umar! You
got angry with me. But I have found in him all the features of the Last Prophet
recorded in the Torah, the Old Testament. However, there is this verse in it:
‘His mildness surpasses his anger. The severity of impudence to him increases
him only in mildness and forbearance.’ In order to test his forbearance, I uttered
what I uttered. Now I am convinced that he is the Prophet whose coming the Torah
predicted, so, I believe and bear witness that he is the Last Prophet.’42
The mildness and forbearance of God’s Messenger sufficed for the conversion
of Zayd ibn San’an, who was one of the Jewish scholars of the time.
God’s Messenger himself was extremely meticulous in practising the religion.
Nobody could imitate him in performing supererogatory prayers. Despite being
sinless, he spent more than half the night praying in tears, and sometimes fasted
two or three days successively. Every moment, he took a further step towards
the ‘praised station’ set for him by God. However, he was very tolerant towards
others; in order that his Umma should not be put under a heavy burden, he did
not perform the supererogatory prayers in the mosque. When a complaint was circulated
about an imam (prayer leader) because he prolonged the prayer, the Prophet climbed
the pulpit and said:
O you people! You cause aversion in people from prayer. Whoever among you
leads a prescribed prayer should not prolong it, for there are among you people
who are sick or old or who are in urgent need.43
Once his congregation complained to God’s Messenger about Mu’adh ibn Jabal
that he prolonged the night prayer. His love for Mu’adh did not prevent the
Messenger from reproaching him, saying, Are you a trouble-maker? Are you a troublemaker?
Are you a trouble-maker?44
The mildness and forbearance of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
captured the hearts and preserved the unity of the Muslims. As stated in the
Qur’an, if he had been harsh and hard-hearted, people would have dispersed from
about him. But those who saw him and listened to him were endowed with Divine
manifestations to the extent that they attained the rank of sainthood. For example,
Khalid ibn Walid was the general of the Quraysh who caused the Muslims to experience
a reverse in the Battle of Uhud. However, when he was not included in the army
that went out for a military campaign on the day following his conversion, he
was upset and sobbed.
Like Khalid, Ikrima and ‘Amr ibn al-‘As were among those who did great harm
to God’s Messenger and the Muslims. When they believed, each became a sword
of Islam drawn against unbelievers. Ibn Hisham, the brother of Abu Jahl, converted
to Islam shortly before the death of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and
blessings. He became so sincere a Muslim that just before his martyrdom at the
Battle of Yarmuk two years after the death of God’s Messenger, he did not drink
the water that Hudayfa al-‘Adawi offered him, asking him to take it to the one
lying nearby groaning for water. He died, having preferred his Muslim brother
Those people attained high ranks in the enlightening atmosphere of God’s
Messenger, upon him peace and blessings. They were included among the Companions,
those regarded and respected as the most virtuous people after the Prophets
by almost the whole body of the Muslim Ummah since the earliest days of Islam.
In order to explain their greatness, Said Nursi, the great Muslim revivalist
of the twentieth century, says:
I had been wondering why even the greatest of saints like Muhyi al-Din ibn
al-‘Arabi are unable to attain the rank of the Companions. One day God Almighty
enabled me to perform in prayer a prostration, which I have succeeded in doing
only once during my life. I concluded that it is impossible to attain the ranks
of the Companions because all the prostrations of the Companions were like that
in meaning and merit.46
It was God’s Messenger who brought up the Companions. It is enough to establish
the greatness of the Companions that they succeeded despite their small number
in conveying Islam to the farthest areas of Asia and Africa within a few decades,
and Islam was rooted in those areas so deeply that, despite the concerted efforts
of the global enemy powers for centuries backed with all kinds of machinery
and technological facilities, to remove it from the surface of the earth, it
continues to gain new momentum every passing day and is the sole alternative
for the future salvation of humankind. The Companions, may God be pleased with
them all, developed from the wretched state of the pre-Islamic Age of Ignorance
to being guides and teachers of a considerable part of mankind until the Last
Day, and the vanguard of the most magnificent civilization of history.
God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was a man of absolute balance.
His universal compassion did not prevent him from executing Divine justice,
and his mildness and forbearance did not go to extremes of overlooking any breach
of Islamic rules or self-humiliation. For example, in a military campaign, Usama
ibn Zayd threw an enemy soldier to the ground. When he was about to kill him,
the man confessed belief. However, judging that confession to be due to fear
of death, Usama killed the man. When informed of the incident, God’s Messenger,
upon him be peace and blessings, became so angry with Usama that he reprimanded
him severely, saying: Did you cleave his heart open and see (whether his confession
of belief was due to fear of death)? He repeated this so many times that Usama
said later: ‘I wished I had not yet become a Muslim on the day I was scolded
Likewise, one day, Abu Dharr got angry with Bilal and insulted him, saying:
‘You, the son of a black woman!’ Bilal came to God’s Messenger and reported
the incident in tears. The Messenger reproached Abu Dharr, saying: Do you still
have a sign of Jahiliya? Repentant of what he did, Abu Dharr lay on the ground
and said: ‘The head of Abu Dharr will not be raised (meaning he will not get
up) unless Bilal put his foot on it to pass over it.’ Bilal forgave him and
they were reconciled.48
Such was the brotherhood and the humanity Islam created between once savage
38. Muslim, “Zakat,” 142, 148; Bukhari, “Adab,” 95, “Manaqib,” 25.
39. Bukhari, “Adab,” 95; Muslim, “Zakat,” 142.
40. Bukhari, “Hiba,” 28; Abu Dawud, “Diyat,” 6.
41. Abu Dawud, “Adab,” 1; Nasa’i, “Qasama,” 24.
42. Suyuti, al-Khasa’is, 1.26; I. Hajar, al-Isaba, 1.566.
43. Bukhari, “‘Ilm,” 28, “Adhan,” 61.
44. Muslim, “Salat,” 179; Nasa’i, “Iftitah,” 71; Bukhari, “Adab,” 74.
45. Hakim, Mustadrak, 3.242.
46. Said Nursi, Sozler, Istanbul, 1986, 459.
47. Muslim, “Iman,” 158; I. Ma’ja, “Fitan,” 1.
48. Bukhari, “Iman,” 22.