Truly, among the acts of charity is magnifying Allah, glorifying Him, praising Him, declaring His Oneness, seeking His Forgiveness, enjoining good, forbidding wrong, removing a thorn or a bone or a stone from the way of people, guiding the blind, helping the deaf and dumb hear and understand, showing a seeker their need which you know where to find, striving as far as your two legs could carry you to give succor to one who asks, and carrying with the strength of your arms (the burdens) with the weak. All these are acts of charity.1
Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity for you; enjoining good and forbidding evil is charity; guiding a man in a misleading land is charity for you; seeing for (helping) a weak-eyed person is charity for you; removing a rock, or a thorn, or a bone from the road is charity for you; and pouring out from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you. Conciliating between two persons fairly is charity; helping a man ride upon his mount, or load his luggage upon it is charity; a good word is charity; and every step that you take to (offer) prayer is charity.2
This is the simple yet profound philosophy of mercifulness of this greatly merciful Messenger (pbuh). Mercy is not just a virtue. Mercy with him transcends far above mere moral excellence or righteousness, making of every merciful deed a devout act of worship that certainly pleases Allah Almighty and helps us draw near Him and, ultimately, win His Mercy.
Allah Almighty has sent His Messenger (pbuh) as a mercy to all people, to give them a helping hand to guidance, but only those willing to be guided are guided.
Nevertheless, this mercy is fulfilled for believers as well as disbelievers. The Law Muhammad (pbuh) was sent with blesses the whole of humanity and leads it to the perfection destined for it in this life.
This message came to humanity when it had attained maturity. It came as an open book to the minds of the forthcoming generations, embracing all the principles of human life that remain unaltered, and is ready to fulfill changing needs, which only the Maker of mankind knows. Indeed, He is the All-Knower of His creatures.
This Book (the Qur’an) establishes the eternal law for human life in a changing world. The value of its law lies in its being balanced and harmonious; it neither tortures the body to uplift the soul, nor ignores the soul for the body to have pleasure. All the duties this law imposes are within human capability and for the good of mankind. It provides the faculties and powers needed to enable them to perform these duties, and makes them pleasing to them no matter the hardships they may suffer sometimes for their sake, because they fulfill something they want and discharge one of the powers they have.
At the beginning, the principles the Prophet (pbuh) came with were strange to the conscience of humanity because of the wide gap between them and the reality of the actual spiritual life.
Islam came to call for a single humanity where all racial and demographic differences melt into one creed and one social system. This was certainly strange to the conscience of humanity then, to its way of thinking and its actual state, where the nobles considered themselves created from a clay superior to that of slaves.
Islam came to equate between people in the eyes of the law and judiciary at a time when humanity divided people into classes, setting for each class a law. It even made the master’s will, during the time of slavery and feudalism, the established law. Thus, it was strange at that time that this advanced outstanding law announces the right of absolute equality of all mankind before the law. But, little by little humanity is trying to reach, if only theoretically, something of what Islam practically applied more than fourteen hundred years ago. Ever since, humanity has begun to draw closer and closer from the horizon of these principles, where the sense of strangeness dissipated. It adopted them and applied them, even if under different slogans.
It stumbles on the way because it is not guided by the full light of Islam, but still it reaches something of its law – even if only in claims and slogans – although nations in Europe and America are still adhering to loathsome racism, which Islam fought against fourteen centuries ago.
These, and many others, testify that the message of Muhammad (pbuh) is a mercy to the whole of humanity, and that Muhammad (pbuh) was sent only as a mercy to all existence, the believers and disbelievers in him alike. All humanity is influenced by the law with which he (pbuh) came, willingly or unwillingly, consciously or unconsciously.
The verdant shade of this mercy is there to whoever wants to be shaded with it, to whoever wants to breathe under its shelter the gentle heavenly breeze, in the scorching heat of the earth, especially nowadays.
Humanity today is in the direst need for the gentleness of this mercy and its pure dew. It is worried and confused, straying through the labyrinths of materiality, the hell of wars, and the aridity of souls and hearts.
After presenting the meaning of mercy to humanity and fulfilling it himself, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), as commanded, announces the essence of his Message, wherefrom mercy to all existence gushes forth:
Say, “It is revealed to me that your God is only one God; will you then be Muslims?
(Al-Anbiya’ 21: 108)
This is the original element of mercy in this Message; the element of absolute monotheism that saves humanity from the illusions of Jahiliyyah, the burdens of idolatry, the worship of creatures, and the pressures of delusion and superstitions. It builds life upon its solid foundations, connecting it with the entire existence based on clear constant laws, not fancies, inclinations, or interests. It guarantees to every human their right of standing with their head raised; for heads only bow to the Creator, The One, The Almighty.
This is the path to mercy… so will you be Muslims?3
- Narrated by Abu Dharr: Musnad Ahmad, Book of Al-Ansar, Hadith no. 20510.
- Narrated by Abu Dharr: Sunnan At-Tirmidhy, Book of Al-Birr Waslah, Hadith no. 1879. Second Hadith “Conciliating between… ”: Narrated by Abu Hurairah, Sahih Muslim, Book of Zakah, Hadith no. 1677; similar versions of the Hadith are also reported by Al-Bukhary (2677, 2767) and Ahmad (7836, 8004, 8514).
- Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of Surat Al-Anbiya’ [21: 107-108], thirty-sixth edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.