Random acts of Mercy
Narrated by Abu Hurairah (RA): “The Prophet of Allah SAW kissed Hasan ibn ‘Ali while Aqra’ ibn Habis was sitting nearby. Aqra’ said, ‘I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.’ The Prophet SAW looked at him and said, ‘Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy.‘” In other words, Rasulullah SAW meant, what do you want me to do if Allah has snatched mercy from your heart? By not kissing a member of the family, Rasulullah SAW considered that the person had no rahmah in his heart.
There also is a famous incident where a prostitute from Bani Israel spotted a dog panting beside a well. Seeing that the dog was dying of thirst, she felt sympathy and mercy, so she took off her sandal, filled it with water and gave it to the dog to drink until it quenched its thirst. Allah was so pleased with her and that He forgave her sins and sent her to Paradise.
In another hadith, it was reported that a woman kept her cat locked up, neither feeding it nor releasing it to look for food, until it died of hunger. For that, she was put in Hellfire.
These topics appear insignificant to us – a kiss, a dog and a cat, but the major importance behind them is mercy. We were all born with a certain level of mercy and compassion – our humanity. It is a universal value. When we see someone in dire need: in an accident, drowning or in a fire, we rush to their rescue. We don’t question their race, nationality or faith, all these details are irrelevant when someone is in a critical situation.
Let us take a look at world events, predominantly in certain Muslim countries whose Muslim populations are now under severe oppression. Even the most ignorant of us cannot avoid the headlines screaming from the newspapers, the internet and the television :
• Civilians being shot, tear-gassed and killed indiscriminately by the militia.
• Entire towns being wiped out in large scale ethnic cleansing comparable to the events in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990’s.
• Innocents being rendered homeless and millions being forced to flee their own countries to live in refugee camps across the borders.
• Basic provisions, such as food, water, shelter, personal safety and medicine being cut off.
• The military repeatedly opening fire on unarmed men, women and children.
• Corpses being mangled, desecrated and burnt, instead of being given the funeral rites to which they are entitled.
Without discussing the technicalities, locations and legal arguments, which political regime to choose, which version of the media to believe and which manifesto to follow, our world is on fire. Humanity, if not already dead, is dying.
Wave after wave of violence has spread across the globe. People are being tortured, thrown into jail for crimes they never committed, and are under severe oppression and lies. The casualties are mounting. Mosques are now abattoirs, not sanctuaries. The massacres in these countries should make anyone feel sick.
Attacks from within
The main tragedy is that, our Muslim brothers and sisters are being attacked from within, from those purporting to be of the Muslim faith. What is more morally repulsive is that people bearing the names of Muhammad, Ali and Umar, all claiming to be Muslim, are arguing that such attacks were politically justified. These names are not in reference to the political leaders, who stand to benefit from the bloodshed, but to those in the side-lines who openly support such brutality. They do not have a single shred of humanity in them, and any life other than their own, has no value.
The Qur’an warns us that ,“whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely …” [5:32, excerpt] In applying this universal rule regarding the sanctity of human life, how many times over has humanity been slain, and how much more blood is to be spilt before the appetites of the instigators are satiated?
What are our priorities?
Any normal and sane human being would not tolerate it if animals were subject to this sub-human treatment. Yet when we see our brothers in Islam, and our brothers in humanity, being victims of such stomach churning atrocities, we form an alliance of silence.
We are occupied with socialising, buying toys and being busy at work; we are too self-absorbed to care. Then there is the segment of us who are diligently attending halaqah after halaqah, yet not feel a tinge of guilt for not having lifted a finger, spent a cent, spared a du’a or even given a second’s thought to the agony of the ones who are supposed to be their brothers and sisters in Islam.
As Muslims, how have we become so desensitised and selfish to the plight of others? Do we need a bomb to explode at our doorstep, or for an army tank to demolish our homes, before we develop an iota of caring and compassion? We can shed tears watching a love story, but not mourn the senseless slaughter of thousands of our brothers and sisters?
Today, on the news, there was an interview with a Syrian boy of around eight years old. His parents because of a suspected chemical attack shook him awake in the middle of the night. His mother was screaming, and then she collapsed and fainted. His father carried him out of the home and dumped him into someone’s car, which then rushed him to a safe location. During the time of the interview, the boy was wearing a borrowed t-shirt that was several sizes too large. When asked where his parents were, he broke down crying. He did not know if his parents were dead or alive. Here we are, feeling tearful when saying goodbye to our young children, and suffering separation anxiety during our eight hours at work. Imagine if this boy were our own son, confused and scared at having experienced unimaginable horrors, with not a familiar face to turn to for comfort. A young boy who suddenly no longer has a home where he can find love and shelter– basic human needs of every child. Multiply that by a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, and you still have not covered a fraction of the young population undergoing similar daily trauma. Yet our backs are turned, for as long as our own children get their iPads and their music lessons, life is peachy.
Respect for human rights or life in general
If we study Islamic jurisprudence, there are classifications of wrongdoers – those who carry sins, those who carry major sins, and those who have been cursed by God. How is it that someone can be cursed by Allah? It is when the person has been steeped in continuous wrongdoing, acting in arrogance to Allah’s commands, and intentionally continuing to do so until the curse of Allah falls upon him. The repercussions are dreadful – it means that this person is doomed for Hell, with no chance of forgiveness or tawbah.
How does one recognise the sign of a cursed one? It is when he cannot distinguish between rudimentary right and wrong, when the humanity has been snatched from him, stripping him of compassion and values. His moral thermometer is no longer functioning – a total and utter disgrace from Allah.
Now, when we watch these crimes against humanity, our instincts warn us that something is gravely wrong. However, here is the real shocker – those who are watching the news and are passively standing by, whose hearts are unmoved by these catastrophic events, are just as culpable as the original wrongdoers. They stand as silent partners in crime, and their hands are equally blood-stained.
Today, we twiddle our thumbs, giving justifications and excuses for genocide after genocide. We get bored of the repetitive reportage and flip the channel, because we think it is not our problem.
What happened to us? The animal kingdom would be ashamed to have us as part of their community, for we have transgressed lower than their level. We are occupied by our own self-interests, caring about nothing and no one. As long as our needs and comforts are attended to, everyone else can suffer a living hell on Earth.
Ignoring the Wrong
There is the final piece of bad news – a basic study of the Quran and Islamic teachings will show that when we stand passively by and let the oppression continue, without offering to intervene or lend a hand, Allah will unleash upon us the very same fate of the oppressed. We will soon, because of our selfishness and indifference, taste the same torture that befell the brothers and sisters whom we have chosen to ignore. This is the sunnah of Allah, and it is a reality. Debates about democracy, dictatorship and ideologies will be of no help to us at that time. May Allah protect us from such a grim fate.
It is enough to read the following famous hadith:
Whoever from amongst you sees an evil should change it by his hand, if he is unable to do so then he should change it by his tongue (by speaking against it), and if he is unable to do so then he should reject it in his heart – and this is the weakest of Iman.(Muslim)
If our hearts do not even reject the wrongdoing that we witness today, then it means we do not even have an atom of iman etched in them. It means our humanity is dead. Surely this cannot be the case. As human beings, not just as Muslims, we cannot let this be the case!
What should we do?
Let us all question ourselves. What are we doing? Where do we channel our efforts? Remember, every time an oppressed one makes du’a and asks where the help from rest of humanity is, all Muslims will be responsible in front of Allah. One day, we will stand before Allah, where each of us will be questioned about our responsibility to the ummah.
What can we do? At the minimum spectrum of iman, we should remember them in our du’a, and feel pity and sorrow for them. Spare a thought, shed a tear and pray for their suffering to be lifted. It is not a time to dwell on our personal issues, worrying about our holidays and our children’s ballet classes, because these are insignificant compared to the fight for survival that our brothers in Islam and humanity have to experience on a daily basis.
Every one of us is responsible, according to our capabilities – our wealth, influence, knowledge and resources. There is plenty we can do – raise awareness, sponsor relief missions, aid the refugee camps, donate money and supplies – all depending on our capabilities. At the very least, if we are incapable of the above, we should, at the minimum hope for change, with our hearts and intention.
May Allah save us all from being those outside His Mercy, and may the oppression on the ummah be lifted and may justice prevail. Ameen.