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On Leniency

Once a Bedouin who had recently embraced Islam approached the Masjid of the Prophet to perform salat. He started urinating on the corner of the masjid. The companions of the Prophet ran to prevent him from this reprehensible act and to chastise him.  The Messenger of Allah (), however, intervened to check his companions and told them to let him go and pour water on the spot where he urinated.  Then, the Prophet advised that God Almighty has created you people to make for ease and convenience to the people and not to put them to hardship [Bukhari].
Softness of temperament is an embellishment of a gentleman while rudeness and bad temperament is an undesirable feature. Allah (Ta’ala) has exhorted:

خُذْ الْعَفْوَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْعُرْفِ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنْ الْجَاهِلِينَ (الأعراف: 199)

Translation of Meaning: “Keep to forgiveness [O Muhammad], enjoin the good behaviour, and turn away from the ignorant” [Al-A’raf: 199]. In another place it is ordained:

وَلا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ (فصلت: 34)

Translation of Meaning: “The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel the evil conduct with what is best, then lo! He, between whom and you was enmity [will become] as though he was a bosom friend” [Fussilaat: 34].

Leniency was an outstanding aspect of the personal conduct of the Prophet. He was most lenient and accommodative of the public. Once a Bedouin visited the Prophet to seek some favour from him. But his manner of asking was rude and crude. The Prophet instead of being provoked with him kept on smiling to him. Ignoring his rough behaviour the Prophet gave him a large quantity of goods which he loaded on his two camels and went away. The prophet was personally not dry or harsh at all. He was very cool and gentle. Hadrat ‘Ayesha (RadhiAllahu Anha) narrates that he used to adopt the easier of two courses. He never took revenge against anybody who did harm to him.  Nevertheless, he punished those who transgressed the limits set by Allah [Unanimous]. He used to tell his companions: “Make for ease, not hardship; give good tidings, do not scare them off” [unanimous]. Gentility illuminates one’s personality while harshness makes it crude and lusterless.  The Prophet pronounced that where leniency spreads there is beauty and luster and where it departs from it makes it ugly and crude [Muslim].

  1. Treat people gently: A Muslim always treats others gently and leniently, not roughly and harshly. The Prophet was an example of softness and gentility. He never behaved harshly or sternly. This trait of the Messenger of Allah ()has been attested to in the holy Quran in these words:

وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظّاً غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لانْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ (آل عمران: 159)

Translation of Meaning: ” [O Muhammad], for if you had been stern and fierce of heart they would have moved away from around you”[Al Imran: 159].

It is a quality of a Muslim that he never casts aspersions against anybody nor abuses anybody. He is rather self-restrained and lenient. No reform is expected from mutual recrimination rather it creates more hatred. The Messenger of Allah () pronounced:

“ولا تُظهِرِ الشّماتَةَ لأخيكَ فَيَرحَمَهُ اللهُ وَيَبتَليكَ” (ترمذي)

Translation: “Don’t express happiness over misfortune of your brother lest Allah have mercy upon him and put you on trial [Tirmidhi]. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)declared:سباب المسلم فسوق وقتاله كفر”” “Abusing a Muslim is misconduct [fusuq] and killing him is unbelief [kufr]” [unanimous].

  1. Leniency towards the servants: The Messenger of Allah ()used to treat his servants gently. He directed his followers to feed their servants the food which they ate themselves, to clothe them with dress which they wore themselves, and not to load work on them beyond their capacity. If they are overburdened they should share their burden. The Prophet pronounced:
    “من لَطَم مملوكه ، أو ضربه ، فكفارته أن يعتقه” Translation of Meaning: If anybody slaps his slave or beats him then he must atone for it by liberating him.
  1. Gentleness towards the animals: The noble religion of Islam forbids hurting of any animal unnecessarily. Once Hadrat Anas Bin Malik (RadhiAllahu Anhu) passed by a people who were targeting a tied hen. He told them that the Messenger of Allah ()has forbidden tying and targeting of an animal [Muslim]. Likewise, once Hadrat Abdullah Bin Umar passed by a group of boys from Quraish who were practicing archery on a captured bird. On seeing Hadrat Abdullah the boys began to run away. Hadrat Abdullah admonished them and told them that the Messenger of Allah () has damned those who target a living animal [Muslim]. One way of gentleness towards animal is this that if they are to be slaughtered they should be slaughtered with a sharp knife to inflict minimum pain to them. Slaughtering them with a bland blade is prohibited. The Messenger of Allah () pronounced, “God Almighty has made ihsaan [doing something to perfection] obligatory so if you have to kill on the battlefield kill gently, or if you have to slaughter an animal slaughter it in a fair manner.” [unanimous].  A tradition speaks of a person who was forgiven by God Almighty for giving water to a thirsty dog and a woman was thrown into hell because she had tied a cat that died of thirst and hunger.
  1. Fairness towards inanimate things: Fairness towards inanimate things means avoidance of their unnecessary use or their destruction without purpose whether they are household goods or any external resource. The Prophet of God has eulogized gentleness and fairness and exhorted his followers to be gentle and fair.  He has pronounced:

“إن الله رفيق يحب الرفق في الأمر كله”

Translation: “Allah is lenient and likes leniency in all matters” [unanimous]. Yet another hadeeth speaks of Allah being soft and liking softness for which he rewards what he does not reward for harshness.

“إنّ اللهَ رَفيقٌ يحبّ الرفقَ ،ويُعطي عليه ما لا يُعطي على العنفِ” (مسلم)

Translation: Allah is gentle and He loves gentleness. He rewards for gentleness what is not granted for harshness. [Muslim].

He also asked:

“ألا أُخبِرُكم بمن يُحرَمُ على النارِ أو بمن تُحرَمُ عليه النّار ، على كل قريب هَيّنٍ سَهلٍ”

Translation: “Should I inform you of one who is haraam on fire or fire is haraam for him? On every intimate one, lenient one, easy one [Tirmidhi; Ahmad].

A believer treats everybody with kindness, for he knows that on the day of judgment, his Lord will treat him with kindness.

In the same way, he also pronounced:

اللهُمّ مَن وَلِيَ من أمرِ أُمّتي شيئا فَرَفَقَ بِهِم فَأرفِق بِهِ”

Translation of Meaning: “O my God, if somebody assumes the governance of my followers and treats them fairly so please be fair towards him.” [Muslim].

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