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Understanding The Prophet's Life

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From Issue: 520 [Read full issue]

Signs of Tenderness and Mercy

During the tenth year of Hijrah, young Ibrahim, who was then about a year and a half old, fell seriously ill. At the very time when the religion of the One was being established all over the Peninsula, with adversity constantly diminishing and the number of conversions continuing to grow, the Prophet saw his only son about to leave life and to leave him. He visited him every day and spent hours by his side. When the child eventually breathed his last, the Prophet took him in his arms and held him against his breast, tears down his face, so deep was his sorrow. Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf, his faithful Companion, was surprised by those sobs, because he thought that the Prophet had previously forbidden such expressions of grief. At first, Muhammad could not speak; then he explained to him that he had forbidden excessive manifestations of distress, through wailing or hysterical behaviour, but not the natural expression of sorrow and suffering. Then he gave verbal expression to his grief that, in effect, became a spiritual teaching, as he declared that his tears were "signs of tenderness and mercy." he added a comment springing from his own experience, but which was also true in every Muslim's daily life: "He who is not merciful will not be shown mercy."[Bukhari, Muslim]

In the difficult moments of life, kindness, clemency, mercy, and the expressions of empathy that human beings offer one another bring them closer to the One, ar-Rahman (the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful). Through them, God reaches closer to the believer's heart, offering the believer what the believer him or herself has offered to a brother or sister in humanity.

Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of the Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 191, 192

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