» His Character » Mildness, Courtesy and Forbearance
Mildness, Courtesy and Forbearance
In his good manners, gentleness, cordiality, sympathy and forbearance the Messenger of God has left a perpetual and living example of noble behaviour for the entire humanity. To tell the truth, he stood on such an exalted plane of graceful and polite deportment that God has paid him a glowing compliment in the Qur'an. "And verily thou art of a high and noble disposition." The Apostle once told the companions, "God has Himself disciplined me and disciplined in the best manner."
Jabir reported the Apostle as saying, "God has raised me for the completion of moral virtues and seemly behaviour." When 'Aisha was questioned about the character of the Prophet, she replied, "Qur'an was his character." Indeed, such were his tolerance and forbearance, sympathy, graciousness and largeheartedness that even the painters of soul with the gift of speech would seldom find words adequate to catch his likeness. Had the accounts about him not been handed down with the greatest caution by the most trustworthy narrators, it would have been difficult for one to accept them. But all these accounts have been transmitted with the greatest care by very many narrators, each testifying the piety, veracity, acumen and intelligence of the other from whom he learnt of an event, and, then, the reports transmitted through different sources and channels so corroborate one another that in their genuineness and authenticity they form a class by themselves in the entire continuous and methodical records of public events. There is, thus, not the least doubt that every unbiased student of these records will come to the conclusion that never has there existed a historical document which was more firmly based on facts or better authenticated by external and internal evidence than the Traditions of the Prophet which represent the climax of the science of history.
A few incigiven here illustrate the Prophet's tenderness and mercy towards the people. 'Abdullah b. Ubayy was the leader of hypocrites whose revengeful attitude had always created difficulties for the Prophet. But, when he died and had been placed in his grave, the Apostle of God arrived and asked him to be taken out. He then placed him on his knees, blew some of his saliva over him, and clothed him with his shirt. Anas reports: "Once when I was walking with the Prophet who was wearing a Najrani cloak with a coarse fringe, a nomadic Arab met him and gave his cloak a violent tug. I saw that the man's tug had left a mark on the neck of God's Apostle. The nomad said, 'Command that I be given some of the God's property you have, Muhammad (peace- be upon him)." The Apostle turned round to him and laughed, and then ordered that he should be given something."
Zayd b. S'ana came to the Prophet and demanded payment of the money owed by the Prophet. Then he violently pulled the Prophet's cloak from his shoulder, caught hold of it and addressed him rudely, saying, "You son of 'Abdul Muttalib are dilly-dallying." 'Umar rebuked and reproached him but the Prophet kept smiling and said to 'Umar, "This man was entitled to a better treatment from you. You ought to have advised me to repay the loan promptly and asked him to make his demand politely." Then, turning to Zayd, the Prophet said, "There are still three days to go for the appointed time for repayment." At the same time he asked 'Umar to repay the loan and give Zayd twenty s'as more so as to compensate him for his threatening attitude towards Zayd. The gracious and obliging behaviour of the God's Apostle caused Zayd to embrace Islam. Anas relates that once a band of eighty armed men of Mecca suddenly appeared at Wadi Tanyeem with the intention of making a sudden attack on the Apostle of God. They were all made captives but the Apostle spared their lives.
Relating an incident when Jabir went with the Apostle of God on an expedition, he says, "At mid-day the time for a siesta came during the journey. The valley was full of thorny bushes. The Apostle of God went to take rest under an acacia tree on which he hung his sword. We also dispersed to take a break under different trees. All of a sudden the Prophet called us and we saw that a nomadic Arab was sitting by his side. When we went to him he said, 'I was sleeping when this man came and unsheathed my sword against me. When I awoke I saw him standing over my head with the drawn sword, and he was asking me: 'Who can now protect you from me ?' I replied, 'Allah', and he sheathed the sword. Then he sat down and now he is before you." It is related that God's Apostle did not exact any vengeance from the nomad.
Every companion of the Prophet was sufficiently forbearing to throw the most godly soul into shade but the long-suffering patience of God's Messenger rose above the patience of all of them. He was their kindhearted teacher and mentor and guide from whom all drew inspiration. An incident related by Abu Huraira illustrates the breadth and bigness of the Apostle's heart. Once a Bedouin passed urine in the holy Mosque. The companions jumped at him and grabbed him for the sacrilegious act, but the Apostle commanded, "Let him alone. Pour a bucket or two of water over what he has passed, for you have been sent to make things easy and not to make things difficult." Another companion, Mu'awiyah b. al-Hakam reports, "I sneezed while praying along with the Apostle of God and said: 'God have mercy on you !' The people around stared down at me, so I said, 'Woe is me ! What do you mean by looking askance at me ?' They began to strike their hands on their thighs. Now I understood that they wanted me to be silent and I kept quiet. When the Apostle of God finished his prayer for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom as no teacher better than him I have seen before or after; for, by God, he neither rebuked, nor beat, nor reviled mehe simply said to me, 'No talk is fitting during the prayer, for it consists only of the glorification of God, declaration of His greatness and recitation of the Qur'an.
Anas has also related many an instance of the Prophet's leniency, sympathy and noble mindedness. He says that God's Apostle was too generous and kind. If anybody in need approached him for anything, he gave it to him or at least made a promise for the same. Once, when the Apostle had taken his place to lead the prayer, a desert Arab stepped forward and holding his cloak said, "I stand in need but I fear lest I should forget it." The Prophet went with him and prayed after he had satisfied him.
Speaking of the indulgent and long-suffering nature of the Apostle Anas has cited certain instances of the time when he was a young lad. He says, "I served the Prophet of God for ten years but he never blamed me for doing or not doing anything." Su'ad b. 'Umar called upon the Prophet when, as he says, his own cloak bore some marks of a scent mixed with saffron. The Prophet exclaimed, "Saffron ! Saffron ! lay off! lay off! and hit me with a stick on my stomach which caused me a little pain. Su'ad said, "O Apostle of God, now I have a right to make requital. " The Prophet at once bared his belly and said, "Have your revenge."