by Safiya Arif
Every time there’s a holiday about appreciating others (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc.) my parents always say something like “Every day is Mother’s Day.” While they appreciate the extra love that day, they remind us that we’re supposed to constantly show love and respect to everyone around us, including but definitely not limited to our parents, siblings, and friends. They remind us that our kindness shouldn’t be a one-day production, but rather a part of everyday life. And they’re right!
Our character and the way we treat others are major aspects of the teachings of the Prophet (S). He (S) was kind to everyone he met, even to his enemies. He made people feel respected and special to the point where each one of his companions thought they were his favorite. In any and every situation RasulAllah (S) was the epitome of perfect character and as Muslims, we should strive to embody that.
Over winter break my siblings and I went to Toronto to attend the Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention. One lecture given by Shaykha Muslema Purmul particularly stood out to me and it relates really well to this topic. She spoke about improving our relationships with our families and friends, and she gave us 4 guidelines to focus on.
- Rahma – Mercy
Be merciful with the people around you. Give them more than what they ask for out of love for them. Go out of your way to make others happy.
This is applicable every day, when you get home from school and your parents excitedly ask you, “What did you do today?” Instead of replying with the usual “nothing,” (It’s okay, that’s what I used to say too…) respond with a proper answer. You might be exhausted and not in the mood to talk, but that’s what’s meant by being merciful with those around you. Have a conversation about your day, because even if it doesn’t mean much to you, it’ll mean the world to them. And by making your parents happy, you are making Allah swt happy inshallah. Your parents have shown you this kind of love since the moment you were born. They don’t have to drive you to your friend’s house or buy you all the things you want, but they’re good parents so they do it to make you happy. And since they love you so much, your happiness brings them joy. As children we should also try to make our parents happy, and we should find joy in their happiness.
Rahma is also important with your siblings. When your brother or sister comes into your room and starts bothering you, usually it’s because they want your attention. Instead of telling them to go away, reply by giving them what they want. Next time your brother wants to play basketball and you would rather read a book, consider playing with him to spend time with him. Next time your sister wants to go shopping and you would rather go biking, consider giving her this one and making her happy.
Our religion is so beautiful that even smiling is an act of charity and worship. Imagine the reward you will get for going beyond that when you act selflessly with those around you.
- Karam – Generosity
Be generous with your love and kindness for others by always highlighting the good characteristics of people. Be thankful for the beautiful traits you find in people and love them despite their flaws. Affection comes from gratitude, and generosity comes from affection. So ultimately, you will be a more giving person if you are thankful.
For example, let’s say you and your friend had an argument about something. Suddenly all of that friend’s bad characteristics come to mind and you’re so irritated that you wonder why you’re friends with that person in the first place. At this point you can only see their flaws. This happens in every relationship. At some point someone will say or do something that bothers you. It’s important, however, to be generous with them and give them the benefit of the doubt. Think about what may have caused them to say what they’ve said and do what they’ve done. Try to come up with excuses for them before you think anything bad about them. And remember all the good of their personality, how much fun you always have with each other, and what a great friend they’ve been to you since you met them. Suddenly that friend doesn’t seem so bad and you’re not as angry anymore.
Generosity can be applied with strangers as well. Sometimes when I’m driving I’ll notice a car cutting everyone off and dangerously speeding through traffic. Part of me gets really annoyed and I’m hoping a police officer will stop them. But another part of me likes to pretend that the driver is rushing to the hospital because his wife is about to have a baby. Suddenly I’m making dua that he gets there safely and that the baby is born healthy. The same type of generosity goes for when someone bumps in to you at school. You can become angry and wonder what you did to deserve it, or you can give them the benefit of the doubt and think it was probably just an accident.
“If you’re good to those who are good to you, then what good are you?” – Shaykh Muhammad Al-Ninowy
When you give others the benefit of the doubt and focus on the good, you’ll find that your relationship with them will only improve.
- Sakina – Tranquility
Tranquility is extremely important when dealing with others. You shouldn’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells around people and you shouldn’t make people feel like they’re walking on eggshells around you. You should feel safe to be yourself and have differences of opinions. One disagreement shouldn’t ruin everything. Respect and forgiveness play a huge role here.
When you and your friend don’t disagree on something, you should respect their opinion and know that they’re allowed to have one that’s different from yours. It’s okay to have a discussion about it but try to be kind and courteous about it. Try not to alienate them for having a mind of their own.
Allah swt created us all to have our own personalities. We should appreciate each other for the unique traits we have and try to learn from each other. And we shouldn’t feel weird for being different ourselves. Instead, know that you have something that nobody else has to contribute to the world and be proud of it. Know that weird is actually awesome.
- Mawaddah – Compassion
Take a moment to think about the people closest to you. They’re the people who are happy when you’re happy. They’re the people who support you when you’re down. They’re the people that value mawaddah.
RasulAllah (S) said, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Nowadays people’s first instinct is to put each other down. When you see someone succeeding, be happy for them and be inspired by them. The same goes for when people are struggling. Be empathetic and if you can, help them.
Decide what kind of person you want to be, set out on working on improving your good characteristics and diminishing your flaws. Be the best you can be and touch the lives of the people in your life.
The Prophet (S) said, “There are seven whom Allah will shade on His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade.” Of those seven categories, one is “two men who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting upon that” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]. Inshallah we can all make the intention to treat our families, friends, and anyone else we come across with kindness and respect, for no other reason but to please Allah swt. May Allah swt make us people of this category and grant us His Shade on the Day of Judgment. Ameen.
Have you used any of these guidelines with your family or friends? Have they shown rahma, karam, sakina, or mawaddah toward you? Do you have any other strategies that can help us become people of this category? Share your experiences in the comments below!