Kindness is an act or the state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behaviour, pleasant disposition and concern for others. It is known as a virtue and recognised as a value in many cultures and religions. Research has shown that acts of kindness does not only benefit receivers of the kind act, but also the giver, as a result of the release of neurotransmitters responsible for feeling of contentment and relaxation when such acts are committed- (Wikipedia).
In Islam, there are many Surahs of Allah’s kindness to mankind. The Prophet (SAW) also enjoined all Muslims to be kind towards all of Allah’s creation. These are contained in Hadiths and they touch every aspect of human activity.
It is also of immense value to note that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a pure manifestation of kindness and compassion. He was the perfect example of kindness and compassion. He showed kindness to all he came across, Muslims and non-Muslims, and treated everyone with the same degree of kindness. His acts of kindness not only encompassed human beings but he was also kind and compassionate to animals as well. He was compassionate to children and considered them a gift from Allah (SWT). He would offer the first date of the season to the youngest child and would say this would bring barakat to the dates.
As Muslims, we are enjoined to always follow the teachings and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We are also enjoined to extend kindness towards ourselves and the creatures of Allah (SWT). This is the greatest goal of Islam. It is this goal that determines the position of one before Allah (SWT) in this world and the hereafter. It is also what determines the position of man among his fellow human beings.
Kindness to oneself and other creatures
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “Allah (SWT) has ordained kindness on everything. When you kill (an animal), kill (it) kindly and when you slaughter (an animal), slaughter (it) kindly. Let anyone of you sharpen his knife and let him give rest to his slaughtered animal.”
The Prophet’s statement has two significant meanings. On the first part, it gives us the clear understanding that on everything created by Allah (SWT), kindness has been ordained. This shows that kindness has been ordained on mankind and therefore, each individual is to be kind to oneself and all mankind. The first step of being kind to oneself is to accept and acknowledge that there is no god except Allah (SWT) and to ascribe no partner to Him (this is the greatest kindness to oneself). Then, we must strive to obey His commands and distance ourselves from sin and things that are forbidden for He says, in Qur’an 6:120, “Leave (O mankind, all kinds of) sin, open and secret. Verily, those who commit sin will get due recompense for that which they used to commit.” Also, to be kind to ourselves, we must strive to perform our obligatory acts in the perfect form.
On the second part, the statement clearly tells us how to act with regards to the creatures of Allah (SWT). The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) instructs that kindness be shown to animals when we kill or slaughter them. They are not to be treated unjustly or harshly.
Kindness to spouses
We are also enjoined to be kind to our spouses. Allah (SWT) has tasked us to be kind to them. He says, in Qur’an 30:21, “And among His signs is this, that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect. Also, in Qur’an 4:19, He says, “O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.”
A Hadith also goes to say, “The most perfect of the believers is the best of you in character, and the best of you are those among you who are best to their wives.” (Tirmidhi)
Kindness to parents, relatives, neighbours, orphans and the less privileged.
Allah (SWT) ordains that kindness be shown to our parents, relatives, neighbours, the poor, orphans, the weak and the distressed. Being kind to them entails being generous to them and refrain from harming them in any way through our actions or words. The most comprehensive verse on kindness in the Qur’an is An- Nisa 36. Allah (SWT) says, “Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship and do good to parents, kinfolk (relatives), orphans, Al- Masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) who your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful.”
Also, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was strictly against vows of silence among relatives and said, “He who remains sour of his relative for a period longer than three nights and three days will not enter heaven.”
FORMS OF KINDNESS
Kindness is so broad it exists in many forms. These forms usually take very little of our time and effort to accomplish.
People often mistake or take kindness to mean giving out charity. Yes, charity is a form of kindness but it does not encompass kindness as a whole. There are other forms of kindness. These other forms and great acts of kindness to people include amongst many:
1. Treating people according to the teachings of Islam.
2. Being faithful and honest in our relationships and association with others.
3. Respecting and being patient with others.
4. Giving a helping hand to the weak and old.
5. Saying kind words to people and treating them in ways which we would also like to be treated.
6. A smile is also kindness. It is generally believed by many that a smile is the universal language of kindness. Its takes practically the tiniest effort to give yet it creates a tremendous effect on those it is given to.
7. Spreading the message of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is also an act of kindness.
VIRTUES AND BENEFITS OF KINDNESS
The virtues and benefits of kindness are too numerous to mention but it can be said that one of the main and best benefit of being kind is the feeling of contentment one experience when an act of kindness is carried out. The sense of fulfilment, accomplishment, joy, happiness and relaxation that comes with carrying out a kind act is overwhelming.
Other great virtues of kindness are illustrated in the Hadith. Some of the Hadiths are:
“Allah is not kind to him who is not kind to people” (Muslim and Bukhari)
“Those who are kind and considerate to Allah’s creatures, Allah bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that Allah may be kind to you.” (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)
Narrated Aisha (R.A): “Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “O Aisha! Allah loves that; one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” (Sahih Bukhari)
“Allah is kind and likes kindness in all things” (Bukhari 6601)
“He who does not thank people does not thank Allah.” (Tirmidhi)
The virtue of kindness is also shown in the Holy Qur’an, 42:43, which says, “And verily, whoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.”
Also, in Qur’an 31:17-19, Allah (SWT) says, “O my son! AqimisSalat (perform Salat), enjoin (people) for AlMaroof (Islamic monotheism and all that is good), and forbid (people) from AlMunkar (i.e. disbelief in the Oneness of Allah, polytheism of all kinds and all that is evil and bad), and bear with patience whatever befall you. Verily! These are some of the important commandments ordered by Allah with no exemption. And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not each arrogant boaster. And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying) of the ass.”
The benefit of kindness is also shown in Qur’an 2:195 which says, “And do good. Truly, Allah loves the good-doers.” Qur’an 5:8 also says, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety.”
With all these virtues and benefits of kindness, wouldn’t it be better for us if we go out of our way to perform an act of kindness for the sake of Allah (SWT)?
May Allah continue to protect us and make us amongst those that are kind. May He make us amongst those that will benefit from His kindness, compassion and mercy. Ameen.