The Deen of Islam is a Deen of compassion and kindness. Be it kindness and compassion to other Muslims, or showing kindness to non-Muslims, or even to the animals and other creatures – Islam is second to none in advocating that we show others kindness and treat them with compassion.
Such was the proverbial kindness and compassion of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) that even before he was bestowed with nubuwwah by Allah Ta‘ala, he was renowned for the acts of kindness which he would carry out for others. The depth of the compassion in his blessed heart could be gauged by the fact that he would even work and earn for those who were unable to earn a living for themselves and support them in this manner! (Saheeh Bukhaari #3)
Similarly, the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) would also show this type of sympathy and compassion to those in need. In fact, the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) had such hearts of gold that they preferred personally tolerating the sharp pangs of starvation rather than see the next person going hungry.
Hence, Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports that on one occasion the head of a goat (regarded as a delicacy among the Arabs) was gifted to a certain Sahaabi. However, the spirit of compassion burning in his heart did not allow him to enjoy it while others were undergoing difficulty. Thus, he said, “My (Muslim) brother, so-and-so, and his family, are more in need of this than we are.” Saying this, he sent the goat’s head to the home of his Muslim brother.
When the goat’s head came to the second home, the Sahaabi who received it felt the same sentiments of compassion for his Muslim brother and thus sent the head to the third home, giving preference to others over himself. In this manner, each Sahaabi refrained from eating and enjoying the goat’s head, rather choosing to pass it on to another home in need. The goat’s head passed through seven homes, eventually returning to the home where it had started! (Mustadrak Haakim #3799)
This was the very high level of compassion, kindness and generosity which the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) possessed in their hearts. Their generosity was of such a level that they could sacrifice their own wealth – of which they themselves were in need – for the sake of others. In comparison to this is our weak condition, where we have become so attached to wealth that we are reluctant to even spend on our own family and relatives. (May Allah Ta‘ala forgive us and guide us!)
The Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) understood that, in this world, nothing really belongs to us. In reality, everything belongs to Allah Ta‘ala. Allah Ta‘ala has given man some ownership over the wealth so that he may use it correctly, thus investing it in the Hereafter. Hence, the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) did not hesitate to spend on their family members in need and did not regard it as an expense or a burden.
Unfortunately, with the passing of time, the Ummah became more and more attached to wealth and the dunya, and less inclined to spending on others. Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) noticed the commencement of this decline of Deeni values in his era and remarked, “There was a time when none of us felt more deserving of dinaars (gold coins) and dirhams (silver coins) than his Muslim brother. (However,) the time has now come when dinaars and dirhams are more beloved to us (i.e. people in general) than our Muslim brother.” (Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaaid #17996)
Undoubtedly, there are still many individuals who possess true generosity – and may Allah Ta‘ala reward them accordingly – but many of us have lost the spirit of Islam and many of its core values. Instead of being selfless, we are selfish, and hence we always first think to ourselves, “What’s in it for me?”
There was a time when a crisis in the Ummah would have prompted people to selflessly spend on the suffering Muslims, earnestly hoping to acquire from Allah Ta‘ala. Now a time has come where some people will not spend their money on a charitable cause unless they receive a cake, donut, biscuit or dinner in return. When this is the motive, then what reward do we hope to receive from Allah Ta‘ala on the Day of Qiyaamah?
May Allah Ta‘ala open our eyes and hearts and bless us with the quality of true compassion, aameen.