35.4 Kindness to Enemies
To be kind to the weak is a characteristic found in most human beings, it is in harmony with human nature, but to be kind to one's enemies is a trait few men possess. The Messenger possessed this characteristic to a surprising degree. He was deeply concerned when people denied his message, not because it had any reflection on him, but because they were injuring themselves and jeopardizing their immortal souls by rejecting the word of Allah. A great many people denied, and in consequence he was often sad and thoughtful, mourning for their future. The Koran gently admonished him more than once for his compassion and over concern for the erring. The Holy verses say:
Perchance you will destroy yourself of grief lest they do not believe.
Should We wish it, We could send down a token from heaven
that would keep their necks bent in submission. (42:2-3)
It is Allah alone who can grant the gift of faith; nevertheless the Messenger felt very sorry for those who were deprived of this gift. They called him a liar, a sorcerer, a madman, while he mourned out of pity for them.
When the Muslims were given permission to fight those who had persecuted them for their religion, and the Messenger saw his men hard-pressed, one to three or four, and being killed by the polytheists at the battle of Uhud, people urged him to curse the enemy, but he answered,
"I was not sent to curse."
Instead he said (with his face wounded and his men dying on the battlefield),
"My Lord, forgive my people for they do not know."
When Thumama ibn Athal of Yamama entered into Islam, he swore that he would not send one grain of wheat to Mecca unless the Messenger ordered it. The Meccans lived by trade; their land could produce no wheat. The wheat of Yamama was a vital article of food for them, so they wrote to the Messenger to bid Thumama sell wheat to them.
It was these same Meccans who had plotted for years against the Messenger and compelled him and his followers to leave Mecca; it was these same Meccans who had made an economic and social boycott against him and his tribe for three years, so that he had to live in the mountains in semi-starvation, putting stones in his waistband to quell the pains of hunger. At last, after Islam spread and the Muslims had power in Medina, Mohamed was in a position to return to the Meccans some of their own treatment, but what did he do? He wrote to Thumama asking him to sell his wheat to them.
When the tribe of Banu Kilab, Christian Bedouins who lived on the borders of Medina, were making preparations to raid the city, the Messenger sent people to them to call them to Islam and teach them that raids were against Divine decree. These emissaries were warriors as well as teachers for the tribes respected the word of no man who could not carry a sword as well as a book.
Before they left the Messenger gave them the instructions he gave all such armed forces. He charged them to beware of using treachery or betrayal, adding to be careful not to kill women, children, old men, the sick, lame or blind, not to pull down houses, or burn palms or fruit-bearing trees, and not to injure the people's means of subsistence in any way. Thus mercy rules, even in war.
One aspect of mercy is tolerance. Mohamed was most tolerant to all people and made every effort to instill this quality in his followers. He charged them to be particularly good to the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) and never to try and lure a man away from his religion.