The Concept of Kindness in Islam

Haydar BEKİROĞLU

Head of Department of DIB

What makes existence meaningful is a system of values and beliefs that are linked to well-being and goodness, that adorns ones personal identity, purifies the soul and beautifies their behaviour, creates the most outstanding attributes and qualities of human dignity, integrity and decency that allows people in society to build a virtuous and prosperous life. In this sense, generosity, morality and faith encompassing of the layers of the people and communities that shape behaviour and attitude is the essence of life.

Giving precedence to kindness, selflessness, altruism and righteousness is directly associated with human nature or related to our personal temperament, for example phrases such as “no” (“Hayir”), “benevolence (ihsan)” and “hospitality” (“ikram”) are expressed and found in our language. The characteristics or qualities which embodies this human condition include; knowledge/wisdom from the Holy Quran, beliefs, values, moral and ethical nature, spiritual well-being, righteousness, God consciousness, faithfulness and giving or aiding those in need from the provisions and sustenance bestowed by God.

One of the first things that comes to mind when we think about the virtue of kindness is “charity”, it is the deep understanding of immense imprisonment of physical space and material confinement and is the practice of being benevolent, giving and sharing. The most prevalent uses of the notion of “charity” can be found in the Holy Quran and the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Charity comes from truthfulness and is the root of righteousness. It demonstrates our honesty, sincerity and loyalty towards the Creator as a means of reflection and contemplation. Hence, kindness on the one hand is a sign of devotion and adherence to God on the other hand it is necessary for unity and peace in a nation.

Islam’s understanding of “kindness” is that all forms of human intentions, desires and requests as well as actions is not limited to physical, material strength or financial power. It has much broader meaning. The reason for the existence of religion is inviting humanity to all that is good. The main duty of a Muslims is enjoining righteousness and what is good, and helping other to take the straight path. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said in a hadith that “Every good deed is a charity”. Likewise, the Holy Quran states “Let there be a group among you who will invite others to do good deeds and enjoin what is right”. Therefore, regardless of the shape, size or colour of a Muslim, goodness and kindness should be the chief qualities a Muslim should display to others. Now let’s examine the meaning of kindness from different perspectives concerning the world.

COMPETITION IN DOING GOOD DEEDS

Since the beginning of time and the creation of the heavens and earth, man is described as being on one of two roads: the path of reflection and gratitude or the road of ungratefulness and heedlessness. Almighty Allah says: “Verily, We showed him the way, whether he be grateful or ungrateful”. “And the forerunners, the forerunners – Those are the ones brought near (to Allah)”. Allah (SWT) encourages the believer to practice kindness by declaring “Compete with each other in performing good deeds”, and advises believers to supplicate by saying, “O Allah, Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honour whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is [all] good. Indeed, You are over all things competent.” The path or road to kindness is realising that everything belongs to Allah SWT and that everything that is provided is entrusted to him. A sign of gratitude toward to actual owner of things is and living a peaceful life is being the reason for the smile on poor, orphans, widows or destitute faces. The oppressed cannot ask for help because they are concerned for their safety and do not want to get humilated or despised, the only thing they can do is praise the owner for what they do have.

“All blessings and goodness in this world and the next are clear proofs of His Mercy”, by understanding this will, hope and peace can be attained. The one who strives for goodness knows that actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. As long as your heart beats kindness!, scarcity or abundance, hunger or satiety…in any case, it is the fountain of life. The Prophet Muhammad said: “How nice is he believers job!, All of his work is beneficial and profitable. This situation can not been achieved without believing in anyone else, except Allah. If the believer is thankful, there will be a blessing in it for him. If an adversity or hardship befalls the patient and forbearing, there will also be a blessing in it for him.”

KINDNESS IS BEING TESTED

Allah has commanded people to read, understand and seek knowledge to recognize virtues in people, Allah reminds people of their creation in the first verse of the Quran, and then He emphasizes that He is the absolute owner of sovereignty. The supreme blessing from Allah can be nothing but intellect and the power of thought and reasoning, this allows man to discriminate and differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong which is based on reading and learning the moral code or law of Islam. Everything that human beings required to know about their existence, their creator, the life of this world being a test, and ways to pass the test are explained in Gods revealed books, namely the Holy Quran. In terms of reflection on human and social life, mental and emotional endeavor, every human being will be tested by Allah in various way as to their capabilities, financial situation and physical means which are essential part of Allah’s mercy and benevolence. Islam has prescribed financial obligation for the people and will be tested based on whether they donate and consume it accordingly. Wealth and children are but an adornment of the worldly life. But the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for one’s hope. “Your wealth and your children are a test, and that with Allah is immense reward.”

Test: means to be purified, get rid of dirt and to become clear and transparent. The method of purifying or smelting that is used to separate residues, impurities and sediments from precious metals such as golden or silver is called “fitnah/ test”. The extended meaning is causing one to enter into fire and into a state of punishment, affliction, a probation, distress or hardship whereby some good or evil quality is put to the test. Allah cleanses and purifies His faithful servants with their acts of kindness, by removing dirt and stains that were caused by evil and bad deeds. Allah gives His servants countless opportunities to purify themselves through kindness. Kindness are for those hearts that Allah has made eligible for righteousness. In a similar case in favor of the most important means of giving alms and charity of the goods we can see in the verse about purifying our selves: “Take, [O, Muhammad], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [ Allah ‘s blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them.”

For the one who deifies and divinizes himself, cannot appreciate and recognize the importance of human well-being through kindness, like a “test” will not see its counterpart. The person who considers himself the owner of his own sustenance and provisions is not part of the new era. When we take a close look at the historical and social events mentioned in the Quran, it will be clear that humans saw themselves as a centre of the universe, humans did not care about other people’s deprivations thus human’s own prosperity always came first. The Quran strikingly tells us about the period in which humans failed the kindness test and put their selfishness, temptations, desires and whips before the needs and impoverishment of others and He described the ramifications and consequence of such attitudes and actions. The Quran warns us about the lack of kindness and drowning in self-indulgence: “By the night when it lets fall its darkness, and by the day when it shines in glory, and by Him who has created the male and female, your effort is surely diverse ends. As for him that gives in charity and guards himself and believes in the best, we shall surely ease his way to the best. But as for him who is miserly and thinks himself self-sufficient, and disbelieves in the best, we shall surely ease his way to hardship.”

KINDNESS IS SINCERITY

Being testing with kindness or being trialed by kindness requires and necessitates having control over happiness and pride which can be brought about through kindness. Principles of kindness does not accept states such as hypocrisy, acting superior, despising indigent, taunting, doing kindness to be known and or to be heard. “The upper hand that gives is better than the lower hand that takes” also means whilst helping the helpless one must maintain an attitude of gratitude and humbleness. The person should know his kindness as real benefactors of their lives. He knows that expecting something even a word after kindness is anomalous. The person who is carrying out the act of kindness must get to know the people they are helping on an intimate level, in order to truly find out that they are really in need of your assistance. He must be prepared to give up his valuables and personal possession for executing kindness. “You will not attain righteousness until you spend of what you love”, “they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captive. Saying, ‘we feed you for the sake of Allah alone. No reward do we desire from you, nor thanks” these two verses remind us that kindness must be done intimately, not with a bad grace. Performing kindness modestly, secretly and inconspicuously brings about tranquility and mercy to both parties, the helper and the helped. Kindness for ostentatious reasons causes nothing, fear, poverty, deep regret in the sense of materially and morally. “Those that spend their wealth for the cause of Allah and do not follow their spending (charity) with taunts and insults shall be rewarded by their Lord and no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they grieve. A kind word with forgiveness is better than charity followed by injury. Allah is Self- Sufficient, Clement. O you who believe! Render not vain your almsgiving by taunts and injury, like those who spend their wealth only for ostentation, and believe neither in Allah nor in the hereafter. Such men are like a rock covered with earth: a shower of rain falls upon it and leaves it hard and bare. They will gain nothing from their works.”

KINDNESS IS ABOUT BROTHERHOOD AND SHARING

Augmenting ones properties, exerting effort for gaining more material than what they have, being proud of oneself for their personal possessions, acquiring without sharing makes humans selfish, egocentric and narcissistic. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: ““humility increases the dignity of one endowed with it”. The Holy Quran states that selfishness and stinginess inhibits and impedes having a good relationship in the society. It goes further by providing examples about the emigrants (muhajir) and the helpers (Ansar) and their sharing and giving qualities. “Rather prefer them above themselves, though poverty become their lot. And whoever is saved from his own avarice will surely prosper.” Kindness and sharing build brotherhood and sincerity; selfishness and stinginess feed cruelty, injustice, conflict and war. A person who takes his pride in being the center of the world damages his livelihood, society and he oppresses his own disposition in the darkness of selfishness. Our Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) says “Beware of oppression, for oppression will turn into excessive darkness on the Day of Resurrection; and beware of niggardliness, for niggardliness destroyed your predecessor.” Our Prophet (Peace be upon him) and His friends transformed the period of ignorance (Jahiliyya) from killing each other, ignoring justice, canalizing oppression into kindness, behaving with each other mercifully, preferring to stay or keep alive instead of killing, struggling for justice and truth, prioritizing food for his neighborhood etc. The companions of Prophet Muhammad pioneered in kindness, sharing, and honoring and their lives were enriched with brotherhood, generosity, self sacrifice.

KINDNESS IS LIVING AND REVITILIZATION

Human life which is limited and restricted to a certain time and place which ends when the time has come. Kindness saves humans from feeling the absence of death. Kindness is an enormous opportunity which sustains abundance even after the death of the body. It is possible to show that foundation culture, one of the building blocks of Islamic Civilization, is one of the best examples for cognizance of permanent kindness and living with kindness after death. Our Prophet Muhammad (saw) says by telling us about this permanence “when a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial; or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).”

The leading Islamic scholars state that every step taken towards goodness and truthfulness will be permanently recorded in ‘Lawh-i-mahfuz and the goodness that is shared with other people will receive reward. “Verily, We shall give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before and that which they leave behind, and of all things have We taken account in a clear Book (of evidence)”.By commenting on the verse of the Quran, scholars express that people who take the road to goodness, their footsteps will be recorded accordingly.

In a remote neighbourhood far from the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina (Mescid-i Nebeci), the Salama sons wanted to move into a house closer to the mosque and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said: “O the sons of Salama, for every step you take to the mosque your footprints will be recorded.” Quran exegete, Ibn Kathir, while explaining this verse, used the narration of the beloved Prophet Muhammad as a supplementary or complementary meaning to the verse: “Whoever revives a Sunnah of mine he will have a reward equivalent to that of the people who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward”.

Those who choose the path of goodness in everything that they do, materialistically and spiritually will not only contribute and revive their own lives they will benefit those around them and their communities. Kindness is a tradition that is inherited from previous generations of mankind for future generations to prosper. The survival of humanity is dependent of human kindness, therefore, mankind “should think about what they will leave behind” after they depart from this world.

The beloved Prophet and his distinguished successors, despite scarcity in resources always preferred to be kind and generous to those they encountered on a journey. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) owned of a portion of land in Medina, a share of Fedek and khayber that was given to him as a bounty were generously donated it to the needy in the form of charity. Similarly, Umar bin Khattab, Uthamn bin Affan ibn Abi Talib (May Allah be pleased with them all) owned land, wells and water supply and donated them and alocated their new respective owners. Other companions such as Jabir bin Abdullah turned their homes and land into foundations (non-for-profit organisations, that provide resources) for people like emigrants (Muhajirun) and Helpers (Ansar), and they did so inconspicuously and surreptitiously.

KINDNESS IS A BLESSING

The path to kindness is wishing peace and blessing upon each other. Believers, who start their day by invoking peace and blessing upon those people they know and those they do not know, these people are on the road to righteousness. Kindness means creating an atmosphere of calmness, prosperity and being of a sympathetic or helpful nature as well as providing financial means and resources by sharing and spending for the sake of goodness.

One of the most essential and indispensable values of human rights and fairness, is putting the personal interests and possessions of others before our own. By sharing and giving away can bring about a life of abundance! if so, then Islamic civilization is also based on being a good person and acting kindly. If it means giving away mathematically from the emergence of something by hand, truth and heart; the family, household and community will always be blessed abundantly. Allah says: “The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah, is as the likeness of a grain; it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grain. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He wills. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creature’s needs, All-Knower.” When talking about opening the doors of abundance, the Prophet Muhammad SAW said: “Whoever gives charity equivalent to a date, from his pure earnings and Allah only accepts pure then Allah will accept it with His right hand, then He will nurture it for its companion, like one of you nurtures his foal, until it becomes like a mountain. Kindness is one of the ways of being deeply thankful, appreciative an grateful toward God. If we appreciate Allah’s favours, He has promised increased Rahma or mercy for us. Allah’s reward for our gratitude is unlimited and unconditional, “if you are grateful, Allah will surely give you more and more”. Allah does not wrong anyone by so much as the smallest speck. And if there is a good deed, Allah will multiply it and pay out an immense reward direct from Him. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us to carry out good deeds, no matter how small they are. The Prophet also said, “Do not disdain any good deed, even your meeting with your brother with a cheerful face.”

PURIFICATION THROUGH KINDNESS

Preoccupation with the world and physical exhaustion of everyday life, mental and emotional strain on our lives, sometimes you need to stop, rest, purify and the body, mind and spirit needs to build itself anew. We lose touch with part of our inner selves in moments and space therefore we need to repair, nourish, strengthen, restore our spirituality. Activities such as ablution, prayer, fasting, worship, smiling, sharing and caring for elderly, disables, widows, engaging and interacting with orphans are ways to filter our souls and soften our hearts.

The Holy Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) emphasis goodness and kindness both explicitly and implicitly.. The righteous servant should be able to exhibit kindness, it is also necessary for them to humble themselves in order to enrich their spiritual life and purify the self. Given the Holy Quran, “To Him ascends good speech, and righteous work raises it”.

Sadness, anguish and suffering continues to envelop the earth every day, especially in alienated and oppressed nations. The key to the livelihood of mankind, is adopting the virtue of handholding, recognizing the value of sustenance thus building and strengthening spirituality.

TURKIYE DIYANET FOUNDATION KINDNESS CULTURE

The institutionalization of Islamic Civilization began in Medina and Mecca, thus the act of kindness has continued on for centuries in the framework of the foundations culture. The Foundation has produced services and activities addressing, appealing and affecting all layers of society.

The Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, with half a century of history in our country and working collaboratively with all seven continents of the world, is inviting people to participate in this charity race, build morality and create an atmosphere of prosperity and plethora conducive to the hopes and dreams of the oppressed and needy people. The Foundation, with the activities put forth and laid down, paying particular attention to the kindness and solidarity of the Islamic tradition, it opens the door of forgiveness and peace. The Turkiye Diyanet Foundation yearns to revise the current issues in the world surrounding the welfare and well-being of humankind and strives to alleviate the problems caused by certain action and to solve present social problems effective and efficiently. After incidents happen and failing to provide and even go beyond the temporary solution of suffering, inflicted nations, it is working towards determining in advance the causes of such occurrences to reduce conflict and discord. In this respect, on the one hand Turkiye Diyanet Foundation volunteer members provide food, health and medication to meet urgent needs and demands as well as heating services and shelter. On the other hand, science, education, culture, arts, religious institutions and associations are founded around the world alongside social responsibility they lead, invest and implement projects which offer to rebuild a future for humanity. The volunteers recognise their work at the Turkiye Diyanet Foundation to be a conscientious, religious and human responsibility. Since the establishment of the Turkiye Diyanet Foundation, through compassion, protection and preservation, handling The Department of Religious Affairs personal, staff and officials and an increasing number of daily volunteers, the journey to kindness, mercy and blessings, assuming the responsibility of the nation and humanity, it aims to set an example of kindness and seta future that will bear the seeds in order for the survival and well-being of civilization.

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