Islam is a religion of peace. There are many actions that Allah recommends in the Quran to attain this tranquility. A group of these actions has the overarching theme of kindness.
The definition of kindness according to the Oxford dictionary is as follows:
“the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”
Specifically in the Quran, it teaches us what’s considered kind and what it takes to be a kind person. Along with the Quran, the sayings and lifestyle of Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) are also a great way to learn about kindness. This piece will discuss a few verses in the Quran that touch upon the aspect of kindness.
Kindness in Believers
These verses come from Surah Al-Maun, which in some translations translates to ‘The Small Kindness’. To fully understand the verse about kindness, the previous verses must be looked at. Let’s look at it in two parts:
“[Prophet], have you considered the person who denies the Judgement? It is he who pushes aside the orphan and does not urge others to feed the needy.“(Quran 107:1-3)
In the first half, Allah talks to Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and mentions a person that does not believe in the Day of Judgement, a day in which mankind and jinn will be judged based on their deeds while they were alive. Allah says the people that deny this are the same group who ignore orphans and scorn the needy. Most people would consider helping orphans and the poor as acts of kindness. Allah implies that one who is aware of the Day of Judgement will try to do these benevolent acts to increase their good deeds. The second half adds on to this and is as follows:
“So woe to those who pray but are heedless of their prayer; those who only show off, And (refuse and) prevent (small) kindnesses.”(Quran 107:4-6)
Allah lists out three actions which he condemns. In this half, he mentions a believer, one who is not mindful during prayer, one who does a good deed to only show off, and one who doesn’t do and prevents small acts of kindness. The last verse is key to understanding that kindness is an act of worship and a characteristic that all mindful believers should have. Allah again implies that one who is mindful of prayer, has pure intentions, and does kind deeds is the successful one.
Kindness while calling others to Islam
This verse comes from Surah An-Nahl, and the lesson has to do with the way one calls others to Islam.
“Invite [all] to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner. Surely your Lord [alone] knows best who has strayed from His Way and who is [rightly] guided.“(Quran 16:125)
Here Allah says to use wisdom and kind advice to help others learn about Islam. Wisdom, of course, is important, because if one misinforms then it could be detrimental to the caller and the one who is being called. Wisdom alone is not enough though, as one needs to be kind and inform in a manner in which the person being called is not being put down. Having kind manners alone when debating or just conversing about Islam convinces the listener that Islam is a religion that teaches peace and kindness. Allah says that he alone knows who is guided and who has strayed, to further enforce this. He is telling the readers to not start the call to Islam with words that condemn people for the sins they commit. Be kind at all times, especially when calling others to Islam, as believers represent Allah’s religion.
Here is a verse from the Quran, in which Allah talks to Moses. Although it does not directly speak of kindness, it has to do with calling others in a manner to soften their hearts.
“Speak to Pharaoh mildly that perhaps he may be reminded or fear Allah.”(Quran 20:44)
Pharaoh, who is said to be one of the worst rulers in history, still deserved to be spoken in a kind manner when it pertains to calling him to Islam.
Kindness to the Community
This verse comes from Surah An-Nisa, and it details specifically people one should be kind to.
“Worship Allah [alone] and associate none with Him. And be kind to parents, relatives, orphans, the poor, near and distant neighbors, close friends, [needy] travelers, and those [bondspeople] in your possession. Surely Allah does not like whoever is arrogant, boastful—“(Quran 4:36)
Here Allah first says to worship Him alone, and then be kind to a long list of people. Again this is showing that being kind is an act of worship. The first groups on this list are parents and relatives. Throughout the Quran, and in the teachings of Prophet Muhammed(pbuh), kindness and dutifulness to one’s parents is an action that pleases Allah greatly. Here is a famous Hadith about the importance of parents and relatives:
Narrated Mu’awiyah ibn Hayadah: I said: “Apostle of Allah! To whom should I show kindness?” He replied: “Your mother, next your mother, next your mother, and then comes your father, and then your relatives in order of relationship.“(Sunan Abu-Dawud 5121)
Parents do many things out of love for their children, and sometimes there can be misunderstandings. Working to please your parents even when you are upset pleases Allah. It is said that after pleasing Allah, one should strive to please their parents, especially the mother, as stated in this hadith.
Orphans and the needy are the next groups. Just like in Surah Al-Maun, other surahs express the importance of being kind to this group. Surah Ad-Duha and Surah Fajr are such examples. This group has lost a lot and does not have much. If one is kind to them and helps them it goes a long way in this world and for the Hereafter.
In this Hadith, it speaks about how to get close to the Messenger (pbuh):
Sahl bin Sa’d narrated that: the Messenger of Allah said: “I and the sponsor of an orphan shall be in Paradise like these two.”And he indicated with his fingers, meaning his index and his middle finger.(Jami’ at-Tirmidhi 1918)
Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), for most of his life, was also an orphan, so he understood the struggle that they went through. Orphans do not have parents to take care of them or to hold them when they are sad. Many poor people do not have basic necessities that many humans take for granted. Not only this, but they are also looked down upon by many because of their wealth. Even if one does not give this group anything, just being kind to them goes a long way.
Close friends are also a group Allah mentions. This group one can relax with and can ask for help when needed. One should always be kind to such people as humans are social creatures and having good companions can help increase worship.
The last two groups are needy travelers and slaves. One can treat travelers as people that are not familiar with the local area. At the time the Quran was revealed, travelers stayed at other people’s houses as they moved to different places. Being kind to foreigners that may not understand the language and giving them a place to stay is a great act of kindness and that person will remember that action. Allah also says to be kind to the slaves that one owns. It does not pertain to this time period, but it was specifically mentioned at that time because it was not unusual for slavers to treat their slaves as subpar. The fact that Allah mentioned treating slaves with kindness really proves that kindness is an integral part of Islam, and that no human being can look down on another for any reason.
Kindness even at Times of Distress
This verse comes from Surah Al-Baqarah, and details the importance of acting in a kind manner, even if in times of distress.
“And if you divorce them before consummating the marriage but after deciding on a dowry, pay half of the dowry, unless the wife graciously waives it or the husband graciously pays in full. Graciousness is closer to righteousness. And do not forget kindness among yourselves. Surely Allah is All-Seeing of what you do.”(Quran 2:237)
The verse specifically talks about the aftermath of a divorce, and how one should proceed if it was not consummated. Usually, when a divorce happens, something went wrong with the marriage, unfortunately. Even then Allah says to act graciously and kind to each other during this time, instead of with spite. This lesson can be used in all aspects of life. If something unfavorable occurs due to someone else’s actions, try to stay calm and find the resolution in a kind manner. Allah says this is more righteous than trying to hurt someone.
There is another verse from Surah Al-Baqarah that pertains to kindness:
“Kind words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Self-Sufficient, Most Forbearing.”(Quran 2:263)
Here Allah says that kind manners and forgiveness are much better than giving lots in charity but treating people in a terrible manner, after the fact. Sometimes people justify their terrible treatment of others by boasting about the charity they give. The kind treatment of a person is better for you than any charity you can give, if your behaviour is still going to be terrible.
The Kindness of Allah and his Messenger
Allah – who has names such as the All-Mighty, All-Aware, The King – also has names such as The Merciful, The Forgiver, The Nourisher.
Verily, Allah is kind and merciful to the people.(Quran 2:143)
Humans cannot compare to Allah, yet they can show a little bit of the attributes of kindness. Such as forgiving others, helping, and being kind. An ant walks onto your arm, what should a person do? A human is much more powerful and whatever pain the ant could cause does not compare to the instant death/damage a human can do. Likewise, Allah can easily destroy humans for their misdeeds. We are even smaller than ants compared to Allah, yet He still shows mercy.
As humans cannot compare to the magnitude of Allah, there is a verse concerning the kindness of his Messenger Muhammed (pbuh):
“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer, for he is concerned over you, and to the believers, he is kind and merciful.”(Quran 9:128)
This verse reveals how the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) cared for other people. He would be saddened when others suffered. Here Allah also says he is kind and merciful, which implies that humans can implement some of Allah’s names into their actions.
Kindness, as shown in the Quran, is an attribute that Allah encourages believers to obtain and implement into their daily lives. It is an act of worship, as Allah states that people who don’t believe or are not mindful of him are often the ones that prevent kindness. It is the best manner of calling others to Islam and solving problems graciously. It is one of the Names of Allah and many of his other names contain its attribute. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was so kind that other people’s suffering made him suffer. The Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) tell humans to be kind.
Keep reading the Quran to find more verses and read about the life of the messenger, surely you will find out more about kindness!
What do you think? Share your reflections below!
Want to be able to read and understand the Quran without translations?
- The Noble Quran. Available at: https://quran.com/
- The Hadith of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh): https://sunnah.com/
- The 99 names of Allah: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:The_99_names_of_Allah
- The Hadith of the Prophet Muhammed(pbuh): https://www.searchtruth.com/book_display.php?book=1&translator=3
- Oxford Dictionary: https://www.oed.com/