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FaithPractice

What Does the Qur’an Say About Kindness?

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Start your week with some beautiful verses of the Holy Qu’ran on kindness.

Kindness is a universal principle that is understood by all humans and hardly needs to be taught at its most basic and elementary level. In fact, even animals have known to show kindness.

We feel good being kind and we like it when others are kind to us. At the same time, when we see unkind behaviour, we despise it. This is because kindness is part of our fitrah (the natural disposition planted in humans by God).

The Holy Qu’ran has set out some principles and specificities of kindness. Here are 5.

Kindness is an Attribute of God

In some parts of the Holy Qu’ran, Allah (SWT) describes himself as ‘raouf’ (رؤوف). A few English translators of the Qu’ran take this to mean ‘kind’ but – full disclosure – other translators have preferred alternative words such as ‘gracious’. Let’s go with kind, for now. Here is one such verse:

 

And [there is a share for] those who come after them, saying, “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts [any] resentment toward those who have believed. Our Lord, indeed You are Kind and Merciful.”
59:10

This verse is a dua (supplication) that we should regularly recite ourselves. It’s asking God to relieve any resentment toward other Muslims. One of the natural effects of not having resentment toward someone is we’d be kind to them. In effect, it’s a dua to ask God to make us kinder individuals. The fact that the dua ends in “You are Kind” means we’re calling on the attribute of kindness within God for Him to infuse our heart with a portion of it without, obviously, taking any of it away from God.

Kindness is Better Than Charity

In certain scenarios God prefers us to display kindness rather than give in charity:

Kind speech and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Free of need and Forbearing.”

2:263

It’s better for us to show kindness than to give charity followed by ‘injury’. The injury could mean we brag about our charity or keep reminding and rubbing it in the faces of those to whom we were charitable. Being on the other end of that isn’t a nice feeling at all so God is essentially saying that in those scenarios we’re better off not giving anything and simply showing kindness.

Good acts such as prayer, fasting and charity can be spoiled with bad intentions. Kindness is one act that is intrinsically good by its very essence. We can’t be kind with bad intentions behind our kindness, it’s a contradiction and doesn’t make sense!

An Emphasis on Kindness Toward Orphans

In Surah Nisa, Allah (SWT) is explaining the rulings of inheritance. Verse 7 talks about who gets a share of the inheritance when parents or close relatives die. This inheritance is wajib (obligatory to give). Verse 8 then says:

And when [other] relatives and orphans and the needy are present at the [time of] division, then provide for them [something] out of it [i.e., the estate] and speak to them words of appropriate kindness.”

Here, it is talking about people to whom it is not wajib to give an inheritance to but if they are there at the time of the division of the estate, it’s recommended you give them something. One of these groups is the orphans.

There are so many verses talking about being kind to orphans even if ‘kind’ isn’t used specifically. For example, 93:9 prohibits oppressing an orphan. They’re one of the most vulnerable members of society and need to be given extra care and compassion.

Giving Dawah With Kindness

Dawah i.e. inviting non-Muslims to join Islam needs to be done with considerable care, caution and kindness. The Prophet (PBUH) was instructed by God to first give dawah to his close relatives and to show kindness to whoever accepted the dawah. Surah Ash-Shu’ara, verse 215 says:

And lower your wing [i.e., show kindness] to those who follow you of the believers.”

This is perhaps a lesson in showing kindness to the reverts of our community. Often, we welcome new Muslims with open arms but tend to forget about them after the ‘novelty’ wears off. Some of us won’t hang around with new Muslims because their family are non-Muslim nor help them integrate into the community through marriage to a ‘native’ Muslim, for example.

Once the new believers joined the Prophet, he was instructed to go easy on them and didn’t burden them to the extent they leave Islam. God was also wise in slowly introducing laws of alcohol, praying, fasting etc. so as to not overload people who, until now, were living a very different lifestyle.

Being Kind to Our Parents

We are obligated to be kind to our parents, even if they are not kind to us. Furthermore, we have to obey them in all matters unless they tell us to commit a sin Verse 14-15 of Surah Luqman touches on this:

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. But if they pressure you to associate with Me what you have no knowledge of, do not obey them. Still keep their company in this world courteously, and follow the way of those who turn to Me ˹in devotion˺. Then to Me you will ˹all˺ return, and then I will inform you of what you used to do.”

An important thing to note here that can sometimes be missed is we can’t disassociate from our parents if they tell us to commit a sin. We are to, of course, disobey that order yet “still keep their company in this world courteously.” This means we keep as best a relationship as we can with them.

 

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