In previous chapters, I quoted revealed texts to illustrate the importance of being gentle; here we expand on the same theme by mentioning some examples. Imagine yourself driving a car on an extremely narrow road that is enclosed on either side by a wall. There is no way for a car to pass except with a great deal of care, gentleness, and caution. However, if a driver attempted to go through this street at a high speed, he would constantly crash into the wall on the right, and then into the one on the left, eventually causing his car to break down. In both of these instances--- that of driving carefully and that of driving recklessly at a high speed --- the street is the same and the car is the same, but the way of driving is different.
A small plant that we nurture can be watered in different ways. If you pour water on it slowly, it will absorb the water and find nourishment in it. But if you pour the water from the jug all at once, you will only succeed in uprooting it. The quantity of water used is the same; the difference lies in the method.
Someone who is gentle in handling his clothes, in putting them on and taking them off can be confident that they will last for a long while. The one who treats his clothes in an opposite manner always complains of rips and tears. We need to establish a degree of gentleness into our lives -- gentleness with ourselves:
"Verily, your soul has a right upon you."
And gentleness with our brothers and wives:
"Verily, Allah is gentle (and kind) and He loves gentleness. "
The Turks built many wooden bridges over rivers. At both ends they would inscribe these words: "Gentleness, Gentleness." The one who passes calmly won't fall, unlike the one who speeds across.
Written upon an entrance to some gardens of roses and flowers is, "Be Gentle." The one who runs through the garden carelessly will not succeed in seeing many of the flowers, but to the contrary will probably wreak havoc to them.
There is a saying that goes:
"The sparrow is not gentle like the bee."
In a hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
"The Believer is like the bee, which eats what is pure, produces what is pure, and destroys not the tiny branch when it lands on it."
A flower does not feel the bee as it calmly sucks its nectar, thus achieving its goal with gentleness. On the contrary, when the sparrow lands on something, it announces its presence to people.
One of our pious predecessors said:
"A proof of one's understanding of the religion is if he is gentle in entering, exiting, wearing garments, taking off shoes, and riding a mount."
You will usually cause harm when you are hurried and rough, because goodness finds its roots in gentleness. The Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
"Whenever gentleness is present in something, that thing is beautified; when gentleness is removed from something, that thing becomes spoiled."
The hearts of people are attached to the one who possesses a gentle nature:
(And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you) (Qur'an 3: 159)