Muslim's Character

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  • Muslim's Character

  • 14

    CHAPTER 14


    Tolerance and Forbearance

    People react differently to the motivations and the occasions that generate feelings of sorrow and pain.

    Some people are provoked by ordinary things, and they become unmindful of every thing and in haste take a very unwise step. But there are also such persons as pass through various hardships and adversities and yet do not forget to behave with seriousness, wisely, with tolerance and good manners.

    It is true that the original nature of a man and his natural temperament playa very big part in a man's being hot-tempered or softhearted, serious or hasty, righteous or wicked. But there is a very deep relation between a man's self-confidence and his solemn behavior with others and in forgiving the errors of others. In reality, the more good mannered and perfect a big man is, in the same proportion his heart will be big and the circle of his tolerance and forbearance will be wide. He will try to find the extenuating circumstances for the errors of others and will accept their apologies when offered. If anybody may attack him with the intention of injuring him, he will look at him as a philosopher looks at the children playing marbles on the roads, and will ignore him.

    We have seen that anger makes a man mad. A man is disgraced in his own sight, when he feels that he has been put to great humiliation, and feels that this blot cannot be removed without shedding blood.

    Can a man who has high moral character take such a step merely because he has to pass through sorrow and pain? Never. Those who indulge in inflicting insults on others are disgraced in their own eyes before insulting others.

    This is what we understand from the tolerance and forbearance shown by Hud. He invited his nation to accept the belief of oneness of Allah. His nation greeted  him with abuses, curses and accusations which he tolerated peacefully. The people of his nation said:

    "Indeed, we see you in foolishness, and surely, we deem you of the liars. He said.. 'O my people!

    There is no foolishness in me, but I am a messenger  from the Lord of the Worlds. I convey to you the message of my Lord and am for you a true adviser'." ,

    (AI-A'raf.. 66-68)

    The abusing and the curses of the Nation of Hud  did not provoke him, because there is a lot of difference  between the two groups. On the one side is a man whom God has selected to be His Messenger. He is a representative of goodness and righteousness. On the other side are persons who are imbedded in ignorance and foolishness, and vying with each other in worshipping stones. On account of their foolishness they think that the stone idols are the masters of their destiny. How can a great teacher be disheartened by the misbehavior of such a flock ?.

    How Allah's Messenger imbibed the qualities of tolerance and forbearance to his companions can be understood from the following tradition, which shows the foolishness of an Arab and the love and serenity of the Prophet.

    It is reported that a Bedouin came to the Prophet and asked for something, and the Prophet gave him something, and asked: "Did I treat you well 1" The Bedouin replied: "No, you have not treated me well." Hearing this, the Muslims got angry and advanced towards him. The Prophet made a sign to stop them. Then he got up and went to his house and gave him some more gift, and again asked: "Did I treat you well ?" He replied: "Yes, may Allah grant prosperity to your family." The Prophet said to him: "Whatever you have said to me, is alright in its place, but my companions are angry in regard to you, if you like you may repeat before them whatever you have said to me so that the anger from their heart may be removed." He said that it was agreeable to him. When the morning came, he came again, and the Prophet pointed towards him and said: "On what this Arab had said, I gave him something more, and now he says that he is happy and pleased. Is that so ?" The Bedouin replied: "Yes, May Allah grant prosperity to your family."

     Then Allah's Messenger said: "My example and that of this man is like that of a man whose she-camel bas been lost and the people ran after her to catch her, but the animal was more startled; so that man told his companions: 'Leave me and my she-camel alone,  I know her ways more and I can bring her to the right  path,' Accordingly he lifted some grass from the ground in his two hands and showed it to the she-camel. it returned and sat near his feet, He tied the 'kajawa' on her back and rode her,"

    "If I were to leave you when he was using foul language, you would have killed him and he would have been sent to hell,"

    The kind Prophet was not provoked in the beginning from the misbehavior of the bedouin, He understood  his nature and temperament, which was like that of the  illiterates who are habituated to wild and foul language, if such people are summarily punished, then they will  be destroyed and it would be unjust.

    But the great reformers do not allow the errors of  people reach such a sad end. They try to remove the. ignorance and emotionalism of the people by their tolerance and forbearance, so persistently that they have to turn to rigorous things, and they become all praise for them.

    The wisest of the wise intellectual and the wealthiest man cannot reach his destination, however charitable and generous he may be. Of what use is that charity which is meant for making people indebted to the giver?

    It is not unlikely that the bedouin whose satisfaction was bought by giving him money might have become a wealthy man himself subsequently and he might have performed a great deed by giving his life willingly. In reality the wealth given by such great reformers is meant for such needy people, or in other words such a wealth is like the grass growing on the ground which is lifted in the hands and shown to the startled she-camel, and by means of it and by a little display of love the astray mounts are called near so that they may be used for traveling great distances.

    The holy Prophet sometimes used to get angry, but he never crossed the limits of decency and the stage of pardon and forgiveness. How bright is this aspect of his character that he never took revenge for his own person, but he never hesitated in taking revenge from the man who violated the sanctity of Allah's laws.

    Once when he was distributing the booty, one rough bedouin insulted him by saying: "Deal with justice," because in the distribution of this booty only Allah's pleasure was sought. The Prophet did not say anything more than this: "Fie on you. If I will not deal justly then who else will? If I did not do like this, then I failed, and I sustained a loss." With these words he gave an answer to his ignorance and also stopped his companions from killing the bedouin, which they otherwise would have done.

    Pardon and Forgiveness

    Once at the time of Asr, (Middle prayer) in his speech to the people he said:

    "Adam's sons have been created of different types. There are some who get angry late and very soon return to normal. Some people become wrathful soon and soon they return to normal, and some people become angry late and are also late in returning to normal, that is the return to normalcy is according to the speed of getting angry. Be careful. Some people get angry soon and they return to normal late. Listen, the best  people among these are those who get angry late and immediately repent, and the worst among these are those who get angry soon, but are very late in coming to normal. Listen, among these there are some who repay the loan in a better way, and also demand in a good way. Some people are lazy in repaying, but good in demanding. Some demand in a bad way and repay in a good way, i.e. they have one good quality and one bad quality. Some people prove to be bad in demanding and in repaying too. Listen carefully, the best among these are those who are good in demanding and also good in repaying, and the worst are those who are bad in both the things.

    "Keep in mind, anger becomes a spark in the heart of Adam's son. Do you not see that at the  time of anger a man's eyes become red, and his , nostrils become enlarged. If anyone sees these signs in a man, he should be glued to the earth."


    That is, he should sit in his place, he should not move so that the mater may not get worsened.

    Because the flames of anger and wrath burn all matters. Intelligence and consciousness disappear from It, and man is imprisoned in the magic of passions. Then these affairs do not improve.

    The above quoted hodith explains the kinds of men and their achievements and value in greatness and morality. Wherever necessary, a faithful bends himself.

    An angry man indulges into various kinds of foolishness. Sometimes he abuses the door if it does not open immediately for him. In his anger he breaks whatever machine or its part may be in his hand, and abuses the animal that is not brought under control.

    A man's sheet was flown away by the wind and he cursed it. Allah's Messenger said:

     "Do not curse it, because it is bound by the commands of God and it is under His control. He who curses a thing which did not deserve it then the curse returns on him."


    There are many evils of anger, and their results are more devastating. It is therefore said that to keep the self in control at the time of anger is the proof of the praise-worthy power of control and the noble strength of toleration.

    Ibn Masood has narrated that Allah's Messenger had asked:

    "Whom do you call a sandow " People replied: "One who is not knocked down by anybody is called a sandow among us." He said: "No, sandow is one who controls his self in his anger."


    One man requested the Prophet:

    "Give me some but not such a lengthy one that I may forget."

    The Prophet said: "Do not be angry."


    What reply could be better and shorter than this one?

    Allah's Messenger always gave Importance to the temperament and the environment of the individuals and groups in giving them instructions and training. He  used to lengthen or shorten his speech according to the demands of the occasion.

    The efforts which were made to remove the jahiliya had two foundations:

    One was ignorance against learning and the second against tolerance. The first ignorance he removed with the help of knowledge, understanding, sermons and advice, while the second was removed with the help of suppressing the rebellious desires and preventing mischief, etc. The Arabs of the pre-Islamic days were proud of their ignorance and wickedness. As an Arab Poet of the time says:

    "Beware! None should show any ignorance and wickedness before us, else we would prove to be more ignorant and wicked than all"

    When Islam came, it removed this intensity of feeling and emotionalism, and introduced the practice of pardon and forgiveness in the society. If one could not  pardon, then one was given the command to act justly. This objective could be achieved only when anger and wrath could be kept under the control of the intellect. There are a number of sayings in which the Prophet has given directions to the Arabs leading them to this ideal, so much so that the manifestations of tyranny, aggression, anger and wrath have been declared out of  the circle of Islam. The things which unite a group and do not allow it to be disturbed, abuse, etc., has been declared to be the agent which breaks this unity :-

    "Abusing by a Muslim is wickedness, and his quarrelling and fighting is infidelity."


    "When two Muslims meet, a curtain from Allah is hung between them. When one of the two says obscene things to the other he tears this curtain of Allah."


    One Arab came to the Prophet to learn the teachings of Islam. Before this he had neither seen the Prophet nor did he know about his message. His name was Jabir bin Salim. He narrates:

    "I saw  a man whose opinions are being copied by the people. If he says anything, people convey it to others. I asked them who  this man was. They said that he is Allah's Messenger.  I said to him: 'On you be peace (Alaik-as-Salam) O Messenger of Allah!' He said: 'Do not salute like this. This is the salute of the dead; but say Peace be on you (As-Salamu Alaik)'."

    That Arab says: "I asked: 'Are you Allah's Messenger?' He replied: 'I am the messenger of that Being whom you call in adversities, and he removes your adversities, and if famine catches you and you call Him. He grows grass for you; and if you lose your mount in the arid ground, then you call Him and He causes your mount to be returned to you."

    He says that I told him: "Advise me.” The Prophet said: "Do not abuse anybody." Accordingly, thereafter I did not abuse any free man, slave, camel, goat. Then he said: 'Do not consider any virtue as mean, even if it is your brother's talking to you with a smile. This is also a virtuous act.' Then he said: 'If somebody reproaches you and makes you feel ashamed on any of your defects, do not make him feel ashamed on any of his defects, because this act of his will prove troublesome for him."

    (Abu Daud)

    Rebuking and Reproaching is a Sign of Meanness

    There are also some people whose anger does not cool down. They are always in a turmoil, and this wrathfulness imprints a stamp of stone-heartedness and harshness on their face. If anybody clashes with them they spit fire like an oven. Anger, wrath, squeezing of the nostrils and reddening of the eyes, and then there starts a series of abusing and cursing. Islam is innocent of all these dirty qualities.

    Allah's Messenger has said:

     “A Momin does not taunt, does not curse and reproach, does not indulge in obscene talking and obscene acts."


    Cursing and reproaching are the signs of meanness, and it is a quality of lowliness. Those who curse others for ordinary things, they put themselves to great ruin. It is the duty of a man that he should avoid this unseemly act, even if he is harmed considerably by his opponent. As faith will be nourished in the heart, along with it will grow generosity, broad-mindedness, tolerance and forbearance, and there will grow hatred of anger for the usurpers of our rights and dislike for the desire for their destruction.

    The Prophet was requested to invoke God's wrath against the polytheists and to curse them. He said:

    "I have been sent as a blessing (Rehmat). I have not been sent as a rebuker and reproacher ."


    A Muslim however much he would control his self, however much he would control his anger, would pardon others' errors, and however much would sympathies with others on their mistakes, in the same proportion his rank will be raised before Allah.

    For this reason, the Prophet disapproved of Hazrat Abu Bakr when he cursed his slave, and said:

    "How can it be proper for a truthful man that he should rebuke and reproach."


    In another tradition it is mentioned that the Prophet has said:

    "It is not possible that you indulge in rebuking and reproaching and at the same time remain siddique (truthful) and straight."


    Hazrat Abu Bakr, to atone for his error, freed his slave and went to the Prophet for apologizing and said that he would not. do such a thing again.

    The reason for this is that rebuking and reproaching is such an evil as is more expressive of one's blind rage than the idea of punishing others. It is not at all proper to insult others by yelling at them.

    Allah's Messenger has said:

    "When a man curses somebody, then that curse rises up to the sky, but finds the gates of the sky shut. Then it turns to the earth. Here also the gates are found shut. Therefore it wanders to the right and to the left, and if it does not find a proper place it goes to the man who was cursed. If he deserved it, well and good, otherwise it returns to the man who cursed."

    (Abu Daud)

    Cursing and Abusing is Haram

    Islam has declared cursing and abusing, exchange of vulgar and obscene words and acts as haram (forbidden).

    Many clashes occur in which people's honor is attacked and a series of exchange of accusations and fault-finding ensues. The reputation of the relatives, and the female folk of the household is damaged and attempts are made to rake up the dust of centuries. There is only one cause of all this dirty sinning, and that is man is overcome by anger and he washes his hands off all decency and good manners.

    The entire responsibility for committing this low and mean type of sin goes to the head of the man who first put the spark to the combustible material. It is written in the hadith :

    "The entire sin for mutual abusing and cursing  will be on the man who first started it, except when the oppressed crosses the limit."


     There is only one way of escaping these intense passions, and that is that tolerance and forbearance may be allowed to have an upper hand over anger and rage, and pardon and forgiveness may be allowed to rule over the passion of taking revenge.

    There is no doubt that when a man's own personality or that of his relative or friends is attacked and when he is made to suffer, and he has the means and resources for taking revenge, then he wants to avenge himself immediately and does not rest till he satisfies his passion for revenge.

    Hardness be Replied with Softness

    But in such cases another policy can be adopted which is much nobler and is liked by Allah, which shows a man's greatness and his regard for relationship and that is that he should control his anger, and should not indulge in abusing and cursing. He should restrain himself and should not be bent on taking revenge. He should consider the overlooking of the errors of the wrongdoers as a kind of gratitude to Allah, who has given him such a position that whenever he may want he may take back his right.

    Ibn Abbas narrates that when Ainia bin Hasn came, he stayed in the house of his nephew Hur bin Qais, who was greatly respected by Hazrat Umar, because the readers of the Quran were the members of the Consultative Committee of Hazrat Umar, whether they were old or young.

    The uncle asked the nephew to take him to the Amir-ul-Mumineen, Umar bill A1-Khattab. Accordingly permission was sought, and when both of them went in the presence of Umar, he very harshly said to the Khalifa :

    “ A pity on you, O son of Khattab ! because you neither give us gifts nor do you deal with us justly." Hazrat Umar was enraged on this and wanted to punish him.

    The nephew, Hur, immediately intervened and said: “ Amirul Mumineeen ! Allah says to his Prophet: I Adopt the method of softness and forgiveness, advise for doing righteous deeds and do not clash with uneducated. This man is uneducated, he may be forgiven.'

    Accordingly, the Amir of the Faithful forgave him and did not deviate slightly from the teachings of those verses when it were recited before him and  he was the true follower of the Book of Allah."


    Hazrat Umar was enraged because that Arab had come merely to provoke him. The idea of punishing him came to his mind because he bad not gone there with the intention of giving right advice or reform. The only purpose of his going there was to rebuke the Amirul Mumineen and to receive rich gifts without working for them. But when he was told that the man was uneducated, be controlled his anger and allowed him to go free.

    It is written in a hadith :

    "He who controls his anger though he had the power to act on it, Allah will call him first of all on the Day of Judgment and will give him the authority to select whatever Hourie he likes."

    (Abu Daud)

    Ibada bin Samit says that the Prophet has said:

    "May I not tell you those qualities for which Allah will give you tall buildings in the Paradise and He may raise your rank ?" The people said: "Certainly, tell us O Messenger of Allah !" He said: "He who behaves with you in the manner of an uneducated person, you behave with him with tolerance, forgive the oppressors, and give to those who deprive you, and he who cuts away from you, try to join him. "


    Quran has declared these decent habits and qualities as the path of welfare by which a man can enter the Paradise.

    "Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your  Lord, and for a Paradise whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous,-those who spend (freely) whether in prosperity or in adversity; who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men ;for Allah loves those who do good."

    (AI-i-Imran.. 133-134)

    The Excellent Example

    The way in which the Prophet ignored Abdullah bin Ubai, the leniency which he showed him, and the manner in which he overlooked his crimes, are instances whose example cannot be found in the entire human history. Abdullah bin Ubai was the worst enemy of the Muslims. He used to be always in search for finding out ways of inflicting injuries and damages to Muslims and he was in league with the devil against the Muslims. He never let slip any opportunity of harming Muslims, of defeating them and spreading a network of conspiracies against them. He cast aspersions on the chastity of the Mother of the Faithful, Hazrat Ayesha, and he incited some people to indulge in the whispering campaign against her and thus weaken the foundation of the Islamic society, as from the ancient times the eastern traditions had given a very high position of decency and nobility to women.

    For this reason the Messenger of Allah and his dear companions were terribly distressed and were in great mental anguish. They were in a great dilemma on account of this blatant false accusation, till at last the verses of Surah Noor were revealed which refuted the charges of the hypocrites, vouchsafed the chastity and purity of Hazrat Ayesha and exposed the machinations of the enemies:

    "Those who brought forward the lie are a body among yourselves ,. think it not to be an evil to you " on the contrary it is good for you.. to every man among them (will/ come the punishment) of the sin that he earned and to him who took on himself the lead among them, will be penalty grievous."

    (Hoor.. 11)

    In this tragedy, those who had openly accused the Ummul Mumineen were punished, but the germ which bad spread this disease was not touched, so that he might further go on with his nefarious activities of harming Muslims.

    Allah blesses His Prophet and his armies with victory and glory. Islam refined the disorderly government of the centuries and reformed the corrupt society. The enemies of Islam were then found within the limits of the Islamic society, Abdullah bin Ubai was pining within himself till he fell ill and died, after leaving the bad and deadly odour of disruption behind him. His sons went to Prophet seeking his pardon for their father. He forgave him. Then the son requested for the Prophet's shirt for the shroud of his father. He gave it to them. Then they requested him to lead his funeral prayer and to pray for their father. The gracious Prophet did not refuse even this request of theirs. He stood up to pray for the salvation of the person who in the past had attacked his honor and reputation.

    But Allah denied to grant all these concessions, and this verse was revealed:

    "Whether you ask for their forgiveness or not, (their sin is unforgivable).. if you ask seventy times for their forgiveness, Allah will not forgive them.. because they have rejected Allah and His Prophet.. and Allah guides not those who are perversely rebellious."

    (Tauba.. 80)

     In this tragic event of false accusation was also involved a near relative of Hazrat Abu Bakr, who was living on his help, This man did not hesitate to falsely accuse the pure and chaste lady, whose father was giving him help and was sustaining him. He forgot the right of Islam, and did not care for the relationship, and tore to pieces the old custom, Hazrat Abu Bakr was deeply stirred and he swore that he would not give anything to this near relative of his and would not show any kindness to him as in the past. Thereupon the following command from Allah was revealed:

    "Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah's cause; let them forgive and overlook; do you not wish that Allah should Forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

    (Noor: 22)

    Accordingly, Abu Bakr restarted helping his relative saying: "I like that Allah may pardon me,"

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