Mildness is another dimension of the character of God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings. He was a bright mirror in which God reflected His Mercy.
Mildness is a reflection of compassion. God made His Messenger mild and gentle, not harsh and stern. Due to his mildness, God’s Messenger gained many converts to Islam and surpassed numerous obstacles on his way to ultimate victory.
After the victory of Badr, the Battle of Uhud was a severe trial for the Muslim community in Madina. Although God’s Messenger was of the opinion that they should face the enemy on the outskirts of Madina, the majority of the Muslim army urged him to go out into the open for a pitched battle. When the two armies met each other at the foot of Mount Uhud, God’s Messenger positioned fifty archers in the pass of ‘Aynayn and ordered them not to leave their place without permission, even if they saw that the Muslims had won the victory decisively.
The Muslim army, one third of the enemy in number and equipment, had almost defeated the Makkan polytheists at the beginning of the battle. Seeing the enemy fleeing the battlefield, the archers forgot the Prophet’s command and left their positions in pursuit of them. However, Khalid ibn Walid, the cavalry commander of the Makkan army, saw this and, riding round the mountain, attacked the Muslim army from behind. The fleeing enemy soldiers turned back, and as a result, the Muslims, caught in the cross-fire, experienced a reverse. More than seventy Muslims were martyred and God’s Messenger was wounded. He might have reproached those who urged him to come into the open for a pitched battle and the archers who left their place contrary to his orders. But he did the reverse and showed leniency to them. The Qur’an says:
It was by the mercy of God that you were gentle to them; if you had been harsh and hard of heart, they would have dispersed from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them in the affair. And when you are resolved, then put your trust in God; surely God loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Al ‘Imran, 3.159)
This verse shows, besides the need for leaders to be mild and lenient to those who make well-intentioned mistakes, the importance which Islam attaches to consultation in public administration.
The mildness and forgiveness of God’s Messenger was a reflection of God’s Names, the All-Mild, the All-Clement and the All-Forgiving. God does not stop providing for people despite their rebellion or unbelief. While the vast majority of people disobey Him either in unbelief and explicit or implicit association of partners with Him or transgression of His Commandments, the sun continues to send them its heat and light, clouds come to their aid with their tears – rain – and the earth never stops feeding them with its various fruits and plants. This is because of the Clemency and Forgiveness of God Almighty, which God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, reflected through his compassion, mildness and forgiveness.
Like the Prophet Abraham, whom he used to say that he resembled, God’s Messenger was mild, imploring, clement and penitent (Hud, 11.75), and also gentle to believers and full of pity and compassionate for them (al-Tawba, 9.127). Abraham, upon him be peace, was never angry with people, however much they tormented him. He wished for good even for his enemies. He implored God and shed tears in His Presence. Since he was a man of peace and salvation, God made the fire into which he was thrown cool and safe for him (al-Anbiya’, 21.69). Like him, God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was never angry with anybody because of what was done to him. When his wife ‘A’isha, may God be pleased with her, was made the object of a slander, he did not think to punish the slanderers even after ‘A’isha was cleared by the Qur’an. Bedouins often came to his presence and behaved impolitely, but he did not even frown at them. Although extremely sensitive, he always showed forbearance towards everybody, whether friend or foe. His sensitivity was such that if, for example, a needle pierced his finger, it would give him more pain than others feel when speared. Despite this, he tolerated all the impudence of people.
As recounted earlier, he shared out the spoils of war after the Battle of Hunayn, when a man named Dhu l-Huwaysira objected, saying: ‘Be just, o Muhammad!’ This was an unforgivable offence against the sacred character of a Prophet whose role was to establish justice in the world. Unable to endure such offences against God’s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, ‘Umar reacted: ‘Let me kill this hypocrite, o God’s Messenger!’ But the Messenger did nothing other than say:
Who else will show justice if I am not just? If I do not show justice, then I have been lost and brought to naught.38
According to another version, he said:
If I am not just, then, by following me, you – the people – have been lost and brought to naught.39
In addition, he implied that that man would later take part in a seditious movement, which came true during the Caliphate of ‘Ali. Dhu l-Huwaysira was found dead among the Kharijites killed in the Battle of Nahrawan.
As related by Anas ibn Malik, a Jewish woman offered a roasted sheep to God’s Messenger after the conquest of Khaybar. Just before he took the first morsel to his mouth, God’s Messenger stopped and told the others at the meal not to eat of it, saying: This sheep tells me that it is poisonous. Nevertheless, a Companion, named Bishr, died immediately after he took the first morsel. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, sent for the woman and questioned her on why she tried to poison him. The woman replied:
If you are really a Prophet, the poison will not affect you. If you are not, I wanted to save people from your evil.
God’s Messenger forgave the woman for her conspiracy to kill him.40
38. Muslim, “Zakat,” 142, 148; Bukhari, “Adab,” 95, “Manaqib,” 25.
39. Bukhari, “Adab,” 95; Muslim, “Zakat,” 142.
40. Bukhari, “Hiba,” 28; Abu Dawud, “Diyat,” 6.