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Selma Cook

mercy"Allah does not show mercy to him who does not show mercy to people." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Maybe we have all heard this hadith at some time or other, but it is really something to think about it during this blessed month of Ramadan. One of the reasons we fast is that we want the mercy of Almighty Allah; we want His help, His guidance and His forgiveness. We do without food and drink during the day and pray more at night and give charity and try to control our anger all in an attempt to receive Allah’s mercy.

However, maybe there is something we have forgotten! Maybe the answer to our prayers lies within the words we speak and the things we do. Almighty Allah is letting us understand the way to receive His mercy. It is through being merciful to others.

Now, what springs to mind? Are you thinking about massive humanitarian efforts or giving lots of money in charity? But what about your family, your neighbors, and the strangers who pass you by every day? Who are the people we should being merciful to? Maybe it would be a good start, if we turned to those around us right now. It might be an annoying brother or sister, a very tired looking mother, an overworked father or an elderly grandmother. Sometimes the people we see the most often become less important to us as we seek what lies beyond our usual playing field in life. How do we know, however, that these very same people are loved by Almighty Allah and may be our gate to Paradise?

Being merciful is not just a word or an action; it is an attitude to life. Mercy is something we take with us when we go to university or work or when we go shopping or out with family and friends. It is the way we smile at people, the way we stop and listen when they talk, the way we say ‘thanks – have a nice day’, the way we apologize when we are wrong or forgive when we are wronged.

The test of our mercy usually comes at a heated moment – when someone has just cut us off with his car or bumped into us when we are trying to carry lots of things. It might be that annoying child who keeps nagging for something or insisting he isn’t wrong, when we know he is! Did you ever think why Allah placed these people in our lives? Then again, did you ever think how many times you’ve responded arrogantly, flippantly or rudely? Did you pass the mercy test Almighty Allah gave you? Did you pass it today? Yesterday? Last week?

Now, a number of excuses might come to mind – after all we are so busy and have schedules to follow. The streets are crowded and everyone is overworked – not just the other guy in his car! How clever we are at justifying the way we treat people poorly. How easy it is to say about others ‘they aren’t my problem.’ But, be sure that if Almighty Allah has put that person or people in your way, then they are your problem; your test.

The next time you’re feeling safe and comfortable, try to direct your thoughts (and your heart) to those who are less fortunate. Start with your mother or sister who might be still in the kitchen washing up the dishes and give a helping hand. Sit with your grandma and ask her about her day; make her feel that you care. When you are at the check out paying for the shopping and the cashier looks grumpy and tired, say a few nice words and smile. Take a minute to give some one you love a hug and let them know you care about and appreciate them.

The next time you are praying and asking for Almighty Allah’s mercy, remember the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):

"Those who show mercy to their fellow beings will be shown mercy by the Merciful Lord.
So, show mercy to those on the earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you." (At-Tirmidhee)

"You can never be (true) believers until you show mercy to one another." The companions said, "We all show mercy, O Messenger of Allaah!" The Prophet replied, "It is not the compassion that anyone of you shows to his friend. It is the compassion and mercy that you show to the people in general." (At-Tabarani)

Remember the angels are writing down what we do all the time; not just in Ramadan, but in this blessed month we have such a great chance to make new habits and cast off old bad ones. If you are usually not a merciful person, just take a minute to think how difficult it would be to face life without the mercy of Allah and then reach out to those near you and be a mercy to them!