Forty Hadiths or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad about Compassionate Living
Collected by Zia H Shah MD
The world appears to be a more dangerous place since September 11, 2001, more so than any time that I can remember. Our human family appears to be in dire need of mutual love and compassion. In this pursuit I had made a collection last year, titled, Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran.
Today, I propose to collect 40 Hadiths or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, on the theme of compassion, mutual love, kindness, mercy and altruism.
1. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah will say to his servant when He will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgment, ‘O’ son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me.’ He will answer: ‘How could I feed you? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you did not feed him. Alas, had you fed him you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink.’ He will reply: ‘How could I give You drink? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so, the son of so and so was thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas, if you had given him, you would have found that (i.e. reward) with me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will answer: ‘How could I visit You? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas, had you visited him, you would have found Me with him (Bokhari).
Our Christian readers will recall that similar teachings are also found in the Gospel of Matthews.
2. Now, I quote a Hadith, which can be considered to be an expression of the Golden rule.
The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code or morality that essentially states either of the following:
One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (directive form).
One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (cautionary form, also known as the Silver Rule).
This concept describes a “reciprocal”, or “two-way”, relationship between one’s self and others that involves both sides equally, and in a mutual fashion.
Here is the Hadith with the directive form of the Golden rule:
Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: No one believes truly until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself (Bokhari and Muslim).
This Golden rule can be explained from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, sociology and religion. Psychologically, it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically, it involves a person perceiving their neighbor as also an “I” or “self”. Sociologically, this principle is applicable between individuals, between groups, and also between individuals and groups. (For example, a person living by this rule treats all people with consideration, not just members of his or her in-group.)
Other narrations of the Golden rule can also be found in Hadiths:
Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and to enter paradise should treat other people as they wish to be treated themselves (Muslim).
Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself (Abu Dawud)
3. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet kissed his grandson Hasan ibn Ali Aqr’a ibn Habis, who was with him at the time, and he said: I have ten sons and have never kissed any of them. The Holy Prophet looked at him and said: He who has no compassion will receive none (Bokhari and Muslim).
4. Ayesha relates that some desert Arabs came to the Holy Prophet and asked: Do you kiss your children? He answered: Yes. They said: We never kiss them. He said: Can I help it if Allah has stripped your hearts of compassion (Bokhari and Muslim)
5. Jarir ibn Abdullah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah has no mercy for him who has no mercy for his fellows (Bokhari and Muslim).
6. Abu Qatadah Harith ibn Ribi’ relates that the Holy Prophet said: I stand up to lead the Prayer having it in mind to lengthen it. Then I hear the cry of an infant and I shorten the Prayer fearing lest I should make it burdensome for its mother (Bokhari).
7. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must speak beneficently or keep quiet (Bokhari and Muslim).
8. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah will cover up the faults on the Day of Judgment of him who covers up the faults of another in this world (Muslim).
9. The Prophet said that a kind word or even a smile is a form of charity.
10. Ibn Umar and Ayesha relate that the Holy Prophet said: Gabriel kept exhorting me about the neighbor till I imagined he would include him in the category of heirs (Bokhari and Muslim).
11. Abu Dharr relates that the Holy Prophet said: Abu Dharr, when you prepare broth put plenty of water in it and take care of your neighbors (Muslim). Another version is: My friend advised me: When you prepare broth put plenty of water in it, then find out about the families of your neighbors and share it with them as may be suitable.
12. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet called out: By Allah he does not believe, by Allah he does not believe, by Allah he does not believe. He was asked: Who does not believe, Messenger of Allah? He said: He whose neighbor is not secure against his mischief (Bokhari and Muslim). Muslim’s version is: That one will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure against his mischief.
13. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: O Muslim women, disdain not doing a kindness to a neighbor, even if it were sending her a lamb’s shank (Bokhari and Muslim).
14. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Let no one forbid his neighbor placing his rafter on his wall. Abu Hurairah added: Now I see you turning away from this, but I shall continue to proclaim it (Bokhari and Muslim).
15. Abu Shuraih Khuza’i relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should be benevolent towards his neighbor; he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should honor his guest; he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak beneficently or should keep quiet (Muslim).
16. Ayesha relates that she asked the Holy Prophet: I have two neighbors; to which of them shall I send a present? He said: To the one whose door is nearer to yours (Bokhari).
17. Sahl ibn Sa’ad relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who takes care of an orphan and me will be like this in Paradise; and he raised his forefinger and middle finger by way of illustration (Bokhari).
18. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who takes care of an orphan, whether related to him or a stranger and me will be like these two in Paradise; and the narrator raised his forefinger and middle finger by way of illustration (Muslim).
19. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who exerts himself on behalf of widows and the indigent is like one who strives in the cause of Allah; and the narrator thinks he added: and like the guardian who never retreats, and like one who observes the fast and does not break it (Bokhari and Muslim).
20. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: The worst food is the food served at a walima (marriage party) from which those are excluded who would like to come and to which those are invited who refuse to come and he who declines an invitation disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muslim). Another version is:
The worst food is the food served at a walima to which the rich are invited and from which the poor are excluded.
21. Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who brings up two girls through their childhood will appear on the Day of Judgment attached to me like two fingers of a hand (Muslim).
22. Ayesha relates: A poor woman came to me with her two daughters. I gave her three dates. She gave one to each girl and raised the third to her own mouth to eat. The girls asked her for it. So she broke it into two parts and gave one to each of the girls. I was much struck by her action and mentioned what she had done to the Holy Prophet. He said: Allah appointed Paradise for her in consequence of it; or he said: Allah freed her from the Fire on account of it (Bokhari and Muslim).
23. Abu Shuraih Khuwailad ibn Amr Khuza’i relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah, I declare sinful any failure to safeguard the rights of two weak ones; orphans and women (Nisai).
24. Mus’ab ibn Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas relates: Sa’ad had a notion that he had a superiority over those who were not so well off as he was. The Holy Prophet said: You are helped and are provided for because of the weak and poor ones among you (Bokhari).
25. Abu Darda’ relates that he heard the Holy Prophet say: Look for me among the weak ones, for you are helped and provided for on account of the weak ones among you (Abu Daud).
26. Nu’man ibn Bashir relates that the Holy Prophet said: The believers in their love, kindness and compassion towards each other are like the human body; when one of its limbs is afflicted the whole of it is involved both in waking and in fever (Bokhari and Muslim).
27. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Charity is incumbent upon every human limb every day on which the sun rises. To bring about just reconciliation between two contestants is charity. Helping a person to mount his animal, or to load his baggage on to it is charity. A good word is charity. Every step taken towards the mosque for salat is charity. To remove anything from the street that causes inconvenience is charity (Bokhari and Muslim).
28. Umm Kulthum relates that she heard the Holy Prophet say: He who brings about peace between people and attains good or says that which is good is not a liar (Bokhari and Muslim).
29. Ayesha relates that the Holy Prophet heard two men contending with one another in loud voices outside his door. One of them begged the other to agree to reduce the amount of the debt he owed him and to deal kindly with him. The other said: By Allah, I shall not do it. The Holy Prophet went out to them and asked: Which is the one who swears by Allah he will not act kindly? The man said: It is I, Messenger of Allah, and for him is whatever he prefers (Bokhari and Muslim).
30. Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: Go to the help of your brother whether he commits a wrong or is wronged. Someone asked: Messenger of Allah, I would help him if he is wronged, but tell me how shall I help him if he is committing a wrong? He answered: Stop him from committing the wrong; that is helping him (Bokhari).
31. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Should a Muslim owe an obligation to his brother in respect of his honor or anything else, let him obtain a release of it today before the time comes when he will have neither dinars nor dirhems. Else, if he should have good deeds they will be taken away from him in proportion to his obligation, and if he should not have good deeds he would be burdened with the evil deeds of the one he wronged in the same proportion (Bokhari).
32. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him said: As long as a Muslim occupies himself with helping a brother, Allah, the Exalted, occupies himself with helping him (Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nisai).
34. The Prophet also said: He who directs another towards good will have such merit as the one who follows his direction; and has said: If a person calls another towards guidance he will have as much merit as the one who follows his direction, without there being the least diminution in the merit of either (Muslim and Abu Daud).
35. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn ‘As relates that the Holy Prophet said: A Muslim is one against whose tongue and hands the Muslims are secure (Bokhari and Muslim).
36. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet asked: Do you know who is a pauper? He was told: Among us a pauper is one who has nothing, cash or property. He said: A pauper from among my people would be one who faces the Day of Judgment with a record of salat and fasts and Zakat, but who will have abused this one, and calumniated that one, and devoured the substance of a third, and shed the blood of a fourth and beaten a fifth. Then each of them will be allotted a portion of his good deeds. Should they not suffice, then their sins and defaults will be transferred from them to him and he will be thrown into the Fire (Muslim).
37. Umm Salamah relates that the Holy Prophet said: I am but a human being. You bring your disputes to me for decision. It might happen that one party might be better versed in presenting his case than the other and I might decide in his favor according to what I hear. But if I decide in favor of one contrary to the right of the other, I merely allot a brand of fire to him (Bokhari and Muslim).
38. Abu Musa Ash’ari relates that the Holy Prophet said: The relationship between one believer and another is like that between different parts of a building, one part strengthens another. Then he gripped the fingers of one hand between those of the other by way of illustration (Bokhari and Muslim).
The Prophet’s compassion was not limited to the fellow human beings, his mercy and kindness extended to all living beings.
39. Once the Prophet of Mercy passed by an animal branded on his face. He said to the owner, “Has it not reached you that I have cursed the one who brands an animal’s face or hits it on its face?”
40. Once, the Prophet of Mercy spoke of God’s forgiveness due to the humane treatment of animals. He told his companions the story of a man who got thirsty on his way. He found a well, climbed down inside it to the water, and quenched his thirst. When he came out he saw a panting dog licking on mud out of extreme thirst. The man thought to himself, “The dog has become as thirsty as I was!” The man went down the well again and got some water for the dog. God appreciated his good work and forgave him. The companions asked, “O Prophet of God, do we get rewarded on humane treatment of animals?” He said, “There is a reward in (doing good to) every living being.”
Need we say any more for love and compassion for fellow human beings.