Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“None is more patient in the face of offense than God. People say He has a son, but He continues to protect them and provide for them.” (Bukhari)
This hadith tells us about the kindness and patience of God in response to the offense of His servants. When we learn of a characteristic of God, part of our worship is to aspire to exemplify that value in our lives.
Compassion and forbearance in the face of harm is essential to peace, because flaws and corruption will always exist among people. Only when we can transcend the hurt that we may receive from others and respond with compassion are we truly committed to peace.
In facing offense, one should resort to patience before revenge. Patience gives us time to cool down and think through the situation before we do something that we may regret in the future. Patience is a virtue of those who have inner strength and with patience we acquire respect and the ability to control any situation we are in.
Verses and sayings that encourage forgiveness do not imply that we should not seek out justice and solutions to the harm committed by others. To the contrary, there are many teachings encouraging, even requiring, us to do so.
There is a methodology for resolving problems and seeking restitution. However, there is another aspect that goes hand in hand. While we are working out the problem, we can continue to practice kindness and fulfill our duties to people even in the face of harm. When we are wronged, it does not give us license to abandon someone or attack with a similar injustice, but rather we should resort to the proper methodology for resolving conflict. Meanwhile, the compassion continues. Kindness and basic respect should transcend all social and legal systems.
In order to practice this level of benevolence, we need to invest in our own spirituality and connection with God. It may be difficult to extend kindness to those who harm us—until we remember that we are doing it for God.
The individuals with whom we are conflicted belong to God as well. Among His names is the Most Merciful, and He is also The Just. So when we extend kindness to those who harm us, we are in fact reaching out to the kindness of God.
Taken with slight editorial modifications from the authors’ Seeking Peace.
Dr. Hazem Said has been active in the Muslim community in America for over 10 years and held many different leadership posts. Most notably, he was the president of MAS Youth, a national youth organization from 2004 to 2008. He helped establish Ihsan, a non-profit organization based in Milford, OH and is currently the chair of its board. In his professional life, Hazem is an associate professor of Information Technology at the University of Cincinnati.
Maha Ezzeddine has a bachelor degree in Journalism and History from the University of Maryland – College Park and a Master degree in History from Stanford University. She edited several publications for MAS Youth between 2006 and 2008, when she was a member of the national executive team.