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The Man of Tolerance!
Written by: Syed Ahmad Raza, Jeddah

He was kind. He was honest. He was polite, as well as cheerful. He used to be respected by one and all in the town. But now, in a matter of days, everything had changed dramatically. Currently, he was a liar and a madman to almost everyone in the town. He was being branded as a sorcerer and a poet.

He was ridiculed wherever he went. People all around jeered at him, whenever he spoke. The riffraff of the town insulted and mocked him. Even his own relatives abused him with foul words. However, he tolerated all this with patience and continued his mission with an unshakeable conviction. Never did he reply with a word of contempt. Instead, he prayed to Allah to guide his persecutors to the right path.

He was Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), whose patience and tolerance has no match in the history. The pagans of Makkah had left no stone unturned in the persecution of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his followers. They used to throw stones, filth and refuse at his house. Thorns were spread on the way he had to pass at night, wounding his feet, and all that Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) would do was to remove them.

The Prophet’s (p.b.u.h.) followers in general were tortured in the most brutal ways so that others would not dare to join the new faith. Poorer Muslims like Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) were made to lie down on burning sand under the blistering heat of the noontime sun, and heavy rocks were placed on their chests so that they could not move. The Quraish would also place ropes around their necks and drag them in the streets. Even those from wealthier families like Usman Ghani (may Allah be pleased with him) were beaten mercilessly and thrashed most cruelly, while tied, without food and water. The only choice the pagans gave them was idolatry or death. However, the forbearance, tolerance as well as the forgiveness of those Muslims has no parallel in the history of humankind as, eighteen years later when the Muslims conquered Makkah, not a single pagan was persecuted, or any house looted.

Today while enjoying the luxuries of life – living in air-conditioned homes, wearing fashionable outfits, travelling in automobiles, sleeping on mattresses, and feeding on the diet of our choice – most of us cannot even imagine the hardships bore by Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) and his companions. Undoubtedly, the tolerance they exhibited is far superior to the patience we possess.

The difference is due to the fact that they feared Allah, whereas, we have forgotten His Message. Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“Tolerate patiently what (they) say and part from them in a polite manner.” (73:10)

We cannot bear a harsh word of our Muslim brother, yet our Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would pray for the unbeliever who cursed him. We cannot stand a taunt made by our colleague, yet our Prophet (p.b.u.h.) bore the ridicule of the pagans of Makkah. We demand revenge for every trouble created by our friends, yet our Prophet (p.b.u.h.) forgave his enemies who had abused him for more than ten years. While insisting on taking revenge, we neglect another decree of the Holy Quran, which says:

“Practise forgiveness, command decency and avoid ignorant people.” (7:199)

Tolerance, patience and forgiveness cannot be observed when we are angry. Yet this is the time when the need to observe tolerance and patience is most. Thus, anger must be controlled.

Anger is a human instinct and cannot be eliminated. Every one of us feels angry at some time or the other, mostly due to our fellow beings’ actions, but it is how we exhibit our anger that makes the difference. We can either tolerate it patiently and forgive the person who caused the anger (earning Allah’s pleasure), or react violently with foul words (which most of us do) and exchange blows. However, if we think coolly, the latter choice only leads to impairment.

Anger is a destabilizing emotion. It takes away the ability of judgement, sensible thinking and can lead to depression and wrong actions. During anger, one can hurt the other person (who could be a friend, too) verbally or even, physically. An angry person cannot differentiate between friend and foe, right and wrong. His intellect and power to reason are disabled, and things he would not do in a normal state, become acceptable. Anger is also hard to control and that is why the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) described the person who could control his anger as more stronger than a seasoned wrestler.

Restraining anger and observing tolerance not only benefits one’s self at that moment, but is also counted as a ‘hasanah’ (a good deed) and is rewarded by Allah, as Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) has said:

“Every good action is a charity and it is a good action to meet a friend with a smiling face.” (Bukhari)

Similarly, every sinful action is also compensated for, and anger is surely disliked by Allah. In this regard, we should draw lesson from the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his companions – how they tolerated the cunning disbelievers and their shrewd mischief. Here, living in an Islamic country, we usually have to tolerate our Muslim brothers and sisters. If we do not even do that, we would be renouncing another of Allah’s orders mentioned in the Holy Quran, which says:

“Believers are but brothers, so set things right between your brothers and observe your duty to Allah so that you may obtain mercy.” (49:9) 

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