The Most Wonderful Picture of Gentleness Preached by Islam
The discussion of roughness and violence is indeed the discussion of the day. We cannot deny that there are many groups who suspiciously take up this path in the name of religion. This approach does nothing but increase people’s hatred towards religion. It indicates real intellectual poverty, because anyone who possesses logic and intellect has many other ways to get his ideas across. Those who take up violence do harm to the religion that the Prophet (s) described, an easy and flexible faith. We have no choice but to clarify the correct references in understanding religion, otherwise we run the risk of developing the same intellectual and practical distortions that happened to past nations
The Prophet (s) established the most wonderful picture of gentleness, and he discouraged the use of violence in many situations. Consider the time that Bilal captured Sufya bint Hayy, one of the Jewish dignitaries, during the Battle of Khaibar. He took her past the place where the Jews were being killed so that she almost died of sadness. The Prophet (s) was moved by this even though it concerned an enemy. He said to Bilal, “Have you run out of mercy, O Bilal?!”
The Prophet (s) confirmed the need for gentleness in our interactions, especially with weaker people like children for example. Once when he heard the sound of Hassan (a) crying when he was just a boy, he said to Fatima (a), “What’s wrong with Hassan? Surely I have told you before how much his crying hurts me!” Another time he heard someone say, “I don’t remember ever kissing one of my children.” The Prophet (s) replied angrily, “If God has removed mercy from your heart, and then what can I do with you?”
Amongst the things that cause people to take up roughness in their interactions with others is family stress. The one who lives in an unstable marital situation will be worked up over the smallest situation. He will easily lose his temper and so increase his own complications. Every rational person has to establish his marital life based on gentleness and mutual understanding in order to prevent the Devil from interfering. Every external stress has an inner effect, and even causes great frustration in gaining worldly benefits.
Another cause of roughness is looking down on others with scorn. We find this especially in the way people treat those weaker people who are under their control, forgetting their humanity and their dignity before God Almighty. This explains some of the hardships that arise, for example, when women mistreat their helpless servants who have no one to help them but God.
Other causes of this kind of behavior include illness and advancement in age. We cannot deny this, but at the same time, we should not forget that human purity and essence should be manifested in these cases. One should not use these situations as an excuse to use these rough means in dealing with those around him, even if others give him that excuse.
Other causes of rough behavior include environmental and hereditary factors. The one who grows up in a stressful family situation, with parents fighting and so forth, he falls back on his nature into roughness and violence without even being aware. This should cause him to double his efforts in monitoring himself. He has to prevent this kind of situation from developing, for it will bring him unwanted situations, and this has often been the cause of eternal regret.
One of the worst results of behaving in this rough manner is that the individual loses control over his decision-making faculty. He becomes just like putty in the hands of the Devil – the Devil turns him any which way he wants. We can sense when this is the case. One time, the Prophet Noah (a) asked the Devil in which case he has the most control over the Children of Adam. The Devil replied, being well experienced in that matter, “When they are angry!”
The individual who is stressed in dealing with other people will not be able to develop a convincing argument before them even though he might be right. In that, way he can miss his just goals in life. He loses the ability to affect the world he lives in, and he becomes powerless to defend against the corruption in his environment. Ali (a) commented beautifully on this condition when he said, “Intense anger changes one’s logic, disrupts the sources of proof, and breaks up the understanding.”
Many of those who aspire towards the elite levels of divine communion would like to see the sacred secrets of the heavens and the earth just as God Almighty showed them to His beloved Ibrahim (a). Yet this heavenly vision is something simple yet so difficult at the same time. The Prophet (s) unveiled the path to these secrets when he said, “If it weren’t for the devils circling around the hearts of the Children of Adam, they would be able to see the secrets of the heavens and the earth.” One of the unfortunate effects of these circling devils is that we lose our stability and balance when we lose our temper. This is what Amir al-Mu’mineen (a) warned us about at the hour of his death. Are we following this advice?