Reflection No. 4:01 on Q 9:128 – The Prophet (s)’s love for people
لَقَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُمْ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ
Certainly a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your distress, he has deep concern for you, to the believers (he is) compassionate, merciful.
Sura al-Tawbah, 9:128
The Holy Prophet (s) loved people and cared greatly for them. He was eager for their success, both in this world and the hereafter. In the verse above, Allah tells Muslims that the Messenger is from among yourselves, so he knows and understands you well. His love for people is displayed in four different ways:
1) When they are distressed it hurts him. It is as though the Ummah is a part of the Prophet (s), and whatever hurts them hurts him. This shows a very strong connection between the Prophet (s) and his people.
2) He has deep concern for them. Allah has not specified what type of concern, whether it was guidance the Prophet (s) was concerned about or some others aspects of their lives. It was an all-encompassing concern, for good in all fields of life.
3) He is compassionate and understands them. When rulings seem hard to follow, the Prophet (s) understands that and deals gently with them.
4) He is merciful and kind to them. The word here denotes a general kindness even to sinners, while the word compassionate (no.3) is for the believers. Ayatullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi believers that these words are interchangeable when used separately, but have different meanings when used together.
The words ‘Rauf’ and ‘Rahim’ are two names of Allah mentioned in the Quran; And were it not for Allah’s grace on you and His mercy, and that Allah is Compassionate, Merciful. (24:20) These names are used for the Holy Prophet (s) in the above verse, showing that he manifested these names of Allah. The qualities are also found in the holy Imams. Imam Ali Ridha (a) is known Imam al Rauf in Ziyarat.
The following story shows the compassion and understanding of the Holy Prophet (s):
Anas ibn Malik was one of the companions who had served the Holy Prophet (s) for many years. He therefore knew Prophet Muhammad’s habits very well. When the Prophet (s) observed a fast, he usually broke it with milk and dates.
One day, Anas ibn Malik knew that the Prophet (s) was fasting; so he arranged for his Iftar . He kept the milk and dates ready. At the time of iftar the Prophet (s) did not appear for the breaking of the fast. Anas ibn Malik thought that he may have accepted an invitation from someone and broken his fast elsewhere. So Anas ibn Malik ate the food himself and decided to go and sleep.
Soon however, the Prophet (s) entered the house with another companion, Anas ibn Malik inquired from the companion whether the Prophet (s) had already eaten. ‘No’ said the companion. ‘The Prophet (s) has not eaten yet’.
Anas ibn Malik felt so ashamed. There was nothing left that he could offer to the Prophet(s) if he asked for food. There was no more milk either. He waited expectantly, ready to explain the situation to Prophet (s) The Prophet (s) immediately sensed that Anas ibn Malik was hesitant in offering him food. This was very unlike how Anas behaved usually so the Prophet understood that there was no food or milk in the house. He behaved as if he were not hungry at all and went without supper with a cheerful face.
Anas ibn Malik used to say: ‘The Messenger of Allah never mentioned this incident during his lifetime to anyone.’
Such was the understanding and compassion of the Holy Prophet (s) for those around him.
Tafsir Namune, Aytaullah Nasir Makarim Shirazi (ed).