وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ
wamā arsalnāka illā rahmatal-lill‘ālamīn
And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds (Sūratul Ambiyā, No. 21, Ayt 107)
In the verse above the Holy Prophet (s) is described as a mercy to the worlds. He was sent to people (and other creatures) as a mercy from the Creator. To understand that more we need to reflect on the quality of mercy as manifested by the Almighty.
Almighty Allah is most merciful to His creatures. His names based on the word Rahmah are the most frequently mentioned names in the Holy Qur’an. He deals with the actions of human beings with mercy, multiplying their good deeds and forgiving their evil deeds. The act of creation is based on mercy. Dr. Mohammed Ali Shomali writes in his article, ‘Understanding the mercy of Allah’:
Indeed, the entire story of creation can be summarized in a few sentences: The Most merciful God wanted to show His mercy. Therefore, He created this world. He gave His mercy to human beings so that they would become His vicegerents on earth and become a means of His mercy.
Sending the Holy Prophet (s) was a mercy to all people, believers and unbelievers. He brought a message that brought them out of darkness into light, awakened their souls, and connected them with their Creator. He showed them how to achieve happiness in both the worlds, and live a life of peaceful satisfaction. He brought a cure for what was ailing them. It was a mercy for all, albeit not everyone took advantage of it. Āyatuallāh Nāsir Mākarim Shirāzī compares it to a hospital that is equipped and ready to provide many beneficial services to the sick. Those who refuse to come to it cannot claim the service does not exist. They just haven’t recognized its worth.
The Holy Prophet (s) during his lifetime was a symbol of mercy and love for others. His relationships with family members, companions, children, even disbelievers, were all based on mercy. His mercy enveloped everyone, especially the most vulnerable of society and he was sensitive to their feelings. Bishr bin Aqrabah’s father was martyred in the battle of ‘Uhud. Bishr says I asked the Prophet (s) how my father was martyred. He replied, your father was martyred in the way of God, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. I began to weep. He took me in his arms, patted my head and made me ride with him on his horse. “Would you not like me to be your father now?” he said.
The Prophet (s) embodied mercy, and showed us that to be spiritual is to be merciful.
Sources: Āytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirazī (ed.), Tafsīr Namūne;
Muhammad Ali Chenarani, The Prophet’s attitude towards Children and Youth; www.messageofthaqalayn.com