Empathy In Islam

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

Whomsoever Allah (s.w.t) misguides, no one can guide. Whomsoever Allah (s.w.t) guides, no one can misguide.

Empathy is the ability to recognize, share, and walk in someone else’s shoes.

Is empathy encouraged in Islam?

“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful.”

[Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 128]

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself encouraged us to feel empathy for each other, he was reported to have said:

“The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.”

[Bukhari]

Qur’an describes believers as those who practice compassion,

“And what can make you know what is [breaking through] the difficult pass? It is the freeing of a slave, or feeding on a day of severe hunger, an orphan of near relationship, or a needy person in misery. And then being among those who believed and advised one another to patience and advised one another to compassion.”

[Qur’an: Chapter 90, Verses 12-17]

One account of the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) empathy in action is when he was sitting in with his companions one morning, and members of a miserable tribe approached them. They had no shoes and their skin was stuck to their bones because of hunger.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) became instantly moved upon seeing their condition and the color of his face changed.

He had Bilal raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) give the call to prayer and gathered his companions. After praying, they took up a collection for the tribe, generously helping them. [Muslim]

The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) even had care and empathy for animals. Once, upon entering a garden, the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) saw a camel that was just skin and bones.

Upon seeing it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) began crying, then he put his hand on its head until it was comforted. He said to the owner of that camel: “Don’t you fear Allah about this beast that Allah has given in your possession? It has complained to me that you keep it hungry and load it heavily which fatigues it.”

[Abu Dawud]

Prophet’s ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) empathy for mothers in the masjid, that was narrated by Anas bin Malik:

“The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: ‘I start prayer and I want to make it long, but then I hear an infant crying, so I make my prayer short, because I know the distress caused to the mother by his crying.’”

[Ibn Majah]

In sha’ Allah these reminders help you as much as they did for me…

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