Nowadays slogans advocating kindness are pervasive on all fronts. With the rise in mental health crises and awareness, everything from millennial Instagram bios to corporate policies promotes compassion and empathetic attitudes. Individuals are more tolerant and responsive to others’ emotional baggage than ever before and communities are thriving in support of each other, whether through counselling, acts of kindness, or communal activities. Unquestionably, it is easy to be kind when life is favourable. The true test arises when the tides turn. Islamic jurisprudence teaches that kindness includes enduring hardship, exercising patience during extreme difficulty, and persevering in doing what is right despite isolation and/or criticism. While one may believe such qualities are characteristic only of Prophets (Peace Be Upon Them All), represented in the supernatural adversities and multitude of difficulties they endured, these noble qualities are attainable by all. Embodying these attributes not only pleases Allah, but they also improve personal development, spiritual growth, and relationships with others.

The reality of life is that with maturity and growth of responsibilities, hardships will only increase in number and severity. Allah says in the Quran: “We will certainly test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits (earnings), but give glad tidings to the persevering and patient” (Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 155). Allah, in His infinite might and wisdom, tries the believing men and women. He tests humankind with various challenges, trying and perfecting their patience, thankfulness, and limits during moments of severe adversity. Sometimes, the test is maintaining good terms with a toxic family member or acquaintance with whom severing ties is a non-option. In other instances, it is persisting in honesty and diligence despite one being robbed of credit. From being treated unfairly, dishonourably, or maliciously, Allah is watchful and all-knowing. He rewards patience and even more so to those who persist in tolerance, care for others, and gratitude, despite one’s own suffering and sadness. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said “Waiting for relief (from hardship) is worship” (Majmoo’ Rasaa’il Ibn Rajab 3/155). As such, it is in the believers’ best interest to persist in religious steadfastness to wait for relief while in a state of hardship, as this too is worship.

More so, Imam Shafi (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) said: “Conceal hardships so much so that people presume you are blessed and have an easy life” (Manaqib Ash Shafi’i 2/188). Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is a role model for Muslims and the modern world. Facing hunger, poverty, exile, and more, he was known by his companions and enemies alike as a fair and trustworthy individual. His worldly suffering did not sway his determination to convey the message of Islam. He is revered as someone who was continually smiling. In stark contrast, consistent complaining and ingratitude weaken the believer and diminish blessings. Pessimistic emotions invoke thoughts of despair and frustration, eventually manifesting into action. A sad or angry believer may cause harm to him or herself as well as others, as feeling dejected, rejected, and ungrateful lessens the desire to want to do good.

Life is never going to be all easy. Everyone is and will be tested in numerous ways, whether apparent or not. No one individual has or will have it all, no matter how their social media portrays their life. The goal of Muslims, men and women, adolescent or adult should be to engage in acts of kindness throughout their lifetime. These include withholding one’s tongue from complaining, resisting revenge against wrongdoing, to helping someone in a time of need when it is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Such habits and qualities please Allah as they demonstrate patience. When a hardship is too burdensome to bear, one must remember Allah’s promise: “And He is with you wherever you are” (Surah Al Hadid verse 4). So many people are walking around these days being unkind to themselves. Take the time to be kind to them.

The goal of Muslims, men and women, adolescent or adult should be to engage in acts of kindness throughout their lifetime. These include withholding one’s tongue from complaining, resisting revenge against wrongdoing, to helping someone in a time of need when it is uncomfortable and inconvenient.