Forty Hadiths or Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad about Compassionate Living

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Collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

The world appears to be a more dangerous place since September 11, 2001, more so than any time that I can remember.  Our human family appears to be in dire need of mutual love and compassion.  In this pursuit I had made a collection last year, titled, Two Hundred Verses about Compassionate Living in the Quran.

Today, I propose to collect 40 Hadiths or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, on the theme of compassion, mutual love, kindness, mercy and altruism.

1. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah will say to his servant when He will be taking account of him on the Day of Judgment, ‘O’ son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me.’ He will answer: ‘How could I feed you? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you did not feed him. Alas, had you fed him you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink.’ He will reply: ‘How could I give You drink? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so, the son of so and so was thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas, if you had given him, you would have found that (i.e. reward) with me.’ ‘O’ son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will answer: ‘How could I visit You? You are the Lord of the worlds!’ He will say: ‘Did you not know that my servant so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas, had you visited him, you would have found Me with him (Bokhari).

Our Christian readers will recall that similar teachings are also found in the Gospel of Matthews.

2. Now, I quote a Hadith, which can be considered to be an expression of the Golden rule.

The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim,[1] ethical code or morality[2] that essentially states either of the following:

  • One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself (directive form).[1]
  • One should not treat others in ways that one would not like to be treated (cautionary form, also known as the Silver Rule).[1]

This concept describes a “reciprocal”, or “two-way”, relationship between one’s self and others that involves both sides equally, and in a mutual fashion.[3][4]

Here is the Hadith with the directive form of the Golden rule:

Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: No one believes truly until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself (Bokhari and Muslim).

This Golden rule can be explained from the perspective of psychology, philosophy, sociology and religion. Psychologically, it involves a person empathizing with others. Philosophically, it involves a person perceiving their neighbor as also an “I” or “self”.[3][4] Sociologically, this principle is applicable between individuals, between groups, and also between individuals and groups. (For example, a person living by this rule treats all people with consideration, not just members of his or her in-group.)

Other narrations of the Golden rule can also be found in Hadiths:

Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and to enter paradise should treat other people as they wish to be treated themselves (Muslim).

Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourself (Abu Dawud)

3. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet kissed his grandson Hasan ibn Ali Aqr’a ibn Habis, who was with him at the time, and he said: I have ten sons and have never kissed any of them. The Holy Prophet looked at him and said: He who has no compassion will receive none (Bokhari and Muslim).

4. Ayesha relates that some desert Arabs came to the Holy Prophet and asked: Do you kiss your children? He answered: Yes. They said: We never kiss them. He said: Can I help it if Allah has stripped your hearts of compassion (Bokhari and Muslim)

5. Jarir ibn Abdullah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah has no mercy for him who has no mercy for his fellows (Bokhari and Muslim).

6. Abu Qatadah Harith ibn Ribi’ relates that the Holy Prophet said: I stand up to lead the Prayer having it in mind to lengthen it. Then I hear the cry of an infant and I shorten the Prayer fearing lest I should make it burdensome for its mother (Bokhari).

7. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must speak beneficently or keep quiet (Bokhari and Muslim).

8.  Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah will cover up the faults on the Day of Judgment of him who covers up the faults of another in this world (Muslim).

9. The Prophet said that a kind word or even a smile is a form of charity.

10. Ibn Umar and Ayesha relate that the Holy Prophet said: Gabriel kept exhorting me about the neighbor till I imagined he would include him in the category of heirs (Bokhari and Muslim).

11. Abu Dharr relates that the Holy Prophet said: Abu Dharr, when you prepare broth put plenty of water in it and take care of your neighbors (Muslim). Another version is: My friend advised me: When you prepare broth put plenty of water in it, then find out about the families of your neighbors and share it with them as may be suitable.

12. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet called out: By Allah he does not believe, by Allah he does not believe, by Allah he does not believe. He was asked: Who does not believe, Messenger of Allah? He said: He whose neighbor is not secure against his mischief (Bokhari and Muslim). Muslim’s version is: That one will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure against his mischief.

13. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: O Muslim women, disdain not doing a kindness to a neighbor, even if it were sending her a lamb’s shank (Bokhari and Muslim).

14. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Let no one forbid his neighbor placing his rafter on his wall. Abu Hurairah added: Now I see you turning away from this, but I shall continue to proclaim it (Bokhari and Muslim).

15. Abu Shuraih Khuza’i relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should be benevolent towards his neighbor; he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should honor his guest; he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak beneficently or should keep quiet (Muslim).

16. Ayesha relates that she asked the Holy Prophet: I have two neighbors; to which of them shall I send a present? He said: To the one whose door is nearer to yours (Bokhari).

17. Sahl ibn Sa’ad relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who takes care of an orphan and me will be like this in Paradise; and he raised his forefinger and middle finger by way of illustration (Bokhari).

18. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who takes care of an orphan, whether related to him or a stranger and me will be like these two in Paradise; and the narrator raised his forefinger and middle finger by way of illustration (Muslim).

19. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who exerts himself on behalf of widows and the indigent is like one who strives in the cause of Allah; and the narrator thinks he added: and like the guardian who never retreats, and like one who observes the fast and does not break it (Bokhari and Muslim).

20. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: The worst food is the food served at a walima (marriage party) from which those are excluded who would like to come and to which those are invited who refuse to come and he who declines an invitation disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muslim). Another version is:

The worst food is the food served at a walima to which the rich are invited and from which the poor are excluded.

21. Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: He who brings up two girls through their childhood will appear on the Day of Judgment attached to me like two fingers of a hand (Muslim).

22. Ayesha relates: A poor woman came to me with her two daughters.  I gave her three dates. She gave one to each girl and raised the third to her own mouth to eat. The girls asked her for it. So she broke it into two parts and gave one to each of the girls. I was much struck by her action and mentioned what she had done to the Holy Prophet. He said: Allah appointed Paradise for her in consequence of it; or he said: Allah freed her from the Fire on account of it (Bokhari and Muslim).

23. Abu Shuraih Khuwailad ibn Amr Khuza’i relates that the Holy Prophet said: Allah, I declare sinful any failure to safeguard the rights of two weak ones; orphans and women (Nisai).

24. Mus’ab ibn Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas relates: Sa’ad had a notion that he had a superiority over those who were not so well off as he was. The Holy Prophet said: You are helped and are provided for because of the weak and poor ones among you (Bokhari).

25. Abu Darda’ relates that he heard the Holy Prophet say: Look for me among the weak ones, for you are helped and provided for on account of the weak ones among you (Abu Daud).

26. Nu’man ibn Bashir relates that the Holy Prophet said: The believers in their love, kindness and compassion towards each other are like the human body; when one of its limbs is afflicted the whole of it is involved both in waking and in fever (Bokhari and Muslim).

27. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Charity is incumbent upon every human limb every day on which the sun rises. To bring about just reconciliation between two contestants is charity. Helping a person to mount his animal, or to load his baggage on to it is charity. A good word is charity. Every step taken towards the mosque for salat is charity. To remove anything from the street that causes inconvenience is charity (Bokhari and Muslim).

28. Umm Kulthum relates that she heard the Holy Prophet say: He who brings  about peace between people and attains good or says that which is good is not a liar (Bokhari and Muslim).

29. Ayesha relates that the Holy Prophet heard two men contending with one another in loud voices outside his door. One of them begged the other to agree to reduce the amount of the debt he owed him and to deal kindly with him. The other said: By Allah, I shall not do it. The Holy Prophet went out to them and asked: Which is the one who swears by Allah he will not act kindly? The man said: It is I, Messenger of Allah, and for him is whatever he prefers (Bokhari and Muslim).

30. Anas relates that the Holy Prophet said: Go to the help of your brother whether he commits a wrong or is wronged. Someone asked: Messenger of Allah, I would help him if he is wronged, but tell me how shall I help him if he is committing a wrong? He answered: Stop him from committing the wrong; that is helping him (Bokhari).

31. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet said: Should a Muslim owe an obligation to his brother in respect of his honor or anything else, let him obtain a release of it today before the time comes when he will have neither dinars nor dirhems. Else, if he should have good deeds they will be taken away from him in proportion to his obligation, and if he should not have good deeds he would be burdened with the evil deeds of the one he wronged in the same proportion (Bokhari).

32. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him said: As long as a Muslim occupies himself with helping a brother, Allah, the Exalted, occupies himself with helping him (Muslim, Tirmidhi and Nisai).

34. The Prophet also said: He who directs another towards good will have such merit as the one who follows his direction; and has said: If a person calls another towards guidance he will have as much merit as the one who follows his direction, without there being the least diminution in the merit of either (Muslim and Abu Daud).

35. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn ‘As relates that the Holy Prophet said: A Muslim is one against whose tongue and hands the Muslims are secure (Bokhari and Muslim).

36. Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet asked: Do you know who is a pauper? He was told: Among us a pauper is one who has nothing, cash or property. He said: A pauper from among my people would be one who faces the Day of Judgment with a record of salat and fasts and Zakat, but who will have abused this one, and calumniated that one, and devoured the substance of a third, and shed the blood of a fourth and beaten a fifth. Then each of them will be allotted a portion of his good deeds. Should they not suffice, then their sins and defaults will be transferred from them to him and he will be thrown into the Fire (Muslim).

37. Umm Salamah relates that the Holy Prophet said: I am but a human being. You bring your disputes to me for decision. It might happen that one party might be better versed in presenting his case than the other and I might decide in his favor according to what I hear. But if I decide in favor of one contrary to the right of the other, I merely allot a brand of fire to him (Bokhari and Muslim).

38. Abu Musa Ash’ari relates that the Holy Prophet said: The relationship between one believer and another is like that between different parts of a building, one part strengthens another. Then he gripped the fingers of one hand between those of the other by way of illustration (Bokhari and Muslim).

The Prophet’s compassion was not limited to the fellow human beings, his mercy and kindness extended to all living beings.

39.  Once the Prophet of Mercy passed by an animal branded on his face. He said to the owner, “Has it not reached you that I have cursed the one who brands an animal’s face or hits it on its face?”

40.  Once, the Prophet of Mercy spoke of God’s forgiveness due to the humane treatment of animals. He told his companions the story of a man who got thirsty on his way. He found a well, climbed down inside it to the water, and quenched his thirst. When he came out he saw a panting dog licking on mud out of extreme thirst. The man thought to himself, “The dog has become as thirsty as I was!” The man went down the well again and got some water for the dog. God appreciated his good work and forgave him. The companions asked, “O Prophet of God, do we get rewarded on humane treatment of animals?” He said, “There is a reward in (doing good to) every living being.”

Need we say any more for love and compassion for fellow human beings.

Additional Reading

A collection of Hadiths: Gardens of the Righteous, translated into English by Sir Zafrulla Khan

A Collection of Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad with Foreword by Mahatma Gandhi

Categories: Hadiths, Muhammad

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    1. Importance of Sadaqah

    Save yourself from the Fire,
    even if it is by offering a fragment
    of a date (as Sadaqah),
    and for the one who does not
    even have that much, by saying
    a kind word. (Bukhari-Kitab-ul-Adab)
    There are several ways of spending one’s
    wealth in the cause of Allah. Sadaqah is
    one such way. This Hadith signifies that
    even a minor quantity of Sadaqah may save
    its donor from the hardships of this world
    as well as from the Hell in the Hereafter.
    Let it be clear that Sadaqah means helping
    the needy voluntarily, to win Allah’s pleasure.
    It must be given out of one’s lawfully
    earned wealth and, in no case, should its
    recipient be put under any obligation or reproach.
    (Al-Quran 2:263, 2:265).
    In case monetary help is not needed, or one
    cannot afford to spare money for Sadaqah,
    a word of goodness, a piece of useful advice
    or consoling a distressed person, are
    all acts that can also be called Sadaqah.
    (Al-Quran 2:264, Hadith No.21).

    2. A Little but Sufficient

    A little that suffices one’s need
    is better than plenty that makes
    him forgetful (of Allah)

    This short Hadith urges us to adopt the
    virtues of simple life and contentment, and
    to leave the bad habit of extravagance.
    If one raises his standard of living and his
    needs beyond reasonable limits, one is entangled
    in an endless cycle of excessive
    spending and pursuit for even more income.
    In view of the above, one cannot fulfil one’s
    duties towards Allah, nor can one attend to
    his wife and children. Another Hadith deals
    with the same subject: “A simple way of
    life is part of Faith.” The Holy Quran
    repeatedly urges us not to be extravagant
    (7:32, 17:28).
    3. Think before You Speak

    Speaking (without thinking)
    leads to trouble
    One has no control over the good or bad
    effects of his words once these have been
    uttered. It is, therefore, advisable to think
    before speaking. Moreover, brief and gracious
    speech considerably covers the bad

    effects due to any shortcomings that may
    be present in the speech. Another Hadith
    on the subject states: ‘Modesty and brevity
    of speech are two characteristics of
    faith.’ The Holy Qur’an advises: ‘Speak
    graciously to the people’ (2:84).
    4. Taking back a Gift

    The man who takes back his gift
    is like the one who licks his own
    vomit (Muslim)
    Exchanging gifts is a means of enhancing
    mutual affection. An attempt to withdraw a
    gift, once it is given, shows extreme narrow-mindedness
    and miserliness. Thus, love
    may turn into hatred. That is why the Holy
    Qur’an prohibits such an action. (57:25).
    In another place, The Holy Qur’’an(4:21)
    advises not to take back even a valuable
    asset that had been given to one’s former
    5. Love for the Holy Prophetsa

    None of you can be a true
    believer unless he loves me
    more than his parents, children,
    and all the people combined.
    (Bukhari, Vol.I, Kitabul Eeman)

    The Holy Prophet Sa is the greatest benefactor
    of humanity as he established a permanent
    system for our spiritual well-being. We
    all, in turn, should love him far more than
    our parents, children and friends ( 9:24).
    It is important to note that our love for the
    Holy Prophet Sa is to our own benefit; it would
    in turn generate Divine love for us, thus
    opening the doors of unlimited spiritual
    progress for the believers (3:32, 4:70).
    A living example of this fact is found in the
    person of the Promised Messiah who, according
    to his own statement, attained his
    grand status of the Promised Messiah solely
    due to his immense love for the Holy
    Prophet Sa.
    (Roohani Khazain, Vol. 1, Braheen-Ahmadiyya,
    p. 598)
    6. Kindness to Younger Ones
    and Respect for Elders

    He who is not kind to our
    younger ones and does not
    recognize the right of our
    elders, is not from among us

    According to this Hadith: our elders must
    treat their youngers with kindness and due
    regard instead of looking down upon them.
    Similarly, our younger ones must show due
    respect and regard to their elders.
    One should understand that the Arabic
    words ‘Sagheer’ and ‘Kabeer’ used in this
    Hadith, apply to all types of junior and senior
    persons or groups: this may be in relation
    to age, kinship, office, prestige or
    The Qur’an stresses this point and forbids
    any group of society to look down upon
    another one. For, haply the other group
    may become better than the first one (49:12).
    Also, the most honourable among us is
    he, who is the most righteous (49:14 7. Importance of Motives

    Deeds are judged by motives,
    and everyone is rewarded
    according to his motives.The Holy Qur’an (3:30) warns mankind that
    Allah knows well what people keep hidden
    in their thoughts and whatever is in their
    minds. So, God is well-aware of our real
    motives behind our actions, even though
    we may hide them from other people. Similarly,
    the Holy Qur’an (22:38) says, regarding
    the sacrifice of animals:
    “their flesh reaches not Allah, nor their
    blood, but it is your righteousness that
    reaches Him.”
    8. Learning and Teaching of
    the Holy Qur’an

    The best among you is the one
    who learns the Qur’an and
    teaches it. (Bukhari, Kitab Faza’ilul
    The Holy Qur’an (2:130) informs us about
    the prayer of prophets Ibrahim As and
    Isma’Ismailis, as they erected the Ka`bah,
    when they prayed to God to send a prophet
    who would recite God’s words to His
    people and “would teach them the Book
    and wisdom.” This prayer was fulfilled
    with the advent of the Holy Prophet
    Muhammad Sa, who taught the best moral
    values and wisdom through the Holy
    superb way of following the Holy Prophet Sa.
    In another Hadith (Muslim), the Holy
    Prophet said: ‘Keep reading the Qur’an
    for it will intercede for its readers on the
    Day of Judgment.’
    9. Seeking of Knowledge

    Seeking of knowledge is
    obligatory upon every Muslim
    man and woman. (Baihiqi)
    This Hadith is a proof of Islam’s equal
    treatment of men and women in matters of
    learning and acquisition of knowledge. The
    Holy Qur’an (39:10) asks, “Can those who
    know, be like those who know not?” When
    the revelation of the Holy Qur’an to the
    Holy Prophet Sa started, God Almighty urged
    the acquisition of knowledge (96:46).
    The Holy Prophet Sa has been taught the following
    Qur’anic prayer (20:115): “Say: O
    My Lord, increase me in my knowledge.”
    (also, Part 4). This prayer also fully demonstrates
    the importance of the pursuit of
    Therefore, it is obligatory upon every Muslim
    man and woman to try to achieve an
    outstanding position in the fields of both
    secular and religious knowledge, through
    hard labour and this Qur’anic prayer.

    Hearsay is not like seeing
    (Ahmed Bin Hunbal)
    Believing in rumours, and using them as a
    basis of one’s actions, is the cause of much
    trouble in the world. The Holy Qur’an (49:7)
    says: “O ye who believe! if an unrighteous
    person brings you any news, ascertain the
    correctness of report fully, lest you harm a
    people in ignorance, and then become repentant
    for what you have done.” Although
    Islam emphasizes the need for investigation
    and observation for the purpose
    of confirmation, Muslims are not allowed
    to follow the dictates of needless curiosity,
    for it causes mischief (49:13).
    11. High Status of Mothers

    Paradise is under the feet of
    mothers (Sunan Nisaie).
    Mothers have such a tremendous influence
    on the upbringing of their children that a good
    training by mothers can turn out the children
    to be pious and God-fearing individuals
    who will enter Paradise. The opposite is
    true if a mother’s neglect in the upbringing
    of her children lets them degenerate into sinners.
    Secondly, this Hadith may be taken
    to imply that one can render such service to
    one’s mother, and please God so much, as
    to become worthy of Paradise.

    12. Against Backbiting
    Al gheebatu ashaddu minal qatli
    Backbiting is worse than killing
    Backbiting means speaking ill of someone
    who is absent and, therefore, unable to defend
    himself against what is being said about
    him. The Holy Qur’an (49:13) prohibits
    backbiting, and equates it with the inconceivably
    vile act of eating the flesh of one’s
    dead brother. It is obvious that one would
    be extremely repelled at the mere thought
    of it.
    13. Persistence in Prayer

    It is a sin to abandon praying.
    The Holy Qur’an (25:78) says, “Say to the
    disbelievers: What would my Lord care for
    you, were it not for your prayers.”
    It is obvious, therefore, that mankind is constantly
    in need of praying to God. There is
    no substitute for that. The Holy Qur’an
    (19:66) says, “So worship Him alone and
    be steadfast in His service.”
    3.2 AHADITH — AHADITH 16. Repentance from Sins

    A man who sincerely repents
    for his sins is like one who has
    never sinned. (Ibni Maja,
    Kitabuz Zuhd)
    The Holy Qur’an says (2:161) that if a sinner
    truly repents and takes active steps to
    make amends, and does righteous deeds
    (25:71) along with repentance, his repentance
    is mercifully accepted by Allah, and
    his sins are eliminated (25:72). However,
    the time for repentance is only during one’s
    lifetime, and repentance shown at the time
    of one’s death is not acceptable (4:19).
    17. Treatment of your Children

    Respect your children and cultivate
    good manners in them (Ibn

    The Holy Qur’an has commanded parents
    to treat their children respectfully, by not
    failing to spend on their proper education
    and training, and teaching them good moral
    qualities, so that they may grow up to become
    confident and productive members
    of society.
    Parents who do not respect their children
    and do not spend on their proper education
    may contribute to the moral death of
    their children as mentioned in the the Holy
    Qur’an: “Slay not your children” (6:152,
    18. Know your own Worth

    He who knows his own worth,
    will never perish(Chehl Ahadith).
    According to the Holy Qur’an (95:5) human
    beings have been created in the best
    mould. Allah has bestowed upon mankind
    many faculties and attributes, which can be
    used to attain unlimited progress (15:29-30).
    Mankind is the “be all and end all” of all
    creation in this universe.
    So, mankind must realize its true importance,
    worth, and the purpose of its creation,
    i.e., worship of Allah (51:57, 1:5). This
    will enable mankind to achieve this purpose
    and please the Creator (i.e., Allah)

    The best action in the sight of
    Allah is that which is done with
    regularity, even if it is small.
    No act of virtue is too small or insignificant
    to be disregarded. A good deed, no matter
    how small it may seem, if it is done persistently
    it brings about a noble transformation
    in a person. The Holy Qur’an (13:23,
    41:33) requires us to show perseverance in
    performing good deeds.
    20. Two Valuable Expressions

    There are two expressions
    which are very dear to Allah, the
    Gracious. They are light on the
    tongue (easy to say), but are
    very heavy in the scales
    (of Allah). Those are:
    “Holy is Allah and worthy of all
    praise; Holy is Allah, the Great.”

    The previous Hadith (No.19) states that a
    seemingly minor act of virtue must not be
    abandoned. In the current Hadith, two
    statements regarding the praise and glorification
    of Allah are given. These seem to be
    short sentences, but these are very substantive
    in the sight of Allah. The Holy Qur’an
    (17:45, 24:42 and 50:40-41) further explains
    the subject of praising Allah.
    In 1880, The Promised Messiahas, was
    taught by God, a revealed prayer containing
    the above two expressions and a third
    one: “O Allah bless Muhammad and his
    people.” He recovered from a very serious
    illness as a result of this prayer .

  2. Point to Ponder- Sadqa har bala ko taal deta hai.Charity refutes all the disasters.I saw my mother would always sacrifice one or two goats and distribute all to the poor people.It is the tradition of Hadhrat Abrahim as,who was also called Abul-annbiyya(father of prophets).I hope people in Pakistan are sacrificing goats for 100% charity

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