The Virtues of Restraint - by Riaz A. Siddiqui

   THE sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have been compiled by many Muslim scholars. One such book is Fathul Bari, where incidents have been quoted that shed light on the need of providing facilities to fellow beings rather than creating hurdles and causing difficulties for them. One incident goes like this.

One day the holy Prophet was sitting in a mosque in Madinah along with his companions. Suddenly a simple Bedouin entered the mosque and began urinating. The Sahaba (Companions of the holy Prophet) rushed towards him angrily, with the intention of beating the Bedouin. But the holy Prophet stopped them from doing so. When the fellow left, the holy Prophet asked his Companions to fetch water in buckets and wash the place and to clean and purify it.

Afterwards he explained to his Companions that men are sent on earth to make things easy and not to cause difficulties or rioting. Besides, he said, who knew that he was a sane or an insane person; because no sane person would perform such an indecent act. And an insane person was as innocent as a child. Therefore one should not be impatient about taking action against any body, howsoever an unpleasant or painful incident may occur.

The abovementioned incident and the holy Prophet's advice illustrates an unwavering principal of Islam - that when an unpleasant incident takes place, the believers should exercise restraint and concentrate on finding out a solution to the problem. The urge for pardoning and reforming the offenders should precede the desire of revenge or punishment. It is very easy to punish the guilty at the spurt of the moment but to pardon someone and try to extract the evil genius of one's mind is one of the noblest acts stressed by Islam. Just as in case a building is set on fire, the most natural impulse is to immediately extinguish the fire, rather than to let the flames continue and flare up even more, or to start investigating the causes of fire.

Even in the most controversial or complex matters there can be both, easy and difficult ways of resolving the problem. Treading the path of facility and appeasement usually eases out the matter whereas a harsh pursuit towards solving the problem may make the matter worse. In all acrimonious situations Islam gives preference to the easy and facilitating method rather than to the latter stern approach.

This is the cardinal principle of Islam relating to both personal and social life that we should try to seek an easy and peaceful method for tackling any unusual unpleasant situation. It is generally seen that international conflicts can be settled on permanent basis only through dialogue and peaceful means rather than going on wars. Rash behaviour and emotionalism sow the seeds of hatred and discord whether be it between individuals, families or even nations.

Man/woman is free in this world. God has not placed any curbs on him/her. But this freedom offers a great challenge of rationale behaviour and not meant to encourage him to lead a life of permissiveness. Rather its purpose is that man should lead a morally upright life of his own free will and demonstrate the character of the highest moral order. One who conducts himself in a balanced and rationale manner is reckoned as God's favourite servant or the chosen man who acts according to the guideline laid down by God. The freedom imposes greater responsibility on man's behaviour towards others.

All the creatures in this world are subservient and subjects of God. The stars, the moon, the satellites rotate in space entirely at God's will and command. Trees, rivers, mountains and all such natural phenomena are functioning according to the unchangeable ways of God, laid down by Him in advance. similarly animals exactly fellow those instincts instilled in their species at the time of their creation as per Divine Will. Man is the only creature who has been given, exceptionally, the gift of understanding and freedom.

Freedom is a two-way test: it may be a blessing as well as a curse. If an individual remains calm in anger and content in abundance he passes the test and deserve the gift of freedom, but if a person becomes arrogant and insolent, it will mean that he failed to keep the God's trust and is guilty of abusing the precious gift of God namely freedom and being superior of all creatures.

Qualities of restraint, patience forgiveness modesty and humbleness help qualifying men/women for handsome rewards by God which no other creature has been promised. By virtue of above mentioned qualities men/women can be held to be the chosen servants of God and will remain in an ever lasting state of blissfulness in this mortal world and in the Hereafter.