By Maulana Aslam Qadri, NewAgeIslam.com
Today I was studying Surah Al Balad ( the city meaning the city of Makkah) of the Holy Quran. Two things struck me in the Surah. First, God says to the Prophet (PBUH).”You are free in the city (to punish the enemies of Islam). And then in a later verse says, “Then he became one of those who believed, and recommended one another to perseverance and patience, and (also) recommended one another to pity and compassion.”
It is known to all that the Prophet (PBUH) had to migrate to Medina when it became difficult for him(PBUH) and his followers to live in Makkah any longer. The people of Makkah had persecuted them in every way. They had tortured them, insulted them, boycotted them for three years and so on and so forth. But when it was learnt that the non-Muslims of Makkah had finally decided to kill the Prophet (PBUH), God advised Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to migrate to Medina. So he (PBUH) along with his close friend Abu Bakr (R.A.) left for Medina.
When after ten years He (PBUH) with an Islamic army of more than one lakh people returned to Makkah, victorious, there was no one to defend them in Makkah. The Makkans surrendered and were at the mercy of the Muslims. That day, they could have avenged their torture, insults and persecution at the hands of the Quraish. Surah Al Balad that was revealed on the occasion also said, “And you are free (from sin, to punish the enemies of Islam on the Day of the conquest) in this city (Makkah). (Al Balad: 2)” But in the same surah, the Quran emphasises the value of pity, mercy and compassion too and says that those who practise and recommend to others pity and compassion are those on the right hand (belonging to Heaven).
“Then he became one of those who believed, and recommended one another to perseverance and patience, and (also) recommended one another to pity and compassion. They are those on the Right Hand (the dwellers of Paradise). (Al Balad: 17-18)”
Islam allows human beings to take revenge only in equal measure but at the same time it also says that if one forgives, better rewards are waiting for them.
So, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who always proved by his words and deeds that he was compassionate and merciful preferred to follow the verses that advised Muslims to be compassionate and have patience on the eve of the conquest of Makkah rather than to unleash bloodshed in the name of revenge. He (PBUH) announced general amnesty for the people of Makkah. The Makkans who were frightened that worst was going to happen as they knew that they had meted out all kinds of torture and mistreatment to the Muslims for a long time and now they were surely going to take revenge. But to their surprise and relief, what they were listening! The Prophet (PBUH) was saying that there will be general amnesty for all the people of Makkah. This left many overwhelmed and impressed by Islamic principles of forgiveness and pity and many entered the fold of Islam.
However, the Quran does not preach pity and compassion on the enemies in times of war or crisis alone. It teaches Muslims to have pity and mercy on the poor, the hungry and the needy in the society in times of peace too and stresses on feeding of the hungry and orphans and poor relatives as well.”
“And what will make you know the path that is steep?
“(It is) Freeing a neck (slave, etc.). Or giving food in a day of hunger (famine), To an orphan near of kin. Or to a Miskin (poor) afflicted with misery.”(Surah Al Balad 12-16).”
Therefore, Islam emphasises the importance of mercy and compassion towards one and all for establishing a peaceful and just society.