Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was a character that has always been regarded as someone trustworthy (Al-Amin). Of which is not limited only to material possessions but also to emotional needs. In other words, just about anyone could count on him, even from his early days before becoming a prophet.
In fact, a verse from the Quran clearly identifies the nature of the Prophet s.a.w:
لَقَدْ جَآءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“There certainly has come to you a messenger from among yourselves. He is concerned by your suffering, anxious for your well-being, and gracious and merciful to the believers.”
(Surah At-Tawbah, 9:128)
Amongst that which can be highlighted from this verse is the caring nature of our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, which translates to him being very concerned for the well-being of others and being gracious in helping them.
He is the ideal image of empathy, support and empowerment. These values are things that we should definitely strive to adopt and apply in our own lives.
Islam is a religion that emphasises on extending help and comforting others in their times of need. As mentioned in the Quran:
وَتَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلْبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا۟ عَلَى ٱلْإِثْمِ وَٱلْعُدْوَٰنِ ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعِقَابِ
“Cooperate with one another in goodness and righteousness, and do not cooperate in sin and transgression. And be mindful of Allah. Surely Allah is severe in punishment.”
(Surah Al-Ma'idah, 5:2)
This Quranic verse highlights the importance of positive cooperation to help one another in matters of goodness. To assist others for a good cause includes comforting someone when they are sad or in need. Whilst helping someone in doing sinful acts is naturally prohibited in all circumstances.
The Prophet s.a.w. also mentioned in a hadith:
وَاللَّهُ فِي عَوْنِ الْعَبْدِ مَا كَانَ الْعَبْدُ فِي عَوْنِ أَخِيهِ
“Allah is engaged in helping the worshipper as long as the worshipper is engaged in helping his brother.”
Indeed, to receive help and assistance from Allah s.w.t. the best of all helpers, truly signifies the significance and importance of helping out others and comforting them in Islam. In another hadith, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. emphasised its significance:
مَا مِنْ مُؤْمِنٍ يُعَزِّي أَخَاهُ بِمُصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا كَسَاهُ اللَّهُ سُبْحَانَهُ مِنْ حُلَلِ الْكَرَامَةِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ
“No believer consoles his brother at the time of calamity but that Allah, glory be to him, will dress him with noble garments on the Day of Resurrection”
(Sunan Ibn Majah)
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. by nature of him being caring and concerned for others, would regularly console his fellow companions, family members, the needy and children in their times of suffering and misery.
Showing a bright example of his vast wisdom, Rasulullah s.a.w.'s methods in consoling others differ from one individual to another, all tailored perfectly according to the person, his situation, and his needs.
Here are some to highlight:
Amongst the Prophet’s s.a.w. method to console others is by giving lighthearted jokes to lighten a person’s mood. Such as in a hadith that was described by Anas Ibn Malik r.a:
كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَدْخُلُ عَلَيْنَا وَلِي أَخٌ صَغِيرٌ يُكْنَى أَبَا عُمَيْرٍ وَكَانَ لَهُ نُغَرٌ يَلْعَبُ بِهِ فَمَاتَ فَدَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ فَرَآهُ حَزِينًا فَقَالَ "مَا شَأْنُهُ ". قَالُوا مَاتَ نُغَرُهُ فَقَالَ "يَا أَبَا عُمَيْرٍ مَا فَعَلَ النُّغَيْرُ"
“Rasulullah s.a.w. used to come to visit us. I had a younger brother who was called Abu ‘Umair (by nickname). He had a sparrow with which he played with, but it died. So one day the Prophet s.a.w. came to see him and saw him grieved. He asked: What is the matter with him? The people replied: His sparrow has died. He then said: Abu ‘Umair! What has happened to the little sparrow?”
From this hadith, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. made a joke as his way of consoling the child who had recently witnessed his pet sparrow die. Although Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. had many commitments as a community leader, he did not turn a blind eye to the feelings of a young child, which some may think of as a trivial matter.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. gave the boy the nickname of Abu ‘Umair, calling him ‘abu’ (father), even though the boy was most definitely not a father yet. This small joke was amusing to the boy, it was a lighthearted gesture that was endearingly simple but was able to lift his spirits, distract him from his trouble, and give just enough support to help him get over his grief and sorrow from the loss.
The same can be applied to ourselves when we see someone upset. We can make harmless jokes to help get rid of the gloomy atmosphere around them and get them past their sadness. As long as the jokes are appropriate, both in their content and for the situation in which they are given.
Being one of the more common methods in Prophet Muhammad’s s.a.w. reserves of showing care and concern for others, he tends to offer positive and timely reminders towards those in grief. One such example is from a hadith narrated by Anas Ibn Malik r.a, in which the companion said:
أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَتَى عَلَى امْرَأَةٍ تَبْكِي عَلَى صَبِيٍّ لَهَا فَقَالَ لَهَا "اتَّقِي اللَّهَ وَاصْبِرِي"
“Allah's Messenger s.a.w. came to a woman who had been weeping for her (dead) child, and said to her: Recall on God (taqwa) and be patient.”
In this example, the Prophet s.a.w, who himself had witnessed the death of his children, approached the grieving woman by consoling and reminding her of God. With God in mind and heart, it helps us to see meaning in life, including adversities and difficulties. This outlines the ultimate importance of reliance on Allah s.w.t. in every matter, be it big or small.
As such, mentioning about Allah s.w.t, is an effective way of consoling a person in their times of need. In doing so, we should not give advice or approach from a judgemental position. Recognise what the person is going through. When speaking to another, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. would always give his full attention and care, to a point that the person would feel appreciated and recognised.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. did not prohibit the lady from crying, especially upon the death of her loved one. However, the Prophet s.a.w. reminded her that her grief should not continue to the point of being harmful to her own wellbeing. There is indeed a beautiful reward for patience.
It is worthy to remind that crying is not a sign of weak faith. In a hadith narrated by Usamah Ibn Zayd r.a, he described how at one point, Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was witnessing the death of a child. Another companion, Sa’ad Ibn ‘Ubadah r.a. saw that the Prophet s.a.w. was shedding some tears, to which he asked the Prophet s.a.w. about it. The Prophet replied:
هذِه رَحْمَةٌ جَعَلَهَا اللَّهُ في قُلُوبِ عِبَادِهِ، وإنَّما يَرْحَمُ اللَّهُ مِن عِبَادِهِ الرُّحَمَاءَ
“This is a mercy which Allah puts in the hearts of His servants. And verily Allah shows mercy to those of His servants who are merciful”
Listen to Tune Islam Podcast: 06. Is It Okay To Feel Sad?
As highlighted previously, reliance on Allah s.w.t. is crucial in both good times and bad times. No matter the hardship, it is important for one to have faith in Allah s.w.t. and put their trust in him throughout the process.
However, sometimes, in hardship, one cannot help but lose focus and have faith and trust waver in the face of such trials. Thus, making it important for ourselves to help reinforce this faith and trust of theirs in Allah s.w.t.
An example of such reinforcement as mentioned in the Quran:
إِذْ يَقُولُ لِصَـٰحِبِهِۦ لَا تَحْزَنْ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَنَا
“He reassured his companion, “Do not worry; Allah is certainly with us.”
(Surah At-Tawbah, 9:40)
This verse reflects the time when Rasulullah s.a.w. and his companion, Abu Bakr r.a, was hiding from their pursuers in a cave during the hijrah (journey of migration from Makkah to Madinah). Abu Bakr r.a. was worried that they would be discovered by their pursuers, and so the Prophet s.a.w. calmed his worries by reinforcing his faith and trust in Allah s.w.t.
And verily, they managed to migrate safely to Madinah under the protection and guard of Allah s.w.t.
Read: 5 Key Messages of Hijrah
Muslim pilgrims visiting the Thour Cave, where Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and Abu Bakr r.a. took refuge from the Quraysh pursuers during the hijrah
Truly, there is no better way of consolement in such trying times than having our faith and trust being reinforced by hearing the promises and encouragement of Allah s.w.t. The promises of reward, relief and acknowledgement for the struggles we face in life.
Therefore, we can refer others to verses of the Quran that are filled with these promises and encouragement, all of which when given appropriately, can help to reinforce faith and trust, helping them through tough times. For example a verse from the Quran:
وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُۥٓ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَـٰلِغُ أَمْرِهِۦ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ قَدْرًا
“And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He (alone) is sufficient for them. Certainly Allah achieves His Will. Allah has already set a destiny for everything.”
(Surah At-Talaq, 65:3)
This verse reinforces the point of wholly relying on Allah s.w.t. and putting full trust in him, as He is the planner of all things and He alone is sufficient for us. Another verse that could be conveyed to care for others in grief would be:
فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا. إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا
“So, surely with hardship comes ease. Surely with (that) hardship comes (more) ease.”
(Surah Ash-Sharh, 94:5-6)
We should have faith that for every hardship that Allah s.w.t. has tested us with, there will come relief and time of ease at the end of it. To trust that such hardship is only a piece in a process that one goes through to find oneself closer to Allah s.w.t.
The Quran is filled to the brim with such advice, guidance, and empowerment that can all be read to console and ease the hearts of believers. Henceforth, we should be eager to fully benefit from such a vast library of wisdom to calm the hearts of others and to help in their time of need.
Finally, it is ok to reach out for professional help when in need. Seeking medical intervention and support does not mean that a person is weak. Rather, it requires one to grasp the situation well and to have courage in making the necessary steps forward.
May Allah s.w.t. guide us to follow the footsteps of Rasulullah s.a.w. in being caring, kind and trustworthy to those amongst us. May Allah s.w.t. ease our hearts in trying times. Amin.