The Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him], his sublime character and mercy towards all of creation
In the Name of Allah, most Gracious, most Merciful. All Praise is due to Allah who made manifest the light of his beloved in the month of Rabi’ al-awwal. Salutations upon the chosen one, the master of the children of Adam, his noble companions and those who follow in their footsteps.
Allah attests to his noble station when He [Almighty] says, “Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe call for [Divine] blessings on him and salute him with a [becoming] salutation.”[Al-Ahzab: 56]
Scholars unanimously agree that this verse contains a command [Amr] to praise and salute the best of mankind, Muhammad [peace be upon him]. The one of intellect, after examining this beautiful verse [briefly], realizes that no matter how much one praises the Prophet [peace be upon him], one can never attain to the praise of His Creator and blessed Angels.
The very name “Muhammad” means “the one who is praised, often praised” and the name of the Prophet [peace be upon him], is also known as “Ahmad” meaning “the one deserving of praise”.
Bukhari and Muslim narrate that Anas [Allah be pleased with him] said, “I served the Messenger of Allah for ten years, and he never said a word of displeasure to me (Uff), nor did he ever say to me concerning something I had done: `Why did you do that’ And he never said to me concerning something I had not done: `Why didn’t you do this’ He had the best character, and I never touched any silk or anything else that was softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah . And I never smelled any musk or perfume that had a better fragrance than the sweat of the Messenger of Allah.”
“Allah [Almighty] says, “And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.” [Al-Anbiya 21:107]. Allah [Almighty] describes his kindness and mercy to all of creation: “Certainly a Messenger has come to you from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress, excessively concerned for you; to the believers full of compassion,” [Al-Tawbah 9:128].
In a rigorously authentic narration, recorded by Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet [peace be upon him] said, “Only those who show mercy will receive mercy from the Most Merciful. Be Merciful to those on this earthly abode [al-Dunya] and Allah will then be Merciful to you.” The great mystic and poet, Moulana Jalal al-din Rumi alluded to the infinite Mercy of Allah [Almighty] when he said:
We were nothing,
There was neither our being
Nor our claim to be,
It was Thy Mercy that heard our unsaid.
The Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him], the summit of creation, the array of character perfected, the Adiamic heir was so infused with Mercy and Compassion that when he saw the companions staring at the Ka’ba with reverence and awe he said, “know that the human being is more sacred than the Ka’ba”. As bearers of a divine message and as representatives of the greatest human being that ever lived, we find ourselves being more sacred and sanctified than our very Qibla [the Ka’ba]. It is worth mentioning that the Angels prostrated to Adam [on him be peace] making the human being the Qibla of the Angels.
His mercy, compassion and exalted standard of character were displayed at the battle of Uhud. The Prophet’s incisor was broken, his lower lip was ruptured and he had a bleeding wound on his forehead. He was constantly drying up the blood to keep it from falling upon the ground, saying, “If any of this blood falls on the ground, Divine Punishment would descend upon them [the Quraysh].” The situation weighed on the Companions, and they implored, “Why do you not pray against them?” He replied, “I have not been sent to damn people. I have been sent as a caller and a mercy. O Allah! Forgive my people for they know not what they do.” 
Not long after the incident at Uhud did Allah reveal the verse “And you [O Muhammad] are on the most exalted standard of character.” [Al-Qalam 68:4].
Abdullah ibn al-Mubarak, commented, “We need a little adab more urgently than we need a large amount of knowledge”.
It was narrated that a man asked the Prophet [peace be upon him] for charity. The Prophet gave it and then asked the man, “Have I dealt with you rightfully?” The man answered, “no, and you have not dealt with me in a beautiful manner either.” Those around the messenger grew angry and rose up. Then he [the Prophet] waved them to stop. He [peace be upon him]] went home and sent him something. He then asked him once more, “Are you content?” the man answered, “Yes, I am. May Allah reward you with kindness in your family and kin.” The Prophet then said, “You said what you said and it left something in my companions’ hearts. So, what if you repeat what you have just said now before them, to take away what is in their hearts towards you?” The man agreed. In the evening or the day after, the Prophet told his companions, “This man showed his dissatisfaction so I increased what I gave him to let him be satisfied.” He turned to the man and asked him “is that right?” The man answered: “Yes, may God reward you with kindness in family and kin.”
The Prophet [peace be upon him] then commented, “The example of me and this [man] is like that of a man whose camel went astray. People following the camel only increased its unwillingness. The man called to them, ‘leave me and my camel alone. I am more gentle and knowledgeable about it.’ He then turned to the camel, offering it some vegetation from the earth. He then called it back until it came forth, kneeled down, put the saddle on it and rode it away. Had I left you with what the man said you would have killed him and he would go to Hellfire” [Imam Ahmad].
His mercy [peace be upon him] with Family and Children
Muslim narrates that `Amr Ibn Sa`id reported that `Anas [Allah be pleased with him] said, ‘I have never met one more merciful with children than Muhammad [Peace be upon him]’. He also said, ‘Ibrahim [the Prophet’s son ]was being breastfed by a wet nurse in a village on the outskirts of Medina. He would rush to enter the house with smoke billowing out of it [the wet nurse’s husband was a black smith]. The Prophet [Peace be upon him] would take his son, kiss him, and then return him. When Ibrahim died, the Prophet [Peace be upon him] said, ‘Ibrahim is my son. He died while still suckling. Verily, he will have two wet nurses to breastfeed him in Paradise’. He meant that his wet nurses would complete his son’s two-year weaning period, as he died aged sixteen or seventeen months’. [Al-Nawawi].
He [Peace be upon him] also wept when his granddaughter Umaymah, daughter of Zainab died. At this occasion, Sa’ad bin ‘Ubadah said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Are you weeping? Did you not forbid Zaiab from weeping’? The Prophet replied, ‘This [weeping] is the mercy that Allah has placed in the hearts of His servants. And surely Allah bestows mercy upon those who are merciful among His servants’.
Bukhari and Muslim narrate on the authority of `Anas [Allah be pleased with him] that Prophet [Peace be upon him] said, ‘I start the prayers, intending to lengthen them. I then hear a child crying so I make them shorter, knowing how emotional a child’s mother gets’.
Al-Aswad mentioned that he asked A’isha [may Allah be pleased with her] what the Prophet [Peace be upon him] did at home. She answered, ‘He was humble in the common service of his family. But, when time for prayer came, he used to go and pray ’. He was not like tyrannical men. Most of the time, he used to serve himself ’. It is mentioned in Imam Ahmad’s Musnad and others that A’isha [Allah be pleased with her] said, ‘The Prophet [Peace be upon him] used to sew his clothes, mend his sandals, and do what other men d id in their homes’.
A’isha [may Allah be pleased with her] said, ‘Never was the Prophet left to make a choice between two matters but he would prefer the easier among them’. Ibn Mas`ud [Allah be pleased with him] told us that Prophet Muhammad [Peace be upon him] preferred, ‘positive preaching over pessimism and boredom’.
This was so because he considered each and every person he was to talk to, a potential for embracing Islam. He was gentle and open – minded and knew that each individual’s capacity to listen and understand varied.
His Mercy with Children, Orphans, Widows and the Poor
By God’s Divine wisdom, the Prophet [peace be upon him], in order to console the hearts of all orphans that would come after him, as he, the best of all mankind and the most beloved to God, was an orphan. He would care for orphans and he used to ask his companions to protect them and to treat them well. He also showed the merits that come from that.
Bukhari narrated that Prophet [peace be upon him] said: “I and the custodian of an orphan are like this [together] in Paradise”, and he joined his forefinger and middle finger together. Ibn Majah also narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that Prophet [peace be upon him] said: “The best Muslim house is a house in which an orphan is well treated; and the worst Muslim house is a house in which an orphan is badly treated.”
The above Prophetic Hadiths show clearly that if someone takes good care of an orphan, he is sure to enter paradise by his good care.
The Prophet [peace be upon him] said: “The poor shall enter paradise five hundred years before the rich”. “Poverty is my pride”, said the Best of creation: and it was his compassion for the poor, and his own lived solidarity with their distress, that astounded the hard-hearted Arabs and brought their rebellious hearts to God. From the Prophetic Mercy, we learn that Poverty is a sermon in itself .
It is in the two authenticated books that `A’ishah [Allah be pleased with her] said, “A nomad once told the Prophet [peace be upon him], “you kiss the children and we never do!” the Prophet [peace be upon him] said, “Has Allah withdrawn mercy out of your hearts?” Abu Huraira narrated that Prophet [peace be upon him] said: “He who looks after a widow and a needy person is like a fighter for the Cause of Allah.”
His Mercy with Animals
He [peace be upon him] would praise having mercy on animals. He used to forbid his companions from hurting them, tiring them, overburdening them with heavy loads for long periods, torturing them, or pushing them beyond their limits, for that is a form of suffering.
Once the Prophet [peace be upon him] passed by a camel that was so emaciated its back was one with its abdomen. Upon that, the Prophet said, “Fear Allah with regard to livestock. Ride them in a fitting way and eat them when they are in good condition.” 
He [peace be upon him] said “If someone kills a sparrow for fun, the sparrow will cry out on the Day of Judgment, ‘O Lord! That person killed me in vain! He did not kill me for any useful purpose.‘” 
The Prophet [peace be upon him] said, “While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, ‘This [dog] is suffering from the same problem as that of mine. So he [went down the well], filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his [good] deed and forgave him.” The people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving [the] animals?” He replied, “Yes, there is a reward for serving any living creature.” 
He [peace be upon him] once entered the garden of man from the Ansar and there was a camel. When the Prophet saw the camel it froze and its eyes started watering. The Prophet of Allah [peace be upon him] approached it, rubbed its ears and it calmed down. Then the Prophet said, “Who is the owner of this camel? A young man from the Ansar told him [peace be upon him],”O Messenger of Allah, it belongs to me.” Then he told him [peace be upon him] “Do you not fear Allah with regard to this beast which Allah has let you own? It complained to me that you starve it and tire it by overworking it and using it beyond its capacity.” 
He [peace be upon him] used to forbid burdening an animal by keeping it standing or sitting on it for a long time unnecessarily. He saw some people sitting on animals so he commented, “Keep them safe and sound when riding them and when leaving them, don’t use them as chairs for your side talks in the streets and markets. A ridden animal might be better than its rider and might remember and mention God more than its rider does.” 
He [peace be upon him] warned against any human being causing a bird to feel panic about its little offspring. Someone took two chicks of a bird [hamra], which came in panic searching for its chicks. The Prophet then asked, “Who has distressed it by taking its chicks?” Then he asked them to return the chicks. The Prophet once passed by a burned out anthill. When the Prophet saw it he asked, “Who has burned it?” When he was informed of who had done it, he said, “Only the Lord of Fire has the right to punish with fire.” 
It was also reported that the Prophet prohibited the killing of a bird for the sake of pleasure and not for a specific beneficial need, the Prophet [peace be upon him] said, “Anyone who would kill a bird, this bird would come on Doomsday and say, “God, this person killed me for pleasure and not for benefit.” 
It was also reported that the Prophet [peace be upon him] called for mercy and perfection in slaughter. He saw a person preparing a lamb, laying it down while he was still sharpening his knife. The Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon] then commented, “Do you want to kill it twice? Sharpen your knife before you lay it down.” 
He [peace be upon him] said, “Allah gives through gentleness what He does not give through hardness”. The prophet [peace be upon him] transformed his hard-hearted people in only twenty three years. He took them from many to One, from Vendetta to the Sacred Law, from despair over death to certainty of eternal life. In this he was “sent only as a mercy to the worlds“. [10 ]
It was Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, the prince of hadith, commentator on Sahih Bukhari, Sufi and leading Shafi’i jurist who wrote in his diwan:
“By the gate of your generosity stands a sinner, who is mad with love.
O best of mankind in radiance of face and countenance!
Through you he seeks a means (tawassala), hoping for Allah’s forgiveness of slips;
from fear of Him, his eyelid is wet with pouring tears.
Although his genealogy attributes him to a stone [hajar],
how often tears have flowed, sweet, pure and fresh!
Praise of you does not do you justice, but perhaps, in eternity,
its verses will be transformed into mansions.
My praise of you shall continue for as long as I live,
For I see nothing that could ever deflect me from your praise.”
1. Abdullah Siraj ad-Din, Muhammad Rasulullah.
2. 11th Contentions – Abdul hakim Murad
3. Abu Dawud.
6. Hakim in al-Mustadarak
8. Abu Dawud
10. Bukhari and Muslim
11. 11th Contentions – Abdul hakim Murad