Peace, one and all…
In the following beautiful hadith, we find the Prophet (as) with his grandchildren:
‘The Messenger of God kissed his grandson Hasan, the son of Ali, while Aqra` bin Habis al-Tamimi was sitting nearby. Aqra` said: ‘I have ten children and have not kissed any of them’. The Messenger of God looked at him and said: ‘He who does not show mercy shall not be shown mercy’.’
(Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Adab, no. 6063, Source)
As I read this short account, I am struck by several things. The Prophet (as) displayed his love for his grandchildren publicly. He was not afraid to show affection in front of others, and felt no need to be harsh. In the context of 7th century Arabia, this was a radical act, as such displays were widely felt to affect a man’s muruwwa (‘manliness’ in this context). Even in this simple act, the Prophet (as) was subtly redefining masculinity and what it means to be a man. We really need such teachings in our contemporary world.
Although it is vital to declare our love, to tell those we love of our feelings, it is also important to show it physically. The Prophet (as) kisses his grandson. In other places, the Prophet (as) places the cure for a hard heart in caressing an orphan’s head. In other words, rahma must be embodied, to be made visibly manifest. It is as if the earth itself were somehow in need of this affection. Our task, therefore, as God’s servants it to make mercy tangible in this domain, upon this plane of being.
Finally, mercy surrounds us. It is inherent in each particle of creation, in each moment’s infinite potential. Yet, to make it real, to truly know it, we have to give of ourselves first.
And praise be to God, who maketh it so.