It seems so strange, but the words “be kind” have lost their meaning and essence. Kindness is something that Islam propagates to the extent that even a smile gets a reward. The Muslim is one who puts others before himself and tries to help others whenever he can.

Our Prophet (peace be upon him) was the greatest human example of kindness. Being kind to one another softens the heart and leads to love and strong bonds between Muslims. We all know the Prophetic narration that states: No one will be a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.

When walking the streets in this country, just how many times do we initiate the Islamic greeting to others? Do we give our salaams to whom we know and whom we don’t know out of sincerity towards Allah? Saying salaams also entails an attitude of humility and spreading a symbol of this Ummah.

Too often, we underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word or a listening ear. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that we should not dismiss certain acts of kindness by deeming them to be insignificant, even if it was to meet your brother with a smiling face.

Is it that hard for us to put this into practice? Imagine you smiled at everyone you met. How would you feel? Next time you go out, smile at people you meet and you will see the difference in yourself and the way you perceive everything around you. As Muslims, we know kindness is a trait that brings about solace and comfort. Among the branches of kindness is to be gentle with people. But today it is so normal to see harshness around us.

Ibn Majah reports through Abu Hurairah that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed Allah is gentle and loves gentleness and gives due to gentleness that which he does not give to harshness.”

Through gentleness, hearts become united, love develops, and good spreads around. Through kindness, we can turn harsh people into mild, enemies into friends and opponents into companions. Allah has blessed many of us with the blessing of having someone work for us, whether it be a house cleaner or a driver, something that is not common in the West. However, we read so many stories of cruelty and misconduct towards them.

Al-Bukhari and Muslim report that Anas said, “I never felt any piece of velvet or silk softer than the palm of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), nor did I smell any fragrance more pleasant than the smell of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). I served him for 10 years and he never said Uff (an expression of annoyance) to me. He never said, ‘Why did you do that?’ for something I had done, nor did he ever say, ‘Why did you not do such and such’ for something I had not done.”

Look and contemplate upon the kindness of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that he never found faults with the doings of his servant nor did he ever scold him during the 10 years of service. If we view ourselves in the light of this Hadith, then we’ll realize how far and distant we are from the best guidance.

Leave others aside, how do we treat our own families and children? Kindness breeds the type of patience that leads to morality. We also feel tremendous happiness by making others happy. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money cannot buy. The real treasures that Allah has bestowed upon us – the gift of seeing, hearing and sensing.

There is a famous Hadith reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim that shows how kindness can get our sins forgiven: “Once there was a dog wondering around, dying of thirst, when a prostitute saw it. She then took off her shoe and used it to give the dog water (out of a well). She was granted forgiveness (i.e. for her sins for being a prostitute when she repented).”

So how can we become the kind person who puts others before himself? We must first start by having the correct belief in Islam and understanding of Islamic monotheism. This is the foundation of everything. If our belief in Allah is corrupted then we cannot expect to be good. It is like the example of a house.

If the foundations are weak, the whole house will be vulnerable but if the foundations are strong it will be sturdy and resilient. Next, we must have sincerity in what we are doing and do it for the sake of Allah alone. Then we must try to follow the Prophet (peace be upon him) as much as possible being conscious of the verse of the Qur’an that says Allah loves those who obey and follow Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Imam Muslim reports in his Sahih that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever is not kind has no faith;” and “one who lacks kindness of heart lacks all good.”