When you ask the people around you, "What is mercy?" or "How would you define mercy?", you would, most probably, receive a variety of responses and illustrations. Some say that a neighbour feeding stray dogs on the street is the most compassionate person they have ever met. Others illustrate mercy with the interest and sincerity shown by a relative when they were sick. Others, on the other hand, regard a friend weeping for someone who has passed away as a "symbol of mercy". These definitions largely resemble one another. However, none of them offers the definition of mercy in its real sense.
The source of true compassion is love of Allah. An individual's love of Allah leads him to feel an intimacy towards all these beings to whom Allah has given life. Someone who loves Allah feels a direct link with and closeness to His creatures; he feels compassion and mercy towards them. Out of this profound love and attachment to Allah, Who created him and all other people, he behaves towards others in accordance with good morals as set forth in the Qur'an. He fulfils Allah's orders regarding mercy. Real mercy is manifested when one fully complies with these commands of the Qur'an. That is because the Qur'an is the very source that describes, in the most accurate way, what real compassion means and what a compassionate human being should do. There are numerous verses in the Qur'an which guide people to act with true mercy.
However, there is an important difference between the love felt for Allah and a feeling of compassion. This difference results from the fact that love for Allah is sincere and pure. Compassion embraces love mixed with feelings of mercy that is felt for someone because of his weaknesses. Whereas, there is no compassion in the love felt for Allah, because Allah is far from all kinds of incompleteness, weaknesses and defects. The feeling for one's own Creator can only be a powerful feeling of "love", which inspires enthusiasm, excitement, admiration and adoration. Hence, sincere and pure love can be felt only for Allah, whereas compassion can be felt for beings created by Allah to be weak and powerless.
The Qur'an provides a detailed description of true mercy, the attributes of a compassionate person, the kind of differences compassion brings forth in one's morality and finally the positive influence compassionate people have on their environment. Allah also gives an account of cruelty originating from a lack of compassion and mercy. Accordingly, the good and the bad, the unjust and the compassionate have been distinguished from one other.
Believers, by nature, are those who enjoy the sublime morality of the Qur'an. Therefore, they feel peace of mind only when they truly experience this morality. This being so, they do not feel any difficulty in showing compassion as portrayed in the Qur'an. On the contrary, they experience it as a natural good, originating from their faith. Allah summons believers to experience compassion as follows:
… And take the believers under your wing. (Surat al-Hijr: 88)
Allah expresses the sort of compassion demonstrated by believers as "taking under the wing", because, compassion is perceived by them as a form of moral understanding extending to every moment of human life, rather than an attitude displayed in particular situations. Consequently, numerous moral and ethical characteristics emerge reflecting their compassion.
This book provides an account of the believers' understanding of mercy, which depends on the love of Allah, their practicing this goodness at every moment of human life, in accordance with the injunctions of the Qur'an, and the persons to whom they show mercy.
Similarly, this book is an invitation to all people to live by the moral standards with which Allah is pleased and to demonstrate mercy as described in the Qur'an. Allah has promised "forgiveness and an immense reward" (Surat al-Fath: 29) to His servants who believe, who are compassionate towards believers and engage in righteous deeds.