By Sheima Salam Sumer
Definition: The ability to recognize and understand the feelings of another.
always feel our suffering and is praised by Allah for his empathetic nature. “There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful.” [Qur’an: Chapter 9, Verse 128]
The Prophet (PBUH) himself also encouraged us to feel empathy for each other; he was reported to have said: “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy
are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” [Bukhari]
One account of the Prophet’s (PBUH) compassion in action is when he was sitting with his companions one morning, and poor members of a tribe approached. They had no shoes and their bones were visible from hunger. Immediately, he and his companions took up a collection for the tribe, generously helping them. [Muslim]
There is also the famous hadith about the Prophet’s (PBUH) empathy for mothers in mosques that was narrated by Anas bin Malik: “The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: ‘I start prayer and I want to make it long, but then I hear an infant crying, so I make my prayer short, because I know the distress caused to the mother by his crying.’” [Ibn Majah]
The Prophet (PBUH) even had care and empathy for animals. Once, upon entering a garden, he saw a camel that was just skin and bones. Upon seeing it, the Prophet (PBUH) began crying. He then put his hand on its head until it was comforted. He said to the owner of that camel, “Don’t you fear Allah in this beast that He has placed in your possession? It has complained to me that you keep it hungry and load it heavily, and that fatigues it.” [Abu Dawud]
How It Can Transform Your Life
Empathy transforms your social relationships because it gives you a more accurate and deeper understanding of issues and conflicts. It is a key trait to becoming a better spouse, parent, teacher and friend.
You often think you understand yourself well enough, but when you take the time to name your feelings and really clarify them, you will be amazed at the relief and inner peace you feel within yourself.
The next time you are feeling a negative emotion, try being empathetic to yourself. Name the feelings that you are experiencing. Notice how just clarifying your inner thoughts
and feelings helps you feel better.
How To Develop Your Empathy
1- The first step is to make the intention to try to “walk in the shoes” of others.
2- The next step is to understand yourself and your own feelings better. Realize that your life experiences help you develop your empathy.
Empathy helps us make more effective decisions and shows that we care.