ABU DHABI //A message of mercy for all creatures is embedded in the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed, guests of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed's majilis have been told.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces invited the renowned Muslim scholar, Dr Sheikh Usama Al Sayyid Al Azhari, to address the majilis on Monday evening.
Although Sheikh Mohammed was in the UK at the time, the majilis was attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, the Rulers' Representative in Al Gharbia, and Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the National Security Adviser, among others.
"The prophet came and was a symbol of mercy," said Dr Al Azhari, an Egyptian supervisor at the office of Al Azhar Message and a lecturer at Al Azhar University. "He did not leave us with sunnahs without having mercy embedded in it."
Focusing on the Quranic verse, "We sent thee not but as a mercy for all creatures", Dr Al Azhari told attendees this meant the Prophet Mohammed was sent as mercy to all mankind and living creatures - not just for Muslims, or Arabs, or humans alone.
The Prophet once told his disciples a story about a woman who went to hell after not feeding her cat and trapping it from going to find food on its own. Dr Al Azhari said this story was told to show how important mercy was, "not only to humans, but all creatures".
Scholars have mulled over the story for centuries, Dr Al Azhari said, wondering why it was about a woman specifically and if that meant men were exempted. But they concluded they were not.
"God said [Islam] was mercy not just for humans or Muslims, but for all," he said. "The door of mercy is open until the day of judgement."
Dr Al Azhari went on to explain how the Prophet had built a society based on three pillars of mercy shown through humans, patriotism and nation-building.
Reciting a poem to show the importance of the human pillar, Dr Al Azhari spoke of how the Prophet paused in respect while passing a Jewish funeral. When his companions asked him why he did so as the deceased was a Jew, he replied: "Is he not human?"
Nation-building, he said, showed mercy in the ability to build civilisations and institutions - an important part of Islam.
Mercy in patriotism - whether expressed in loyalty to family, a tribe, a profession, a country, or a religion - meant avoiding extremism.
The feeling of belonging could be felt in increasing spheres, he said."Small spheres are a sense of belonging to a tribe, or ideology. If the spheres are spoilt by another it could turn to extremism. We are ordered to stay away from extremism. If the small sphere spoils the big sphere, it is wrong."