Through the Prophet's character and behavior true gentleness and mercy can be seen manifest in action
Sectarian bloodbaths in Iraq ... suicide bombers blowing themselves up in parking lots of hotels, taking innocent lives...female madrassah students in Islamabad waving cane sticks at shopkeepers and vendors ... people being turned away from Islam from the harshness of many of those deemed "religious" ...There is a loss of mercy and gentleness around. Yet we see anger and harshness abound, and one wonders what has gone wrong.
In reality, Divine guidance and Prophetic teachings are nothing but a manifestation of mercy-and any understanding of religion lacking in mercy is lacking in true understanding.
Learning to Love
In dealing with disagreements, Imam Razi mentions an important principle in his great Qur'anic exegesis: there is no contradiction between being firm on what one understands to be the truth and between being gentle. Rather, the way of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) is to be firm, when firmness is called upon, but with mercy and gentleness-in both attitude and action.
The Fault in Fleeing
Harshness within communities leads to disunity and discord (fitna), as people "flee from each other," to use the Qur'anic metaphor above. The Prophetic example entails that we differ with respect for the other party. We should see the good in them; consider the points and issues of commonality, and not merely those of difference; and always assume that they, too, are sincerely seeking the truth.
And then when we act or speak in matters or situations where there is disagreement or difference-whatever it may be and whomever it may be with-we should stop and consider: how would the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) have acted in this situation? If we reflect on his example, we cannot possibly imagine him acting with other than excellence, mercy, and gentleness in any situation or with anyone.
Source: Islamica Magazine