Overall Meaning: Meaning of gentleness:
Rifq linguistically: It is the opposite of violence and aggression. It is said: Rafaqa bil-amr wa lahu wa `alayh (he was gentle in dealing with matters). Lataf (he was kind). [261] Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (10/118).
Rifq technically: It is softness in speech and action, and taking that which is easier. [262] Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar (10/449). It is said: It is blandishment with those one is gentle with, being soft with them, and kindness in dealing with matters in the best and easiest of ways. [263] Marqat al-Mafatih, al-Qari (8/3170)

Commandments of gentleness and encouragement towards it in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
“It is out of Allah’s mercy that you Prophet have been lenient with them. Had you been cruel or hard-hearted, they would have certainly abandoned you. So pardon them, ask Allah’s forgiveness for them, and consult with them in conducting matters. Once you make a decision, put your trust in Allah. Surely Allah loves those who trust in Him.” (Al `Imran: 159)
❖ He, sanctified, said addressing His Messenger, “Lower your wing tenderly over the believers who follow you.” (al-Shu`ara’: 215) Meaning, be gentle with them and be lenient with them. [264] Ma`alim al-Tanzil, al-Baghawi (6/207).
❖ He, sanctified, commands Musa and Harun, saying, “Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has exceeded all bounds. Speak to him leniently, so perhaps he may be mindful or fearful.” (Taha: 43-44) Soft speech inspires the addressee to remember and adhere to truth, and harsh speech repels him. [265] Tafsir al-Sa`di, (p. 506).
❖ Jarir, Allah be pleased with him, narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever is prohibited from gentleness has been prohibited from goodness.” [266] Reported by Muslim (2592).
❖ Abu al-Darda’, Allah be pleased with him, narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “Whoever is given his share of gentleness has been given his share of goodness. Whoever is prohibited from his share of gentleness has been prohibited from his share of goodness.” [267] Reported by al-Tirmidhi (2013) and this is his wording, as well as Ahmad (27553) with similar wording. al-Tirmidhi said, “Sound and authentic.” Authenticated by al-Albani in Sahih Sunan al-Tirmidhi (2013).

Quotes of the predecessors and scholars on gentleness:
❖ It reached `Umar ibn al-Khattab, Allah be pleased with him, that a group from his subjects complained about his workers. He commanded that they come to him. When they arrived, he praised Allah and exalted him then said, “Citizens, surely, we have a right over you: private advice, and aiding us towards good. There isn’t forbearance more beloved to Allah than that of a leader with his subjects and his gentleness with them. Citizens, there isn’t ignorance more hateful to Allah than that of a leader and his foolishness. Citizens, whoever seeks wellbeing for those around him, Allah will cause wellbeing to descend upon him.”||hamish||268||/hamish||
❖ `Urwah ibn al-Zubayr said, “It used to be said that gentleness is the head of wisdom.” [269] Reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah (25308) and Ahmad in al-Zuhd (274).
❖ Hubayyib ibn Hujr al-Qaysi said, “How beautiful is faith when adorned with knowledge. How beautiful is knowledge when adorned with action. How beautiful is action adorned with gentleness.” [270] `Uyun al-Akhbar, Ibn Qutaybah (1/396). Benefits of Gentleness [271] Nadrat al-Na`im, authored by a number of researchers (6/2168), with little adaptation.
A path that leads to the Garden. A sign of perfect faith and sound Islam. It bears the fruit of the love of Allah and the people. Develops the spirit of care, affection, and cooperation among people. A sign of a slave’s righteousness and his good morals. Through gentleness, society grows free of violence and hate. A sign of its possessor’s understanding, deliberation, and wisdom. 

Forms of gentleness:
1- Being gentle with one’s self in performing its obligations. 
2- Gentleness with people generally by being lenient, not harsh or dry, and dealing with them kindly. 
3- Gentleness with those whom one calls to Allah. Allah, exalted, says, “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way.” (al-Nahl: 125) 
4- Gentleness with one’s subjects for whom he is responsible. 
5- Gentleness with servants and those whom one owns. 
6- Gentleness with animals. There is reward in kindness to every animal carrying a wet liver. A man quenched the thirst of a dog, and Allah appreciated this from him so forgave him. 

Examples of the gentleness of the Prophet ﷺ and his Companions:
❖ The Prophet ﷺ was gentle in his teaching the ignorant. Anas ibn Malik, Allah be pleased with him, narrates, “While we were in the mosque with Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, a bedouin came and began to urinate in the mosque. The Companions of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, ‘Stop! Stop!’ But the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Don't interrupt him; leave him alone.’ They left him alone, and when he finished urinating, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ called him and said to him, ‘These mosques are not the places meant for urine and filth, but are only for the remembrance of Allah, prayer, and the recitation of the Qur’an,’ or something similar to that. He commanded one of the people who brought a bucket of water and poured it over.”
❖ `Umar ibn al-Khattab, Allah be pleased with him, used to go to al-`Awali every Saturday. If he found a slave doing work he is unable to bear, he would take it from him. [272] Reported by Malik (2/980) as something that reached him (balagh).

Gentleness in poetry:
❖ al-Muntasir ibn Bilal said,
“Gentleness is what makes its possessor have goodness.
Foolishness is what incites violence and making mistakes.” [273] Rawdat al-`Uqala’, Ibn Hibban al-Busti (p. 215).
❖ al-Nabighah said,
“Gentleness is a blessing and deliberation is happiness,
So be deliberate in gentleness, and you will have success.” [274] al-`Iqd al-Farid, Ibn `Abd Rabbih (2/202).