Overall Meaning: Meaning of pity:
Shafaqah linguistically: It is a noun from ishfaq, which is to be careful with a thing and fearful over it. It is said: Ashfaqtu minh (I had pity from him), and ashfaqtu `alayh (I had pity on him). One does not use the form: Shafiqt. One who is shafiq is the advisor, the one who cares for the wellness of the advised. [341] Tahdhib al-Lughah, al-Azhari (8/261); al-Sihah, al-Jawhari (4/1501-1502).
Shafaqah technically: It is the tenderness of fear. It is fear borne of mercy from the fearful one over the one he has fear over. Its attribution to fear is the same as compassion’s attribution to mercy - compassion is the kindest and most tender form of mercy. [342] Madarij al-Salikin, Ibn al-Qayyim. It is also said: Shafaqah is care mixed in with fear, since the one who has pity loves the one whom he pities, and fears that harm comes to him. [343] al-Mufradat, al-Raghib (p. 458-459).

Difference between pity and tenderness:
A person may be tender with that which he has no pity for, like those who buried their baby daughters. They cannot help but be tender with them, since this is part of human nature, but they did not pity them. Had they had pity on them, they would not have buried them alive. [344] al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 300).

Commandments of pity and encouragement towards it in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
❖ Allah, exalted, says, “A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your suffering distresses him: he is deeply concerned for you and full of compassion and mercy towards the believers.” (al-Tawbah: 128) Meaning, a messenger who has pity on you, who is distressed by your being harmed. [345] al-Kulliyat, al-Kafawi (p. 1515).
❖ al-Nu`man ibn Bashir, Allah be pleased with them both, said, “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘The example of the believers in their endearment, compassion, and affection to one another is that of a body. if a part of it is in distress, the rest of the body is feverish and unable to rest.’” [346] Reported by al-Bukhari (6011) and Muslim (2586), and the wording is his. This is imagery used to describe how the believers ought to be with one another in showing mercy and compassion. [347] Sahih Ibn Hibban (1/496).
❖ Abu Hurayrah, Allah be pleased with him, narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “If one of you leads the prayer, let him lighten it. Among the congregation is the young, old, weak, and sick. When he is praying by himself, he can pray as he wishes.” [348] Reported by al-Bukhari (703) and Muslim (467), and the wording is his.

Quotes of predecessors and scholars on pity:
❖ Aslam narrates, “`Umar ibn al-Khattab, Allah be pleased with him, used a slave of his called Hunayy as a guard. He told him, ‘Hunayy, enfold your wing from the Muslims, and beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for the supplication of the oppressed is surely answered.’” [349] Reported by al-Bukhari (3059). His saying, “Enfold your wing” is a metaphor for mercy and pity. [350] `Umdat al-Qari, al-`Ayni (14/304).
❖ Abu al-Khayr, “Hearts are in different states. There are hearts filled with faith. The sign of such a heart is pity on all Muslims, caring for what they care for, and aiding them that the good of it reaches them. There are hearts that are filled with hypocrisy. The sign of such a heart is that it is filled with malice, rancour, cheating, and envy.” [351] Tarikh Dimash, Ibn `Asakir (66/161).

Categories of pity:
Pity can be praiseworthy or blameworthy. The latter is that due to which the Law of Allah is repealed, or there is reluctance to enforce one of His penal codes. An example of this is having pity on a person who deserves to be shown a punishment. It is not at all pity to try and revoke his punishment and show him pardon. Or like one who allows his students to cheat during a test, having pity on them that they do not fail!

Benefits of pity and its impact:
1- Whoever adorns himself with it has adorned himself with a quality of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. 
2- Those of that quality have been specially promised Allah’s mercy due to what they have shown others of mercy and pity. 
3- A cause for Allah to love His slave, and for the people to subsequently love him. 
4- It is a great pillar upon which a strong, cohesive Muslim society may build; with affection and pity for one another. 
5- It is a reason to gain Allah’s forgiveness, blessed and exalted, and the ennoblement of His pardon. Just as its opposite is a reason for His wrath and anger. 

Forms of pity:
1- A ruler having pity on his subjects, avoiding what would cause them difficulty. 
2- Pity on children, having affection for them, and sadness if harm afflicts them. 
3- The pity parents have over their children. 
4- Pity on women. 

Barriers to acquiring pity:
1- Arrogance with people. 
2- Being maleficent with others. 
3- Satiation: If one is satiated with food, he will think all the creation is likewise. 
4- Envy: It is the enemy of blessings from Allah. One of its consequences is lack of pity for the Muslims. 

Means to acquiring pity:
1- Adorning oneself with graciousness. 
2- Not satiating oneself. 
3- Not being envious. 
4- Mixing with the weak, destitute, and needy. 
5- Rubbing the head of the orphan and other such acts soften one’s heart and instigates having mercy and pity on them and others. 

Examples of pity from prophets, messengers, and companions:
❖ The Prophets, Allah’s exaltations be upon them, were from the loftiest in showing pity and mercy to their people and being forbearing with them. They would pity them despite the constant harm they showed them. `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said, “It is as if I am looking at the Prophet ﷺ as he is narrating the story of one of the Prophets whose people hit him, making him bleed. He would wipe the blood from his face, saying, ‘Lord, forgive my people, for they do not know.’” [352] Reported by al-Bukhari (6929) and the wording is his, as well as Muslim (1792).
❖ In this is an indication of what the Prophets, Allah’s exaltations and peace be upon them, had of forbearance, patience, pardon, and pity with their people, supplicating for them with guidance and forgiveness. They excused them for the harassment they showed them due to them not knowing. [353] Sharh al-Nawawi `ala Muslim (12/150).
❖ Anas, Allah be pleased with him, narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said in the known report of intercession, “My Ummah! My Ummah!” [354] Reported by al-Bukhari (7520) and Muslim (293). This is borne of the mercy and pity he ﷺ is characterised with. [355] Shu`ab al-Iman, al-Bayhaqi (2/163).
❖ al-Asma`i said, “The people spoke to `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf so that he may speak to `Umar ibn al-Khattab, Allah be pleased with him, that he softens with them, for he had instilled fear in the hearts of virgins in their chambers! `Abd al-Rahman spoke to him. `Umar turned to him, Allah be pleased with them both, and said, ‘`Abd al-Rahman, I have naught for them but this. If they knew what I had in my heart for them of compassion, mercy, and pity, they would grasp my garment from the shoulders.’” [356] Reported by Abu Bakr al-Diyanwari in al-Mujalasah wa Jawahir al-`Ilm (4/43).

Pity in proverbs of poetry:
❖ It is said, “Having more pity than a mother has on her child.” [357] Jamharat al-Amthal, al-`Askari (p. 538).
❖ The poet said,
“A companion of mine, I for him and he for me
Were more full of pity than a father and his son.
We were like a shin which the foot guides forth,
Or like a forearm attached to its upper arm.” [358] `Uyun al-Akhbar, Ibn Qutaybah (3/93).