If [Muhammad] heard a baby crying in the mosque during Friday prayers, he nearly always brought the prayers to an end earlier than he had intended: he could not bear to think of the distress of the baby's mother.

The laws formulated in the Qu'ran sound ruthless to us today, but the Prophet himself was known to be lenient. One tradition recalls an occasion when Muhammad had passed sentence on a poor man who had committed a minor crime: for his penance he was told to give alms. That man replied that he had neither food nor goods to give away. Just at that moment a large basket of dates was carried into the mosque as a gift to the Prophet. "Here you are," Muhammad said, and told the man to distribute the dates among the poor. The criminal replied that he honestly did not know anyone in the settlement who was worse off than himself. Muhammad laughed and told him that to eat the dates would be his penance.

Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet