The world is something that is never stable. One can be rich today, poor tomorrow, healthy today, sick
tomorrow, happy today, and sad tomorrow. There is absolutely no certainty of any comfort or luxury lasting.
Since this world is all that the disbeliever has to live for and his be all and end all, when he is afflicted with hardship and calamity, the whole world comes to a standstill or to an end for him. He thus falls into a deep state of depression and many a times even stoops to the level of terminating his life by committing suicide.
On the other hand, a believer believes that he is only in this world temporarily, hence, there is no need for him to be grieved by the difficulties that he encounters, as they are also temporary and will soon be replaced by eternal pleasure in Jannah.
This can be understood by the example of the person who goes for hajj. He undergoes many difficulties e.g. expenses, long flights in a cramped aircraft, delayed flights, long lines at immigration control counters, etc. Despite all the difficulty, this person keeps his focus on his destination – Baytullah. Hence, he happily endures all the difficulties as he knows that they are temporary. He also understands that there is no way to enjoy Makkah Mukarramah without undergoing the stress and challenges of travelling. Then, once his eyes fall on Baytullah, he forgets all the difficulties that he underwent.
In the exactly same manner, when a believer will place his foot in Jannah, he will forget all the hardships and calamities that he experienced in this world. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned:
“A man destined for Jahannum who had been enjoying the most amount of luxury in this world will be
brought on the Day of Qiyaamah and dipped once into Jahannum. He will then be asked, ‘O son of Aadam! Did you ever experience any good? Did you ever enjoy any comfort?’ He will say, ‘By Allah, no O my Rabb.’
‘And a man destined for Jannah who had suffered the most amount of difficulty in this world will be brought and dipped once into Jannah. He will then be asked, ‘O son of Aadam! Did you ever experience any suffering? Did any difficulty ever afflict you?’ He will say, ‘By Allah, no O my Rabb. I never experienced any suffering nor did any difficulty ever afflict me.’”
Further, a believer understands that Allah Ta‘ala is in full control of everything and that a difficulty presents a unique opportunity for a him to prove his loyalty and happiness over the decree of Allah Ta‘ala, thus earning great reward and progressing in his proximity to Allah Ta‘ala.
Hence, he is always progressing, as he is either expressing gratitude over the favours of Allah Ta‘ala (when there is no adversity), or he is expressing patience over the decree of Allah Ta‘ala.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “How wonderful is the condition of the believer! Indeed, every condition and affair of his is one of benefit and good, and this is not for any person besides a believer. If prosperous conditions come to him, he is grateful (to Allah Ta‘ala), and it is thus good (and rewarding) for him. And if adverse conditions befall him, he exercises patience, and it is thus good (and rewarding) for him.”
Blessing in Disguise:
A believer also believes that Allah Ta‘ala is Hakeem – All Wise. Hence his decision definitely has wisdom.Therefore, the difficulty that he is experiencing is actually a ‘blessing in disguise’.
As young children, many of us were dragged to the dentist. At the surgery, we were seated on the chair and made to open our mouths, after which the dentist carried out ‘unspeakable atrocities’ against us. Scaling, polishing, filling and worst of all – injecting and extracting – are some of the horrors that we were made to undergo. Now, as adults, we look back, in retrospect, and realize that the dentist was actually a blessing in disguise. Had he not treated us, we would have probably lost some of our teeth – a loss that would have plagued us for the rest of our lives. Thus, although we did not understand it at the time, the difficulty that we suffered was actually for the best.
Similarly, we often face difficulties and trials in our lives. Whether a car accident, a burglary, sickness or any other calamity befalls us, although we suffer and undergo difficulty at the time, we seldom realize that often there is actually great benefit and wisdom in the difficulty.
A few decades ago, a man from Durban was at the Jeddah airport, returning home from hajj. For no reason, the airport staff rejected his ticket, although he had confirmed the ticket prior to the flight. The officials refused to allow him to board the aircraft. This man was naturally upset and could not understand why he had been denied his seat on the plane. Hardly an hour had passed, when this man learned that the plane in which he was originally meant to travel had crashed and all the passengers had passed away! He was now relieved and grateful, realizing that although his ordeal had seemed to be a difficulty at the time, it was actually Allah Ta‘ala’s divine intervention to save him from the plane crash.
Furthermore, difficulty is sometimes sent our way in order to ward off a far greater calamity that was
destined to befall us. Simply because we fail to comprehend the benefit and wisdom behind the difficulty, it does not mean that it is not there.
Receiving an early warning or some prior information about a difficulty or problem, often makes it more
manageable for a person, as it does not come to him as a shock. Allah Ta‘ala has already given us an early warning that we will definitely be tested with various types of difficulties.
“And surely We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger, and loss in wealth, lives and fruits.”
Thereafter, explaining what our response should be to these tests, Allah Ta‘ala says:
“Give glad tidings to the patient”
Every test, in reality, is a means of progressing closer to Allah Ta‘ala. However, in order to progress and gain the special proximity of Allah Ta‘ala, we have to first pass the test. To pass the test, we have to ensure that we have no complaint – neither in our hearts nor on our tongues – against the decision of Allah Ta‘ala, and that we are completely happy with His divine decree. Only then will we qualify as being worthy of divine glad tidings.
Difficulties, are actually an ‘upgrade package’ from Allah Ta‘ala, provided a person adopts sabr. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned:
“When Allah Ta‘ala has decreed a particular rank (in Jannah) for a servant, but the servant is unable to reach this rank through his good deeds (as they are insufficient), then Allah Ta‘ala tests him in his body, wealth, or his children. Allah Ta‘ala then enables him to exercise patience over this test, until it makes him reach the rank that Allah Ta‘ala had decreed for him.”
Every person hopes for an upgrade – be it an upgrade to the latest cell phone model, an upgrade from
economy to business or first class, an upgrade to the latest car model, or even an upgrade from a normal hotel room to the Presidential Suite.
Our Beloved Allah Ta‘ala is so kind that He wishes for us to enjoy a very high level in Jannah. However, we sometimes fail to ‘qualify’ for this upgrade as we lack sufficient righteous actions. Hence, Allah Ta‘ala sends us free ‘upgrade’ packages. This package is sometimes a ‘bundle’ of sickness, our child passing away, a robbery, or any other calamity. Once the upgrade package is delivered, it requires an ‘activation’ which is the ‘password’ of patience and sabr. If we ‘download’ the mindset of adopting sabr and patience under all circumstances, we will receive the upgrades of the Aakhirah.
Formula of Peace:
Explaining the “patient ones”, Allah Ta‘ala says:
“…Those who, when a suffering visits them, say: ‘We certainly belong to Allah, and to Him we are bound to return. Those are the ones upon whom there are blessings from their Lord, and mercy as well; and those are the ones who are on the right path.”
Reciting “Innaa lillahi…” is actually a very great formula for peace, since one is reminding himself that everything belongs to Allah Ta‘ala and will inevitably return to Him. Hence, there is no need to become depressed when He has taken away that which belonged to Him.
Sayyidah Ummu Salamah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) states that she heard Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioning,” Whenever any servant is afflicted with a difficulty and he says:
“We certainly belong to Allah, and to Him we are bound to return. O Allah! Grant me reward in this hardship of mine, and give me something better in exchange for it” then Allah Ta‘ala will certainly reward him in his difficulty and will provide him with a better substitute”.
When (my husband) Abu Salamah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) passed away, I asked (myself), from all the believers who could be better than Abu Salamah? (He was from) the first household to migrate for the cause of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).Then I recited the supplication, and Allah Ta‘ala substituted me with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).
Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha)expressed the same sentiment on the occasion of the death of her child.
Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) and Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had a son named Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu‘anhu). Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was a very handsome child and his father, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), loved him intensely. One day, after Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had grown into a young, active child, he fell extremely sick.
While Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) one evening, Abu ‘Umair (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) succumbed to his illness and passed away. Before Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) could arrive, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) took the body of her just-deceased son, gave it ghusal and enshrouded it in a kafan. She then placed the body in a corner of the home, out of sight. She thereafter prepared supper for her husband, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), who happened to be fasting.
When Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) arrived, he immediately asked Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha), “How is the boy?” Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) replied, “He is more at peace than he ever was.” Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) understood this reply to mean that the child had recovered from his illness and thus felt relaxed, allowing him to eat his supper in comfort. After he had eaten, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha), beautified herself more than she had ever done before and presented herself to her husband. They thereafter shared the bed.
The following morning, when Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) had performed ghusal and was about to leave home, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) said to him, “O Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu)! Tell me, if some people loaned an item of theirs to a household and thereafter asked the household to return it, would the household have the right to withhold the item?” Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) replied, “No.” Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) then said, “Hope for reward on account of your son (passing away). Allah Ta‘ala had loaned him to us and has now taken him back.” When he heard the news of his son’s demise, Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was naturally shocked and upset and said, “You
left me to share the bed with you and thereafter informed me of my son?” He thereafter proceeded to perform salaah with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alahi wasallam), after which he informed Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) of the events of the previous night.When he heard what had transpired, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) made du‘aa for Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu‘anha) and Abu Talhah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) saying, “May Allah Ta‘ala grant you barakah in the night you spent together.” Thus, Ummu Sulaim (radhiyallahu ‘anha) had conceived that night. A son, ‘Abdullah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), was born who had nine sons, all of whom had studied the Quraan Majeed.
(Saheeh Bukhaari vol.2, pg.822, Saheeh Muslim vol.2, pg.208 and Fathul Baari vol. 3, pg. 217)
Sabr of Zainab (radhiyallahu ‘anha):
Zainab (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was the eldest daughter of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Once her child,Umaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), became so ill that she was literally on the verge of death. Zainab (radhiyallahu‘anha) sent a message to Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) requesting him to come. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) initially sent the messenger back instructing him to convey salaams to her and give her the following message,
“Verily to Allah Ta‘ala alone belongs all that He gives and takes and everything has a prescribed time to remain. She should thus be patient and hope for reward.”
Shortly thereafter, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) arrived with a few Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum). On arriving, he was handed the child whose breath was laboured and was making a gurgling sound similar to that of water being poured into an old water skin. Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was affected by the plight of this child and the sabr her mother made and thus began to shed tears. Sa’d bin ‘Ubaadah (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) enquired from Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) regarding his crying, to which He (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied:
“This is due to mercy which Allah Ta‘ala places in the hearts of His servants, and He only showers His mercy on those servants of His who show mercy to others.”
Allah Ta‘ala then granted the child complete cure and she survived. Some Muhadditheen explain that it was on account of Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)’s submission as well as the sabr of Zainab (radhiyallahu ‘anha) that the life of the child, Umaamah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) was spared.
This incident explains many points to us with regards to the manner in which we should behave in the face of trials and difficulties. Some of them are:
1. Have full conviction in Allah Ta‘ala being the controller and in Him having the complete right to do as He pleases.
2. When a person loans us something which belongs to him, we cannot complain when he wishes to take it back. Similarly, we don’t have the right to complain when Allah Ta‘ala wishes to take away from us that which He had himself loaned to us.
عن أسامة بن زيد رضي الله عنهما قال : أرسلت النبي بنت إليه إن ابنا لي قبض فأتنا ، فأرسل يقرئ السلام ويقول : D إن s ما أخذ وله ما أعطى ، وكل
عنده جل مسمى ، فلتصبر ولتحتسب C فأرسلت إليه تقسم عليه ليأتينها . فقام ومعه سعد بن عبادة ومعاذ بن جبل وأبي بن كعب وزيد بن Öبت ورجال ، فرفع
إلى رسول الله الصبي ونفسه تتقعقع ، قال : حسبته أنه قال : كأàا شن ففاضت عيناه ، فقال سعد : / رسول الله ، ما هذا ؟ : فقال D هذه رحمة ، جعلها الله
في قلوب عباده ، وإنما يرحم الله من عباده الرحماء C ) . D صحيح البخاري C/ ١ ( ١٧١
قال الحافظ ابن حجر رحمه الله بعد البحث و التمحيص : الصواب في حديث الباب أن المرسلة زينب وأن الولد صبية كما ثبت في مسند أحمد عن أبي معاوية êلسند المذكور
لفظهو … و وقع في رواية بعضهم أميمة êلتصغير ، وهي أمامة المذكورة ، فقد اتفق أهل العلم êلنسب أن زينب لم تلد لأبي العاص إلا عليا وأمامة فقط ، وقد استشكل ذلك من
حيث أن أهل العلم êلأخبار اتفقوا على أن أمامة بنت أبي العاص من زينب بنت النبي عاشت بعد النبي حتى تزوجها علي بن أبي طالب بعد وفاة فاطمة ، ثم عاشت عند
علي حتى قتل عنها ، ويجاب ن المراد بقوله في حديث الباب إن ابنا لي قبض أي قارب أن يقبض ، ويدل على ذلك … وقد قدمنا أن الصواب قول من قال ابنتي لا ابني ،
ويؤيده ما رواه الطبراني في ترجمة عبد الرحمن بن عوف في المعجم الكبير من طريق …قال استعز مامة بنت أبي العاص ، فبعث زينب بنت رسول الله إليه تقول له ، فذكر نحو
َّز بضم المثناة و كسر المهملة و تشديد الزاي أي اشتد ùا المرض وأشرفت على الموت ،
حديث أسامة … وقوله في هذه الرواية ا والذي يظهر أن الله تعالى أكرم نبيه لما سلم
لأمر ربه و صبر ابنته ، ولم يملك مع ذلك عينيه من الرحمة و الشفقة ن عافى الله ابنة ابنته في ذلك الوقت ، فخلصت من تلك الشدة وعاشت تلك المدة ، وهذا ينبغي أن يذكر في
دلائل النبوة والله المستعان … ( D فتح الملهم C/ ٢ ( ٤٧٠
3. We should always be patient and turn our focus to the great rewards that have been promised for being patient.
4. It is not only permissible but also perfectly natural that one cries in expression of grief. Wailing and complaining against Allah Ta‘ala, however, are under no circumstances permissible
Sabr of ‘Urwah bin Zubair (rahimahullah):
‘Urwah bin Zubair (rahimahullah) was the brother of ‘Abdullah bin Zubair (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) and among the leading Taabi‘een and ‘Ulama of Madeenah Munawwarah. He was once on a journey to meet Waleed bin ‘Abdil Malik when a sore developed on his leg. Eventually his leg needed to be amputated and a doctor was called. The doctor instructed ‘Urwah (rahimahullah) to take a sedative so that he would be able to amputate the leg while ‘Urwah (rahimahullah) was asleep. ‘Urwah (rahimahullah), however, refused to take the sedative saying, “Go ahead and amputate. I cannot imagine how a person can ever consume something which will cause him to be negligent and unaware of Allah Ta‘ala.” The doctor therefore placed the blade on his left knee and began to amputate. Such was the patience and tolerance of ‘Urwah (rahimahullah) that those who were around him at the time later mentioned that he did not utter even one remark of complaint! Rather, the most they heard from him was an occasional hiss of pain. During the course of the same journey, the son of ‘Urwah (rahimahullah), Muhammad, fell from the roof of a home and was trampled to death by animals.
After undergoing all this difficulty, ‘Urwah (rahimahullah) addressed Allah Ta‘ala and thanked Him saying, “O Allah! I had seven sons. You took only one and left me with six! O Allah! I had four limbs. You took only one and left me with three! I take an oath in Your name! If You take something away from a person, You also leave with him (that which will suffice him), and if You test a person, You also grant him comfort.”
Apart from the amazing sabr displayed by ‘Urwah (rahimahullah), this incident also teaches us an easy
method to achieve sabr – by constantly reflecting over the countless favours with which Allah Ta‘ala has blessed us. If Allah Ta‘ala tests us by taking one favour away, He has still left us with innumerable other favours which we continue to enjoy.
Hardships, problems, difficulties and calamities are inevitable and are a means of progress as long as we adopt sabr, remain pleased with the decision of Allah Ta‘ala and do not complain of the circumstances. Whenever we face a difficulty in future, let our first reaction be that of sabr and happiness with the decision of Allah Ta‘ala.
خرج عروة بن الزبير إلى الوليد بن عبد الملك ، فخرجت برجله آكلة فقطعها ، وسقط ابن له عن ظهر بيت فوقع تحت أرجل الدواب فقطعته ، فأ•ه رجل يعزيه
فقال : ي شيء تعزيني ؟ ولم يدر êبنه . فقال له رجل : ابنك يحيى ، قطعته الدواب . قال : وأيم الله ، لئن كنت أخذت لقد أعطيت ، ولئن كنت ابتليت لقد
ۡ عافيت ،
… لما أصيب عروة بن الزبير برجله وêبنه محمد قال : اللهم كانوا سبعة فأخذت واحدا وأبقيت ستة ، وكن أربعا
فأخذت واحدة وأبقيت ثلاÖ ، وأيمنك لئن كنت أخذت لقد أبقيت ، ولئن كنت ابتليت لقد أعفيت … وقعت الآكلة في رجله ، فقيل له : ألا ندعو لك طبيبا ؟
قال : إن شئتم . فجاء الطبيب فقال : أسقيك شراê يزول فيه عقلك ، فقال : امض لشأنك ، ما ظننت أن خلقا يشرب شراê ويزول فيه عقله حتى لا يعرف ربه ،
: قال فوضع المنشار على ركبته اليسرى ونحن حوله ، فما سمعنا له حسا ، فلما قطعها جعل يقول : لئن أخذت لقد أبقيت ، ولئن ابتليت لقد عافيت ، وما ترك
حزبه من القراءة تلك الليلة . ( D Æذيب الكمال C- ١٩/٢٠