February 6, 2015
There is no greater challenge than exercising patience (Sabr) on the decree of Allah and nothing holds a greater virtue than being pleased (Ridaa) in its wake. This is part one of a three part series.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم: عجبت للمسلم إذا أصابته مصيبة احتسب و صبر و إذا اصابه خير حمد الله و شكر, إن المسلم يؤجر في كل شيء حتى في اللقمة يرفعها إلى فيه – البيهقي
Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “I am amazed at the believer who, when faced with a difficulty, hopes for reward and bears it patiently and when good befalls him, he praises Allah and expresses gratitude, the believer will be rewarded for his every deed, even for the morsel of food that he raises to his mouth.” (Baihaqi)
What is the position of Sabr (patience) and Ridaa (Contentment)?
- Sabr (to bear hardship patiently) is Fardh (compulsory)
- Ridaa (to be pleased with the decree of Allah) is Fadhl (virtuous)
In life, circumstances occur which will go against the wishes of a person. These difficulties can come about in many ways and are not confined merely to sickness, injury and the like, but these trials present themselves in ways which leave the mind perplexed about the wisdom behind the happenings of Taqdeer (predestination).
We often see people who are drowning in their wealth. They have so much that they do not know what to do with it. The temptation of these riches leads some to indulge in evil and oppression.
On the other hand there are those who are on the path of Deen and the students of divine knowledge, who are in a tight spot financially and afflicted with difficult circumstances, often trapped under the tyranny of the aforementioned oppressors.
This scenario opens the door for the whisperings of the devil, who uses it as an opportunity to create doubt in the mind about the wisdom behind the divine decree of Allah. The only way a believer can curb these whispers and save himself from doubt is to exercise patience upon the many tests which present themselves in their lives. It is only when placed under trying circumstances that the faith of a believer is tested. As the proverb goes:
“If you want to come out like pure gold
You are going to have to endure the heat of the refiner’s fire.”
From the Qur’anic Perspective
The Noble Qur’an discusses various ways to help us understand the wisdom behind Allah’s decree and appreciate it all the more.
Recognise Allah Ta’ala’s wisdom behind giving an abundance of riches and superficial ease to the disbelievers and sinners in this world:
وَلَا يَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا أَنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ خَيْرٌ لِّأَنفُسِهِمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا نُمْلِي لَهُمْ لِيَزْدَادُوا إِثْمًا ۚ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ
1. Those that disbelieve should not think that the respite We give them is good for them. In fact, We give them respite only that they may increase in sin, and for them is humiliating punishment. (Aal-Imran: 178)
وَلَوْلاَ أَن يَكُونَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَحِدَةً لَّجَعَلْنَا لِمَن يَكْفُرُ بِالرَّحْمَـنِ لِبُيُوتِهِمْ سُقُفاً مِّن فِضَّةٍ وَمَعَارِجَ عَلَيْهَا يَظْهَرُونَ
2. Were it not that all people would become of a single creed (i.e. disbelief), We would have caused, for those who disbelieve in Rahman, roofs of their houses to be made of silver, and the stairs as well, on which they would climb, (Az-Zukhruf: 33-34)
وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَن نُّهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا فَفَسَقُوا فِيهَا فَحَقَّ عَلَيْهَا الْقَوْلُ فَدَمَّرْنَاهَا تَدْمِيرًا
3. And when We intend to destroy a habitation, We command its affluent people (to do good), then they commit sins therein, and thus the word (of punishment) becomes applicable to it (habitation), and We annihilate it totally (Al-Isra: 16)
And understand why Allah puts the believers through tests:
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَـهَدُواْ مِنكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّـبِرِينَ
1. Do you think that you will enter Jannah (through mere comfort and relaxation) when Allah has not yet (made) known (to people) those of you who exert themselves and those who exercise Sabr? (Aal Imran: 142)
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَآءُ وَالضَّرَّآءُ وَزُلْزِلُواْ
2. Do you think that you will enter Paradise while you have not yet been visited by (difficult) circumstances like those that were faced by the people who passed away before you? (Al-Baqarah 214)
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّـهِ قَرِيبٌ
3. Do you think that you shall be left alone while Allah has not yet tested those among you who have striven hard and fought?They were afflicted by hardship and suffering, and were so shaken down that the prophet, and those who believed with him, started saying: .When (will come) the help of Allah? (Then, they were comforted by the Prophet who said to them) Behold, the help of Allah is near. (Tawba: 16)
From the perspective of the Ahadeeth
We also come to appreciate the merits of patience by studying the life of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم and taking heed of his teachings:
Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم used to rest on a straw mat which would leave its mark on his blessed body. Once Umar ibn Al Khattab رضى الله عنه witnessed this. Tears flowed down his cheeks and he remarked, “The emperors Kisra and Qaysar (The Chosroe and The Caesar) are enrobed in silk and brocade.”
Upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه و سلم asked, “Are you still in doubt (about this matter) O Umar? Does it not please you that we are promised (the treasures of) The Hereafter while they are given (the treasures of) this world?” (Narrated in Bukhari and Muslim)
In another narration, Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم is reported to have said:
“If this world were in the sight of Allah, equal to a mosquito’s wing, He would not allow the disbelievers to have a sip of water from it.” (Tirmidhi – Book of Abstinence)
Some effective techniques which will allow us to logically come to terms with the seemingly paradoxical nature of affairs which come to pass in this world are as follows:
- Think of it like this, the evidence for Taqdeer is firmly established; it has always worked out in the end, and why wouldn’t it, when it is Almighty Allah who decreed it? Therefore we should not abandon these firmly established truths which have proven their worth time and time again for the self contradictory arguments which don’t have much of a basis to start off with.
- Those seemingly impressive feats or admirable achievements which we witness in the lives of sinners and disbelievers is in fact a deprivation. On the other hand, whatever difficulty a Mu’min faces while toiling on the path of righteousness broadens his horizons to allow him to reach new heights.
To put it simply, the seemingly self-gratifying life of the disbelievers will, to their detriment, result in them facing a painful outcome in the afterlife while the seemingly straitened conditions which the righteous servants face will earn them handsome rewards.
This is characterised in the words of Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم who stated:
الدنيا سجن المؤمن و جنة الكافر
“The world is a prison for a believer and a paradise for the disbeliever.” (Tirmidhi)
Taking patience to another level
We have discussed the Qur’anic approach to patience as well as the discussion found in the traditions of Rasullullah. We have also touched upon the rational aspect. Now that we have seen that there is much more to the plan of Allah Ta’ala than meets the eye, how about taking things one step further? Appreciate what success truly is. The paths Allah Ta’ala makes for a Mu’min to achieve the highest stage in the Hereafter may seem painful and bitter, but we should become satisfied with the decree of Allah with view towards the ultimate result.
Umar رضى الله عنه would pray for Martyrdom in the city of the Prophet, Madinah Munawwarah. It was a fortress for the believers. It will not be possible for a person to achieve martyrdom, until such people are present who will be the cause of the martyrdom. Will it then be conceived that the likes of Abu Lu’lu assassinated someone of the status of Umar رضى الله عنه or Ibn Muljim, who assassinated Ali رضى الله عنه, or the tyrant who killed the Prophet Yahya Bin Zakariyyah عليهما السلام?
This directs us to turn our attention to the bigger picture and not to be short-sighted. Look at the the end result not the temporary circumstances. Bear whatever Allah has decreed for you with patience and accept it wholeheartedly.
This will then give rise to Ridaa Bil-Qadha (acceptance and contentment with the decree of Allah).
(Adapted from Ibn ul-Jawzi’s section on ‘The intricacies of Patience and Being Pleased with the decree of Allah’ in his book ‘Sayd ul-Khaatir’ رحمه الله)
Part One: Appreciating Patience – Read
Part Two: Being pleased with the Decree of Allah Ta’ala – Read
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Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem
Assalaamu alaikum wa rahmathullah wa barakatuhu
Jazakallahu khair for publishing such a really excellent article. I was very taken by the writer;s words,
“We also come to appreciate the merits of patience by studying the life of Rasulullah صلى الله عليه و سلم and taking heed of his teachings”
This is something that I feel we need to do as it is easy to just take sabr as kust being a personal attribute and not to see it in others, especially in the Salaf.