Thursday, 20 December 2007

Sabar & Shukr


Asiah RA is one of the leading ladies in Paradise. She was the wife of Fir'aun La'natullahu'Alaih. Her Imaan in Allah thrived under the shadow of her husband, who claimed:

"I am your Lord, Most High !"

When Fir'aun got to know about his wife's Imaan. he beat her so savagely and also commanded his guards to beat her. They took her out in the scalding afternoon heat, tied her hands and feet, and beat her perpetually. Still in this torment and torture, she turned to Allah Almighty!

Asiah RA prayed:

"My Lord, build for me a home with you in Paradise and save me from Fir'aun and his deeds and save me from the transgressive people."

It has been narrated that as soon as Asiah RA exclaimed this, the sky was opened by Allah for her, and she was shown her home in Paradise. Asiah RA smiled. The guards watched in astonishment - a woman who is smiling whilst being tortured. Frustrated, Fir'aun commanded to his people so that a boulder be brought to crush Asiah RA to death. However, Allah Almighty took away her soul before the boulder was brought; and she became an example for all believing en and women till the end of time.

This very lesson has been clearly depicted in the Qur'an, for us to ponder:

"And Allah has set forth an example for those who believe: the wife of Fir'aun (Pharaoh) - when she said, "My Lord, Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir'aun and his deeds, and save me from the transgressive-disbelieving people." (Surah At-Tahreem: Ayat 11)

In the famous Jibril Hadith - whereby he came to the Prophet SAW, and asked him about Islam, Imaan, and Ihsan - the Prophet Muhammad SAW said about Iman:

"Imaan is to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Final Day, and the Divine Decree, the good and the bad thereof."

Relating the above to our daily lives, we find that as we live through our lives, we find ourselves in one of two situations - either something good is happening in our lives, in which case as Muslims our role is to make Shukr (thank Allah for that blessing); or something bad is happening to us i.e. something we dislike, and our role here is to resort to Sabr (patience). This is the formula for a happy life, a life devoted towards pleasing Allah Almighty.

The Messenger of Allah SAW said:

"Strange is the affair of the Mu'min (the Believer), verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him, he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (Sabr) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mu'min (to understand, appreciate and practice)."

Ibn Al-Jauzi RA said:

"If this Dunya (world) was not a station of tests it would not be filled with sicknesses and filth. If life was not about hardship, then the Prophets AS and the Pious RA would have lived the most comfortable of lives. No, Adam AS suffered test after test until he left the Dunya. Nuh AS cried for 300 years. Ibrahim AS was thrown into a pit of fire and later told to slaughter his son. Ya'qub AS cried until he became blind. Musa AS challenged Fir'aun and was tested by his people. Isa AS had no provision except the morsels his disciples provided him with. And Muhammad SAW met poverty with patience, his uncle - one of the most beloved relatives to him - was slain and mutilated, and his people disbelieved in him. And the list of Prophets AS and the Pious goes on and on."

Brothers and sisters,

We must understand that whatever that happens to us happens by the will of Allah. It is an article of our Imaan in Qada' and Qadr that we are pleased with Allah's choice - let them be seemingly good or seemingly bad - they are all tests of this Dunya. How could we imagine that we shall not be tested when those who were better than us suffered what they have suffered; whereas they are more superior than us. Nonetheless, they came away with the pleasure of Allah SWT.

Al-Hasan ibn Arafah RA narrated:

"I visited Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (RA) after he was whipped and tortured. I said to him: "O Abu Abdillah, you have reached the station of the Prophets!" He said "Keep quiet ! Verily, I saw nothing more than people selling their Deen. And I saw scholars that were with me sell their Faith. So I said to myself, 'Who am I, what am I. What am I going to say to Allah tomorrow when I stand in front of Him and He ask me, "Did you sell your Deen like the others did?" So I looked at the whip and the sword and chose them. And I said, "If I die I shall return to Allah and say: 'I was told to say that one of Your Characteristics was something created but I did not.' After that, it will be upto Him - either to punish me or be Merciful on me."

Al-Hasan ibn Arafah RA then asked:

"Did you feel pain when they whipped you?"

Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal RA replied:

"Yes, I felt the pain up to 20 lashes then I lost all feeling (They whipped him over eighty times). After it was over I felt no pain and that day I prayed Dhuhr (Solat) standing."

Al-Hasan ibn Arafah RA started weeping when he heard what had happened.

Imam Ahmad RA questioned him:

"Why are you crying? I did not lose my Imaan. After that why should I care if I loose my life."

Let us just see! Such a pious personality like Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal RA is much more superior than us, but just let us look and ponder on how they were tested.

Let us just discuss a bit more about some facts about these tests of life - the good and the bad that befalls us:

1. Much of what befalls us - the hard times - is the direct result of our own sins.

Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'an about this:

"And whatever misfortune befalls you it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much." (Surah 42: Ayat 30)

Muhammad ibn Sireen RA used to say when his debts piled up and he felt sad:

"I know that the cause of this sadness is a sin I committed over 40 years ago."

2. People understand that when something bad happens it is a test from Allah. But very littlle are there people who know that the good things that happen to us are also tests from Allah Most High.

Allah SWT mentions in the Qur'an:

"And we tested them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn back." (Surah 7: Ayat 168)

Abdul Malik ibn Ishaq RA said:

"There is no one that is not tested with health and prosperity to measure how thankful he is (i.e. how much Shukr he will give to Allah Almighty)."

The Noble Companion of the Prophet Muhammad SAW - Abdurrahman ibn 'Auf RA said:

"We were tested with hardship and were patient. And then we were tested with prosperity and we were not patient. Because of this Allah states:

"O Ye Who Believe! Let not your wealth or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. And whosoever does that, then they are the losers." (Surah 63: Ayat 9) "

3. Sabr (patience) must happen from the beginning, not three days later or one day later i.e. only at the first news of the calamity, when it first happens.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW is reported to have said:

"Verily Sabr (is only patience when practiced) at the first hit (of news)."

4. There are things that contradict Sabr. Tearing ones shirt, slapping ones face, slapping hands, shaving ones head, and cursing and wailing.

Umm Salamah RA narrates:

"I heard the Messenger of Allah (SAW) say: "Any Muslim that says when a calamity befalls him (the thing) that which Allah commanded him: (i.e.) "To Allah we belong and to him we return. O Allah reward me in this calamity and give me better then it" - (any Muslim that says this,) Allah will grant him better than (that which he lost)." " (Sahih Muslim)

5. These tests and hardships wash our sins.

A'ishah RA said:

"Verily fever sheds sins like a tree sheds leaves."

6. The hardships that befall us distinguish the Believers from the insincere.

Shumayt ibn Ajlaan RA said:

"The Pious and the ungrateful are hidden by health. Yet when calamities befall the two men are separated (by how they react)."

Allah SWT says in the Quran:

"Alif - Laam - Meem. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, "We believe," and will not be tested? Indeed We tested those who (lived) before them." (Surah 29: Ayat 1-3)


Saiyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib RA said:

"Verily Sabr is to Imaan like what the head is to the body. When the head is cut off, the body falls. (He then raised his voice) Verily there is no Imaan for he who has no Sabr (patience)."

There are three types of Sabr that all Muslims must have:

a. Sabr in the obedience of Allah. For example, one must be patient and perform their Subuh Solat at it's time.

b. Sabr in not disobeying Allah. Like someone might say, "I have to listen to music in the car." No you are commanded by He who gave you those ears to not listen to those lullabies of the Devil. And you must have Sabr in not disobeying Allah.

c. Sabr in what Allah Decrees on us. For example, if our child was to pass away we should be patient and seek the reward of Allah in our patience and say only that which is pleasing to Allah.

There are two keys.
If we understand them we shall open the door to Sabr in our lives:

The First Key:
To know and accept that our souls, families and wealth do not belong to us, but they belong to Allah. Allah gave it to us as a loan to see what we would do with it. And when he takes it back He is taking back what belongs to Him. We had nothing before the blessing and we'll have nothing after it. We did not create the blessing from nothing, so how can we claim that it belongs to us.

The Second Key:
To know and accept that we are on a journey and the destination is the Hereafter - let that be Paradise or Hell. We will be leaving the Dunya behind us and we will all return to Allah by ourselves. This is what we need to focus on. And if Allah is pleased with us then we have nothing to worry. But if Allah is not pleased with us, then all we have will be Worry.

Allah SWt revealed in the Qur'an:

"Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers, especially the middle Solat and stand before Allah in obedience." (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 238)

If we take the time to listen to the analysis of the above verse from the Ulama of Tafsir, we shall observe that the verses in the Qur'an before the above verse deal with divorce; whereas the verses after the above verse also deal with divorce. So - why was this verse placed in the middle? The Ulama have analysed - that in the hard times when a person goes through turmoil in marriage, they should not loose importance in the rememberance of Allah, and the importance of Solat. And it is that Solat coupled with Sabr that will pull them through such hard times.

Allah SWT promises in Surah Al-Baqarah:

"O Ye Who Believe! Seek Help through Patience and Solat. Truly, Allah is with those that are patient." (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 153)

We also see in the very same Surah of the Qur'an - that there is good news for those who make Sabr. Allah promises them three things:

1. His prayer for them;
2. His Mercy;
3. His Guidance for them.

This is as cited in Qur'an:

"Who, when afflicted with calamity say, "Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. They are those on whom the Salawat (i.e. the blessing and forgiveness) of their Lord is upon them, and who shall receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones." (Surah Al-Baqarah: Ayat 157)

Allah has promised similar virtues further in the Qur'an:

"And We made from among them - leaders, giving guidance under Our Command, when they were patient." (Surah As-Sajadah: Ayat 24)

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