One of the special responsibilities a man owes to Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) once he has accepted the faith of Islam is that he remains firm and steadfast in his faith at all times and in all circumstances. He is expected to uphold the faith with all his courage and strength, however, adverse the conditions may be. He must not prove disloyal to Islam in any event. He must not give it up. This is what is meant by 'constancy of faith'. Such men have been spoken of very highly in the Holy Quraan and a bountiful reward has been promised to them in the Hereafter. It says:
In the case of Those who say, "Our Lord is Allah, and, further, stand straight and stead fast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): "Fear ye not" (they suggest), "Nor grieve! But receive the tidings of the Garden (of Bliss) which ye were promised! We are your protectors in this life and in the Hereafter / Therein shall ye have all that your souls will desire! Therein shall ye have all that ye ask for! A hospitable gift from One, Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [XLI:30-31]
What wonderful tiding does the above verse contain for those who are constant in faith and who patiently preserve and remain steadfast in times of misfortune and peril. If one could attain this position even at the cost of one's life, property and everything it would not be a bad bargain indeed.
It is related that once a Companion asked the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) to tell him something that could suffice for him always and after which he would not have the need to turn for advice to anyone. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) said, "Say, Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) (alone) is my Lord", and tick to it (i.e., conduct your life in accordance with it unswervingly)."
For our benefit and guidance a number of extremely inspiring parables have been narrated in the Holy Quraan of devout and faithful servants of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) who remained true to faith in circumstances of utmost distress and suffering. Neither fear nor greed could make them deviate from the path they had chosen. One such parable is of the Magicians of Egypt who were summoned to challenge Prophet Moses (Alaihis Salaam) and great rewards and honours had been promised to them. Yet after the truth of Divine inspiration and the Apostolic message of Moses (Alaihis Salaam) had dawned upon them, they cared neither for the riches and honours the Pharaoh had promised nor for the savage punishment they were sure to receive at his hands for disobeying his commands. Rising above the considerations of gain or loss, they boldly declared before the vast assembly of men, "We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses." Later, when they were threatened by that enemy of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa), the Pliaraoh, that he would have their arms and legs severed and then they would be hanged on the gallows they replied dauntlessly, displaying magnificent courage of conviction that:
"So decree whatever thou desirest to decree: for thou canst, decree (touching) only the life of this world. For us we have believed in our Lord: may He forgives us our sins. [XX:72-73]
Still more inspiring is the story of Pharaoh's wife. You know that pharaoh was the all-powerful monarch of Egypt whose wife was the sole mistress of his heart. From this you can imagine how enviable would have been her lot. All the world's glories and luxuries were at her feet. Yet when the innermost depths of her soul were stirred by the Divine call of Moses (Alaihis Salaam), she did not give a thought to what her husband would do to her or how her life of cloudless bliss would change into one of colossal distress and misery. Regardless of the consequences she proclaimed her faith and once she had done so she flinched not from the path of duty towards Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) and religion although the torture she was subjected to was truly barbarous, the very idea of which is enough to make our flesh creep even today. In return for it, such a unique honour was conferred on her by Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) that her name has been mentioned reverentially in the Holy Quraan and the patient perseverance displayed by her and her sacrifice have been held forth as an example to all Muslims.
And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh: behold, she said! "Build for me in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, an save me from those that do wrong. [LXVI:II]
Glory be! What rare honour, what matchless distinction, really, that Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) has chosen for the constancy of faith of that blessed lady to serve as an example to the entire Ummah, from Hadhrat Abu Bakr (RA) down to the last generation of Muslims before the Last Day.
It is related that when the atrocities perpetrated by the Polytheists of Makkah on Muslims exceeded all limits and the Companions approached the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) to pray to Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) for mercy and protection, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam) remarked, "You have become disheartened so soon! Men of Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'aalaa) before you were subjected to such brutal torture that combs of red hot iron were driven into their heads and the skulls of some of them were sawed off into two and yet they remained steadfast and did not abandon their faith."