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SABR AND SHUKR

Shaikh Muhammad

Hadhrat Aasiyah, the wife of Fir’awn, had Imaan in Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) that thrived under the shadow of someone who said: “I am your Lord, Most High!”

When news reached Fir’awn of his wife’s Imaan, he beat her and commanded his guards to beat her. They took her out in the scalding noon heat, tied her hands and feet, and beat her perpetually. Who did she turn to? She turned to Allah! She prayed: “My lord, build for me a home with You in Jannah (Paradise) and save me from Fir’awn and his deeds and save me from the transgressive people.”

It was narrated that when she said this, the sky opened for her and she saw her home in Jannah and she smiled. The guards watched in astonishment as she was being tortured but yet smiling. Frustrated, Fir’awn commanded a boulder to be brought and dropped on Hadhrat Aasiyah, to crush her to death. But Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) took her soul before the boulder was brought and she became an example for all the believing men and women until the end of time: “And Allah has set forth an example for those who believe – the wife of Fir’awn – when she said, “My Lord, build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir’awn and his deeds, and save me from the transgressive, disbelieving people” (At-Tahreem 66:11)

In the Hadeeth of Hadhrat Jibraeel, when he came to the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) and asked him about Islam, Imaan, and Ihsaan, the Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said about Imaan: “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.”

Here, we shall focus on the last article of Imaan – to believe in the divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.

As we travel though life, 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 thank Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) for the blessing, or something bad or something we dislike, is happening to us, and our role then is to be patient. This is the formula for a happy life, a life cruising towards the pleasure of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). “Sabr” (Patience) or “Shukr” (Gratitude), the worry stops here.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taáalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) 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 (Saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mu’min.”

Allaamah Ibne Al-Jawzee said: “If this Dunyaa (World) was not a station of tests it would not be filled with sicknesses and filth. If life were not about hardship, then the prophets and the pious would have lived the most comfortable of lives. Nay, Prophet Adam suffered test after test until he left the Dunyaa. Prophet Nooh cried for 300 years. Prophet Ibraaheem was thrown into a pit of fire and later told to slaughter his son. Prophet Ya’qoob cried until he became blind. Prophet Moosaa challenged Fir’awn and was tested by his people. Prophet Eesaa had no provision except the morsels his disciples provided him with. And Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) remained with patience as 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 and the pious goes on and on.”

What happens to us happens by the will of Allah (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam). It is an article of our Imaan that we believe in “Qadhaa” and “Qadr” and that we are pleased with Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s choice. Good or seemingly bad, it is all the test of this Dunyaa. How can we imagine that we shall not be tested when those who were better than us suffered what they suffered? They, however, came away with the pleasure of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).

Al Hasan ibne Arafah narrated that he visited Imam Ahmad ibne Hanbal after he was whipped and tortured. He 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 (Religion) 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 (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) tomorrow when I stand in front of Him and He asks me, ‘Did you sell your Deen like the others did?’”

He continued: “So I looked at the whip and the sword and chose them. And I said, ‘If I die, I shall return to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and say that I was told to say that one of Your Characteristics was something created but I did not. ‘ After that, it will be up to Him — either to punish me or be Merciful to me.”

Al-Hasan ibne Arafah then asked: “Did you feel pain when they whipped you?”

He said: “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 offered Salaat uz Zuhr standing.”

Al-Hasan ibne Arafah started weeping when he heard what had happened. Imam Ahmad questioned him: “Why are you crying? I did not lose my Imaan. After that why should I care if I lose my life?”

These people were better than us, but this was how they were tested.

There some facts about the tests of life, the good and the bad that befalls us:

1. Much of what befalls us is the direct result of our own sins. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: “And whatever misfortune befalls you it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” (Ash-Shoora 42:30)

Imam Muhammad ibne Seereen 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 (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). But the good things that happen to us are also a test. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says: And we tested them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn back.” (Al-A’raaf 7:168)

Abd al Malik ibn Ishaq said: “There is no one that is not tested with health and prosperity to measure how thankful he is.”

And a Sahaabi (Companion) of Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) Hadhrat AbdurRahman ibn ‘Awf 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.” (Al-Munafiqoon 63:9)

3. Patience must happen from the beginning, not three days later or one day later, but rather at the first news of the calamity. The Prophet (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) said: “Verily, patience (is only Sabr when practiced) at the first hit (of news).”

4. There are things that contradict Sabr. Tearing one’s shirt, for example, slapping one’s face, slapping hands, shaving one’s head, and cursing and wailing. Hadhrat Umme Salamah narrates that she heard Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Taáalaa)’s Messenger (SallAllaho Alaihe WaSallam) say: “Any Muslim who says when a calamity befalls him that which Allah commanded him: ‘To Allah we belong and to him we return. O Allah! Reward me in this calamity and give me better then it’ - Allah will grant him better than (that which he lost).” (Muslim)

5. These tests and hardships wash away our sins. Hadhrat Aaishah 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 said: “The pious and the ungrateful are hidden by health. Yet when calamities befall, the two men are separated (by how they react).”

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) 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.” (Al-‘Ankaboot 29:1-3)

Hadhrat Ali said: “Verily, Sabr is to Imaan 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 the Muslim must have:
1. Sabr in the obedience of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). For example, one must be patient and perform their Fajr Salaah at its appointed time.

2. Sabr in not disobeying Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). For example, someone might be upset at another person and think, “I just have to insult him.” No, rather we are commanded by He who gave us our tongues not to follow the whispers of Shaitaan. We must have Sabr in not disobeying Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).

3. Sabr in what Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) decrees on us. For example, if anybobody’s child was to pass away he should be patient and seek the reward of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) in his patience and say only that which is pleasing to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa).

There are two keys which, if we understand them, we shall open the door to Sabr in our lives:

The first key: know that our souls, families and wealth do not belong to us, they belong to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). He gave them to us as a loan to see what we would do with them. When he takes them 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: We are on a journey and the destination is the Aakhirah (Hereafter) – Jannah (Paradise) or Jahannum (Hell). We shall be leaving the Dunyaa behind us and we will return back to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) by ourselves. This is what needs our focus. If Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) is pleased with us then no worry. If He is not pleased with us then all worry.

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) revealed: “Guard strictly the (five obligatory) Salaah (Prayers), especially the Middle Salaah and stand before Allah in obedience.” (Al-Baqarah 2:238)

The Aayaat (Verses) before this Aayah (Verse) deal with divorce. The Aayah after it deal with divorce. So why was this is placed in the middle?

The Ulamaa have suggested, (And Allah knows the best), that in the hard times that a person goes through (especially in a divorce) he should not forget the remembrance of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), the Salaah. It is that Salaah, coupled with Sabr, that will pull him through the difficulty.

“O you who believe! Seek help with patience and Salaah. Truly, Allah is with those that are patient.” (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

In conclusion, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) gives the following good news: “And give good news to the patient / who, when afflicted with calamity say, “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” / They are those on whom the “Salawaat” (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.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) promises anyone who wants to work on his or her patience three things: forgiveness, mercy, and guidance. Who could ask for more?
 

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