A faithful servant of Allah (swt) should neither feel grieved nor lose heart when misfortune befalls him, but accept it with good cheer and fortitude, believing that it was, after all, the working of Allah’s will who is the All-Wise and the All-Merciful, and it is He alone who could remove his distress. In the same way, when the circumstances are favourable and a person is getting what he wants and leading a comfortable life, he should not attribute it to his own effort or skill, but to the benevolence of the Lord and remember that the Almighty could withhold His favour whenever He liked. The servants of Allah (swt) should, as such, feel thankful to God and express their gratitude to Him at every good turn of fortune.
(1) It is related by Suhaib that the Apostle of God said: “Strange is the case with faithful bondsman, There is nothing but good for him in every circumstance: if joy or comfort reaches him and he feels grateful to the Lord, there is nothing but good for him in it, and if he is visited by sorrow or an affliction and he endures it with patience and perseverance, it, too, is nothing but a source of goodness and welfare to him.”
There is pain and pleasure for everyone in this world, but to make it a means of gaining the propinquity of the Lord is given only to those who have forged such a living bond of faith with God that they give thanks to Him on all occasions of joy and success, and show forbearance and fortitude, as becomes a devoted slave, in adversity. Besides, as the life is never free from pain and pleasure, or joy and sorrow, the hearts of such bondmen, also, are always laden with the noble sentiments of patience and gratitude.
(2) It is related by Abdullah bin Abbas that the Apostle of God said: “Whoever is faced with an economic or physical distress and does not reveal it to anyone or gives utterance to his grief or discontent before the people, it is due from God that He forgave him (his sin).”
A superior grade of patience is that one bore hardships and other strokes of ill-luck with resolute endurance and did not disclose his sorrow or suffering to others. To such bondmen, a firm promise of forgiveness and deliverance in the Hereafter has been given in this Tradition.
(3) It is related by M’uad bin Jabal that when his son died, the Apostle of God had this letter of condolence sent to him: “In the Name of Allah, Most Kind, Most Merciful. From Mohammad, the Apostle of God, to M’uad bin Jabal. Assalaam Alaik! First of all, I relate to you the Praises of God save whom there is no Deity. (After it), I pray that Allah may recompense you most bounteously on your loss, and endue your heart with patience, and grant you and me the good fortune to be thankful (to Him) for His favours. Our lives and our possessions and our children are the gifts of God and the trusts He has placed in our charge. (Your son, also, was a trust of God, given in your keeping). As long as He wished, He gave you the opportunity to profit from him with joy and make yourself happy, and when He willed, He took the charge back from you. He is going to recompense you with a vast reward. (There are glad tidings of) the special favour of the Lord, and benevolence and guidance from Him if you show patience, in confident expectation of the reward; and with the idea of wholehearted surrender to His will. So, Oh M’uad, be patient, and let not bewailing and loud lamentation ruin the recompense, and, then, you feel sorrow and shame (at suffering the loss, and, yet remaining deprived of the reward). And, believe it, no dead person returns (to the earth) by mourning and lamentation, nor does it lessen the grief. And the will of God shall be done. In truth, it has been done already. Was-Salaam!”
In the Qur’an, glad tidings of three things are given to those who patiently persevere:
“Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. Such are the rightly guided.” (2: 157)
Alluding to it, the holy Prophet has advised Hazrat Muadh, in his letter, that if he remained patient in his bereavement, with the intention of propitiating the Lord and earning the Divine recompense, there was the promise, for him, of the blessings of Allah, and His mercy and guidance. The letter contains a full provision of condolence, sympathy and good counsel for the bondmen in moments of loss or grief.
(4) It is related by Omar bin al-Khattab that: “I heard the Apostle of God say, ‘If you put your trust in God, as is His due, He will give you sustenance in the same way as He gives to the birds which come out of their nests hungry in the morning, and return in the evening with a full stomach.’”
– Tirmizi and Ibn Majah
It shows that if people placed reliance on God for the necessities of life as they ought to, God would treat them in the same manner as He treated the birds which got their sustenance without having to toil hard for it like the human beings.
(5) Abdullah bin Abbas related that: “One day, as I was riding on the same camel with the Apostle of God, sitting at his back, he turned to me and said; ‘My boy! You take care of God, i.e., observe your duty to Him as one should, and God will take care of you, and protect you from the calamities of this world as well as the next. Remember God as He ought to be remembered, and you will find Him right in front of yourself, and if you wish to ask for anything, ask only from God, and if you need help at any time, ask for help only from Him, and remember well that if all mankind joins to do good to you with anything, it will be able to do good only with the thing that has been determined beforehand for you by God, and if all mankind joins to do harm to you with anything, it will be able to harm only with the thing that has been determined beforehand for you by God, and with no other thing. The pens have been done away with, and the leaves have become dry.’”
– Musnad Ahmad and Tirmizi
The gist and substance of this Tradition is that every kind of gain or loss is in the control of God, and, aside of Him; there is no one who has anything in his power, so much so that if all the men in the world got together to do harm or good to anyone, they could do nothing against the will and command of God. Only what has been foreordained by the Lord and written down by the ‘pen of destiny’ much in advance – even the writing has now dried up – can, and will, happen. Such being the case, it is pure foolishness to address one’s petitions to anyone save God. We should supplicate only to Him and stretch our hand before no one else for our needs, and the way to have our petitions granted and prayers answered is that we remembered His injunctions and fulfilled His rights. He will, also, remember us and fulfil our needs and be kind and merciful to us both in this world and the next.
(6) It is related by Sa’ad that the Apostle of God said: “It is from the good fortune of a man that he is contented with the decision of the Lord with regard to himself, and it is from the ill-fortune of a man that he does not seek what is good from God, and, it too, is from his ill-luck not to remain satisfied with the decision of the Lord with regard to himself.”
– Musnad Ahmad and Tirmizi
Occasionally, a man has to pass through events and experiences that are not to his liking. In these circumstances, his felicity and good fortune would lie in reconciling himself to adversity and quietly submitting to the Divine Will, believing that the Lord was Omniscient and All-wise, and Most Kind and Gracious to the bondmen. It is set forth in the Qur’an thus:
“But it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not.” (2: 2l6)
Besides, the bondsman should always beseech the Lord to decide what is good for him in His judgement. The holy prophet, in the above Tradition, has told that it was the height of misfortune for a man not to entreat the Lord for prosperity and welfare. In the same way, it is most lamentable for a bondsman to feel sore and unhappy over what the Almighty decides or prefers for him.
The state of wholehearted submission to the Divine Will can be attained only when a man has a complete faith in the Divine Attributes, as mentioned in the Qur’an, and the love for God pervades his heart and takes hold of it as a result of this belief and conviction.