Sabr and Shukr – Faith in Allah (swt)
Aasiyah was the wife of Pharoh. Her faith in Allah (swt) thrived under the shadow of her husband who said, “I am your Lord, Most High!” When news reached Pharoh of his wife’s faith 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 (swt)! She prayed, “My lord, build for me a home with you in Paradise and save me from Pharoh and his deeds and save me from the
It was narrated that when she said this, the sky opened for her and she saw her home in Paradise. She smiled. The guards watched astonished, she’s being tortured and she smiles? Frustrated, Pharoh commanded a boulder to be brought and dropped on Aasiyah, to crush her to death. But Allah took her soul before the boulder was brought and she became an example for all the believing men and women:
وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا امْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِندَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِن فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ – 66:11
Wadaraba Allahu mathalan lillatheena amanoo imraata fir’awna ith qalat rabbi ibni lee ‘indaka baytan fee aljannati wanajjinee min fir’awna wa’amalihi wanajjinee mina alqawmi al-ththalimeena
And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: “O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong”
In the hadith of Jibreel, when he came to the Prophet (swt) and asked him about Islam, Iman, and Ihasan, the Prophet (swt) said about Iman, “Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, His books, His Messengers, the Final Day, and the divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.” Today we shall look into this last article of Iman: to believe in the Divine decree, the good and the bad thereof.
As you and I travel though life we find ourselves in one of two situations. Either something good is happening in our lives and in which case – as Muslims- our role is to thank Allah for the blessing. Or something bad is happening to us, something we dislike and our role here is to be patient (Sabr). This is the formula for a happy life, a life cruising towards the pleasure of Allah. Sabr or Shukr, trust in Allah (swt).
The Messenger of Allah (swt) 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 (swt) 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’mmin.”
Ibn Al-Jowzee said, “If this Dunya was not a station of tests it would not be filled with troubles, illness. If life did not also have hardship, then the Prophets and the pious would have lived the most comfortable of lives. Nay, Adam suffered test after test until he left the Dunya. Nuh (Noah) cried for 300 years. Ibrahim (Abraham) was thrown into a pit of fire and later told to slaughter his son. Ya’qub (Jacob) cried until he became blind. Musa (Moses) challenged Pharoh and was tested by his people. ‘Isa (Jesus) had no provision except the morsels his disciples provided him with. (peace be upon all of them) And Muhammad (swt) 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 and the pious goes on and on.”
What happens to us happens by the will of Allah (swt). It is an article of our Iman in Qada’ and Qadr that we are pleased with Allah’s (swt) choice, Good or seemingly bad it is all the test of this Dunya. How could 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 (swt).
Al Hasan ibn Arafah narrated, “I visited Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal 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 (swt) tomorrow when I stand in front of Him and He asks 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 (swt) and say: ‘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 (ajw)- either to punish me of be Merciful on me.”
Al-Hasan ibn 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 prayed Dhuhr standing.”
Al-Hasan ibn Arafah started weeping when he heard what had happened. Imam Ahmad questioned him, “Why are you crying? I did not lose my Iman. After that why should I care if I lose my life?” They were better than us but this was how they were tested.
Let us discuss some facts about these tests of life, the good and the bad that befalls us: Allah (swt) says:
وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَيَعْفُو عَن كَثِيرٍ – 42:30
Wama as-sabakum min museebatin fabima kasabat aydeekum waya’foo ‘an katheerin
Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because on the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness.
Muhammad ibn Sirin 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.”
People understand that when something bad happens it is a test from Allah. But dear Brothers and Sisters, the good things that happen to us are also a test.
Allah (swt) says:
وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أُمَمًا ۖ مِّنْهُمُ الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنْهُمْ دُونَ ذَٰلِكَ ۖ وَبَلَوْنَاهُم بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ – 7:168
Waqatta’nahum fee al-ardi omaman minhumu aImanlImanssalihoona waminhum doona thalika wabalawnahum biImanaImanlhasanati waImanalImanssayyi-ati la’allahum yarji’oonImanaIman
We broke them up into sections on this earth. There are among them some that are the righteous, and some that are the opposite. We have tried them with both prosperity and adversity: In order that they might turn (to us).
Abd alMalik ibn Ishaq said, “There is no one that is not tested with health and prosperity to measure how thankful he is Shukr).”
And the Companion – AbdurRahman ibn ‘Awf (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:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُلْهِكُمْ أَمْوَالُكُمْ وَلَا أَوْلَادُكُمْ عَن ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ – 63:9
Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo la tulhikum amwalukum wala awladukum ‘an thikri Allahi waman yaf’al thalika faola-ika humu alkhasiroona
O you who believe! Do not let your riches or your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. If any act thus, the loss is their own.
Patience must happen from the beginning, not three days later or one day later, at the first news of the calamity, when it first happens. The Prophet (swt) said, “Verily patience is only Sabr when practiced at the first hit of news.”
There are things that contradict Sabr. Tearing ones shirt, for example, slapping ones face, slapping hands, shaving ones head, and cursing and wailing. Umm Salamah narrates: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (swt) say, “Any Muslim that says when a calamity befalls him that which Allah (swt) commanded him: inna allahi wa inna allahi rajayun, 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 (swt) will grant him better than that which he lost.” – Muslim
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ – 29:2
Ahasiba annasu anyutrakoo an yaqooloo amanna wahum layuftanoon
Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?
Part 2 – Towards Sabr
Ali (ra) said, “Verily Sabr is to Iman 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 Iman for he who has no Sabr (patience).”
There are three types of Sabr that the Muslim must have:
- Sabr in the obedience of Allah (swt). For example, One must be patient and perform Fajr at its time.
- Sabr in not disobeying Allah (swt). Like someone might say, “I just have to insult him.” No, we are command by He who gave us our tongues to not follow the whispers of Shaytaan. And we must have Sabr in not disobeying Allah (swt).
- Sabr in what Allah (swt) Decrees on us. For example, if our child was to pass away we should be patient and seek the reward of Allah (swt) in our patience and say only that which is pleasing to Allah (swt).
There are two keys. 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. He 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: We are on a journey and the destination is the hereafter – Paradise or Hell. We shall be leaving the Dunya behind us and we’ll come back to Allah by ourselves. This is what needs our focus. And if Allah is pleased with us then no worry. If He is not pleased with us then all worry.
Let me draw your attention to a verse. Read carefully. Allah revealed:
حَافِظُوا عَلَى الصَّلَوَاتِ وَالصَّلَاةِ الْوُسْطَىٰ وَقُومُوا لِلَّهِ قَانِتِينَ – 2:238
Hafithoo ‘ala alssalawati wa-alssalati alwusta waqoomoo lillahi qaniteena
Guard strictly your (habit of) prayers, especially the Middle Prayer; and stand before Allah in a devout (frame of mind).
The verses before this deal with divorce. The verses after it deal with divorce. Why was this verse placed in the middle?
The Ulama’ have suggested, may Allah (swt) be pleased with them, that in the hard times that a person goes through (especially in a divorce) they should not forget the remembrance of Allah (swt), the Salah. And it is that Salah coupled with Sabr that will pull them through.
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ – 2:153
Ya ayyuha allatheena amanoo ista’eenoo bi as-sabri wa as-salati inna Allaha ma’a as-sabireena
O ye who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.
In conclusion, Allah (swt) wants to pass on the following good news: for the patient who, when afflicted with calamity say, “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.”
أُولَٰئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُونَ – 2:157
Ola-ika ‘alayhim salawatun min rabbihim warahmatun waola-ika humu almuhtadoona
They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance.
Allah promised anyone who wants to work on his or her patience three things: Forgiveness, Mercy, and guidance. Who could ask for more?
So I pray that you will read and ponder these things and that they may change your life, insha’allah.
Wa allahu (swt) alim – And Allah (swt) knows best.
(This was originally written by Imam Muhammad al-Shareef. I have edited, changed and added to some of it and present it to you here with thanks and trust in Allah (swt))