Fear in Islam: Allah’s Favours Being Denied or Granted
by Abu Shama
Fear the Denial of Allah’s Favour
One of the legitimate fears Muslims should have is being included in those who deny the favours of Allah; the ones who are ungrateful of the favours that they have received.
Kufr – linguistically means to cover something, farmers are called kuffars because they cover the seeds with earth.
Kuffran ul-ne’am – denying the favours of Allah, that we cover the favours of Allah Almighty that He has bestowed.
Bat’r – the joy of receiving the blessing makes one become forgetful of the One Who gave it in the first place.
Imam Muhasibbi said, we should fear the denial of favours of Allah Almighty because we have become so immersed and overjoyed in receiving them, and this joy of the favours have made us forget Allah Almighty (subhanahu wa ta’Allah) – the One Who gave it to us in the first place. And because of that, we have forgotten to show gratitude to Allah.
Therefore, if we recognise the favours of Allah Almighty and we see Him as the bestower and giver of grace, we fetter the favours from escaping.
“Whoever is not thankful for graces [an-ni‘am] runs the risk of losing them, and whoever is thankful fetters them with their own cords.” [Hikam 64]
This is a praiseworthy fear, to not become so immersed in the favour we forget or we deny or become ungrateful to the One who gave it in the first place. The joy of the favours from Allah Almighty has taken us from Allah. How true this is, Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:
“And few of My servants are grateful.” [Saba: 34:13]
The Messenger of Allah Almighty (peace be on him) used to supplicate:
“My Lord, make me ever-grateful (Shakkaran) to You, ever-remembering (Dhakkaran) of You, ever-fearful of You, ever-obedient to You, ever-humble to You, oft-turning and returning to You.” [Tirmidhi]
Allah Almighty gives us health, in our joy of having health, we use it in sin and disobedience. Allah Almighty gave us eyes, in the immersion of having sight, we use it wrongly. Allah Almighty gave us life, how many people deny in Allah Almighty complete let alone acknowledge His favours. True gratitude is to use the favours He has bestowed to gain the pleasure of Allah. It’s extremely poor Adaab that one is the beneficiary of His blessings and uses them to go against Allah. Disobedience of Allah Almighty is nothing short of ingratitude to Allah.
Fear that Allah’s Favours May Be a Form of Test (Istidraj)
Istidraj, from da-ra-ja, levels, it means going in steps.
When you realise Allah Almighty is giving you more and more favours, then pause, and consider if this could be a test to see how you deal with the favours. If you are using the favours you receive in His way, in bringing benefit to people and promoting the good, then these blessing are good for you. It is increasing you in levels. On the other hand, if Allah Almighty is sending upon you His favours but you are not taking advantage of them, then fear these favours maybe your way to gradual ruin. As Allah Almighty says ‘We will gradually lead them’
“But those who deny Our signs – We will progressively lead them [to destruction] from where they do not know.” [Al-Araf: 7:182]
“So leave Me, [O Muhammad], with [the matter of] whoever denies the Qur’an. We will progressively lead them [to punishment] from where they do not know.” [Al-Qalam: 68:44]
These favours are something good for you if you were to take advantage of them. That you utilise them in a positive manner to serve Allah Almighty or use it as a means of worship. If on the other hand, you fail to take advantage of them or you utilised them in wrong doings, they are not levels that increase you in rank but steps that lead you to your downfall. So istidraj is going with the meaning of Imhaal, to be given respite, to given more time or chances.
The test is not always in things we find difficult but from what we like and enjoy
The people of spirituality used to become afraid when they used to experience prolonged periods of ease where Allah’s favours were showering upon them time and again. Instead of being immersed in the favours, they used to fear that they may have done something wrong. Are they being progressively led [to destruction] from where they do not know? They took stock of how they are and how they were utilising the favours of Allah. They feared displeasing Allah Almighty with the favours they have received.
“Let not their wealth or their children impress you. Allah Almighty only intends to punish them through them in worldly life and that their souls should depart while they are unbelievers.” [At-Tauba: 9:55]
We simply don’t know what the realities of the favours of Allah Almighty are having upon us. It’s always bitter sweet.
“It is quite possible that something which you don’t like is good for you and that something which you love is bad for you. Allah Almighty knows, and you do not.” [Al-Baqarah: 2:216]
Imam Muhasibbi is bringing our attention that these favours we have received from Allah Almighty – which are countless, nonetheless, that we (1) recognise and acknowledge, (2) fear that they may be a test to see if we are grateful (utilising them in the right way). So be careful how we deal with the favours of Allah Almighty.
Part 2 – Based on a talk by Shaykh Haytham Tamim in December 2018 on the Adab an Nufus by al Harith ibn Asad al Muhasibi (781-857)
November 21, 2019
August 07, 2019