Ghazali on Contentment with Allah’s Will (part 1)

Ghazali on Contentment with Allah's Will (part 1)
Signs that Allah loves you

Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him

In Surat al Maidah, Allah Almighty says:

قَالَ ٱللَّهُ هَٰذَا يَوۡمُ يَنفَعُ ٱلصَّٰدِقِينَ صِدۡقُهُمۡۚ لَهُمۡ جَنَّٰتٞ تَجۡرِي مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَٰرُ خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَبَدٗاۖ رَّضِيَ ٱللَّهُ عَنۡهُمۡ وَرَضُواْ عَنۡهُۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلۡفَوۡزُ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ

Allah will say: “This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever. Allah is pleased with them and they with Him. That is the great success (Paradise). [5:119]

In Surat Tawbah, Allah Almighty says:

وَٱلسَّـٰبِقُونَ ٱلْأَوَّلُونَ مِنَ ٱلْمُهَـٰجِرِينَ وَٱلْأَنصَارِ وَٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّبَعُوهُم بِإِحْسَـٰنٍۢ رَّضِىَ ٱللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا۟ عَنْهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَنَّـٰتٍۢ تَجْرِى تَحْتَهَا ٱلْأَنْهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَآ أَبَدًۭا ۚ ذَٰلِكَ ٱلْفَوْزُ ٱلْعَظِيمُ

As for the foremost—the first of the Emigrants and the Helpers—and those who follow them in goodness, Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. And He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow, to stay there for ever and ever. That is the ultimate triumph. [9:100]

In Surat Fath, Allah Almighty says:

۞لَّقَدۡ رَضِيَ ٱللَّهُ عَنِ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ إِذۡ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحۡتَ ٱلشَّجَرَةِ فَعَلِمَ مَا فِي قُلُوبِهِمۡ فَأَنزَلَ ٱلسَّكِينَةَ عَلَيۡهِمۡ وَأَثَٰبَهُمۡ فَتۡحٗا قَرِيبٗا

Certainly was Allah pleased with the believers when they pledged allegiance to you, [O Muhammad], under the tree, and He knew what was in their hearts, so He sent down tranquillity upon them and rewarded them with an imminent conquest. [48:18]

In the chain of events which unfolded before the negotiations and the signing of the Treaty of Hudaibiyya, the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked the Companions to give him the pledge that they would fight the Quraysh, because they had been planning to go for Umrah and had sent Uthman to Makkah, but received rumours that he had been killed by the Quraysh. They took this as provocation to fight.  Although they were only about 1500 of them and they were not armed or prepared for this, except for the swords they usually carried, they pledged allegiance under a tree to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that they would fight. Allah was pleased with them for their loyalty and obedience and praised them in this verse for their pledge under the tree.

In Surat al Mujadilah, Allah Almighty says:

لَّا تَجِدُ قَوۡمٗا يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأٓخِرِ يُوَآدُّونَ مَنۡ حَآدَّ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥ وَلَوۡ كَانُوٓاْ ءَابَآءَهُمۡ أَوۡ أَبۡنَآءَهُمۡ أَوۡ إِخۡوَٰنَهُمۡ أَوۡ عَشِيرَتَهُمۡۚ أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ كَتَبَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ ٱلۡإِيمَٰنَ وَأَيَّدَهُم بِرُوحٖ مِّنۡهُۖ وَيُدۡخِلُهُمۡ جَنَّـٰتٖ تَجۡرِي مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَٰرُ خَٰلِدِينَ فِيهَاۚ رَضِيَ ٱللَّهُ عَنۡهُمۡ وَرَضُواْ عَنۡهُۚ أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ حِزۡبُ ٱللَّهِۚ أَلَآ إِنَّ حِزۡبَ ٱللَّهِ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ

You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those – He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him – those are the party of Allah. Unquestionably, the party of Allah – they are the successful. [58:22]

In Surat al Bayyinah, Allah Almighty says:

جَزَاؤُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ لِمَنْ خَشِيَ رَبَّهُ

Their reward, near their Lord, is the Gardens of Eden, with streams running in them, to remain in them forever. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him. That is for those who fear their Lord. [98:8]

Ghazali quotes some narrations from the Sunnah, but as they are not authentic and very weak, I have  replaced these with alternative authentic narrations.

عن شداد بن أوس -رضي الله عنه- أنّ النّبي -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال: (أنَّهما دخلا علَى رجُلٍ مريضٍ يعودانِهِ، فقالا لهُ: كيفَ أصبَحتَ؟! قالَ أصبحتُ بنعمةٍ، فقالَ لهُ شدَّادٌ: أبشر بِكَفَّاراتِ السَّيِّئاتِ وحطِّ الخطايا فإنِّي سَمِعْتُ رسولَ اللَّهِ -صلَّى اللَّهُ علَيهِ وسلَّمَ– يقولُ: إنَّ اللَّهَ -عزَّ وجلَّ- يقولُ إذا أَنا ابتليتُ عبدًا مِن عبادي مؤمنًا فحمدَني علَى ما ابتليتُهُ فإنَّهُ يقومُ من مضجعِهِ ذلِكَ كيومِ ولدتهُ أمُّهُ منَ الخطايا. ويقولُ الرَّبُّ -تبارَكَ وتعالى-: أَنا قيَّدتُ عبدي وابتليتُهُ فأَجروا لهُ ما كنتُمْ تُجرونَ لهُ وَهوَ صحيحٌ).[رواه أحمد.

Shaddad bin Aws (may Allah be pleased with them) narrated that when he and As-Sunabihi visited a sick person and asked him how he was feeling, the man replied that he was comfortable and grateful for Allah’s favours. Shaddad gave him the good news that he had heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say in a Hadith Qudsi that Allah Almighty stated:

When I afflict a believing servant of mine and the servant praises me for their affliction, the servant gets out of bed sinless, the way the servant did when the servant was born. The Lord who is blessed and exalted will say, “I fettered and afflicted my servant, so record for him what you were recording for him when he was well.”  (Musnad Ahmad)

Rida is being pleased with what Allah destined for you. It is an internal state in the heart.

This hadith shows contentment on the part of the patient, as he is not complaining or questioning why this happened to him, rather he accepts his affliction. In response to such acceptance, Allah says that He afflicted His servant so the angels should record for him the best of what he used to do before he was unwell. This is a gift from Allah to all those who are ill and bear their illness with patience.

This hadith teaches us not to complain during any hardship, especially as Allah rewards us by recording good deeds for those who are ill as if they were performed to the best level they ever achieved while they were well. If someone used to do achieve 50-70% score for a good deed, the angels will write down 70% for them. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

When a servant is ill, the angels are commanded to write the best of his good deeds, which he used to do before illness or travelling. (Musanf Ibn Abi Shaybah and Mu’jam Al-Tabarani Al-Awsat)

As mentioned in another hadith,  

“Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience”. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Of course, not complaining means we can still ask Allah for shifa and seek cure through all the normal channels.

Very reassuringly for all those suffering any affliction, Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

أنس بن مالك -رضي الله عنه- أنّ النّبي -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال: (إنَّ عِظمَ الجزاءِ مع عِظمِ البلاءِ، وإنَّ اللهَ إذا أحبَّ قومًا ابتَلاهم، فمَن رَضي فله الرِّضَى، ومَن سخِط فله السَّخطُ). رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ وَابْنُ مَاجَه

“The magnitude of the reward goes along with the magnitude of the affliction. When God who is great and glorious loves people He afflicts them, and those who accept it gladly receive God’s good pleasure, but those who are displeased receive God’s displeasure. [Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah]

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم مَنْ يُرِدِ اللَّهُ بِهِ خَيْرًا يُصِبْ مِنْهُ

“If Allah wills good for someone, He afflicts him with trials.” [Bukhari]

ما رواه أبو هريرة -رضي الله عنه- أنّ النّبي -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال: (ألَا أدُلُّكَ على كلِمَةٍ مِنْ تحتِ العرشِ، مِنْ كنزِ الجنةِ؟ تقولُ: لا حولَ ولَا قوةَ إلَّا باللهِ، فيقولُ اللهُ: أسلَمَ عبدي واسْتَسْلَمَ).[٤ رَوَاهُ الْبَيْهَقِيّ فِي الدَّعْوَات الْكَبِير

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said that God’s Messenger offered to guide him to a word from under the Throne which was part of the treasure of paradise, it being “There is no might and no power except in God.” He added that God most high says, “My servant has resigned and submitted himself to me.” [Bayhaqi in Kitab] ad-Da’awat al-Kabir]

Reward is conditional – No pain (without acceptance), no gain

There are two ways of handling affliction – enduring pain without earning reward or enduring pain and being awarded huge reward. The pain is the same, but there is potentially huge gain depending on how you handle it.

Abbas Abdul Muttalib, the uncle of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was captured by the Muslims after the Battle of Badr, and after paying ransom for himself and two of his cousins, he accepted Islam and narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

وَعَن الْعَبَّاس بن عبد الْمطلب قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «ذَاقَ طَعْمَ الْإِيمَانِ مَنْ رَضِيَ بِاللَّهِ رَبًّا وَبِالْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا وَبِمُحَمَّدٍ رَسُولًا» . رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ

 “He who is well-pleased with God as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as messenger will experience the savour of faith,” [Muslim]

If you want to taste the sweetness of faith, you have to have contentment in your heart that Allah is your Lord, Islam is your religion and Muhammad is His Messenger – it has to whole-hearted acceptance, not half-hearted.

Contentment is a state of heart

True belief resides in the heart. Once it is in the heart, the tongue conveys what is in the heart using words, just as a translator translates meanings in a language that is intelligible to others. It is not the words in themselves that carry the meaning, unless they are a reflection of what is in the heart. Mere lip service is like carrying an identity card when faith has not reached one’s heart.

Contentment brings sweetness out of bitterness

When you accept Allah as your Lord and Islam as your religion, it is not something you happened to inherit, but something you live and feel in your bones – when that happens you taste the sweetness of imaan. In this charming exchange, we see the response of Abu Sa’id al Khudri when he learns that acceptance brings Paradise:

Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said:

عن أبي سعيد الْخُدْرِي رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «مَنْ رَضِيَ بالله رَبًّا، وبالإسلام دِيْنًا، وبمحمد رسولًا، وجَبَتْ له الجنة»، فَعَجِبَ لها أبو سعيد، فقال: أَعِدْهَا عَلَيَّ يا رسول الله، فَأَعَادَهَا عليه، ثم قال: «وأُخْرَى يَرْفَعُ الله بها العَبْد مائة دَرَجَة في الجنة، ما بين كل دَرَجَتَينِ كما بين السماء والأرض» قال: وما هي يا رسول الله؟ قال: «الجهاد في سَبِيل الله، الجهاد في سَبِيل الله».

“Whoever is pleased with Allah as their Lord, with Islam as their religion, and with Muhammad as their Messenger, Paradise is guaranteed for him.”

Abu Sa‘id was full of wonder at that, so he said: “O Messenger of Allah, repeat that to me.” He did so and then said: “There is something else by means of which Allah shall raise the slave a hundred degrees in Paradise; the distance between each two degrees is like that between the heavens and earth.” He said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is it?” He said: “Jihad in the cause of Allah, Jihad in the cause of Allah.” [Muslim]

Of course jihad must only be carried out for the right reasons with the right intention in the right circumstances. The rewards are huge, because one sacrifices their life for Allah’s sake.

Contentment during tribulations

The essence of a test is that it is difficult and bitter. Anyone can be pleased and content with pleasant things but not everyone can handle hard times with contentment. The greatest example of this is the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the grace with which he handled the death of his son.

Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated the moment which he witnessed:

عَنْ أَنَسٍ قَالَ: دَخَلْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَلَى أَبِي سَيْفٍ الْقَيْنِ وَكَانَ ظِئْرًا لِإِبْرَاهِيمَ فَأَخَذَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ فَقَبَّلَهُ وَشَمَّهُ ثُمَّ دَخَلْنَا عَلَيْهِ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ وَإِبْرَاهِيمُ يَجُودُ بِنَفْسِهِ فَجَعَلَتْ عَيْنَا رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ تَذْرِفَانِ. فَقَالَ لَهُ عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ عَوْفٍ: وَأَنْتَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ؟ فَقَالَ: ” يَا ابْنَ عَوْفٍ إِنَّهَا رَحْمَةٌ ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَهَا بِأُخْرَى فَقَالَ: إِنَّ الْعَيْنَ تَدْمَعُ وَالْقَلْبَ يَحْزَنُ وَلَا نَقُولُ إِلَّا مَا يُرْضِي رَبَّنَا وَإِنَّا بِفِرَاقِك يَا إِبْرَاهِيم لَمَحْزُونُونَ “متفق عليه.

We went in with God’s messenger to visit Abu Saif the smith who was foster-father of Ibrahim (the Prophet’s son who died in infancy), and God’s messenger took Ibrahim, kissed him and smelt him. We went in to visit him later when Ibrahim was giving up his soul, and tears began to fall from God’s messenger’s eyes, whereupon ‘Abd ar-Rahman bin ‘Auf said to him, “You too, messenger of God?” He replied, “Ibn ‘Auf, it is compassion,” then shed more tears and said, “The eye weeps and the heart grieves, but we say only what our Lord is pleased with, and we are grieved over being separated from you, Ibrahim.” (Bukhari and Muslim.)

We see from this that even in acute suffering and pain, it is natural to cry (and we do not have to stop our tears from falling), but we should only utter the words that please Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not question Allah’s will that his son had died, or rail against Him, or question why Allah had not given him any male heirs, as many people would have said in that situation. His heart was breaking but He knew that He had to bear the pain with fortitude and trust Allah’s wisdom.

Contentment with material possessions

Many people find contentment in material possessions. They are happy when they acquire and have possessions, but are displeased when they do not get them. Whether it is going shopping, having fast cars, new gadgets or status – many things make us happy, which vary from person to person. However our pleasure should be in line with the Shariah. The one who is attached to material possessions can never be truly satisfied.

 Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

وَعَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- قَالَ: قَالَ رَسُولُ اَللَّهِ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-{ تَعِسَ عَبْدُ اَلدِّينَارِ, وَالدِّرْهَمِ, وَالْقَطِيفَةِ, إِنْ أُعْطِيَ رَضِيَ, وَإِنْ لَمْ يُعْطَ لَمْ يَرْضَ } 1‏ أَخْرَجَهُ الْبُخَارِيُّ.‏

“Cursed is he, who is the slave of the Dinar, the slave of the Dirham, and the slave of the cloak bordered with silk. If he is given anything he would be satisfied, but if he is not given anything he is displeased.” [Bukhari]

First strike

Ghazali is writing about the ‘station of rida’. Sufis use this terminology a great deal – for instance the Maqam of shukr (gratitude), Maqam of hamd (praise), Maqam of rida (contentment). Not everyone can achieve that level. While people may be able to achieve it during a tribulation, it is much harder to have this contentment at the first strike.  

Abu Umama (may Allah be pleased with him) reported the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying that Allah Almighty stated:

وَعَنْ أَبِي أُمَامَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ” يَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى: ابْنَ آدَمَ إِنْ صَبَرْتَ وَاحْتَسَبْتَ عِنْدَ الصَّدْمَةِ الْأُولَى لَمْ أَرْضَ لَكَ ثَوَابًا دُونَ الْجَنَّةِ “. رَوَاهُ ابْن مَاجَه

“Son of Adam, if you show endurance and seek your reward from me in the first affliction, I shall be pleased with no lesser reward than paradise for you.” [Ibn Majah]

How to react when receiving bad news

Allah has taught us in the Quran how to react when any adversity strikes in Surat al-Baqarah:

 “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un”.

إِنّا للهِ وَإِنَا إِلَـيْهِ راجِعـون ، اللهُـمِّ اْجُـرْني في مُصـيبَتي، وَاخْلُـفْ لي خَيْـراً مِنْـها

Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” [155-157]

Therefore if we receive bad news, we need to train ourselves to say Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. Not with a complaining tone. Rather, say ‘Ya Allah I don’t know what is behind this, but I know it is from you.’ And ask Him to help you through it.

Believe in destiny

This means that we have to train ourselves to be pleased with what befalls us from the outset, at the first strike. As one of the articles of faith is being pleased with destiny, we should not lose control and show our displeasure when affliction befalls us. To react with anger initially, and then repent is not the same as having rida in the first instance. We need to be pleased with what Allah is pleased with and that includes being content with whatever has been destined for us – whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. As per the Hadith Jibreel[i], one of the articles of faith is to believe in destiny, and this can be bitter or sweet. Throughout our life it will be a mixture and we should be as content with the bad as with the good. The Shariah is encouraging us to manage our reactions and control our actions.

There are many weak narrations in this chapter. There are some people who denied the concept of rida, they are the same people who denied mahabba. They are connected. If you negate the first you negate the second automatically.

Signs of contentment

Ghazali gives some examples of rida, and how it can numb the pain of a trial. We see this is the example of Abu Dhar al Ghifari was who beaten up by the Quraysh for becoming Muslim, but he did not feel the pain because the inner contentment and pleasure of becoming Muslim overrode the physical pain of being beaten and bruised.  When you have rida things become different in your life, to the extent it can block out pain in your life.  

1. Feeling pain with contentment

It is possible to feel pain and dislike it, but to accept it with contentment, as a patient who has to take bitter medicine knows that though it tastes bad, it will be good for him. He is satisfied that this is part of the treatment and cure.

2. Rejoicing at pain because it brings reward

In another example, Ghazali describes a woman on a journey who falls and her nail comes off. Her husband is surprised that she is smiling, and asks her did she not feel the pain, she replies that the ‘Indeed the pleasure of the reward removed the bitterness of the pain’. She has deep imaan that Allah will reward her.

3. Not objecting to trials knowing there is khayr in every trial

Ghazali tells the story of a man who accepted every situation knowing there was khayr (goodness) in it. He was in the desert and had only a rooster, a donkey and a dog, but a fox came and ate his rooster. His family was sad and complained that this was a terrible thing that had happened. However, the man said there was khayr in it. Then the donkey was killed by a wolf and his family were sad. The man said there was khayr in this too. Next the dog became ill and died, so his family were upset, yet the man still insisted there was the khayr in this. The next morning they awoke and discovered that their neighbours had been attacked by thieves who raided their tents and took their captives captive because their rooster gave away their location, and the dog barked. Then the family realised had they had a rooster, a donkey and a dog they would have suffered the same fate, but losing the animals had saved them for a far worse affliction.

We need to have certainty in our heart that even when we can’t understand why we have been struck with a difficulty or calamity, there is a greater good in it. It is about believing that there is wisdom behind it which we cannot see. In the story of Musa (peace be upon him) and Al Khidr, Musa kept complaining about the actions of Khidr but when the veil was lifted he was shown that there was a greater wisdom behind the seemingly bizarre things Khidr was doing. We might have been afflicted by bigger atrocities and tests.

Contentment should not be confused with laziness

There is good in everything Allah has given us. Knowing this is the key to contentment. Rida is internal. Does it mean we just accept adversity without trying to changing our condition? No. For instance if you lose your job it does not mean that you sit at home ‘content’ that you have no job. It means Allah wants you to find another job, or move somewhere else or work different hours. There is something deeper and He is enabling you to change something in your life, by removing the something that might be obstructing you. Contentment is not the antithesis for ambition. It does not mean that you accept a low level job or low grades, or qualifications because you are being content. You should always try to excel in any field you are in, that is part of ihsan.

Similarly if you are sick, it does not mean you are content with remaining sick and do nothing to find a cure. Allah commanded us to seek a cure for our condition when we become ill.

Usamah bin Sharik narrated that some Bedouins approached the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked:

‘O Messenger of Allah! Is there any sin if we do not seek treatment?’ He said: ‘Seek treatment, O slaves of Allah! O servants of Allah. [Ibn Majah]

Ask Allah to exchange hardship for ease

As we learned from the Prophet (peace be upon him) to ask Allah Almighty to replace whatever we have lost with something better. In the story of Umm Salamah who lost her beloved husband, and made this dua, she was granted an even better husband – the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself.

Umm Salamah, that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

When a calamity strikes one of you, then let him say:

‘Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. (Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un).

O Allah, I seek reward with You for my affliction, so reward me for it, and replace it for me with something better’ [Muslim]

When Abu Salama died she said, “What Muslim is better than Abu Salama whose family was the first to emigrate to God’s messenger? ”(He and his wife, Umm Salama, were among those who emigrated to Abyssinia. Abu Salama died of wounds received at the battle of Uhud, and the Prophet later married Umm Salama.) She then said the words, and God gave her God’s messenger in exchange. [Muslim]

How can those suffering acute difficulties in their life cope with their situation?

When Umm Salamah lost her husband, it was beyond her imagination that she could be granted a husband better than him. Yet she was taught to ask Allah for something better and to mean it.

Anyone going through difficulty, should know that with every breath they take Allah multiples their reward and elevates their status. On the Day of Judgement when they see the piles and piles of reward Allah prepared for those who are patient and preserved, they would wish they had been afflicted even more in the dunya.

Contentment is not a licence to let yourself be abused

Contentment or accepting one’s destiny does not mean that it is a licence to accept unacceptable behaviour from anyone, or abuse or harm. Islam is a religion of justice and everyone has rights and the right to be treated with respect. If one is in a situation where this is not the case, one should do whatever one can to obtain their rights and to change this situation by using the available means – which can be professional or legal help.

Is it wrong to cry for the deceased?

There is a misconception that crying for the deceased causes them pain due to the misunderstanding of the hadith that the deceased is punished for the wailing of his relatives over him:

Ibn Umar narrated from his father (may Allah Most High be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

عَنِ ابْنِ عُمَرَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: المَيِّتُ يُعَذَّبُ فِي قَبْرِهِ بِمَا نِيحَ عَلَيْهِ

 ‘The deceased is punished in his grave due to people wailing over him.’ (Bukhari)

The hadith was explained by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) that if the deceased wrote a will instructing his family to show excessive grief at his death, which was the case in those times, when people would even hire mourners to show an outpouring of grief, wail and scream to make the funeral emotional. However if the tears are out of true love, there is no punishment for this. As we saw from the reaction of the Prophet (peace be upon him) whose tears rolled down his cheeks when he lost his baby son, Ibrahim, as narrated earlier.

In another narration the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

فَقَالَ: أَلاَ تَسْمَعُونَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لاَ يُعَذِّبُ بِدَمْعِ العَيْنِ، وَلاَ بِحُزْنِ القَلْبِ، وَلَكِنْ يُعَذِّبُ بِهَذَا – وَأَشَارَ إِلَى لِسَانِهِ – أَوْ يَرْحَمُ، وَإِنَّ المَيِّتَ يُعَذَّبُ بِبُكَاءِ أَهْلِهِ عَلَيْهِ

 ‘Will you not listen? Indeed Allah (Most High) does not punish for shedding tears, nor for the grief of the heart. Rather He punishes or bestows mercy due to this, and he pointed to his tongue. Indeed the deceased is punished for the wailing of his relatives over him.’ [Bukhari]

Crying over a deceased is certainly allowed. There were numerous instances when the Prophet (peace be upon) himself cried over a deceased or someone who was dying.

We ask Allah Almighty to grant us contentment with His will, determination to excel, wisdom in our choices and inner satisfaction that He is our Lord and Islam is our religion. Ameen.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim – Thursday Hadith Class

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[i] Hadith of Gabriel: Angel Jibril came to teach you Islam (abuaminaelias.com)

Umar ibn al-Khattab reported: We were sitting with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, one day when a man appeared with very white clothes and very black hair. There were no signs of travel on him and we did not recognize him. He sat down in front of the Prophet and rested his knees by his knees and placed his hands on his thighs. The man said, “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” The Prophet said, “Islam is to testify there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, to establish prayer, to give charity, to fast the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to the House if a way is possible.” The man said, “You have spoken truthfully.” We were surprised that he asked him and said he was truthful. He said, “Tell me about faith.” The Prophet said, “Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, his Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in providence, its good and its harm.” The man said, “You have spoken truthfully. Tell me about excellence.” The Prophet said, “Excellence is to worship Allah as if you see Him, for if you do not see Him, He surely sees you.” The man said, “Tell me about the final hour.” The Prophet said, “The one asked does not know more than the one asking.” The man said, “Tell me about its signs.” The Prophet said, “The slave girl will give birth to her mistress and you will see barefoot, naked, and dependent shepherds compete in the construction of tall buildings.” Then, the man returned and I remained. The Prophet said to me, “O Umar, do you know who he was?” I said, “Allah and his messenger know best.” The Prophet said, “Verily, he was Gabriel who came to teach you your religion.” [Muslim]

عن عُمَر بْن الْخَطَّابِ قَالَ بَيْنَمَا نَحْنُ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ إِذْ طَلَعَ عَلَيْنَا رَجُلٌ شَدِيدُ بَيَاضِ الثِّيَابِ شَدِيدُ سَوَادِ الشَّعَرِ لَا يُرَى عَلَيْهِ أَثَرُ السَّفَرِ وَلَا يَعْرِفُهُ مِنَّا أَحَدٌ حَتَّى جَلَسَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَأَسْنَدَ رُكْبَتَيْهِ إِلَى رُكْبَتَيْهِ وَوَضَعَ كَفَّيْهِ عَلَى فَخِذَيْهِ وَقَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ أَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِسْلَامِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْإِسْلَامُ أَنْ تَشْهَدَ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَتُقِيمَ الصَّلَاةَ وَتُؤْتِيَ الزَّكَاةَ وَتَصُومَ رَمَضَانَ وَتَحُجَّ الْبَيْتَ إِنْ اسْتَطَعْتَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا قَالَ صَدَقْتَ قَالَ فَعَجِبْنَا لَهُ يَسْأَلُهُ وَيُصَدِّقُهُ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِيمَانِ قَالَ أَنْ تُؤْمِنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَتُؤْمِنَ بِالْقَدَرِ خَيْرِهِ وَشَرِّهِ قَالَ صَدَقْتَ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ الْإِحْسَانِ قَالَ أَنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهَ كَأَنَّكَ تَرَاهُ فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ تَرَاهُ فَإِنَّهُ يَرَاكَ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ السَّاعَةِ قَالَ مَا الْمَسْئُولُ عَنْهَا بِأَعْلَمَ مِنْ السَّائِلِ قَالَ فَأَخْبِرْنِي عَنْ أَمَارَتِهَا قَالَ أَنْ تَلِدَ الْأَمَةُ رَبَّتَهَا وَأَنْ تَرَى الْحُفَاةَ الْعُرَاةَ الْعَالَةَ رِعَاءَ الشَّاءِ يَتَطَاوَلُونَ فِي الْبُنْيَانِ قَالَ ثُمَّ انْطَلَقَ فَلَبِثْتُ مَلِيًّا ثُمَّ قَالَ لِي يَا عُمَرُ أَتَدْرِي مَنْ السَّائِلُ قُلْتُ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَعْلَمُ قَالَ فَإِنَّهُ جِبْرِيلُ أَتَاكُمْ يُعَلِّمُكُمْ دِينَكُمْ

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.