Thursday 25 August 2016

Dealing with Tests

Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem

EVERYONE FACES TESTS IN LIFE. There is no one that escapes the tests of this life. Allah Ta’ala clearly informs us that He will test us.

“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, "Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return." Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.”

[Surah Al-Baqarah 2 : 155/156/157]

So problems and difficulties will arise … which could be in respect to the individual himself or herself, or relating to the family or community. A person may have a financial problem, domestic problem; there may be fights in the family, a divorce, someone who is terminally ill or bedridden and the list of tests and challenges goes on.

When faced with difficulty, we generally adopt the wrong mind-set and approach. We sometimes see the problem as a huge obstacle, disregarding the millions and billions of bounties we have been blessed with, or we entertain negative thoughts about Allah Ta’ala, or we become despondent, or we just want to give up or choose to give up … and sadly, there are those who even contemplate suicide … whereas suicide is no escape.

When a person has a wrong mind-set and looks at his problem as the “be all and end all” of his life, making it the main focus in his life, then it will be an unsurmountable mountain for him. It will seem larger than his life. …And we know that often, in desperation, people try all kinds of treatments and therapies – some of which have their association and affiliation with other religions – and this then causes harm to the person’s Dien and only increases his problems.

Many go for ‘Umrah to get some relief from their problems; some go out in Jamaat seeking to find some solution; others go to the Khanqah with the hope that their problems will dissipate. And some go to the Buzurgs for Taweezes, hoping that will solve their problems. Sometimes the request is for a Taweez for money, or for Barkat, or for Shifa, or for something else. …It should be understood that the Taweez itself is not what solves problems. Allah Ta’ala is One who places effect and benefit in something.  However, the best course of action to solve one’s problems is to give up all sins, be obedient to Allah Ta’ala, to live the Sunnah, bring into one’s daily routine the various Masnoon Duas, and to give quality time to the Qur’aan Sharief – which invites Barakah and Rahmah and is a means of tremendous goodness.

Some people take Bay`at but the intention is not Islaah (reformation). The purpose is to sort out the difficulties or the crises that the person is faced with. The intention for Bay’at is due to financial, marital, health or other problems – not with sincerity to reform. One person came to the Khanqah of our respected Sheikh, Hadhrat Moulana Hakim Muhammad Akhtar Saheb (Rahmatullah ‘alaih) and requested permission to take Bay’at. When asked why he wanted to take Ba’yat, the brother said: “To solve my problems.”

Hadhrat Moulana said to him, and would tell others as well: “Bay’at is a separate matter. Sort out your problems first, then take Bay'at. ”

Understanding Tests

Our seniors have said that we look at our problems from a very narrow perspective. We think: In my life, this is my problem and it is a very big problem. …And we then allow it to consume our lives. At times, we may make a mountain out of a mole hill or we may stir up a storm in a teacup – because we lack coping skills or we may not have the knowledge and understanding. No doubt, some afflictions are great tests. However, from Allah Ta’ala’s Side, Allah Ta’ala does not burden us more than we can bear:

“On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear…’
[Surah Al-Baqarah 2:  286]

Furthermore, Allah Ta’ala gives us the reassurance and guarantee that with every hardship there will be ease:

“So indeed with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.”
[Surah Al-Inshirah 94:6]

Then again, were we to reflect, we would find that some setbacks and hardships are due to our sins and disobedience to Allah Ta’ala, so that we turn to Him and return to Him.

For many of us, our tests are not as major as they seem – especially when compared to the tests that our brothers and sisters face in Syria, Palestine, Burma, Central Africa and other parts of the world – where there is oppression, incarceration, rape, persecution, starvation, bombings, murder of their children and entire families, razing of their homes, living as refugees, denied freedom of religion, etc. May Allah Ta’ala ease their conditions and grant them peace after all the adversity, and grant them happiness after all their grief.

The Hereafter

One easy way to change our thinking and perception of our tests is to think of the Aakhirah. This worldly life is so fleeting and so insignificant that Rasulullah said: “The life of this world compared to the hereafter is as if one of you were to put his finger in the ocean and take it out again then compare the water that remains on his finger to the water that remains in the ocean.”[1]

A person may live 60 years or 70 years, but in comparison to the Aakhirah which is forever, those 60 or 70 years are not even two minutes. Allah Ta’ala safeguard us all, but if a person is in a coma for 10 years or even 20 years, then in comparison to the Aakhirah it is like a second or two seconds. Allah Ta’ala presents a comparison to the Aakhirah:

“He (Allah) will say: "What number of years did you stay on earth?"
They will say: "We stayed a day or part of a day. Ask of those who keep account."
He (Allah) will say: "You stayed not but a little, if you had only known!”
[Surah al-Muminun 23: 112-114]

Our pain and our grief may seem overwhelming in this world, but when we reach the Aakhirah, it will be considered less than a prick of a needle…. In a Hadith, Rasulullah described the day of Judgement and said regarding the person who experienced the most hardship: “One of the people of Jannah who had experienced extreme misery in the life of this world will be dipped in Jannah. Then he will be asked: "O son of Adam! Did you ever experience any misery? Did you ever encounter difficulty?" He will say: "By Allah, no, I neither experienced misery nor passed through hardship".[2]

So why make one problem of your life, your whole life’s problem?

Trust in Allah Ta’ala

Keep the gaze on Allah Ta’ala, Who is Al-Wadud (Loving) and full of Mercy and Kindness. ...During the Hijrah, difficulties and hardships had to be endured; great sacrifices had to be made – by Rasulullah as well as his noble compantions (Radhiyallahu 'anhum).

At the time of Hijrah, when Rasulullah  left the outskirts of Makkah Sharief, he  stopped his camel, turned and looked back at Makkatul Mukkaramah - his birthplace, where he had spent his youth, where he had married, where his family resided, where he passed all of the years of his life, until that moment. He said: “Of all Allah’s earth, you are the dearest place to me and the dearest to Allah. Had my people not driven me out from you, I would not have left you.”

Whilst in the cave of Thaur, in hiding, Hadhrat Abu Bakr (Radhiyallahu 'anhu) was overcome with fear and concern for the safety of Rasulullah . Rasulullah calmed him with these beautiful words, which clearly made manifest his full and beautiful trust in Allah Ta’ala:

“Don’t be sad; indeed, Allah is with us.”
[Surah At-Taubah 9:40]

A Believer maintains his faith and hope in the promises of Allah Ta’ala. He takes comfort and courage knowing that Allah Ta’ala is with him.

A Believer keeps his attention on the Aakhirah, which is what is real and lasting. If we do so, we will find our tests easier to deal with and also find it easier to get over. Otherwise, a negative mindset is like a leak in a boat … and this negativity sometimes sinks the boat of life. …Our life is like a boat and our Imaan (Faith) and Tawakkul (Trust) in Allah Ta’ala are our oars that we use to steer our boats to the shore of the Aakhirah, and Insha-Allah, reach safety. Rowing a boat requires a lot of power and strength and rowing the boat of life requires much more strength – spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally. The Believer draws tremendous strength from the Qur’aan Sharief and the Sunnah. There’s just no giving up for one who establishes contact with Allah Ta’ala.

Of course, we should not ask for difficulty. Ask Allah Ta’ala for Aafiyah (well-being and protection).  Rasulullah said: “Ask Allah for forgiveness and Aafiyah, for verily after Imaan, none is given anything better than Aafiyah.”[3]

Allah Ta’ala guides us to a prescription and treatment, which is sure to heal our grief and lighten the burden upon the heart and soul:

“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and the prayer. Certainly, Allah is with the patient. …”
(Surah Al-Baqarah 2:153)

Indeed, the person who adopts patience will find that Allah Ta’ala is his companion and source of strength; and when he takes to standing before His Rabb in Salaah, and presents his broken heart or the wounds of his heart, will find that his Salaah is a means of mending his broken heart and healing the wounds of his heart.

Allah Ta’ala also informs us that patience draws great rewards; rewards without measure!

“…Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!”
[Surah Az-Zumar 39 : 10]

Hadhrat Hasan al-Basri (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) had said: “Do not despise the calamities that come and the tragedies that occur. It may be that in something that you dislike, lies your salvation, and perhaps in something that you like, lies your ruin.”

Tafweez and Ridha bil Qadha

Whilst we will adopt Tadbeer – that is, we will adopt the correct Asbaab (means) and will make an effort, we will resign ourselves to the final outcome – Taqdeer. When it comes to tests and challenges that come a person’s way, the proper solution is to adopt Tafweez. The thinking should be: O Allah, You have decreed it and I accept Your decision.

At one time, the great Scholar Hadhrat Moulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) had the condition of piles …and piles can be very painful and also causes bleeding. The condition persisted for two or three weeks. A close associate, who made Hadhrat Moulana’s Khidmat said to him: “Hadhrat, you are an Amaanat of the Ummah. …The Ummah is in need of your knowledge …and you cannot serve the Ummah in this illness. Take treatment.”

The Khaadim encouraged in that direction until Hadhrat Moulana raised his hand and said: “This is a gift from above … This is a gift from Allah Ta’ala.”

That was his lofty level of Tafweez and Ridha bil Qadha. It goes without saying that we are not of that category. We are weak and we should take treatment and medication, which is also in conformity with the Sunnah. However, after adopting the means, adopt Tafweez and nurture the quality of Ridha bil Qadha – be satisfied with whatever Allah Ta’ala decides for you.

...On one occasion, Hadhrat Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Rahmatullah ‘alaih) asked Hadhrat Moulana Abdul Ghani Phulpoori (Rahmatullah ‘alaih): “Is there a stage higher than Ikhlaas (sincerity)?”

Hadhrat Moulana Abdul Ghani (Rahmatullah ‘alaih) replied: “Ikhlaas is a very high stage; I cannot think of anything higher than that.”

Moulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (Rahmatullah ‘alaih) then said: “Ridha Bil Qadha is higher than even Ikhlaas.”

…Hadhrat Hāji Imdadullah (Rahmatullah ‘alaih) had said that Ikhlaas is amongst the last accomplishments of a Seeker (Saalik). However, we take it that we have Ikhlaas from the beginning. This is the deception of nafs and shaytaan.

Take the example of mountains: many mountain ranges have different crests or peaks before the summit is reached. These are just subsidiary peaks of the mountain. There is a long way up. …Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjro and other mountains are not climbed overnight. It takes months of preparation and training and then weeks to climb and reach the summit. In this spiritual journey to Allah Ta’ala, sometimes we reach just one of the crests of the mountain, and we think we have reached the top. However, we need to continue; we need to climb higher.

So higher than Ikhlaas is being content with Allah Ta’ala’s decisions. There is no doubt, that it is not play when adverse conditions come. It is not easy … but the true servant of Allah Ta’ala accepts and adapts himself to what Allah Ta’ala’s decrees. He will not complain about Allah Ta’ala’s Decisions.

Hadhrat Mirza Jaane Jaan (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) was a great Wali of Allah Ta’ala and was made Shaheed. He was shot at close range. At that time, he was asked about his condition. He replied: “My heart is 100% content but my nature is sensitive and I cannot take the smell of gun powder.”

Hadhrat Mirza Jaane Jaan (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) was known for his extremely sensitive disposition and therefore mentioned that the smell of the gun powder could not be endured. However he still maintained Ridha Bil Qadha on his condition.

May Allah Ta’ala also grant us these noble qualities.

Good Expectations of Allah Ta’ala

Rasulullah said, “Allah Ta’ala said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am.’”[4]

Imam Nawawi (Rahmatullahi alayh) had said that the ‘Ulama had explained that to expect the best of Allah Ta’ala is to expect that He will have Mercy on one and relieve one of hardship. Our Akaabir and Aslaaf would say: “When a crisis comes your way, utilise your good expectations of Allah in order to repel it. This will bring you closer to relief.”

Hadhrat Sa’id bin Jubayr (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh) would make Dua: “O Allah, I ask you to grant me true reliance on You and good expectations of You.”

Rasulullah advised Hadhrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anhu): “Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity. And know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that help comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship.”[5]

One of our Aslaaf had beautifully said: “There are blessings in calamity and tragedy that the wise man should not ignore. It erases sins and gives one the opportunity to obtain the immense rewards for patience. It dispels negligence and heedlessness, reminds one of blessings at the time of health, invites one to repent and encourages one to spend in charity.”

May Allah Ta’ala grant us ease in this worldly life, grant us the qualities of Tafweez and Ridha Bil Qadha in all situations and conditions, grant us good expectations of Allah Ta’ala and grant us a safe passage out of this world, that we return to Him on Imaan and Islam. Aameen.

By Hadhrat Moulana AbdulHamid Is`haq Saheb (Daamat Barakaatuhum)

[1] Sahih Muslim
[2] Sahih Muslim
[3] Sunan Tirmidhi, Hadīth: 3558
[4] Sahih Al-Bukhari
[5] Tirmidhi