As we travel through life, we find ourselves in one of two situations. Either something good is happening in our lives, in which case as Muslims our role is to thank Allah for the blessing, or something bad or something we dislike is happening to us, and our role then is to be patient. This is the formula for a happy life, a life cruising towards earning the pleasure of Allah. Sabr (patience) or Shukr (gratitude), the worry stops here.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

“Strange is the affair of the believer. Verily, all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him, he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (Saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the believer.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Ibn Al-Jawzi said, “If this world was not a station of tests it would not be filled with sicknesses and filth. If life were not about 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 world. Nuh cried for 300 years. Ibrahim was thrown into a pit of fire and later told to slaughter his son. Ya’qub cried until he became blind. Musa challenged Pharaoh and was tested by his people. ‘Isa had no provision except the morsels his disciples provided him with. And Muhammad (peace be upon him) met poverty with patience as 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. It is a pillar of our Imam that we believe in Qada’a and Qadr, and that we are pleased with Allah’s choice. Good or seemingly bad, it is the test of this world. How can we imagine that we shall not be tested when those who were better than us suffered?

Al-Hasan Ibn Arafah narrated that he visited Imam Ahmad Bin Hanbal after he was whipped and tortured by the Khalifa for not budging from the truth (the Khalifa insisted that the Qur’an was created, while the truth is that the Qur’an is the word of Allah, His speech).

He said to him, “O Abu Abdllah, 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 who 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 tomorrow when I stand in front of Him and He asks me, ‘Did you sell your Deen like the others did?'”

He continued, “So I looked at the whip and the sword and chose them. And I said, ‘If I die, I shall return to Allah and say that I was told to say that one of Your Attributes was something created but I did not say. “After that, it will be up to Him – either to punish me or be Merciful to me.”

Al-Hasan Bin 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 80 times). After it was over I felt no pain and that day I prayed Dhuhr standing.”

Al-Hasan Bin Arafah started weeping when he heard what had happened. Imam Ahmad questioned him, “Why are you crying? I did not lose my Imam. After that why should I care if I lose my life?”

These people were better than us, but this was how they were tested.

We must also remember that:

· Much of what befalls us is the direct result of our own sins. Allah:

“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” (Qur’an, 42:30)

Muhammad Bin Sireen 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 even the good things that happen to us are a test. Allah says:

“And We tried them with good (blessings) and evil (calamities) in order that they might turn (to Allah’s Obedience).” (Qur’an, 7:168)

Abdul Malik Bin Ishaq said, “There is no one that is not tested with health and prosperity to measure how thankful he is.”

· Patience must be observed from the beginning, and there are things that contradict patience like tearing ones shirt, slapping ones face, and cursing and wailing.

Umm Salamah narrates that she heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say:

“Any Muslim who says when a calamity befalls him that which Allah commanded him: ‘To Allah we belong and to him we return. O Allah reward me in this calamity and give me better than it’ – Allah will grant him better than (that which he lost).” (Sahih Muslim)

· The hardships that befall us distinguish the true believers from the insincere ones. Shumayt Bin Ajlaan said, “The pious and the ungrateful are hidden by health, when calamities befall the two men are separated (by how they react).”

Allah asks in the Qur’an:

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them…” (Qur’an, 29:2-3).

Allah’s glad tidings for the patient ones:

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).

Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.”

“They are those on whom are the Salawat (blessings) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” (Qur’an, 2:155-157)

Key to patience
Always remember we are on a journey and the destination is the Hereafter – Paradise or Hell. We shall be leaving the world behind us and we will return back to Allah. This is what needs our focus. If Allah is pleased with us then no worry. If He is not pleased with us then all worry.

Types of Patience
Patience in the obedience of Allah. For example, one must be patient and perform their Fajr Salah regularly at its appointed time.

Patience in not disobeying Allah. Leaving sins and being consistent in avoiding them.

Patience in what Allah decrees for us. For example, if our child was to pass away we should be patient and seek the reward of Allah in our patience and say only that which is pleasing to Allah.