Praise be to Allaah.
Calamities and disasters are a test, and they are a sign of
Allaah’s love for a person, because they are like medicine: even though it
is bitter, despite its bitterness you give it to the one whom you love – and
for Allaah is the highest description. In the saheeh hadeeth it says: “The
greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allaah loves a people He
tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent
with that earns His wrath.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2396) and Ibn Maajah
(4031); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
Calamities are good for the believer in the sense that reward
is stored up for him the Hereafter thereby; how can it be otherwise when he
is raised in status thereby and his bad deeds are expiated? The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Allaah wills good
for His slave, He hastens the punishment for him in this world, and when
Allaah wills ill for His slave, he withholds the punishment for his sins
from him until he comes with all his sins on the Day of Resurrection.”
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2396); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh
Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Do
not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur, for
perhaps in something that you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in
something that you prefer will be your doom.”
Al-Fadl ibn Sahl said: “There is a blessing in calamity that
the wise man should not ignore, for it erases sins, gives one the
opportunity to attain the reward for patience, dispels negligence, reminds
one of blessings at the time of health, calls one to repent and encourages
one to give charity.
Through calamity the believer seeks reward, and there is no
way to attain it but patience, and there is no way to be patient except with
resolute faith and strong will.
Remember the words of the Messenger (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him): “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for
his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If
something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for
him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is
good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).
So if calamity befalls a Muslim, he must say Inna Lillaahi
wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our
return), and say the du’aa’s that have been narrated from the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
How wonderful are those moments in which a person turns to
his Lord and knows that He alone is the One Who grants relief from distress.
How great is the relief when it comes after hardship. Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning):
“but give glad tidings to As‑ Saabiroon (the patient).
156. Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly, to
Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’
157. They are those on whom are the Salawaat (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”
Muslim (918) narrated that Umm Salamah (may Allaah be pleased
with her) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) say: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “There is no Muslim who is stricken
with a calamity and says what Allaah has enjoined – ‘Verily to Allaah we
belong and unto Him is our return. O Allaah, reward me for my affliction and
compensate me with something better’ – but Allaah will compensate him with
She said: When Abu Salamah died, I said: Who among the
Muslims is better than Abu Salamah, the first household to migrate to join
the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)?
Then I said it, and Allaah compensated me with the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).
There are things which, if the one who is stricken with
calamity thinks about them, that will make the calamity easier for him to
In his valuable book Zaad al-Ma’aad (4/189-195), Ibn
al-Qayyim has mentioned several things, including the following:
1 – If he looks at what has befallen him, he will find that
what his Lord has left for him is similar to it or better than it, and if he
is patient and accepts it, He has stored up for him something that is many
times greater than what he has lost through this calamity, and if He willed
He could have made the calamity even greater.
2 – The fire of calamity can be extinguished by thinking of
those who have been hit even harder. Let him look to his right, does he see
anything but calamity? Then let him look to his left, does he see anything
but loss? If he were to look at the people around him, he would not see
anything but people who are tested, either by missing out on something that
they like, or by having happen to them that which they dislike. The pains of
this world are like dreams or like a passing shadow. If you laugh a little
you will weep a lot, and if you are happy for a day you will be miserable
for a lifetime, and if you have what you want for a little while, you will
be deprived for a long time. There is no day of happiness but it is followed
by a day of pain. Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: For
every moment of joy there is a moment of sorrow, and no house is filled with
joy but it will be filled with sorrow. And Ibn Sireen said: There is never
any laughter but there comes weeping after it.
3 – It should be noted that panicking will not make the
calamity go away, and in fact it makes it worse.
4 – It should be noted that missing out on the reward for
patience and surrender, which is mercy and guidance that Allaah has granted
as the reward for patience and turning to Him (by saying Inna Lillaahi wa
inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our
return)), is worse than the calamity itself.
5 – It should be noted that panicking makes one’s enemy
rejoice and makes one’s friend feel sad; it makes Allaah angry and makes the
shaytaan happy; it destroys reward and weakens resolve. If he is patient,
seeks reward, strives to please Allaah, to make his friend happy and to make
his enemy sad, and seeks to relieve his brothers of their burdens and to
console them before they console him, this is steadfastness and a sign of
perfection – not slapping one's cheeks, rending one's garment, wishing for
death and being discontent with the divine decree.
6 – It should be noted that what comes after being patient
and seeking reward is pleasure and joy that is many times greater than what
he could have got from keeping what he lost. Sufficient for him is the
“house of praise” that will be built for him in Paradise as a reward for his
praising his Lord and turning to Him (by saying Inna Lillaahi wa inna
ilayhi raaji’oon (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our
return)). So let him decide which of the two calamities is greater: a
calamity in this world, or the calamity of missing out on the house of
praise in eternal Paradise. In al-Tirmidhi it is narrated in a marfoo’
report: “On the Day of Resurrection people will wish that their skins had
been cut with scissors in this world, when they see the reward of those who
were struck with calamity.” One of the salaf said: Were it not for the
calamities of this world, we would come empty-handed on the Day of
7 – It should be noted that the One Who is testing him is the
Most Wise and the Most Merciful, and that He – may He be glorified – did not
send this calamity in order to destroy him or cause him pain or finish him
off, rather He is checking on him, testing his patience, acceptance and
faith; it is so that He may hear his du’aa’ and supplication, so that He may
see him standing before Him, seeking protection, filled with humility and
complaining to Him.
8 – It should be noted that were it not for the trials and
tribulations of this world, a person could develop arrogance,
self-admiration, a pharaonic attitude and hardheartedness which would lead
to his doom in this world and in the Hereafter. It is a sign of the mercy of
the Most Merciful that He checks on him from time to time with the remedy of
calamity so as to protect him from these diseases, to keep his submission
and servitude sound, and to eliminate all bad elements that may lead to his
doom. Glory be to the One Who shows mercy by means of testing, and tests by
means of blessing, as it is said:
Allaah may bless us with calamities even if that is hard, and
Allaah may test some people with blessings.
9 – It should be noted that the bitterness of this world is
the essence of sweetness in the Hereafter, as Allaah will turn the former
into the latter. Similarly the sweetness of this world is the essence of
bitterness in the Hereafter. It is better to move from temporary bitterness
to eternal sweetness than the other way round. If this is still not clear to
you, then think of what the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: “Paradise is surrounded with difficulties, and Hell is
surrounded with desires.” End quote.
In many cases, if a person responds well to calamity, they
understand that it is a blessing and a gift, not a test.
Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] (may Allaah have mercy on him)
said: A calamity that makes you turn to Allaah is better for you than a
blessing which makes you forget the remembrance of Allaah.”
Sufyaan said: What a person dislikes may be better for him
than what he likes, because what he dislikes causes him to call upon Allaah,
whereas what he likes may make him heedless.
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) regarded his
imprisonment as a blessing that had been caused by his enemies.
Ibn al-Qayyim said: One day he – meaning Ibn Taymiyah – said
to me: What can my enemies do to me? My garden is in my heart; wherever I go
it is with me and never leaves me. My detainment is seclusion (an
opportunity for worship), my being killed is martyrdom, and being expelled
from my city is a journey.
He used to say of his detainment in the citadel: If I were
to spend the fill of this citadel in gold, that would not be sufficient to
express my gratitude for this blessing. Or he said: That would not be
sufficient to reward them for what they have brought to me of goodness.
When he was imprisoned, he used to say when prostrating: “O
Allaah, help me to remember You, give thanks to You and to worship You well.
Ma sha Allaah. He said to me (Ibn al-Qayyim) one day: The one who is really
detained is the one who keeps his heart away from his Lord, and the real
prisoner is the one is captive to his whims and desires. When he entered the
citadel and was within its walls, he looked at it and said: “So a wall
will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy,
and outside it will be torment” [al-Hadeed 57:13]. Allaah knows that I
have never seen anyone who was more content with his life than him, despite
all the hardship that he experienced, and the lack of luxury and comfort, in
fact the opposite of that, and despite the imprisonment, threats and
exhaustion that he faced; despite all of that, he was the happiest of people
with his life, the most content, the most courageous, the most satisfied.
You could see the signs of joy and happiness in his face. When we felt
afraid and were expecting calamity, and we had nowhere to turn, we would go
to him and as soon as we saw him and heard his voice, all those fears
disappeared and were replaced with contentment, courage, certainty and
tranquillity. Glory be to the One who showed some of His slaves His Paradise
before they met Him, and opened its gates to them when they were still in
this world of deeds and actions, so some of its breezes and fragrance came
to them, which made them devote their energy to seeking it and competing in
attaining it. End quote.
Al-Waabil al-Sayyib (p. 110).