Sabr (Patience) and Tests from Allāh

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A teacher gives his students an exam to know who from his students are successful in this particular subject and who are not. Allāh Tala afflicts His servants with certain trials; however it is not so that He Himself can find out those who are patient from amongst the ones who are not. Allāh Tala is Al-Latīf (The Knower of Innermost Secrets) and He is Al-Khabīr (The Totally Aware) – He knows all that is in the heart of man and he is fully aware of the levels of loyalty and patience in His servants. The reason why He afflicts His servants with trials is so that He can show the rest of His creation that this servant is His beloved – this servant does not forget Him whilst being tested nor does he forget Him when he is in a good state. Allāh Tala will indeed test those who believe to show the rest of the world how loyal His believing servants are to Him.

Allāh Tala has said “وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ” , meaning “and surely We will test you with a bit” (2:155). The word شيء means ‘a little’ and the addition of the letter ب goes further to say that it is a small section from this little amount. Thus, Allāh Tala is telling His servants not to worry because when He will test, He will test with little and it will be a very easy test. In the same āyah Allāh Tala then says, “we will test you with a bit of fear and hunger, and loss in wealth and lives and fruits, and give good tidings to those that are patient”. He, the Most Merciful, has even told His servants what He will test them with. It is like a teacher telling his students that they are going to be given a very easy exam and he then informs them of what is going to come in the exam.

Allāh Tala is also informing the believers of what is to come to allow them to prepare themselves. This is one reason stated in Tafsīr Rūh-al-Ma’ānī. If a musībat (trial) was to strike without prior warning, it would be felt deeply. However, by having knowledge of it beforehand, exercising patience is easier. This is a reason why many are afflicted with illness prior to their death. Their close relatives and loved ones are given a notice so that the pain of the loss is lessened and so that they can exercise a better patience.

Allāh Tala also instructs the Prophet ﷺ to give glad tidings to those who are patient. Surely, if those being tested were at a loss, then Allāh Tala would not associate trials with glad tidings. These glad tidings are from the Most Merciful, through the Prophet ﷺ, who is Rehmatal-lil-’Ālamīn (Mercy to Both Worlds ﷺ). It is coming from the Most Loving, through the one who is the Most Beloved ﷺ. This is proof that trials are not inconveniences, but are blessings within themselves and if they are patient then they will indeed receive their reward.

Allāh Tala has said, “verily Allāh Tala is with those whom are patient” (2:153).That is to say that, as a reward for sabr (patience), man receives the honour of the ‘company’ of Allāh Tala. And it goes without saying that when the might of the Lord of the Worlds Himself has come to the aid of a man, what pain or trouble can overcome him, and who can prevent his concerns from prospering (Ma’ārif ul-Qur’ān). During difficult times, one can gain closeness to Allāh Tala in a way one would not have been able to in times of ease.

Patience is not only associated with trials and tribulations. It is of three types: 1) to be patient in being obedient to Allāh Tala and remaining steadfast 2) to be patient in refraining oneself from sin 3) to endure all kinds of troubles and pain. People generally identify sabr with the third type and ignore the first two, which are indeed more basic and essential. ‘Al-Sābirūn’ is the title given to those who are steadfast in all three forms with equal vigour (Ma’ārif ul-Qur’ān).

When an individual is being tested, he should pray “Innā lillāhi wa innā ilayhi rāji’ūn” (2:156). Allāh Tala has said that this is what the patient people recite, suggesting to His believers that they should pray this during times of tribulation also. It will bring excellent reward, it relieves from the burden of sorrow and it consoles the grieving heart (Ma’ārif ul-Qur’ān). When reciting it with our tongue, we should allow it to penetrate within. “Innā lillāh” – ‘to Him we belong’ meaning that everything is under the ownership of Allāh. He is the King and Owner of everything and He has the power to do with His creation what He wills. “Wa innā ilayhi rāji’ūn” – ‘and verily to Him we shall return’. This is a reminder that we are also destined to return to our Creator. The Prophet ﷺ instructed us to recite this during difficult times as it is truly a formula of peace in times of hardship.

If the believer is then patient during these times of hardship and remains pleased with the decree of Allāh, he will receive special mercy and reward from His Lord. It must be noted that exercising patience is not to suppress tears, as the Prophet ﷺ also shed tears at the time of the passing of his son Ibrāhīm ؓ. It is to remain happy with Allāh’s decree, despite the pain. The Almighty says, “Those are the ones upon whom there are blessings from their Lord, and mercy as well; and those are the ones who are on the right path” (2:157). Allāh Tala guides them – meaning that, not only does He show them the right path, but He allows them entry onto the path.

Know that, as believers, we will be tested and it is an opportunity for us to show our gratitude, loyalty and trust in Allāh Tala. He will cause us to be afflicted by certain trials and tribulations to bring us closer to Him. In reality, trials are blessings as they withhold within them glad tidings. If we remain steadfast and pleased with Allāh’s Tala decree, we will earn the reward that we have been promised – but for this, we have to be patient.

جو ہوا اچھا ہوا بہتر ہوا
وہ جو حسب مرضی دلبر ہوا

That which has happened is good, that which has happened is best. As it has happened in compliance with the will of the Beloved (Allāh Tala). 

Compiled from: 1) ‘Sabr aur Maqām-e-Siddīqīn’ by Shaykh Shah Hakīm Akhtar Sāhibؒ 2) Ma’ārif-ul-Qur’ān (Volume 1, pg 400-406) by Mufti Shafi’ ‘Uthmāni ؒ (Allāh enlighten their graves with nūr and grant them the best of rewards, āmīn)
Allāh Tala remove the suffering of all those in hardship and grant them a beautiful patience (āmīn).

 اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلى سَيِّدِنَا وَنَبِيِّنَا وَ شَفِيْعِنَا وَحَبِيْبِنَا وَ سَنَدِنَا وَ مَوْلَانَا  مُحَمَّدٍ وَ بَارِكْ وَ سَلِّم

 Sabr

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