The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace, was someone who went through unparalleled hardship, and yet he never allowed any difficulties to perturb him. In one very powerful and condensed session, Hamza Yusuf explains why. Commenting on the treatise of the seventh century scholar Izz ibn Abdus-Salam, he reveals 17 benefits of tribulations for those who would see them. Not only will this lecture completely transform your outlook on calamities, but it will also leave you in total awe of Allah’s magnanimity and infinite mercy.
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
I wanted to go over a booklet that was written by a man known as sultan al ulema, the sultan of the scholars, Izzideen Abdul Aziz Abdus Salaam Sulami. He died in 660. He lived inEgypt and he was known also to have mastered the two madhabs which is rare, in the history of Islam, in fact I think he is the only person who really has that maqam. He wrote this book and called it “The Book of Calamities, Tribulations, Hardships and Disasters or the Benefits of Tribulations and Tests”. He wrote it actually to point out all the tests, the benefits that come from having tribulation in your life and one of the aspects of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), one of the most extraordinary aspects of the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) life is that he never allowed tribulations to disquiet him, in other words he never allowed any difficulties that he faced or hardships to perturb him oo put him in a state of turbulence.
The word in Arabic for somebody who has forbearance is called halim. The word halim is a word that the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was described as “he had more forebearance than anybody else” that is a description. Now the word for intellect is hilm. That is one of the words for intellect, hilm.
One of the things they accused the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) of was “he causes us to lose our intellects or to make us look like fools” because safia is the opposite of halim”. So the man of intellect is somebody who has hilm. The man without intellect is somebody who has safaha. Safaha is a lightness, there is no stability because what intellect should do is it should stabilise you and that is why the halim is somebody who does not get disquieted, he does not get perturbed in life.
Now what is interesting about disquietude is that the word for dreamer is halim. The word for a person who is dreaming is ha’lum. Now why do you think that the word for somebody who does not get perturbed is halim and the word for a dreamer is ha’lum? Ahlam is intellect but it is also dreams. In Surah Yusuf, the dreams were called empty dreams. Why do you think there is a connection between hilm and dream and intellect? It is hard to dream when someone is agitating you. Dreams need a state of quietude in order for you to sleep.
Now the word for nipple is halama and a child when they are at the nipple what happens to their state? What does the mother do when the child is in a perturbed state? The infant. She gives it the breast which is called halama. What happens to the child? It goes into a state of complete quietude and relaxation.
Now it is not interesting that milk and knowledge are from the same source and that is why when Sayyidina Umar in the sound hadith saw a dream which the Prophet’s (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) milk was coming out of his fingers and Sayyidina Umar was drinking it. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said al ilm it is knowledge, knowledge.
So isn’t it intereszing that ghawiyah which means to go astray means the inability to digest milk. In Arabic, you can look these up in Arabic dictionary. Ghawiyah which is to go astray the root of it means the inability to digest milk.
Because our first stage is to get through the two years and in the Western developmental and that call it that first crisis is trust vs mistrust. That is what the child needs to realise that they are in a safe environment and if they are not given milk, they are neglected by their mother, if they are mistreated, they do not get through that first developmental stage and then every stage after that is a disaster. According to Erikkson, that is a theory in developmental psychology but my point of bringing that up is that trust vs mistrust is related to whether or not the mother removes the disquietude of the child or not because that is the key thing that the mother has to do. The cry of the baby there is a reason that babies cry and if you grew up in this country in the sixties, there was a character called Dr Spock and they are always giving new theories about how to raise children but one of the theories in the fifties was mothers should ignore the cry of the child and regulate the milk according to fixed times which is complete insanity but that is what they did now look at the society out there.
So the halim the person who is the halim is a person who in the face of tribulation whether it is a person or whether it is a circumstance they do not lose their cool. They do not become perturbed and this is the hallmark of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) in terms of his behaviour with people and with circumstances is that for instance he is described as whenever people would speak ill to him he would return with, the Quran says give a had turn, repay it with a good turn. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)when he was migrating from Makkah to Madinah he according to the narration Abu Bakr was perturbed, he was troubled and he would look at the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would even though Suraqah ibn Malik was right behind them. Abu Bakr was worried not about himself. He was worried about the messenger of Allah. He was in an act of ibadah but the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was in a state of tranquillity. He was reciting the Quran, unperturbed.
When they were in the cave and Abu Bakr was very nervous because right outside were the Quraysh literally right outside the cave and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)was in a complete unperturbed state. In battles they said the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), they used to hide behind him some of the people when it got difficult.
So the famous story of the Jews that came to the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and purposely upset him in order to elicit a response and it was Umar who got very angry and the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was completed unperturbed even though he was insulted by this man. The man said he had seen all the characteristics of prophecy except for one hilm, and he needed to test that so he purposely evoked a negative response but did not get it from the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) so we know that he had hilm or forbearance.
So one of the things about people that are disconnected from Allah is that they get completely disquieted whenever things get difficult. It is a sign of weak iman. People whose iman is weak when they lose the slightest thing you can see them disquieted, perturbed.
One of the things that we are increasingly becoming incapable of is listening to each other, just talk, human beings without getting disquieted. So people cannot have civil arguments, they cannot have discussions because once we start talking I get heated, you elicit a response from me like there was a physician in India who used to treat people with ruqyah and one of these modern physicians thought he was completely insane and when he started arguing with him about this, he said “how do you think that words can affect anything, you need to give people antibiotics and you need to give them things that will change their states” so the other physician who believed in ruqyah called him a donkey. He got really angry and then called him a pig and he was about to kill him. He said “two words I said to you and look at how they have changed your state. You are red and ready to kill me” because of two words so words have a power to elicit responses from us.
And so what hilm is, is the ability to not allow your button to be pushed and it really is one of the gifts of Islam if people take it seriously. It is hard to do and we are all working at it to some degree. People get better at it than others but it takes a great deal of effort and it does not stop. It gets finer and finer but removing resentment from the heart is a really difficult thing, hasad, all these diseases of the heart.
So this book he wrote as a way of helping people to understand what tribulations really are because one of the reasons we get disquieted about difficulties is that we do not understand what the wisdom of the difficulty is from Allah. That is one of the real problems so when Allah gives you a difficult situation. If you believe in Allah the difference between you and someone who does not believe in Allah is that you will derive benefit from that condition.
Now one of the beauties of the creation and for me one of the greatest proofs for the existence of God that if you do not believe in God you will live in a world filled with God but if you disbelieve in God you will constantly be re-affirmed in your disbelief and that is why atheists cannot understand people that believe in God and people that believe in God cannot understand atheists because both of them are seeking a proof for their belief. They really are and that is one of the meanings I think of the hadith “I am in the opinion of my servant” so if my servant thinks I am nothing, that is what he finds.
Allah is in the understanding of the believer so if you believe Allah is with you, Allah is with you. If you do not believe He is with you, He is not with you and that is why despair is haraam in every Abrahamic tradition. It is haraam and in Catholicism it is the unforgiven unpardonable sin in Catholicism to despair from the mercy of God. It is actually the one thing that is not forgiven. That is Iblees, that is his disease, he despaired so he wants everybody else to despair so part of the game that is being played in the world is to make everybody think that it is all horrible and whenever you talk to people that do not believe in God or people in this age in particular, what do they say to you? Look around you, how can you believe in God? Well that is my whole point I am looking around, how can I not believe in God? So where is the problem? The problem is in what they call evil and this is what ultimately every argument against the existence of God rests upon.
It rests upon what they call the problem of evil and that is why if somebody tells you they do not believe in God what you should ask them to do is to explain to me what your definition of God is because we might not believe in the same thing in other words I might agree with you that I do not believe in that thing because one of the things that they have done is that they are trapped in a Christian Manichean world view which is where good and evil are both creations of Allah. See the Christians cannot explain evil because they say God is all good and God is all powerful. Well if God is all good and all powerful how do we explain evil in the world? Because if He is all good He would not create evil and if He was all powerful He would remove it from the world. This is what they call the problem of evil in philosophy. That is the argument.
That is ultimately what atheists have a problem with so one of the benefits of this is we had scholars that looked at tribulations and said “never think something is evil because you do not know”. Now on the one hand we have a shariah that says killing is evil right so if somebody kills another person unjustly that is evil the person should be punished or forgiven or whatever is done but it is a wrong action that needs to be redressed so shariah is something we have to live with. The law that Allah has given is just like here in this society we have laws many of them are incongruous with our system of law and that is what Raghab il Misbahani calls Al Adal al Mutaqah which are shared by Muslims and non Muslims and then you have what is called Al Adal al Muqayyadah which relates to the shariah or the sacred law that a specific Prophet has brought and that adal can actually change, it can actually change but Adal al Mutaqah, it is wrong to take somebody else’s property. Everybody agrees on that and that is the basis of entering into transactions with non Muslims and that is why Muslims can transact with non Muslims because if we did not have a shared understanding of justice we could not communicate but every non Muslim that has got any brains at all will agree with us on many basic points and this is how it is capable for Muslims and non Muslims to live together based on those shared things.
There are other things where we disagree and then the shariah has ways of dealing with that. In a Muslim society even, non Muslims are allowed to do things that Muslims are not allowed to do.
So he begins this book Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem, in the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Every Muslim traditionally began their book with Bismillah or Alhamdulillah and that was because the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that anything that begins without bismillah is cut off from barakah so it is a way of maintaining barakah.
The shaykh and shaykh in Arabic has several meanings one of them is simple just an old man, he gets grey hairs and shaykh also means the head of a tribe, it can be somebody who has wealth, it can mean a dignified person but here it is used to signify somebody who has wisdom and because usually wisdom comes with old age.
Imam is a paragon, somebody that embodies something. Ummah is a group of people that are moving towards the same object, that is what an ummah is. It is a people that are bound together by the same goal and that is why the ummah of the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has the same goal to get to paradise.
Then the mother obviously she is the umm which is related to the same root word. Hujjat al Islam. Hujjah is a proof and that is a level a degree that certain scholars reach when they become like Imam al Ghazali who was the famous Hujjat al islam, becomes a proof for the truth of Islam. That that person has become, the fact that they exist is a proof that Islam is true.
Mutamada Anam the one that that all of the creatures depend upon. Anam generally means the things that sleep but it also means the ins and the jinn.
Imam at-Tabari says that He placed the earth for the anam that it means all the living creatures, things that sleep and also the ulema are of benefit to the creatures because they defend their rights, creatures have rights, trees have rights. This is a modern argument in the West whether creation has legal standing or not. This is an argument that environmentalists lawyers have brought up whereas the Muslims dealt with these things.
His name is Abu Muhammad Abzul Aziz ibn Abdus Salaam. He was Shafi but he also mastered the Maliki madhab and then he says may Allah benefit the Muslims by him. Even today 800 years after he wrote this book we are here in California benefiting by his words and so the dua was answered. May we benefit by this imam and all the believers. May Allah forgive us and him and all the believers.
Calamities and tests and tribulations and distasters have different benefits based upon the different ranks of people. This is an important idea. Rutbah is a rank, it is used in modern Arabic in military rank. Rutub are the ranks that people are in relation to Allah. So just as you have in the military. “Nobody knows the armies of your Lord except Allah so Allah has junood”. Now people have different ranks, you have Generals, you have Colonels and then within that you have ranks and then you have Major and Captains and Lieutenants, Sergeants and Corporals. Now in the people of thahir the people actually wear uniform to let them know what their ranks are.
In Islam those ranks are hidden. You do not know the stations of people with Allah. It is something that Allah has hidden. One of the ulema said that Allah hid three things in three things. He hid His contentment in His obedience so in other words you never know what Allah will accept from you. Allah might not accept a great thing you did that was an act of obedience but He might accept a small thing like the prostitute who was forgiven for giving a dog water. That is the reason she was forgiven for giving a dog water. So Allah has hidden His contentment in obedience.
And He hid his wrath in His disobedience so the woman who locked up the cat and went to hell for locking up a cat. That was the thing, obviously that was an indication of her state. She was obviously a cruel woman because if you do not have compassion with animals it is a sign of cruelty and in our societies we know that children that are abusive to animals and torture animals when they are young often end up becoming very abusive when they are old so there is a relationship between kindness to animals and kindness towards humans.
That is one of the reason why every Prophet was a shepherd because they learned to be gentle to animals because that is a transitional phase into being….because if you are kind to animals you should certainly seem that you would be kind to humans. We are at the highest of that chain. Hierarchy of beings. People say you would not treat a dog like that, like why are you treating me like that? Well because dogs are faithful and you were unfaithful.
So he says benefits are based on the differences of the ranks of people. For some people a tribulation removes wrongs. Imam al Ghazali says there are wrongs in this world that are only removed by depression. If you are wondering why people get depressed, people get depressed from dunoob. Also the soul you see I do not care what anybody says about alternative lifestyles and all the people out there doing…….I guarantee you people have trouble in their soul, you can numb it. You can pre-occupy yourself, you can entertain yourself, you can do all these things to not deal with the soul’s anguish but you cannot remove the anguish of the soul. It is not possible which is Karl Marx said “Religion is the opium of the masses”. Abdul Hakim Winter said “but opium is the religion of the masses”. That is the idol, escape from reality. That is what they are worshipping because they will do anything for that idol. All they are trying to do is to numb the pain of existence but the existence is painful because you are not fulfilling your function. When you do not fulfil your function there is always trouble.
Anytime anything in the body is not fulfilling its function what is the first sign to let you know that you should go to the doctor? Pain, there is some type of disquietude in the body to let you know it is not fulfilling its function. So if suddenly you have got the pain in your liver and you go and he says you have got hepatitis. That pain is to let you know that the function has been disrupted.
The same is true for the soul. If you are not fulfilling your function which is to worship Allah, testify to His unity and to behave accordingly then you will be in pain and suffering until you come into accordance and that is a gift from Allah in the same way that pain, signs and symptoms are gifts for people so they can go to a physician and get well. If there were not signs and symptoms, that is why hypertension is such a dangerous disease because people can walk around and not feel any discomfort from hypertension and they can die from it.
The pain in the soul is there but people will do things and that is what people do. Kufr is essentially covering up. Now if you get a headache and you go and take Tylenol, you are not getting rid of the headache, you are suppressing the symptoms. So if you are sick in your soul from your kufr and you go and you do things in order to remove the pain of the kufr you are just covering up more and that is why it is darknesses covering darknesses and you just keep covering up more and more until that person is so diseased that it is a hopeless case unless Allah intervenes. That is what happens to people and so the ranks of people differ now the Prophets upon them all be peace, the Prophets have tribulation not to remove their wrongs but to elevate their rank. It is not to remove their wrongs and that is the case of some of the saliheen as well. They are moving up in degrees. The people of the greatest tribulation are the Prophets and then those closest to them and then those closest to them. It is like that.
Now obviously you can see people in the world and you look at them and you see tribulation like there are non Muslims and you see the tribulations they are in and you wonder about that. Well according to Ibn Abbas, he said that there is no tribulation that does not have a tribulation that could not be worse than it. So it is difficult to assess what really is happening when you look at people but this is one of the problems in religion is suffering in the world and the different degrees of tribulation out there and this is the way that we view tribulation for the believer. For people outside of Islam there is a whole other set of rules working because when you know things you have an accountability that is not included when you do not know things. One of the things that Sayyidina Umar said that they noticed about Islam is when they entered into Islam and they would do something wrong they would see an immediate effect of that whereas they never saw it in the jahiliyah and that was because of their maqam with Allah.
Once the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was walking and there was a young man who saw a woman and he was looking at the woman he ran into the wall. The Prophet(sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that was his removal of the wrong that it happened immediately. So that was actually a blessing to have that wrong removed. Now there is another hadith where the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) went to a man that was completely devastated. He was dying, he was in his bed, flesh and bone and completely wasted. He said what did you ask Allah? He said I asked Him to purify me of all my sins and he said do not ask Allah for that because you cannot take it but ask him for afiyah for well being, do not ask him for that because you do not want that. You do not want Allah to purify your sins by forgiveness. That is what we want and that is why sincere tawbah is what we need. We need a sincere tawbah to Allah. We do not want to have to do all these things and get these things happening to us because of the wrongs that we are doing. But that is what happens with the people the saaliheen is that they get to a point where they are content with what is happening. It is no longer painful because they are in such a state.
A woman one of the saalihat was walking and she stumbled and hurt her leg. She began to laugh and somebody thought she was crazy and said are you majnoon? She said no I fell and when the pain came I remembered the hadith where the Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said a believer does not get a thorn in his foot except it removed wrongs and the sweetness of my wrongs being removed overwhelmed my pain. She was actually alhamdulillah. That is iman, those are spiritual endorphins kicking in. There are spiritual endorphins, all those things are mithal, what you see in the world is just a metaphor for the unseen world. They have opium. There is spiritual opium. There are things that can put out your pain. When one of the sahaba had an arrow, they said wait until he goes into prayer to remove it. You think these are stories? You think these are things that people like made up? Like fairy tales and things like that. Seriously these are not made up stories. These are things that people witnessed with their own eyes and they removed the arrow during his prayer because he could not feel it.
I broke this arm severely, I had a fracture on my wrist and it is one of the worst kinds you can get and they gave me something called Fetinil. They could have broken my leg, I would not have cared because of that drug. It is a very short lasting drug the half life is very quick and it is a morphone derivative.
But once they had given me the Fetinil, he could have done anything. He took it and pulled it down and re-set it. I did not feel anything. I was in complete bliss from a drug and that is just a chemical reaction happening in the brain. It is all it is. So do not think those are stories. Those things are real. People go into those states with Allah where they do not feel pain, they actually feel delight. That is not something that you should ask for, let me delight in my calamities., you should ask Allah for afiyah but you should recognise that when the calamities come they come for a deep wisdom.
So he says the first benefit you realise is the power of Lordship over you. You realise that Allah is Rabb and you are marboob and the nature of Lordship is that Lordship Lords over you and this is why when tribulations come to you “la hawla wa la quwatta illah billah”, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajiun”. There are things that you can control. In my environment here there are things that I can control. I am thirsty, I have a cup, Allah has given me will, Bismillah, I can drink, I can quench my thirst, Allah has given me that but He can take it away. Allah can not only remove the power of motion. Guillian-Barre, has anyone ever seen someone with Guillian-Barre, the virus where they have to be on ventiliators, they cannot move. Healthy young people in their twenties get afflicted with this disease. One of the miracles of that is sometimes they actually recover and get back their motion so it is like this period where Allah removes it all and then gives it back to them but then there are other times when do not get it back and that is when they see reality because this is the illusion. The illusion is I am free, I am independent, I can do whatever I want, I mean we have got 6 billion people walking around this planet under that delusion but when the calamity comes suddenly that delusion is taken away and that is why Lee Attwater, does anybody remember that name? Lee Attwater, he was the republican head of the election committee, he basically destroyed Dukakis when Dukakis ran for democratic president, Lee Attwater wrote an extraordinary, and it is worth reading. It is a confessional that he wrote right before he died because at the age of 39 and this was a man who by dunya standards in this society had it all. That is what they said about him, he was young, handsome, wealthy, powerful, he had it all. He was a Machiavellian politician that basically destroyed people’s lives.
He said he based his life on Machiavelli’s book “The Prince” that was his bible and then at the age of 39 he got a tumour in the brain and all he wanted to do was to ask forgiveness of all the people that he had destroyed and he wrote it. It is really worth reading what he wrote because he said suddenly he realised and that is what it takes for some people, that is what it takes to learn that lesson. So learning that Allah is Lord and that He overpowers His servants.
The second benefit is that you realise your abject servanthood and your complete state of resignation and brokenness before the will and power of Allah and to this the words of God indicate when He said “those who when an affliction strikes them they say surely to God do we belong to Him we return”. They finally admit that they are in the dominion, they admit when the calamity comes that they are in the dominion of God. We belong to God in other words if I take something, if I take this, if I owned it and took it and threw it out and you said you cannot do that. Why can’t I do that? This is mine, I own it and can do whatever I want with it. That is the nature of property. Property is that the one who owns it has the right to do what he wills with it, that is the nature of property. If you do not have that quality of possession then it is not really your property.
Now because the dunya is not our property, we cannot do whatever we want with it can we? But we understand the concept of property. This world is the dominion of God and therefore God can do whatever He wants with it. If I have a book and I burn it and you say to me you cannot do that, yes I can, it is my book and I want to burn it. You should not burn books, maybe I should not but I can and you cannot stop me by law. So if a person asks you why did you burn the book, because there are mistakes in it, oh I do not realise. Now I have explained myself and now it makes sense to you. This is Musa and al Khidr right in that story of Al Kahf which is the story of the problem of evil because Musa is looking with the eye of the outward and everything he sees is wrong. But when it is explained to him by a servant who is given knowledge by Allah’s, suddenly Musa is saying I didn’t realise, now I have an explanation.
What happens on Yaum ul Qiyammah? Allah tells us in the Quran, He explains it all to us, and then everybody will say now it makes sense. The difference between the believer and the kafir is in this world we are saying we know it makes sense. The difference between the believers and the kafir is in this world we are willing to wait until the day of judgment to have it explained because we trust Allah. They are saying no, it is wrong. How do you know? You do not have all the information, you cannot make a judgment about a thing unless you completely understand that thing “to judge a thing is only one aspect of conceptualising the entirety of that thing”. It is a principle in logic and that is why a judge has to know all the facts. If you prejudge it is called prejudice and it is considered to be a moral vice to be prejudiced so we cannot prejudge God. We do not have that right to do that, we cannot prejudge Allah because Allah is the One who knows all things “and as for you, you have only been given a small amount of knowledge”.
On the way here I was talking with a physician in the car and one of the things he said was he was talking with a nephrologist, one of his anatomy professors said we do not even know how we urinate, we do not really understand it. We can explain to you what we know but why it is happening, how this whole thing is working, how the kidneys are doing all this, we do not really understand it. I responded by saying Imam al Ghazali was asked where is God? Imam Ghazali wrote a poem back to him, and in the poem he said “you do not even know how you drink water and how you urinate”. What is happening in between? You do not know your co-ordinates in the universe, how can you know where God is?
I love these maps in astronomy books where they show our galaxy and they say you are here. In astronomy books they have the milky way and then they say you are here. Give me those co-ordinates. Seriously do you know what co-ordinates are based on? Co-ordinate system, x, y, z. You have to have a system, here what we have are cardinal points which do not even exist in reality because cardinal points are experiential. It is all flat earth. Cardinal points are all based on pre-corpinocon theories about the universe but that is all we have got.
So if you ask for my co-ordinates here in California, it is based on arbitrary points of reference, it is like Greenwich. Who chose Greenwich? The English happened to be the most powerful people at the time so it was Greenwich. He could have been Istanbul. It is arbitrary. You do not know where you are in the universe, how do you know where God is? But this is the ignorance of man because man is in a delusional state and the problem with delusions, this is the most troubling thing for me as a person who understands this intellectually. The problem with delusion is nobody who is deluded sees their delusion. That is the problem of delusion you do not understand that you are deluded. Arrogant people are often completely oblivious to their ignorance. They do not realise that they are being arrogant but they see themselves as better than you and that is where the arrogance comes from and to see themselves as better than you is a delusional state because in reality they do not know whether they are better than you, they might be but they do not know.
See you did not ask me what were the other things, there was one thing that I left out of the three things. That just reminded me of that.
He has hidden his awliya amongst His servants and the frightening thing about this it might even be a non mulsim. That is the amazing thing about it because Imam Qurtabi said that Sayyidina Umar was beloved to God when he was in Makkah prostrating to idols. So you do not know, you could meet a person and he could be better than you.
That is why Habib Umar told one of the students that was in Yemen “when you go to America, if you want to call Americans to Islam never call anybody, talk to them about Islam except that you assume he is better than you”. Not that he is lower than you, that he is actually better than you. That methodology is what spread Islam all over the world because what he said was that you now know the truth and so any disobedience you do you have no excuse for whereas as long as he is in a state of ignorance it might be an excuse with his Lord until the message comes to him because we believe that people that have not been given a message are forgiven.
So then he says they admit they are His dominion and His servants and ultimately they must return to His judgment and decree and to His planning and management and to His fate and measuring out. They have no place of refuge from Him and no way out.
The third benefit of calamities is sincerity to Allah because one has no place of return in putting off or defending against the calamities except to Him. So it makes you sincere. The mukhlis is the one that calls on God without any shirk. So if you realise you have no other place. They realised that they had no place of refuge from Him except to Him. That state is a great gift from Allah because it puts you in a state of ikhlas. One of the ulema said that one moment of ikhlas in this world is enough to save a person, just to be in a state of ikhlas with Allah. So that is a great gift that calamity except upon Allah, Allah says “if Allah afflicts you with some harm there is no remover of that harm except Allah, except Him”.
When they get on a boat and there is turbulence and waves, suddenly they are calling Allah sincerely. These are people that are in a bad state but Allah is saying in that state they are mukhlisoon because when the calamities come….so that is a benefit of calamities.
How many times wAllahi you ask yourselves, everyone of you right now, you ask yourselves how many times has a calamity afflicted you and it led to the state where you really felt You are the only one who can help me in this. That is how I became Muslim wAllahi. I remember very clearly when I was 17 years old, I had an incredible tribulation and I remember the night. I was in a car and I will never forget that night where I know I called on Allah with absolute sincerity. I remember it very clearly and that prayer got answered. That is the beauty, because that is the ism’alam. If you call on Allah that is the ism’alam, the greatest name is the name that has no partnerships with it.
The fourth benefit is that he returns to Allah and is suddenly fervent in his desire of his Lord so that is a benefit. Allah says when a harm afflicts the human he calls on his Lord returning back to Him, to His Lord.
The fifth one that it leads to a humbled state before God and prayers that you are calling on Allah. When the harm afflicts a person, He calls on Us. There is a hadith that Allah afflicts the people He loves just to hear them call on Him. SubhanAllah. It is only a short time, if you keep it in perspective. It is just like the dentist, it is only going to hurt for a second but he is doing it for your benefit and that is why you let him do it. It is true or not true? Somebody when they are pulling out the sliver you know this is just going to hurt for a second, ok go ahead. It is over that is what you say when you do something to the child get a sliver out, it is just for a second and then they are crying crying. It is over, it is over then you hug them and everything is alright and that is the thing about dunya it is just…..we are getting the tooth pulled out. 70-80 years maximum but if you relate it to infinity, to infinity, it is cancelled our so stop complaining. Really, just sit back and relax.
You know what it is like, I have seen this with my own child and you can do this, don’t do this! Take the child, I do not want to be responsible, it is America, they sue you for stuff like this. If you take a child and you throw the child up there is a point where you see this, they go into this state of complete panic and then when they come back to your arms they are laughing. That is dunya, I guarantee you, that moment, that is your life, you came from God and you are going back to God and there is just a moment when you are in a complete state of panic but just relax, you are in good hands. Just relax.
The Moroccans say relax the mind and learn to swim, seriously relax the mind. Do you remember when you first learned to swim? I remember, I will never forget it. I got placed on my back, the person told me relax completely. I was scared to death. Relax completely? What are you talking about? I am going to drown. No you are going to float. Relax it was frightening in the beginning but once you learn to relax suddenly you are floating and everything is fine. That is dunya. You just have to relax, we are in the ocean of dunya and we need to just float, keep afloat, do not drown. They are all drowning out there because the person who drowns, they come up and they are in a state of….if they would just relax, they would not drown but the panic is causing them to drown and that is what is happening with all these people out there. It is the panic. “Human beings are created in a state of anxiety, when any harm afflicts they panic and when good comes they withhold, they do not want to share it with anybody except the people of prayer”. They are in a different state and that is the people we want to be from, the people who are exempted from that other state because that trust in Allah is what saves you.
Allah says they call to him, rather to Him may your call be and He will remove what you are calling him for, to remove the calamity if he desires. So that is one of the benefits. “Say who will save you from the darknesses of the land and the sea when you call Him, abased and humbled, in fear and in concealment”.
The sixth benefit is that you are forbearing to the One who has afflicted you. Allah says in the Quran “Ibrahim was someone who had compassion for other people, he felt compassion”. Halim is the gentleness. “We gave them good tidings of Ismail”. Young boy, a forbearing boy. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said “you have two qualities that Allah loves: forbearing and deliberation”. There is a difference in the rankings of forbearance based upon the differences of the calamities in their enormities and in their severity, whether they are great or small. A forbearance shown when there is a great calamity is much greater than any other type of forbearance so that is one of the great blessings is the ability to show forbearance because it is a gift from Allah.
The seventh one is that you can forgive them so it is not just having forbearance but you actually forgive them and you get one of the greatest rewards is forgiving people who have done you a wrong. Allah says “those who forgive people, Allah loves those people”. “The one who pardons and who rectifies, his reward is with Allah”. When you forgive people for great calamities, it is better than any other forgiveness. See if you have family members that cause you problems, you have to forgive them for the sake of Allah. Don’t do it for them, do it for Allah. See one of the things that people do, if you get angry and you leave, you run out of the room and then you do not talk to that person the more you delay that time the deeper it festers. It is like a boil. If you immediately go, seriously I got upset with somebody, I took a shower and then just went and asked their forgiveness and I was not the wrongdoer. The thing can be healed, if you do not do that, it becomes more and more difficult as times goes on, it festers. Then pride comes in. Shaytan says it is not your fault, you didn’t do it. He should be the one asking for forgiveness of you, who does he think he is? Don’t worry about who he thinks he is, worry about who you think you are, that is the problem. The problem with the world is who we think we are so asking forgiveness of people is a great blessing from Allah.
The eighth one is to be patient during the tribulation “Allah is with the patient ones” so when you show patience it is a great blessing. To wait for an opening from Allah is one of the greatest acts of ibadah. There are Muslims you see, if you tell them to be patient they say how long do we have to be patient. There is this kind of thing we have been patient, that is not patience. You cannot call a donkey patient in Arabic. It does not work because patience is based on understanding. You can bear things, they just bear it. Patience is difference. Patience has ihtisab which is where you actually reckon with your Lord a reward, you are believing there is a reward coming from being patient. This brings on the muhabbah of Allah, the love of Allah and also the abundant reward. Allah loves the patient ones, so by being patient you are incurring the love of Allah. Engendering the love of Allah. The sabiroon are given their rewards without any reckoning. Some rewards you get it is reckoned already whereas patience is without reckoning. No one was given a blessing better or more than patience.
The ninth one is to actually be happy, glad about what is happening because of these benefits. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that in a hadith that Imam Ahmad relates about the people who went before, they used to be as happy during times of calamities and tribulations as you are during times of abundance. How wonderous those two distasteful things: death and poverty because in the akhirah, poverty in this world is a blessing because your hisab is much less if you are poor. That is what Imam Ali said about wealth “what is halal from it is a reckoning and what is prohibited from it is a punishment” and that is why the zuhad are called, the most intelligent people are the people or zuhad because they give up things because they do not want the problem that go with these things. That they were happy with it not because they happened but rather because of the rewards and the fruits that came from those tribulations.
So just as somebody who is happy who has great diseases when he drinks that bitter cure that will remove that disease, he is drinking it and he is happy about it because he is thinking not about the bitterness and the difficult of the remedy but he is thinking about the benefits that will come from taking the bitter remedy so this is the way people are of Allah with the tribulations.
The tenth is to be grateful for it because of what are contained in there of the benefits as a sick person would be grateful to the doctor who is severing one of his limbs or preventing him from his desires because he believes that is a cure for him. You go to the surgeon, the surgeon cut your hand off because there is gangrene, what do they say to the surgeon afterwards? Thank you so much doctor. He just cut off your hand. Why are you thanking him? Because you realise he was doing you a benefit even thought outwardly he harmed you so in the same way those people who have tribulation from Allah know that Allah only does those things to benefit them to make them grow and so they actually say alhamdulillah.
The eleventh one, the purification that these calamities have towards their wrongs and their sins. Allah said that anything that afflicts you is from what your own hands have wrought and He pardons much of what you have done in other words what you are being afflicted with is actually much less than what you deserve and in that, one of the things that Imam Nasafi in his tafsir and his tafsir, it is a beautiful tafsir, one of the things he says in that, he said if you reflect on the meaning of that you will show gratitude for your calamities because you will realise that it is a blessing that they are much less than what they are, that is the secret of that ayah. That is why Allah followed that up, that you are afflicted with your wrong actions, you can feel bad about that when you realise that He has pardoned so much, it actually makes you feel grateful that Allah has overlooked so much of your shortcomings.
That the believer is not afflicted with any difficulty, exhaustion, fatigue, anxiety that concerns him or even a thorn that punctures him except that Allah removes with it, that he steps on a thorn that he steps on except that Allah removes with it his wrong actions so those are all blessings. So no disease, no exhaustion, fatigue anything like that at all comes as a removal of wrong actions, subhanAllah.
The twelfth blessing is the compassion that Allah enables you to show to people that are in tribulation and to help them. “Whoever relieves a quorba, one of the calamities of this world for a believer, Allah will relieve a calamity for him on the yaum ul qiyammah” so people in tribulation become an opportunity. One of the things that Imam Muhammad al Hasan one of the things that he says in his commentary on the Mudhara, he said there are two conditions that people have:
- Where you have the afiyah, you have the wellbeing in yourself, in your family but you get problems of other people
- You have these problems
If you do not help people who have problems then Allah will give you those problems. That is the nature of the world it is to test you. So you are either tested in yourself or with others but you have to respond appropriately so avoiding those things is a danger and that is why the tribulations of others are actually a blessing if they come to you for help or something, it is an opportunity to earn some closeness to Allah.
In the Muwatta of Imam Malik, Isa (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was reported to have said “people are of two types, people of wellbeing and people of tribulation so have compassion for the people of tribulation and show gratitude for well being”. That is why if you are in good shape, do not complain, tell somebody to punch you if you complain or something because you do not want, if you complain and you do not have anything to complain about, Allah will give you things to complain about and then you will think about how good things were. Remember we used to complain about that, what were we thinking? There are people that say that when real calamities hit them they think what was I complaining about before? The truth is well stop complaining now because it could get worse, that is the whole point. It could get worse and one of the poets said
“The only people that really feel sorry for people in passionate love are the people who have been in passionate love”
So when you see people in tribulation you should remember I have been there, I should remember what that was like and show compassion to them.
The thirteenth one. Tribulations give you the blessing of having true knowledge of the extent of blessing of well being so when tribulations come you really appreciate what well being is. So it is better to appreciate it when you have got it. The nature of blessings is that nobody realises the extent of them until they have lost them. That is a human being. He is just oppressive of himself and constantly denying the blessings of Allah.
The fourteenth. What Allah has prepared from the blessings of the reward of the akhirah based on these varying ranks so this is also a blessing that Allah has prepared rewards for the calamities that you bear patiently or with contentment based on different ranks. There are people that are content that will have a higher station in paradise than people that were simply patient and patience is the lowest maqam in the maqamat of the tawbahs actually the first one.
The fifteenth: What is hidden inside in the folds of these calamities are blessings. That is another benefit. Maybe you dislike a thing and Allah will put in it much good. You don’t know, there are things hidden in blessings so I will give you an example. I missed a flight once and alhamdulillah I have never been upset about missing a flight I guarantee you because I always think if the plane goes down I am going to feel like such a fool for having run to catch the plane or something like that. So I just relax, never want to be in a plane that you ran to catch and then it goes down. What was I running for? So if you miss it, you miss it. But I missed a plane, they ended up giving me $500 back because they had to re-route the ticket and things like that and the difference was nothing in time and things like that. There are always benefits that are hidden in what you think is a trouble. The thing about the world is that if you enter into a state with your experience of the world in which whenever these things happen you just accept them you will always find the benefit, you will see them always, Allah will show them, you will know there is a benefit. In every delay there is God’s choice in it and that is part of what the mumin does, he submits to it.
The sixteenth one is that tribulations prevent you from arrogance and from evil, pride, tyranny, doing all these things like Nimrud. Had Nimrud been a poor sickly person deaf and dumb he would have never had done all those horrible things that he did. The same with the tyrants of the world, had they been born impoverished and this and that but it is those things that make them arrogant.
The seventeenth one is contentment, ridha because tribulations afflict the good and evil and whosoever does not like it then it is just on him and he has lost the dunya and the akhirah and whoever is pleased with it he is pleased because he knows that paradise is better than anything in this world and if those are the tribulations that it takes to get him into paradise then he is content with it.
So these are some of the blessings I mean there are many blessings but these are the ones that Sultan al Ulema Abdul Aziz Salaam enumerated and they are good to remember in these times.
But I will end by saying read history. These are not bad times. Muslims should not be so negative, there has been much worse times I mean there are aspects that are bad about this time and certainly one of the greatest calamities of the rime is that we do not have a lot of people of knowledge any more and we do not have the levels of deen and things like this but just in terms of outward dunya calamities, this period is nothing if you read history, this period is nothing.
The real calamities of this age are spiritual calamities, they are not worldly calamities so if we are going to weep over the calamities of this age we should be weeping about the lack of religion, about the lack of spirituality, we should not be weeping about all this stuff we see out there because it is just not that bad. I am sorry and if you think it is you have not read history. Things have been much worse, read about earlier wars and how many people died and plagues that afflicted people, a third of Europe was wiped out by the black plague.
There are too many blessings, the blessings we have overwhelming. That is why inshaAllah we will ask Allah to put us in a state of gratitude with Allah and make us from the shaakireen really make us from the shaakirneen and just not complain. The thing about complainers is that even complainers do not like complainers really. They want to complain but they do not want to listen to anybody who complains. So insha’Allah we will stop whining. It is the maqam of the tifil is to whine. It is what I always tell my boys, nobody likes a whiner even a whiner and they laugh because they know it is true. So whining is a maqam, it is the maqam of the tifil, that is what a whiner is. The rijaal in haqiqah it does not mean male, the rujul is male and female it is the one who has reached the maqam of the adult, it is the mature one, that is what it means, the mature one. Rujula is maturity.
So insha’Allah Allah make us all mature.
Summary of the 17 Benefits of Tribulation
- You realise the power of Lordship over you
2: You realise your abject servanthood and your complete state of resignation and brokenness before the will and power of Allah
3: Sincerity to Allah
- You return to Allah and are suddenly fervent in your desire of your Lord
- It leads to a humbled state before God
- You are forbearing to the One who has afflicted you.
- You can actually forgive them
- To be patient during the tribulation
- To actually be happy, glad about what is happening because of these benefits
- To be grateful for it because of what are contained in there of the benefits
- The purification that these calamities have towards your wrongs and your sins
- Allah enables you to show to people that are in tribulation and to help them
- Tribulations give you the blessing of having true knowledge of the extent of blessing
- What Allah has prepared from the blessings of the reward of the akhirah based on these varying ranks
- What is hidden inside in the folds of these calamities are blessings
- Tribulations prevent you from arrogance and from evil, pride, tyranny