بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Imam Ibn al-Qayyim(R) on Calamities
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 Resurrection.
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.”
[Zaad al-Ma’aad (4/189-195)]
Shaykhul Islam ibnu Taymiyyah (R)’s Cheerfulness in Difficulties
Ibn Taymiyah (may Allah 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.
[Al-Waabil al-Sayyib (p. 110).]