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23. Sabr & Shukr
Hayaatul Muslimeen(Life of Muslims)
23. Sabr & Shukr
Among the attributes essential for man's spiritual as well as worldly progress and prosperity are Sabr (patience) and Shukr (gratitude).
The conditions and circumstances, which occur to man, be these voluntary or involuntary are of two types: pleasing or displeasing. If the circumstances occurring to man are pleasing, he should consider these as favours from Allah Ta'ala and offer his heartfelt appreciation and gratitude. He should consider such bounties more than what he actually deserved and verbally he should recite the praises of Allah Ta'ala. Furthermore, he must not employ such bounties of Allah Ta'ala in sinful avenues, e.g. spending wealth in un-Islamic customs; using one's strength, influence and knowledge in ways deprecated by the Shariah. This is the meaning of Shukr.

On the other hand the circumstances arising may be displeasing, causing anxiety and difficulty to one. When man is confronted with such conditions, he should consider that in these untoward conditions, Allah Ta'ala has placed some benefit, which is not discernible ordinarily. Such conditions are subject to Allah's Wisdom and they are for the betterment of the one involved in the displeasing condition. The attitude of the Mu'min in such circumstances should be one of resignation. He should not complain nor display impatience. If the displeasing occurrence is a command of the Shariah, he should adhere to it firmly and not permit frustration and worry to overtake him. If the condition is some calamity, which has befallen him, he must bear it with firmness and not be overwhelmed by despondency. This is the meaning of Sabr.

Of the attributes, Sabr is the more difficult. This attribute is more in demand since man is confronted more with circumstances, which are displeasing and difficult to him. As examples, some conditions of displeasure will be cited here.

•      The nafs of man becomes agitated and perplexed at the imposition of Deeni duties, which have to be rendered. It thus attempts to escape such acts, which are commanded by Allah Ta'ala. It desires the commission of haraam and seeks a release from the obligations of Salaat, Saum, etc. It becomes displeased when an unlawful source of income has to be banished. It feels a great burden in discharging the rights of others. In such cases man has to adopt courage and suppress the baneful urges and dictates of the nafs. He has necessarily to overcome his urges of the nafs and proceed undaunted with the execution of the commands of Allah Ta'ala; irrespective of the displeasure the nafs suffers. Such displeasure and apparent difficulty will he short-lived. Firmness and harnessing the rivals into obedience will very quickly produce comfort and peace. The initial displeasure will be transformed into pleasure.

•      The calamities of poverty, sickness, death, persecution by enemies, loss of property, etc. When confronted by such misfortunes, reflect on the possible wisdoms underlying these calamities. The greatest benefit to be achieved from such displeasing conditions is thawaab from Allah Ta'ala. Allah Ta'ala has promised great reward for the Believer overtaken by calamities.

When such calamities befall man. He should not unnecessarily publicise them nor should lie meditate on these misfortunes. He should not make these misfortunes the occupation of his mind. Adoption of this attitude will create peace in the heart. However, if there are lawful ways and means of combating the calamity, these should be adopted.

•      An oppressor creating obstacles in the way of the Deen. One is thwarted by an unjust person in the execution of one's Islamic duties or attempts are made to bring disrepute and insult on the Deen, When confronted by such opposition, the Mu'min holds life cheap. Do not consider life to be of any importance in the endeavour to elevate the Word of Allah Ta'ala, but this does not mean the creation of anarchy based on desire. Even in the endeavour to uphold the Shariah, the Shariah - the Law of Allah - must not be violated.

The above are some examples of conditions in which Sabr has to be adopted. Some narrations in this regard will now be cited.

1. Allah Ta'ala says in the Qur'aan:

"Seek aid with Sabr and Salaat." (Surah Baqarah)

If love of wealth and love of fame overwhelm man and impede the development of his Imaan-as it will most certainly do-he should engage in Sabr and abundance of Salaat, for this will most assuredly fortify him against the onslaught of his nafs. The form of Sabr advocated in this aayat is abstention from the desires and dictates of the nafs,

2. "We shall certainly test you by means of some fear, poverty, loss of wealth and life. And, give glad tidings (of thawaab) to those who adopt Sabr (in the face of these calamities)..." (Surah Baqarah)

3. Regarding the perseverance and fortitude of some nations of the past, Allah Ta'ala says:

"They lost not courage because of the hardships which confronted them in the Path of Allah. 'They were not weakened nor were they awed by the enemy. Allah Ta'ala loves such Saabireen (those who are steadfast and have patience)." ('Surah Aale Imraan)

Men of Allah are steadfast in the face of the enemy. Hardships and obstacles confronting them in their journey towards Allah Ta'ala do not deter them. 'Their fortitude and steadfastness -- their Sabr -- are such that they do not descend to flattering the enemies of Allah Ta'ala. Their gaze is focused on Allah Ta'ala and they know that victory is theirs.

4. Allah Ta'ala says:

"'Those who are patient (have Sabr in their Deeni activities), we will most certainly reward them for their good acts." (Surah Nahl)

"...the men who have Sabr and the women who have Sabr ...for them all, Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward." (Surah Ahzaab)

All forms of Sabr are included in this ayat. Sabr in regard to ibaadat, Sabr in regard to sin and Sabr in regard to calamities are within the purview of this ayat, which promises a reward and forgiveness for the Saabireen.

5. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Shall I inform you of something by means of which Allah eliminates sins and elevates ranks`? Performing a perfect wudhu when making wudhu is displeasing (to the nafs), walking much to the Musjid, and waiting anxiously for the arrival of another Salaat after having performed one Salaat..." (Muslim, Tirmithi)

6. Hadhrat Abu Dardaa (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates:
"My Beloved (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) made wasiyyat to me that I should not commit shirk with Allah Ta'ala even if my flesh is cut up and even if I am cast into a fire..." (Ibn Majah)

Perseverance on such occasions of oppression is a high rank of Sabr, However, in cases of brutality and torture, the Qur'aan Hakeem grants permission to make a verbal declaration of even kufr provided that the heart does not deny Imaan. The extraction of anti-Imaan statements from a person under torture does not come within the Islamic definition of kufr and shirk.

7. Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) once appointed Hadhrat Abu Musa (radhiyallahu anhu) as commander of an army, which was dispatched on an expedition by sea. In the darkness of the night while the ship was sailing. A caller frown above the ship exclaimed:

"0 occupants of the ship! Let me inform you of something which Allah Ta'ala has undertaken as His responsibility."

Hadhrat Abu Musa (radhiyallahu anhu) answered: ”If you have something to tell us then speak up."

The caller called out:
"Allah Ta'ala has undertaken the responsibility of quenching the thirst on the Day of Qiyaamah of those who remained thirsty during fasting on hot days." (Targheeb)

8. Hadhrat Aishah (radhiyallahu anha) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"A person who struggles in the recitation of the Qur'aan (on account of his inability to recite properly), will gain a double reward from Allah." (Bukhaari, Muslim)

9. Hadhrat Aishah (radhiyallahu anha) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"The most beloved deed to Allah is such a deed on which there is constancy even if the deed is little." (Bukhaari, Muslim)

It is quite evident that Sabr is required in being constant in practicing a deed.

10. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Jahannam is veiled in pleasures and delights while Jannat is veiled in difficulties and hardships." (Muslim)

11. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"A Muslim's sins are forgiven whenever he is overtaken by hardship and difficulty even if it be a thorn which pricks him." (Bukhaari, Muslim)

12. Hadhrat Aishah (radhiyallahu anha) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"A man who remains with Sabr and with the niyyat of thawaab at a place overtaken by an epidemic and believing that only what Allah has decreed will happen, will attain the thawaab which a Shaheed (martyr) obtains." (Bukhaari, Muslim)

13. Hadhrat Anas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Allah Ta'ala will give Jannat in return for the two eyes on which patience was exercised." (Bukhaari)

This hadith refers to a man losing his sight. Blindness is indeed a great hardship. Sabr in this difficulty will be rewarded with Jannat.

14. Hadhrat Abu Hurairah (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that Allah Ta'ala said:
"There is nothing but Jannat for the one who is patient and hopes for thawaab when I take away someone beloved to him." (Bukhaari)

Sabr is of great merit especially on occasions of death of near and dear.

15. Hadhrat Abu Musa Ash'ari (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that Allah Ta'ala orders the Malaaikah to erect a special mansion in Jannat for the one who had exercised patience and praised Allah Ta'ala when an infant had passed away. The name given to such a special palace in Jannat is 'Baitul Hamd'. (Ahmad, Tirmithi)

16. Hadhrat Abu Dardaa (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Allah Ta'ala loves three persons to whom He directs His special Gaze of Mercy ...(Among the three, one is) a man who is prepared to sacrifice his life in the Path of Allah, whether he actually loses his life or Allah Ta'ala grants him victory (over the enemy). In regard to such a person, Allah Ta'ala says. 'Look at this servant of Mine! How he has dedicated his life to My cause!” (Targheeb)

Sufficient narrations have been cited to indicate the significance and importance of Sabr.

Shukr will now be explained.

Shukr is an ibaadat. A characteristic of Shukr is that it simplifies the ibaadat of Sabr. A man who has adopted Shukr will take calamity and hardship in his stride. Since he realises the tremendous bounties of Allah Ta'ala on him, hence his gratitude, he will understand that the hardship has been imposed on him by his Benefactor, Allah Ta'ala, in his own interests. His mind is thus conditioned to accept all hardships with resignation and without complaint. For the sake of gaining thawaab he will bear the hardships without being overwhelmed by frustration. On the contrary he will derive pleasure from the realization that the hardship has been imposed on him by his Benefactor, Allah Ta'ala.

A man of Shukr (gratitude) reflects on the ne'mats bestowed on him by Allah Ta'ala. Such reflection strengthens the bond of love between man and his Benefactor. He cannot, therefore, become despondent and break down in the face of difficulties, which he realises, are trials from the side of his Creator and Benefactor Who has always showered him with His numerous blessings and bounties. Thus, Sabr, based on the attitude of Shukr becomes a simple matter for the one overcome by calamities and hardships.
Some narrations regarding Shukr will now be cited.

1. Allah Ta'ala says:

"Remember Me and I will remember you. Be grateful to Me and be not ungrateful." (Surah Baqarah)

2. "If you are grateful for My bounties, I will increase (these) for you. If you are ungrateful, then My punishment is severe." (Surah Ibraheem)

3. Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas (radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
"Whoever has attained four things has attained the goodness of this world and the Aakhirah. These are: A heart which makes Shukr; a tongue which makes Thikr; a body which adopts Sabr when overtaken by trials and tribulations; and, a wife who is chaste and does not abuse the wealth of her husband." (Baihaqi)

It is a fact that the life of man is always confronted by some condition or the other. He may be involved in pleasing or displeasing circumstances. When enjoying pleasing conditions, man has to be grateful. He has to show Shukr. When apprehended by displeasing conditions, he has to adopt Sabr. Thus Shukr and Sabr are attributes, which are to be applied at all times. Remember this well and you will live a life of peace and comfort.
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