By Sadia Dehlvi
Encountering friends faced with calamity often prompts me to share how tribulations enabled me to submit to Allah, igniting my love for Him. A particular passage from the Chishti master Baba Farid’s life impacted me deeply. The Sufi blessed his disciples with the prayer, “May God endow you with pain”. Further readings of Islamic scriptures helped me understand the blessings and benefits of tribulation. I learnt how they are both nourishing and necessary for those who truly seek to purify and liberate the mind, body and soul. I realised that spiritual endeavours leading to states of ecstasy are rooted in grief. God, by His own admission to Moses, revealed that He lived in broken hearts.
Deciding to try never to complain was a decision that changed my relationship with God, family, friends and the world. Allah says in the Quran, “Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because of the things your hands have wrought, and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness” (42:30). Elaborating on the same, Prophet Mohammad said, “The believer is not afflicted with illness or hardship even if it be worry that troubles him or a thorn that pricks him, except that his sins would be expiated as a result of it”.
Calamities come for a deep wisdom, with hidden benefits and blessings. They remove the delusion that we are in complete control of our lives, helping to realise Qudrah, power of Lordship. Part of the six kalimahs, declaration of Islamic faith is, “ …La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah al ali-al azeem”, there is no power except He. The Quran confirms, “If Allah touch thee with affliction, none can remove it but He; if He touch thee with happiness, He hath power over all things” (6:17).
A troubled soul can be numbed temporarily, but its anguish cannot be removed without submission to the Creator. Afflictions are often opportunities to gain blessings by submission and closeness to God. Exercising patience in the midst of calamity while waiting for a fatah, opening from God, becomes a high form of ibadah, worship. A theme that runs through the Quran is, “…Allah loves those who exercise patience”.
Islamic scholars have reiterated that no one was given a blessing more vast than patience for it brings to the heart the love of Allah. Prophetic traditions affirm that the patient ones are given rewards from Allah without reckoning.
Tribulations teach compassion, for those who experience tragedy and pain can feel what others go though in similar situations. Commenting on the state of the truly pious of earlier communities, the Prophet said, “By the one whose hand is my soul, they would show joy on the onset of a calamity, as you show joy at time of ease”. Islamic spirituality prepares the soul to be in a continuous state of mutmainah, contentment. It teaches not to be perturbed, anxious and never to prejudge Allah, for He knows best — the Quran informs us that humanity is given only a small amount of knowledge, the explanations of the unseen will unfold in the hereafter. Allah tells us never to despair from His rahmah, mercy, for, “Verily, with every difficulty, there is relief” (96:4).
The true lovers of God pray for afiyah, well-being and forgiveness, submit to Him, remaining content with whatever God decides for them.
I love this prayer of the 8th century woman mystic Rabia Basri, “May Allah take away from you all that which takes you away from Him”.
— Sadia Dehlvi is a Delhi-based writer and author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: The Asian Age, New Delhi