In language, patience means one restraining himself during periods of panic about something the advent of which is hated and about fretting on its account. This takes place when one prevents his inner self from being perturbed, his parts from unusual motion, and it falls in three types:
First: General patience: Self-restraint as a way for showing forbearance and demonstrating firmness during trials and tribulations so people will be regarded by men of reason and by the general public as accepting whatever comes up in the life of this world while being unaware of the advent of the Hereafter.1
Second: Patience of the ascetics, the true worshippers, the men of piety, the men of clemency, due to their expecting rewards for it in the Hereafter; surely those who persevere will be granted their rewards without count.2
Third: Patience of the Gnostics, for some of them are pleased when something hated takes place to them due to their belief that the One Whom they adore has singled them out for it from among all other people, so they have become recognized (by the honor of His having cast a look at them):
"… Give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere and, when afflicted with calamity, say, 'To Allah do we belong, and to Him do we return'. They are the ones on whom God's blessings and mercy (descend), and they are the ones who receive guidance” (Qur'an, 2:155-157).
This type is exclusively relevant to accepting whatever the Almighty decrees, and we will discuss it in a special chapter.
The first type has no rewards in it because it is not done for the sake of Allah. Rather, it is done for the sake of people; it is in reality mere pretension: Everything said about pretension applies to it. But impatience is worse because human souls incline to emulate their peers, the ones with whom they mix, they like, so they would thus disseminate patience among them.
If they see the conditions of those who persevere, their souls will incline to emulate their norms of conduct, and this may become a cause for their perfection and thus benefit may be reaped in the same type system even if the persevering person himself may not be perfect.
Patience, in the absolute sense, is applied to the second type. Be informed that Allah, the most Praised One, has described the patient ones, mentioning those who persevere in the Qur'an in more than seventy places, attaching many good things and degrees to patience and to making them its fruit: The greatest One has said:
"And We appointed leaders from among them, giving guidance under Our command so long as they persevered with patience and continued to believe in Our Signs" (Qur'an, 32:24).
He has also said:"
The fair promise of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because they had patience and constancy" (Qur'an, 7:137).
The Almighty has also said:"
And We will certainly bestow rewards on those who patiently persevere according to the best of their deeds" (Qur'an, 16:96).
He has also said:
"Twice will they be given their reward because they have persevered" (Qur'an, 28:54).
He has also said:
"Those who patiently persevere will indeed receive their reward without measure!” (Qur'an, 39:10).
Every sacrifice has its own reward according to a measure and a calculation except perseverance. Since fasting is derived from perseverance, and since it is equivalent to half of perseverance3, rewards for it are handled only by Allah, the most Praised One, the most Exalted, as books of traditions tell us.
Allah Almighty has said [in a Qudsi hadith]: "Fasting is for My sake, and I am the One Who rewards for it."4 Thus, He added it to Himself from among all other acts of worship, promising those who persevere that He is with them, saying:
"… And persevere, for Allah is with those who persevere" (Qur'an, 8:46),
hinging His support on perseverance and saying,
"Yes, if you remain firm and act rightly, even if the enemy should rush headlong on you here, your Lord will help you with five thousand angels, making a tremendous onslaught" (Qur'an, 3:125).
He has gathered rewards for those who persevere which He has not for others saying:
"They are the ones on whom God's blessings and mercy (descend), and they are the ones who receive guidance" (Qur'an, 2:156).
Guidance, blessings and mercy are all gathered for those who persevere, and recounting all verses referring to perseverance will take quite a lengthy endeavor.
As regarding traditions, the Prophet (ص) has said, "Perseverance is half the measure of conviction."5
He (ص) has also said, "The least that you have been granted are: conviction and the will to persevere: Anyone who is granted his share of them does not mind what [rewards] he has missed for not performing the night prayers or fasting during the day.
If you are patient about the way you presently are, it is dearer to me than each of you bringing me a good deed equal to what you all do, but I fear lest life opens up to you [with its riches and temptations] after me, so much so that each of you will not even know the other, and you will likewise be dissociated by the people of heaven at that time.
One who perseveres and rests his hopes on rewards from his Lord will win the perfection of his rewards." Then he (ص) recited this verse:
"What is with you vanishes: [whereas] what is with Allah will endure. And We will certainly bestow rewards on those who patiently persevere" (Qur'an, 16:96).6
Jabir [ibn Abdullah al-Ansari] has narrated saying that the Prophet (ص) was asked once about conviction. He (ص) said, "It is perseverance: One of the treasures of Paradise." He (ص) was also asked once what conviction is. He (ص) said, "It is perseverance."7 This is similar to this statement of his (ص): "Pilgrimage is the standing at Arafa [mountain]."8
He (ص) has also said, "The best of good deeds are those the souls are forced to do."9 He (ص) has also said, "Allah Almighty inspired to [Prophet] David the following: 'Adorn yourself with My norms of conduct, and among my norms of conduct is perseverance.'"10
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, has said that when the Messenger of Allah (ص) met a gathering of the Ansar once, he said, "Are you believers (mu'mins)?" They all remained silent save a man who said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!" The Prophet (ص) asked, "What is the mark of your belief?" They said, "We thank the Almighty when we are prosperous and persevere when we are afflicted; we accept destiny." The Prophet (ص) said, "Indeed you are believers, by the Lord of the Ka`ba."11
He (ص) has also said, "Many rewards lie in persevering about something hated."12
Jesus (ع) has said, "You will not achieve what you love except through persevering about what you hate."
The Prophet (ص) has said, "Had perseverance been a man, he would have been quite generous."13
He (ص) has also said, "Islam is built on four pillars: Conviction, perseverance, jihad (holy war) and adl (Justice of God)."14
He (ص) has also said, "Perseverance's position with regard to conviction is like that of the head to the body: There can be no body for one without a head, nor can there be conviction for one who has no perseverance."15
Imam Ali (ع) has said, "Take to perseverance, for it is upheld by a man of determination and it is to it that a man of impatience resorts." He (ع) has also said, "If you persevere, fate will be applied to you while you receive your rewards. But if you fret, fate will apply to you while you bear your burdens."16
Imam al-Hassan son of Imam Ali, peace be with them both, quotes the Messenger of Allah (ص) saying, "There is a tree in Paradise called the Tree of Tribulation to which the people of trial and tribulation resort on the Day of Judgment where no books of reckoning will be opened about them, nor will there be scales [to weigh their deeds]; instead, rewards are poured over them." Then he (ع) recited this verse: "Those who patiently persevere will indeed receive a reward without measure!" (Qur'an, 39:10).17
He (ع) has also quoted the Prophet (ص) as saying, "There is no dose dearer to Allah Almighty than one of anger which a man suppresses, or a dose of perseverance on account of a calamity. And there is no drop dearer to Allah Almighty than a drop of tear shed out of fear of Allah or a drop of blood shed in the Way of Allah."18
He (ع) has also been quoted as saying, "Calamities are the keys to rewards."
Imam Zainul-`Abidin (ع) has said, "When Allah gathers the early generations and the last ones, a caller will call out: 'Where are those who persevered?! Let them enter Paradise without account.' Some people will stand up and will be received by the angels who will ask them, 'Where to, descendants of Adam?!' They will say, 'To Paradise'. The angels will ask them, 'Even before reckoning?!'
They will say, 'Yes.' The angels will ask them, 'Who are you?' They will say, 'We are those who persevered.' They will ask them, 'What did you persevere about?' They will say, 'We persevered about obedience to Allah, and we persevered about disobeying Him till Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, caused us to die.' The angels will then say, 'Yes, you are just as you have described. Enter Paradise. Great is the reward of those who do good.'"19
Anas is quoted as having said that the Messenger of Allah (ص) has said, "Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, has said: If I direct to one of My servants a calamity from Me in his body, wealth or children, and if he receives all of this with beautiful perseverance, I will be too shy on the Judgment Day to set up scales for him or open records (of deeds)."20
Ibn Mas`ood quotes the Prophet (ص) as having said, "If one is granted three things, it will be as though he has been granted the best of both worlds: accepting destiny, persevering about affliction and supplicating during prosperity."21
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, is quoted as having said, "I was once in the company of the Messenger of Allah (ص). He said [to me]: 'Young man! Shall I teach you words through which Allah will grant you benefits?' I said, 'Yes, please do so.' He (ص) said, 'Be mindful of Allah so He may be mindful of you.
Be mindful of Allah and you will [always] find Him before you. Be mindful of Allah during prosperity, He will be mindful of you during austerity. If you are in need, ask Allah. If you seek help, seek His help, and be informed that there is a great deal of goodness in what you dislike, that victory comes with perseverance, that ease follows hardship and that with every hardship there is ease.'"22
He (ص) is also quoted as having said, "Torment is brought to a man in his grave. If it is brought to him from the direction of his head, it will be repelled by his recitation of the Holy Qur'an [in this life]. If it is brought to him from the front, charity repels it. If it is brought to him from the area of his feet, his walking to the mosque repels it23. And perseverance shields him: It says, 'If I see something wrong, I am the one to correct it.'"
Another wording of the above is this: "If a man enters the grave, prayers stand at his right side, zakat (obligatory alms) on his left, kindness overshadowing him while perseverance stands nearby and says, 'Look after my fellow, for I am here for him,' meaning if they cannot repel the torment from him, he, perseverance, would do so."24
He (ص) has been quoted as saying, "How amazing the matter with the mu'min (believer) is! His matter is all goodness, whereas this is not available for anyone else other than a believer: If he is blessed with something good, he thanks his Maker, and this will be good for him, and if he is afflicted with a calamity, he praises Allah and perseveres. So, the believer is rewarded for everything, including a morsel which he raises to his mouth."
According to another narration of this tradition, the last phrase says: "… even the morsel which he raises to his wife's mouth."25 He (ص) has also said, "Perseverance is the best conveyance: Allah has not granted a servant of His anything better or broader than it."26
The Messenger of Allah (ص) was asked once, "Can one enter Paradise without reckoning?" He said, "Yes, everyone who is merciful, perseverant." Abu Busayr is quoted as having said, "I have heard Abu Abdullah (ع) saying, 'A freeman is free in all his circumstances: When a calamity afflicts him, he perseveres. If tribulations pile up on him, they fail to break him down.
And if he is arrested, subdued and hardship replaces his ease, he will be like the truthful and trustworthy one, Prophet Yousuf (Joseph), peace be with him: Nothing harms his freedom even if he is enslaved, confined and vanquished, and the darkness and loneliness in the well do not harm him: Allah turned mercifully to him and made the haughty mighty one his servant after he used to be a king, so He dispatched him and was a source of mercy to a nation on his account. Such is perseverance: It is always followed with something good; so, persevere, accustom yourselves to perseverance so you may receive your rewards."27
Imam al-Baqir (ع) is quoted as having said, "Paradise is surrounded with what is hated and with perseverance: So, if one perseveres about what is hated in this life, he will enter Paradise. Hell is surrounded with pleasures and desires: If one satisfies himself with its pleasures and desires, he will enter the Fire."28
Imam Ali (ع) has said that the Messenger of Allah (ص) had said, "There are three types of perseverance: during the time of a calamity, while trying to obey the Almighty, and while trying to stay away from transgression. So, if one perseveres when afflicted by a calamity till he repels it with a good solace, Allah will record for him three hundred degrees the distance between each degree and the other is as much as the distance between the heavens and the earth.
And if one perseveres while trying to obey [his Maker], Allah will record for him six hundred degrees, the distance between one degree and the next is like the distance between any point on earth and the [Almighty's] Arsh. If one perseveres so he may not commit a transgression, Allah will record for him nine hundred degrees, the distance between one degree and another is like that between the earth and the end of the Arsh."29
Abdullah ibn Sinan quotes Imam Abu Abdullah (ع) saying that the Messenger of Allah (ص) has said, "Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, has said: I have made the shorter life like a loan among My servants: Whoever gives Me one loan, I will grant him ten to seven hundred as much or whatever I please.
And if one does not loan me, and if I take a thing from him against his will, I shall grant him three merits: If I give even a single one of them to My angels, they will be satisfied with it." Then Imam Abu Abdullah (ع) went on to quote this verse of the Holy Qur'an: "… [Those] who, when afflicted with calamity, say: 'To Allah do we belong, and to Him do we return…;' (Qur'an, 2:156) and this is one of the three merits. The other is this: 'They are the ones on whom God's blessings and mercy (descend)' (Qur'an, 2:157), and the third is: 'They are the ones who receive guidance' (Qur'an, 2:156).
Then Imam Abu Abdullah (ع) went on to say, "All this is the reward if one from whom something is taken away [by the Almighty, such as children, wealth, etc.] against his wish."30
The Imam (ع) is also quoted as having said, "If one strikes on his thigh when afflicted by a calamity, he voids his rewards."31 The greatest perseverance is one through which someone goes when afflicted the first time, and the extent of reward is measured according to the extent of the calamity; and if one renders his affairs to the Almighty after he had already been afflicted, Allah will renew the rewards for it as if he was afflicted by it that same day."
A man once asked the Prophet (ص), "What voids rewards in a calamity?" He (ص) said, "It is when he claps his right hand on the left. Perseverance must be upheld at the time of the first shock: Whoever accepts, he will be pleased with; and whoever feels angry, on him shall the wrath [of the Almighty] descend."
Umm Salamah, wife of the Prophet (ص), once said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, say, 'If a servant of Allah is afflicted by a calamity and he says: 'We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return; Lord! Grant me a compensation for my calamity', Allah Almighty will compensate him for his calamity and grant him better than what he had lost.'" She went on to say, "When Abu Salamah died, I said as the Messenger of Allah (ص) had commanded me; therefore, He granted me better than Abu Salamah: the Messenger of Allah (ص)!"32
In another rendering of this tradition, she heard the Messenger of Allah (ص) say, "Whenever a Muslim is afflicted, he should say as he is commanded by Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, that is, 'We belong to Allah and to Him is our return; Lord! Grant me rewards for my calamity and give me better than it.'
When Abu Salamah, may Allah be pleased with him, passed away, I (Umm Salamah) said, 'Who is a better man than Abu Salamah?! His family is the first family that migrated to the Messenger of Allah (ص)' then I the supplication at the time of affliction, and Allah granted me the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny."
She also is quoted as having said that the Messenger of Allah (ص) sent the son of Abu Balta`ah to ask for her hand. She goes on to say, "I said to him, 'I have a daughter, and I am a jealous woman.'" He (ص) said, "As regarding her daughter, I supplicate to Allah to grant her independence of her, and I supplicate to Allah to take away jealousy from her."33
In another tradition, she is quoted as having said, "Abu Salamah returned once from seeing the Messenger of Allah (ص) and said, 'I have heard something which the Messenger of Allah (ص) has said and which made me very happy. He (ص) said, 'If anyone from among the Muslims is afflicted by a calamity and says, 'We belong to Allah and to Him is our return; Lord! Grant me my reward for my calamity and compensate me with better than what I have lost,' Allah will do just that.'"
Umm Salamah said, "I memorized this from him. When Abu Salamah passed away, I said that statement and added: 'Lord! Grant me rewards for my calamity and compensate me with better than him!'
Then I pondered inwardly and said, 'How can I get anyone better than Abu Salamah?!' When my idda (waiting period) came to an end, the Messenger of Allah (ص) sought permission to visit me as I was tanning a hide. I, therefore, washed my hands and granted him permission. I put down a leather pillow stuffed with palm leaves for him on which he reclined. He (ص) sought my hand for himself, blessings and peace of Allah be with him and with his family."34
Ibn Abbas says that the Messenger of Allah (ص) has said, "There is fright in death. If one of you hears about his brother having died, he must say, 'Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'oon' (We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return); Lord! Count him among the doers of goodness; place his book of reckoning in Illiyyeen(the elevated) and let his progeny be good in all coming generations! Lord! And do not deprive us of its rewards, and do not try us after it.'"35
Imam al-Hussain son of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, peace be upon them all, is quoted as having said that the Prophet (ص) has said, "If one is afflicted with a calamity, and if he says 'Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'oon', Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, will renew its reward for him as much as it was on the day when he was afflicted by it."36
Yousuf ibn Abdullah ibn Salam has said that whenever hardship hit the family of the Prophet (ص), he would order them to perform prayers, then he would read this verse:
"Enjoin prayer on your people, and be constant in it" (Qur'an, 20:132).
When he was traveling, Ibn Abbas received the news that his brother, Qatham, had died, so he said, 'Inna Lillahi wa Inna Ilayhi Raji'oon', went aside from the road, alighted from his mount and prayed two rek'ats during which he prolonged the prostration. Then he walked to his she-camel as he was reciting this verse:
"Seek (God's) help with patient perseverance and prayer; it is indeed hard, except for those who are humble" (Qur'an, 2: 45).37
Whenever Ibn Abbas was afflicted with a calamity, he used to perform his ablution and pray two rek`ats, then he would say, "Lord! We have done what You commanded us; so, do perform what you promised us."
Abadah ibn Muhammad ibn Abadah ibn al-Samit has said that when Abadah, may Allah be pleased with him, was passing away, he said, "Get my bed out to the courtyard. Gather my slaves, servants, neighbors and those who used to visit me." Once all these have been gathered, he said, "I see this day as the last of my life and the first night of those of the Hereafter. I do not know that perhaps I have abused you with an action or a word, and this, I swear by the One Who holds Abadah's life in His grip, means retribution on the Judgment Day. I, therefore, implore, in the Name of Allah, everyone among you whom I have harmed to seek retribution on me before my soul departs from my body."
People said to Abadah, "Rather, you used to be like a father to us and a mentor, and you never committed any wrongdoing against anyone who served you." He asked them, "Have you then forgiven me?" They answered in the affirmative. He said, "Lord! Bear witness to it."
Then he said, "Remember, then, my will: I implore you all not to weep; when my soul departs from my body, perform your ablution, and do it well. Then you should enter a mosque and perform prayers seeking forgiveness for Abadah and for yourselves, for Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, has said, 'Seek (God's) help with patient perseverance and prayer'. Then you should make haste [and bury me], and do not walk behind me bearing torches and do not put underneath me any piece of colored cloth."38
Jabir quotes Imam al-Baqir (ع) as saying, "The extremist form of grief is wailing, slapping the face and the chest and pulling the hair. One who wails abandons perseverance, and one who perseveres surrenders to the will of Allah and praises Allah Almighty, accepting what Allah has done; his reward will be with Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great. One who does not do so will suffer destiny as he is held in contempt, and Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, voids his rewards."39
Rab`i ibn Abdullah quotes Imam al-Sadiq (ع) as saying, "Perseverance and affliction race towards the believer. He is afflicted while he perseveres. Impatience and affliction race towards the unbeliever. Affliction reaches him as he is being impatient."40
He (ع) is also quoted as having cited the Messenger of Allah (ص) as saying, "When a believer slaps his thigh at the time of grief, he voids his rewards."41
Mousa ibn Bakr quotes Imam al-Kazim (ع) as saying, "When one beats his thigh at the time of grief, he voids his rewards."42
Ishaq ibn Ammar quotes Imam al-Sadiq (ع) as saying to him, "O Ishaq! Do not regard a calamity for which you are granted patience and which necessitates rewards from Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, as a calamity. Rather, it is, indeed, a calamity when one is deprived its rewards because he did not persevere when it fell down upon him."43
Abu Maysarah has said, "We were in the company of Imam Abu Abdullah, peace be with him, when a man came to him and complained about a calamity that had befallen him. The Imam (ع) said to him, 'If you persevere, you will be rewarded, and if you do not persevere, the destiny of Allah Almighty will be affected on you as you are despised.'"44
Imam al-Sadiq (ع) has said, "Affliction is a decoration for the believer and a bliss for those who have reason because going through it, maintaining perseverance during it and remaining firm towards it is correction for one's degree of Iman (conviction)."45
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him, has said, "We, prophets, are afflicted the most, then the believers, the best and the one lower in conviction and so on. One who tastes affliction under protection preserved for him by Allah finds it sweeter than any other bliss, and he yearns for it when he misses it because under the fires of affliction and calamity there are noors (lights) of the bliss. And under the noors of a bliss there are fires of affliction and trial. Many may be saved through it, and many may perish in the bliss.
Allah Almighty never lauded one of His servants, starting from Adam to Muhammad (ص), except after afflicting him then rewarding him for adoring Him as He should be adored, for the graces of Allah Almighty in reality are conclusions the beginnings of which are afflictions, and the beginnings of their conclusions are [also] afflictions.
One who comes out of the net of trials and tribulations will be made a lantern for the believers, a solace for those near to Him, a guide for those who seek Him. There is nothing good in a servant who complains about a trial in the vanguard of which there are a thousand blessings followed by a thousand norms of ease.
One who does not pay the dues of persevering when afflicted with a trial will be deprived of the right of thanking Him during the time of prosperity. Likewise, one who does not truly thank Him during prosperity will be deprived of the rewards of persevering during the time of affliction."46
Prophet Job (Ayyub) (ع) said once by way of supplicating: "Lord! You have blessed me with seventy years of prosperity, so grant me time so I may go through seventy more in trial and tribulation."47
Wahab has said, "Affliction for a believer is like shackles to a beast of burden and reins to camels."48
The Commander of the Faithful, peace be with him, has said, "The place of perseverance in conviction is like the head in the body. The head of perseverance is affliction, yet only those deeply immersed in knowledge realize it."49
This entire chapter is excerpted from statements by Imam al-Sadiq, peace be with him.
Imam al-Sadiq, peace be with him, has said, "Perseverance reveals the noor (light) and clarity in the believers, while impatience reveals the darkness and desolation inside them. Everyone claims to be patient, but only those who tolerate pain prove it.
Everyone denies impatience, but it appears most clearly on the hypocrites because the descent of calamity and tribulation tells who is truthful and who lies. Explained, perseverance has a bitter taste; what causes upsetting is not called perseverance.
Explained, impatience is the heart palpitating, the individual grieving, his color is changing, and his condition is quite different. Any calamity the beginning of which does not have toleration for pain, surrendering and pleading to Allah Almighty, leaves one in a state of impatience, not perseverance. The beginning of perseverance is bitter and its conclusion is sweet for some people.
For others, it is bitter from beginning to end. One who enters through its exit enters [Paradise], whereas one who enters through its beginning exits [it]. One who knows the value of perseverance does not complain about it.50
Narrating the tale of Prophet Moses and al-Khidr, peace be with them both, Allah, the most Exalted and the most Great, says:
"And how can you be patient about something of which you have no knowledge?" (Qur'an, 18:68).
One who perseveres about something which he hates and does not complain about it to others, one who does not fret when his veil is torn apart, is one about whom Allah Almighty says:
"… And convey glad tidings to those who persevere" (Qur'an, 2:155)
which means Paradise and forgiveness. And one who welcomes calamity with open arms and perseveres quietly and with dignity is one of the elite; his lot is described by Allah Almighty thus:
"Allah is surely with those who persevere" (Qur'an, 2:153)."51
Arabs during the jahiliyya, who had no hope for "divine rewards", nor did they fear any divine penalty, used to urge each other to persevere, and they know the value of perseverance, shaming those who would fret, preferring forbearance, adornment with clemency, seeking magnanimity and fleeing from meekness to consolation, so much so that a man who would lose his loved one yet nobody could tell.
When Islam came and spread, and when the rewards of perseverance were known and became widespread, their desire for it increased, and the status of those who were afflicted by it was elevated.
Abu al-Ahwas has said, "Ali ibn Mas`ud came to us, and he had three young sons each was as shiny as a gold dinar. We were amazed at how beautiful they looked, so he said, 'Do you envy me on their account?' We said, 'By Allah, we do. It is due to such youths that a Muslim is envied.' He, therefore, raised his head to a low ceiling where a bird had nested and laid eggs and said, 'By the one in whose hand my soul is, it is dearer to me when I shake the dust where I bury them than the nest of this bird falls and some of its eggs break,' meaning having a greater desire for reward."
Abdullah ibn Mas`ud, may Allah be pleased with him, used to teach people the Qur'an at the mosque as he knelt down on his knees when his wife came to him with one of his sons named Muhammad. She stood at the mosque's door and signaled to him. He went out. People made room for him till the boy sat in his lap.
He kept saying, "Welcome to the one who is named after someone who is much, much better than him," and he kept kissing him till he almost swallowed his saliva. Then Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said, "By Allah! Your death and that of your brothers is less important to me than these flies." People said to him, "Do you really wish they would die?!"
He said, "May Allah forgive you for questioning me! I cannot help but answering you. I desire by it goodness. As for me, I protect their interests and fear for them. Yet I heard the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, saying, 'Time will come to you when a man is envied for having a light burden just as he nowadays is envied for having plenty of money and sons."
Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, used to always lose his sons after their birth, so it was said to him, "You are a man for whom no sons survive." He said, "Praise is due to Allah who takes them from the temporal abode to the eternal one."52
Abdullah ibn Amir al-Mazini, may Allah be pleased with him, lost to the sweeping plague seven sons on one and the same day, so he said, "I am submitting to the will of Allah as a Muslim [should]."
Abdul-Rahman ibn ‘Uthman has said, "We went to visit Mu'adh as he was sitting at the head of his son when the latter was drawing his last breaths, so we could not help weeping, and some of us sobbed. Mu'adh rebuked one who sobbed saying, "Stop it! By Allah, Allah knows that I accept it.
This [situation] is dearer to me than a military campaign in which I participate in the company of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and with his progeny, for I heard him say, 'If one had a son, and he held him dear, and he preferred him, but when the son died and he chose to persevere in the hope for rewards, Allah will replace him for the deceased one a home better than his home, and an ultimate end better than his; He will replace his affliction with rewards equal to performing the prayers, to mercy, forgiveness and pleasure from Him.'
"So, we hardly left before the boy passed away just when the caller to prayers called for the noontime prayers; therefore, we went there to pray. By the time we arrived, he had washed his son's corpse, applied hanoot (embalmed) and shrouded it. Someone brought a coffin for him without waiting for brothers or neighbors to cast a last look at the deceased. When we came to know about that, we rushed and said to the father, 'May Allah forgive you, O father of Abdul-Rahman! Why did you not wait for us to finish performing our prayers before being able to view our nephew?!'
He said, 'We have been ordered not to let our dead wait whether they died during the night or the day.' He got down in the grave and another man got down with him. When he wanted to come out, I stretched my hand to him to pull him out of the grave, but he refused and said, 'I shall not relinquish it [your offer of assistance] due to my strength, but I hate an ignorant person may see it as a sign of my deep grief or relaxation at the time of affliction.'
He then went to his meeting place and ordered some oil with which he anointed himself, some kohl with which he dyed his eyes and a garment to put on, and he on that day kept smiling more than usual, intending in its regard whatever his intention might be. Then he said, 'We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return. Allah compensates for anything [and anyone] that perishes, a consolation for every calamity, and a compensation for what one had missed.'"
It is narrated that some people were in the company of Imam Ali son of Imam al-Hussain, peace be with them both, when a servant over-grilled some meat in the open oven (tannoor, tandor), whereupon he rushed to it, dropping the skewers on the head of a son of Imam Ali son of Imam al-Hussain (ع), killing him instantly.
The Imam (ع) leaped just to see his son having already died. He turned to the servant and said, "You are free for the sake of Allah Almighty. You did not do it on purpose," then he started preparations for his son's burial.53
Al-Akhnaf ibn Qais is quoted as having said, "Learn clemency and perseverance, for I have done so." He was asked, "From whom did you learn?" He said, "I learned from Qais ibn Asim." He was asked, "What was the extent of his clemency?" He said, "We were sitting once in his company when his killed son was brought to him together with his tied killer, yet he did not change the way he was squatting, nor did he even interrupt what he was talking about.
Then he turned to his son's killer and said, 'O son of my brother! What caused you to do what you did?' The killer said, 'I felt angry.' The father said, 'Should you insult your own self, disobey your own Lord and wipe out a number of your good deeds whenever you feel angry? Go away, for I have freed you.'"
Then al-Akhnaf ibn Qais turned to his sons and said, "Sons! Bathe and shroud your brother, and once you have done so, bring him to me so I may perform the prayers for him." When they buried their killed brother, their father said to them, "His mother is not from your tribe; she belongs to other people, and I do not think that she will be pleased with what you have done; so, pay her the blood money from my own wealth."54
As-Saduq has narrated in his Faqih book that when Dharr, the son of Abu Dharr, may Allah have mercy on him, died, Abu Dharr stood at his grave, rubbed it and said, "May Allah have mercy on you, O Dharr! By Allah! You were kind to me, and you have passed away while I am pleased with you.
By Allah! Despite having lost you, no calamity has afflicted me, and I need none other than Allah. Had it not been for the horror of the situation, I would have been pleased to be in your place. Grieving about your own condition has distracted me from grieving about that of my own. By Allah! I have not cried for you but over you; so, I wonder what has been said to you and what you have said."
Then he raised his head to the sky and said, "Lord! I have forgiven him whatever he owes me of rights; so, do forgive whatever sins he has committed about You, for You are the most generous and the most kind," then he went away saying, "We have left you behind, and had we stayed with you, we would not have been able to help you at all."55
Al-Mibrad narrates saying that when Dharr son of ‘Umar died, his father stood up as he was lying in state and said, "O son! We have no calamity on account of your death, and we need none except Allah." When the son was buried, the father stood at his grave and said, "O Dharr! May Allah forgive you. We are now preoccupied with grief over you rather than with grieving about you because we do not know what you said or what was said to you [by the angels of death].
Lord! I have granted him whatever he fell short of fulfilling my rights, so do grant him whatever he has fallen short with regard to his obligations towards You, and count my rewards for this supplication among his own good deeds, and increase Your favors on me, for to You do I direct my desire."
‘Umar was asked how his son had behaved with him. He said, "I never walked during the night except as he walked in front of me [to protect me at the expense of exposing himself to danger], and I never walked during the daytime except as he was behind me [out of respect for me], and he never ascended on a rooftop when I was underneath it."56
Some of the folks of Banu Abas went to meet a caliph. Among them was a blind man. The caliph asked him about his blindness. The blind man said, "I spent the night once in the depth of a valley, and I did not know anyone among my Banu Abas folks who was wealthier than I was. We were hit by a torrent which wiped out my family, wealth and sons save my camel and an infant boy. The camel was unruly, and it once was frightened and fled away.
I put my infant son down and ran after the camel. I did not go far before I heard my son crying, so I returned to him just to see a wolf's head started feasting on him. I was able to catch up with the camel so I would subdue it, but it gouged me with its foot on my face, smashing it, causing me to be blind. Now I have no wealth, family, son or camel."
It is narrated that Iyadh son of Uqbah al-Fahri lost a son. He got down inside his grave. A man said to him, "By Allah, he was the master of the army; so, seek Allah's recompense for such a loss." He said, "What stops me from so doing since he was yesterday my life's decoration and today he is among my everlasting good deeds?!"
"Abu Ali" al-Razi has said, "I accompanied al-Fadhil son of Iyadh for thirty years, yet I never saw him laughing or smiling at all except on the day when his son, Ali, died. I said to him in this regard, 'Allah, Praise and Exaltation belong to Him, has loved a matter to take place, so you have loved what Allah Almighty has loved."
Amr son of Ka'b al-Hindi died in Tasattur57, so the news was kept from his father. Then the father came to know about it, but he did not express impatience but said instead, "Praise is due to Allah Who created a martyr out of my loins." Then another son was also martyred in Jurjan58. When news reached him about it, he said, “Praise be to Allah Who chose another martyr from my loins.”
Al-Bayhaqi has narrated saying that Abdullah ibn Matraf died, so his father, Matraf, went out to meet his folks wearing very nice clothes, having anointed himself. People became angry with him and said, “Abdullah dies, yet you come out wearing nice clothes and anointed?!”
He said, “Should I instead surrender, while my Lord, Praise and Exalted is He, has promised me for it three merits which are dearer to me than the world and everything in it? Allah Almighty has said, ‘… [Those] who say, when afflicted with calamity, ‘To Allah do we belong, and to Him do we return’ are the ones on whom God's blessings and mercy (descend), and they are the ones who receive guidance’ (Qur'an, 2:156-57).”
A man from Quarish invited some of his brothers for a feast. One of his sons was hit by an animal that killed him. He hid the news from his people and said to his family, “I do not want to come to know any woman among you who raises her voice or who cries.”
Then he went to his brothers. Once they have all finished eating, he started preparing to bury his son. Suddenly they saw the coffin, so they were shocked and asked about it. He provided them with the details, whereupon they were amazed about his perseverance and generosity.
It has been mentioned that a man in Yamama buried three of his sons who all were grownups, then he squatted in his place of meeting among his folks talking to them as if nothing at all had happened. He was criticized for so doing, so he said, “They were not the first to die, nor am I the only one afflicted with such a calamity. And there is no benefit in being impatient; so, why do you remonstrate with me?”
Abu al-Abbas has traced an incident to Masrooq who quotes al-Awza`i saying, “A wise man has told us saying, ‘I went out seeking to guard the borders till I reached Egypt’s Areesh59 where I saw an umbrella underneath which a blind man was sitting, stretching his hands and legs as he kept saying, ‘Praise belongs to You, Lord and Master! Lord! I praise You a praise which is equivalent to all the praise Your creation have praised you, like Your favor on the rest of Your creation for having preferred me exceedingly over many of those whom You have created.’
I told myself that I would ask him whether he was speaking out of knowledge or is simply inspired to do so. I came close to him and greeted him. He responded to my greeting. I said to him, ‘May Allah have mercy on you! I wish to ask you about something. Are you going to answer me or not?’ He said, ‘If I know the answer, I will inform you of it.’
I said to him, ‘May Allah have mercy on you! For which of His favors are you thanking Him?’ He said, ‘Do you not see what He has done to me?’ I said, ‘Yes’. He said, ‘By Allah, had Allah, the most Praised and the most Exalted, poured on me fire that burnt me, ordered the mountains to crush me, ordered the seas to drown me and ordered the earth to swallow me, I would not have increased in anything but love for Him, nor would have I increased but thanks to Him. I need you to do me a favor. Are you going to oblige?’
I said, ‘Yes, tell me what you need.’ He said, ‘One of my sons used to look after me during my prayer times and feed me my meals. I lost him since yesterday. Look and see if you can find him.’ I said to myself that doing this man a favor would probably bring me closer to Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great. I, therefore, stood up and went looking for his son.
When I was standing between sand dunes, I saw a lion that had already devoured the boy. I said to myself, ‘Surely we belong to Allah, and surely to Him is our return. How shall I bring this sad news about his son to such a righteous servant of Allah?’ I went to him and greeted him. He responded to my greeting. I said, ‘If I ask you about something, are you going to answer me?’ He said, ‘If I have knowledge about it, I will tell you.’
I said, ‘Are you more cherished by Allah Almighty and is your status with Him closer than that of Ayyub (Job), Prophet of Allah, peace be with him?’ He answered saying, ‘Rather, the prophet of Allah is. He is more cherished by Allah Almighty than I am and his status with Allah Almighty is much greater than that of my own.’
I said to him, ‘Allah Almighty tested him, so he persevered, so much so that those who used to enjoy his company abandoned him [due to his bodily smell], and he was thrown where passersby could see him. Be informed that your son about whom you informed me and asked me to find has been ravaged by a lion; so, may Allah increase your rewards on his account.’
“The man said, ‘Praise to Allah Who did not make me sigh for what this world has.’ He then gasped and fell on his face to the ground. I stayed for a while with him to move him just to find out that he had already died. I said, ‘Surely we belong to Allah, and to Him is surely our return. What shall I do about him? And who will help me wash his corpse, shroud, dig his grave and bury him?’
“As I was thus preoccupied, I saw riders heading to the borders, too, so I signaled to them, and they came in my direction till they faced me. They said, ‘Who are you, and who is this [dead man]?’ I narrated my story to them, so they tied their mounts and helped me bathe the dead man with sea water. We shrouded him with some clothes which they had with them. I advanced and offered the funeral prayers with the group. We buried him under his umbrella.
“I sat at his grave to recite the Holy Qur'an till an hour of the night had passed. I felt drowsy, so I saw my fellow in a vision looking in the best form, wearing very beautiful outfits and sitting in a green garden wearing green outfits and reciting the Qur'an. I said to him, ‘Are you not my fellow?!’
He said, ‘Yes.’ I said, ‘What has brought you to such a status as I can see?’ He said, ‘Be informed that I have come in the company of those who persevere to Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great, in a degree which they did not earn except through persevering during the time of affliction and thanks in prosperity.’ I then woke up.”60
Al-Sha’bi narrated saying that he once saw a man who had just buried a son. Once he healed the dust on his grave, he said, “O son! You were a gift from the most Glorious One, the present of the One, the trust of the Able One, the flag of a Victor, then the One Who had given you has now taken you back:
The One Who owns you has reclaimed you; so, Allah has compensated me for having lost you with perseverance; may Allah never deprive me of rewards on your account.” Then he said, “You have nothing which you owe me, I have granted it to you, and Allah is more Worthy of bestowing favors than I am.”
When Abdul-Maliki son of ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz passed away, and so was his brother Sahl son of ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz and his slave Muzahim, all in successive days, some of their father’s friends visited him to console him. Among what one man said that day to ‘Umar was this: “By Allah! I never saw a son like yours, nor a brother like your brother, nor a slave like your slave.” ‘Umar lowered his head then said, “Repeat what you have said.” The man repeated his statement, whereupon ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz said, “I swear by the One Who took them back to Him that I love nothing more than what Allah has done.”
It has also been said that when ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz was once sitting at his meeting place, his son Abdul-Malik came to him and said, “Fear Allah with regard to the oppression dealt to your brother so-and-so! By Allah! I wish the pots boiled both myself and yourself if it pleases Allah.” His son went away, so his father watched him and said to himself that he would get to know his conditions. He was asked about his conditions, so ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz said, “I wish that he dies so I may claim my rewards with Allah on account of persevering in his regard.”
When Abdul-Maliki was sick, his father ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz visited him and asked him how he felt. He said, “I find myself in the presence of death; so, seek rewards, O father, by persevering on my account, for the rewards of Allah Almighty are much better for you than I am.” His father said, “O son! Should you be in my scales [of good deeds], it is dearer to me than I should be in yours.”
His son said, “What you love is dearer to me than what I love.” When he died, his father stood at his grave and said, “May Allah have mercy on you, O son! You were a source of pleasure at the time of your birth, you were kind at the time of growth, yet I do not wish now that you respond to me if I should call on you.”
Before Abdul-Malik’s death, another son of ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz died, so he sat at his head, removed the sheet from his face and kept looking at it, shedding tears. His son, Abdul-Malik, came to him and said, “O father! You should be concerned about the death that is approaching you more so than about the death that has already approached. It is as though you have rejoined your son and buried him underneath the dust with your face.” ‘Umar wept and said, “May Allah have mercy on you, O son! By Allah, your blessing has always been great since I came to know you, yet you are more useful to one whom you admonish.”
It has been narrated about Anas ibn Malik saying that the son of Abu Talhah, may Allah be pleased with him, was sick once. His father was away when the boy died. When Abu Talhah returned, he asked his wife, “What has my son done [during my absence]?” Umm Saleem, the mother of the boy, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “He has never been so quiet.” She brought him dinner, then he cohabited with her. When he was through, she said to him, “The boy has left us.”
Abu Talhah went to the Messenger of Allah the next morning and told him about this incident. The Prophet (ص) asked him, “Did you have intercourse with your wife last night?” Abu Talhah answered in the affirmative. The Prophet (ص) said, “Lord! Bless them.” A son was born to Abu Talhah.
Umm Saleem said to Abu Talhah, “Carry him [newborn] and take him to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny,” giving him some dates. The Prophet (ص) asked if Abu Talhah had had something with him. The latter said, “Few dates.” The Prophet (ص) took one of them, chewed it then put it in the boy’s mouth, treating his palate with it and naming him “Abdullah”.61
A man from among the Ansar said, “I saw nine of his [Abdullah’s] sons each one of whom was a reciter of the Holy Qur'an,” referring to the sons of the then newborn Abdullah.62
According to another narrative, Abu Talhah had a son by Umm Saleem who passed away. Umm Saleem said to her family, “Do not tell Abu Talhah about his son so I may be the one to do so.” She brought him dinner. He ate and drank. Then she put on more make-up than she used to. Once she saw that he was satisfied with food and had had intercourse with her, she said to him, “O Abu Talhah! Have you seen how some people lent something to a family then asked for it back, should they be prevented from having it back?” He said, “No.” She said, “Then seek compensations from your Lord for your son’s death.” He felt angry and said to her, “You have waited till I am unclean to tell me about my son?”63
In another way of narrating this incident, it is said that at the end of that night, Umm Saleem said to her husband, Abu Talhah, “O father of Talhah! So-and-so folks borrowed something which they enjoyed, but when they were asked to return it, the folks found it too hard to comply.” He said, “They were not fair.” She then said, “Our son, who is a loan from Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, has been taken back by Allah,” whereupon he said, “Inna Lillahi wa Inna Alayhi Raji’oon (We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return)”. In the next morning, Abu Talhah went to see the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessing of Allah be with him and his family, whom he informed about it. The Messenger of Allah (ص) said to him, “Allah blessed you both last night.”
Umm Saleem became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. The Messenger of Allah (ص) rubbed his face and named him “Abdullah”.
In Uyoon al-Majalis, the incident has an interesting addition. It runs thus:
Mu’awiyah ibn Qurrah is quoted as having said that Abu Talhah used to love his son exceedingly. The son fell ill, so Umm Saleem was concerned about the effect of grief on Abu Talhah when the death of their son drew closer, so she sent him to the Messenger of Allah (ص). When Abu Talhah came out of his home, the son died. Umm Saleem covered her deceased son with a shirt and put him in a corner in the house, then she went to her family and said to them, “Do not tell Abu Talhah a thing.”
Then she cooked some food and applied some perfume. When Abu Talhah returned from his meeting with the Messenger of Allah (ص), he asked about his son. She said to him, “His soul is now calm.” Then he inquired whether there was food for them to eat, whereupon she brought him the food, then she offered herself to him. He had intercourse with her.
When she noticed that her husband was fully composed, she said to him, “O Abu Talhah! Are you going to be angry if we return a trust which was in our custody to its people?” He said, “Praise be to Allah! Of course, I will not.” She said, “Your son was a trust in our hands, and Allah Almighty has taken him back.” Abu Talhah said, “I am more worthy than you of persevering.”
The man stood up, took his ghusul [ceremonial bath] then made his ablution and offered two rek’ats. He went to the Prophet (ص) and informed him about what they both had done. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, said to him, “Allah has blessed you in your cohabitation.” Then the Messenger of Allah (ص) said, “Praise to Allah who made in my nation the likeness of the persevering woman of Banu Israel.” People asked the Prophet (ص), “O Messenger of Allah! What was her story?”
The Prophet (ص) said, “There was a woman in the Children of Israel who was married and had two sons. Her husband ordered her to cook food so he would invite people to partake of it, which she did. People gathered at his house, whereas the boys set out to play. They fell in a well which was inside the house. The woman hated to ruin her husband’s hospitality, so she lodged them inside, pulling them by their shirts.
When everything was over, her husband came in and asked her about his sons. She said, ‘They are in the house.’ By then she had put on some perfume, and she offered herself to her husband till he cohabited with her. He again asked where his sons were, and again she told him that they were at home. Their father called them out by their names, whereas they came out running. The woman said, ‘Praise to Allah! By Allah, they were dead, but Allah Almighty brought them back to life as a reward for my perseverance.’”64
Something close to this is narrated in Dalaail al-Nubuwwah from Anas ibn Malik who has said, “We visited a man from the Ansars who was sick. We hardly left when he passed away. We put a shirt on him as his mother, an old lady, stood as his head. We said to her, ‘Seek rewards from Allah Almighty for your calamity.’ She asked, ‘Has my son died?’ We said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Is it true what you have said?’ We said, ‘Yes.’
She stretched her hands and said, ‘Lord! You know that I have surrendered my will to You and migrated to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, in the hope he will help me during the times of hardship and prosperity; so, do not let me bear this calamity this day.’ He removed the shirt from his face with his own hands, and we did not leave till we had food with him.”65
This supplication from the woman, may Allah have mercy on her, leads one to know Allah and to feel comfortable with whatever He fares with those whom we love. He accepts their supplication.
One of the interesting texts which agree with the above is the munajat [one’s unspoken address to the Almighty] by Barkh the Black: Allah ordered Moses, peace be with him, to whom He spoke, to ask to pray for rain for the Children of Israel after seven years of drought. Moses went out accompanied by seventy thousand men.
Allah inspired to him thus: “How shall I respond to them while their sins have overwhelmed them? Their innermost is foul; they call on Me without truly believing in Me, and they feel safe from My Might! Go back to one of My servants called Barkh. Let him come out so I may answer his supplication.”
Moses inquired about him, but nobody seemed to know him. As Moses, peace be with him, was walking one day along a road, he saw a black slave between whose eyes there was dust marking his prostration. He was wearing a scarf which he had tied round his neck. Moses recognized him through the noor which Allah Almighty had granted him, so he asked him about his name. “My name is Barkh,” he said.
Moses said to him, “We have been looking for you for some time. Come out and pray for rain for us.” He went out. Among what he said was this: “Lord! This is not known to be among Your actions, nor is this a sign of Your clemency; so, what has appeared to You?! Are Your springs now fewer in number, or has the wind rebelled, disobeying You, or has what You have with you been exhausted?!
Or has Your wrath against the sinners intensified? Are You not the Forgiving One even before wrongdoers were created?! You created mercy; You commended kindness; or are You showing us that You are inaccessible, or are You concerned about the passage of time, so You speed up the penalty?!” Barkh kept supplicating till the land was flooded with rain, and the Children of Israel were wading in it.
When Barkh returned, he faced Moses, peace be with him, and asked him, “Have you seen how I argued with my Lord and how He was so fair to me?!”66
Now we return to reports about women who persevered:
It has been narrated that Asma daughter of Umais, may Allah be pleased with her, was informed once about the death of her son, Muhammad son of Abu Bakr, how he was killed then burnt inside a donkey’s carcass. She went to her prayer area where she sat and controlled her rage till her breasts bleeded.
It has been narrated about Hamna daughter of Jahsh, may Allah be pleased with her, being informed about her brother having been killed. She said, “May Allah have mercy on him; we belong to Allah, and to Him do we return.” Those who brought her the sad news added saying, “Your husband, too, has been killed.” She said, “How grieved I am!” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, therefore said, “A husband has a branch from the wife which is not like anything else.”67
It has also been reported that Safiyya daughter of Abdul-Muttalib went to see her brother by both her parents, Hamzah son of Abdul-Muttalib, at Uhud, and his corpse had been mutilated. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, told her son, al-Zubair, to send her back so she would not see in what condition her brother was.
Al-Zubair said to her, “Mother! The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, orders you to return.” She said, “Why so, since I have already been told that my brother’s corpse has been mutilated? This is decreed by Allah, the most Exalted, the most Great; so, why should we object to His will?
I shall seek His rewards for it, and if Allah wills, I shall persevere.” When al-Zubair went to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, he told him about what she said. He, therefore, told al-Zubair not to stand in her way. She came and cast a look at the corpse, offered prayers and said, “We belong to Allah and to Him is our return,” then she prayed the Almighty to forgive him.68
Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, is quoted as having said that when Hamzah, may Allah be pleased with him, was killed during the Battle of Uhud, Safiyya [his sister] came looking for him, not knowing what had happened to him. She met Ali and al-Zubair. Ali, peace be with him, said to al-Zubair, “Say something to your mother.”
Al-Zubair said, “No, you say something to your aunt.” She said, “How did Hamzah fare?” They gave her the impression that they did not know. She went to the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, whereupon he (ص) said that he was afraid she, his aunt, might lose her sanity. He (ص), therefore, put his hand on her chest and supplicated for her. She said, “We belong to Allah, and to Him is our return,” and she wept.
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, stood up and saw how mutilated his uncle's corpse was. He (ص) said, “Had I not been concerned about women losing their patience, I would have left him till he is gathered on the Judgment Day from birds’ craws and beasts’ bellies.”69
A youth from among the Ansars named Khallad was martyred during the Battle of Banu Quraizah. His mother came neatly outfitted. It was said to her, “Do you dress yourself like that while you have been afflicted with Khallad?!” She said, “If I have been afflicted with Khallad, I am not afflicted with my modesty.” The Prophet (ص) supplicated for him, saying, “He will receive twice the rewards because the People of the Book [the Jews of Banu Quraizah] had killed him.”70
Anas ibn Malik is quoted as having said that during the Battle of Uhud, the people of Medina were extremely agitated. They said, “Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, has been killed,” so much so that loud cries were heard in all city districts. A woman from the Ansar came out grieving. She saw the corpses of her father, son, husband and brother; nobody knows which one of them she first saw.
When she saw the last corpse, [not recognizing any of them] she asked: “Who is this?” She was told, “This is your brother, and these are your father, husband and son.” She said, “How did the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, fare?” They said, “He is ahead of you.” She walked till she met the Prophet (ص). She held a portion of his robe and kept saying, “O Messenger of Allah! May both my parents be sacrificed for your sake! I do not care about anything as long as you are safe from any harm.”
Al-Bayhaqi has narrated saying that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, met once a woman from Banu Dinar whose husband, father and brother were killed defending the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, during the Battle of Uhud.
When she received condolences because of them, she asked, “How did the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, fare?” They said, “He fared well, O mother of so-and-so, and he praises Allah as you love.” She said, let me see him.” They pointed in his direction. When she saw him, she said, “Any calamity, other than one harming you, is nothing at all.”71
Samra daughter of Qais, sister of Abu Hizam, came out when both her sons were killed. The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, consoled her in their regard, so she said to him, “Any calamity other than one afflicting you is nothing. By Allah! This dust which I see on your face is more painful to me than seeing what has taken place to them.”
It has been narrated that Silah son of Asheem was participating in a military campaign accompanied by his son. He said to his son, “O son! Charge and fight, so I may seek Allah’s rewards.” The son charged, fought and was killed. His father then charged, fought and was killed, too. Women gathered round his mother, Mu’adha al-Adawiyya wife of Silah. She said to them, “Welcome to you if you have come to congratulate me [on my son’s martyrdom]. But if you have come for another reason, go back.”
It has been narrated that an old woman from Banu Bakr son of Kilab used to be praised by her folks for her wisdom and terse opinions. One of those who were in her company once was told that her son, the only son she had had, died following a long period of sickness during which she nursed him very well. When he died, she sat in her courtyard where her folks came to offer their condolences.
She asked one of their dignitaries: “O so-and-so! What is the duty of one on whom a blessing has been poured, one who has been outfitted with good health, one whose vision is straight…, should he not be self-confident before his knot is untied and he sits in his courtyard, death descending upon his house, so he can keep it [death] away from himself?” She then recited a couple of lines of poetry saying,
He is my son, my joy, and the Lord of Dignity has taken him to Himself,
So if I rest my hope on rewards, and if I grieve, what benefit will tears bring me?
A dignitary said to her, “We always hear that women are too weak to persevere; so, nobody after you should ever fret. Your perseverance is honored, and surely you are not at all like other women.”
She said to him, “If one differentiates between fretting and persevering, he will find between them a huge distance: As for perseverance, it looks good in the open, it is well rewarded. As for fretting, it does not bring about anything good while causing one who goes through it to reap a sin.
Had they both had forms of two men, perseverance would have been the winner, and it will have the good image, the honorable nature with regard to the creed and the good rewards in the Hereafter. Suffices him what Allah, the most Exalted One, the most Great, has promised those in whom He instills it.”
Juwairiyya daughter of Asma is quoted as having said that three brothers participated in the Battle of Tasattur and were all martyred. Their mother heard about their martyrdom, so she asked, “Were they killed charging, or were they fleeing?”
It was said to her that they were charging. She said, “Praise be to Allah! By Allah! They have won, and they have safeguarded their honor! I wish I could sacrifice both my parents for their sake!” She neither sighed, nor did she shed one tear.
Abu Qudamah al-Shami (the Syrian) is quoted as having said, “I was in command of the army in an invasion. I entered a country and called people to participate in the campaign, trying to make them interested in and recruit them for Jihad, mentioning the distinction of martyrdom and the rewards of the martyrs. Then people dispersed, so I rode my horse and went home. I met a woman whose face was the very best, and she called on me by my name, but I kept going and did not respond.
She said, ‘Such is not the attribute of the righteous.’ I, therefore, stopped. She came and gave me a sheet of paper wrapped in a piece of cloth then went back in tears. I looked at the sheet and I found this written in it: ‘You invited us to participate in Jihad and made us desire its rewards. I cannot do that [being a woman], so I cut off the best in me: both my braids and sent them to you to put them in your horse’s reign, perhaps Allah will see my hair tied to your horse and He may forgive me.’
When the morning of fighting approached, I saw a youth fighting between the ranks with his head uncovered. I advanced towards him and said, ‘Young man! You are a praiseworthy youth, and you are on your feet; I see no security for you if the steeds charge and they may crush you under their hooves; so, go back from your position.’ The youth said, ‘Do you order me to return while Allah Almighty has said:
O you who believe! When you meet the unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them (Qur'an, 8:15)?’
He completed the recitation of the verse up to its end. I, therefore, made him ride on a camel which was with me. He said, ‘O Abu Qudamah! Loan me three arrows.’ I said, ‘Is this the time for a loan?!’ He kept insisting till I said to him, ‘I shall do so on one condition: If Allah grants you martyrdom, include me in your intercession.’
He said, ‘Yes, I shall do that.’ So I gave him three arrows. He put one arrow in his bow and shot it, killing one Roman. Then he shot another and killed another Roman. Then he shot the remaining third arrow as he said, ‘Peace be with you, O Abu Qudamah, a greeting of someone bidding you farewell.’ An arrow came to him, piercing his face between his eyes. He put his head on the saddlebow. I advanced towards him and said, ‘Do not forget it [your promise].’
He said, ‘Yes, I will not, but I need a favor of you: When you enter Medina, go to my mother and hand over my saddlebag to her and inform her, for she is the one who had given you her hair so you would tie it to your horse. Greet her, for last year, she lost my father, and this year she has lost me.’ He then died, so I dug up a grave for him and buried him. When I was about to leave his grave behind, the earth threw his corpse out on the ground.
Some people said, ‘He is a praiseworthy youth, and maybe he went out [for Jihad] without his mother’s permission.’ I said, ‘The earth accepts one who is more evil [than one who goes to Jihad without first getting his parents’ permission due to his age].’ I stood up and prayed two rek’ats, supplicating to the Almighty, whereupon I heard a voice saying, ‘O Abu Qudamah! Leave the servant of Allah alone!’ Soon, birds [scavengers] descended on his corpse and ate it.
“When I returned to Medina, I went to his mother’s house. Having knocked at the door, his sister came out to me. When she saw me, she [immediately] returned to her mother and said, ‘Mother! This is Abu Qudamah, and my brother is not with him. We were afflicted last year with the loss of my father and this year with the loss of my brother.’
His mother came out and asked me, ‘Have you come to offer condolences or congratulations?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘If my son passed away, console me. But if he won martyrdom, congratulate me.’ I said, ‘No, he has died as a martyr.’ She said, ‘His death has a mark; have you seen it?’ I said, ‘Yes, I have: The earth did not accept him, and birds descended and ate his flesh, leaving his bones which I buried.’
She said, ‘Then praise be to Allah!’ I handed the saddlebag to her. She opened it and took out a shirt from it and iron chains. She said, ‘Whenever night overwhelmed him with its darkness, he would wear this shirt and tie himself with the chains. He would thus speak to his Creator saying: Lord! Resurrect me from the craws of birds! Allah, praise and to Him, responded to his supplication, may Allah have mercy on him.’”
Al-Bayhaqi quotes Abu Abbas al-Sarraj as saying, “Someone lost a son, so I went to see his mother to whom I said, ‘Fear Allah and be patient.’ She said, ‘My calamity of losing him is greater than I should ruin it with impatience.’”
Aban ibn Taghlib, may Allah have mercy on him, has said, “I visited a woman whose son had just died. She came out to him, closed his eyelids and directed his corpse towards the Ka’ba. Then she said, ‘O son! What good is fretting about something which never lasts? Weeping should be over what will tomorrow descend on you.
O son! Taste what your father tasted, and after you your mother shall taste it, too. The greatest rest for this body is sleep, and sleep is a sibling of death. What difference should it make to you whether you sleep on your bed or on something else? Tomorrow there will be questioning, Paradise and Hell; if you are among the residents of Paradise, how can death bring you any harm at all?
And if you are among the residents of Hell, what benefit should life bring you even if you live longer than anyone else? By Allah, O son, had death been among the most of noble things for the descendants of Adam, Allah would not have caused His Prophet, peace and blessings be with him and his family, to die while keeping His enemy, Satan the accursed, alive.’”72
[Abul-Abbas Muhammad ibn Yazid] al-Mubarrad is quoted as having said, “I went to a woman to offer condolences on the death of her son. She kept praising him saying, ‘He, by Allah, toiled but not for his own belly and commanded but not his wife.
He was a hard worker for any cause which would not bring him shame. If there is a sin, he would not tolerate it.’ I said to her, ‘Do you have a son by him?’ She said, ‘Yes, praise to Allah; one with a lot of goodness, a reward from Allah Almighty and a good compensation in this life and in the life to come.’”
He also is quoted as having said that he went once to Yemen and stayed at the residence of a woman who had a lot of money, slaves, sons and prosperity. He stayed there for a while. When he wanted to depart, he asked her, “Is there anything I can do for you?” She said, “Yes. Whenever you come to this land, stay with us.”
He stayed away for years, then he returned and stayed at her residence but found out that her wealth and slaves had gone, her sons had died, and her home was sold, yet she was pleased and smiling. He said to her, “Do you smile despite all what has befallen you?” She said, “O servant of Allah! When I was in prosperity, I had a lot of grief, so I knew that it was because I did not thank the Almighty enough for it. Now I am in this condition, I smile and thank Allah Almighty for the patience which He has granted me.”
Muslim ibn Yasar has said once, “I went to Bahrain where a women hosted me, and she had sons, slaves, wealth and prosperity, yet I always saw her sad. I stayed away from her for along period of time then I returned. I did not find anyone at her door, so I sought permission to enter, and I found her pleased and smiling. I said to her, ‘How are you?’
She said, ‘During the time when you were away from us, every time we sent something by sea way, it sank, nor anything by land except it defected. The slaves are gone, the sons are dead.’ I said to her, ‘May Allah have mercy on you! I found you looking sad during that time and now you are pleased!’
She said, ‘Yes, when I was at ease, I was afraid Allah Almighty might have sped up the rewards for my good deeds in the short life. When my wealth, sons and slaves were gone, I hoped that Allah Almighty might have saved something for me with Him.’”73
Someone has said, “I went out with a friend to the desert where we were lost. We saw a tent on the right side of the road, so we went to it and pronounced the greeting. A woman responded to our greeting and asked us who we were. We said, ‘We have lost our way, so we came to you, feeling comfortable with you.’
She said, ‘Men! Get your faces away from me till I do what you deserve.’ We did. She threw a shirt to us and said, ‘Sit on it till my son returns.’ Then she kept raising a portion of the tent then putting it down till she raised it once and said, ‘I ask Allah for the blessing of what is approaching. The camel belongs to my son, but the rider is not he.’ The rider addressed the woman saying, ‘O mother of Aqeel! May Allah greatly reward you because of your son, Aqeel.’ She said, ‘Woe on you! Has he died?’
He said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘What was the cause of his death?’ He said, ‘Camels crowded around him and threw him into a well.’ She said to him, ‘Alight and perform the duty for these folks,’ pushing a ram to him which he slaughtered and cooked. He presented food to us. We kept eating and wondering about how patient she was.
“Having finished eating, she came out to us and said, ‘O folks! Is there among you one who is good at reciting something from the Book of Allah?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘Then recite for me verses in which I find solace for the loss of my son.’ I told her that Allah Almighty says:
Convey glad tidings to those who patiently persevere, those who, when afflicted with calamity, say: To Allah do we belong, and to Him is our return. They are the ones on whom Allah's blessings and mercy (descend), and they are the ones who receive guidance (Qur'an, 2:155-57).’
She said, ‘By Allah tell me, are these written like that in the Book of Allah?’ I said, ‘By Allah they are as such in the Book of Allah.’ She said, ‘Assalamo Alaikom.’ She stood and offered rek’ats then said, ‘Lord! I have done what You have ordered me, so fulfill what You have promised me. Had one stayed for one—it is there that I said to myself: She would say: My son would have stayed for me due to my need for him—Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be with him and his progeny, would have stayed for his nation.’
“I came out saying this to myself: ‘I have never seen a more perfect woman like her or more generous. She mentioned her Lord in the most perfect of His attributes and the most beautiful. Finding death unavoidable, and that fretting is futile, that weeping does not bring back a mortal, she returned to good patience, resting her hope on rewards with Allah Almighty as a treasure for the Day of want and need.’”74
About the same has been narrated by Ibn Abul-Dunya who has said, “A man used to keep me company, then I heard that he was sick. I went to visit him, and I found him about to die. His mother, an old woman, was with him. She kept looking till his eyelids were closed, his head bandaged and his corpse was directed towards the Ka’ba.
Then she said, ‘May Allah have mercy on you, O son! You were kind to us, affectionate, and now Allah has granted me patience in your regard. You used to stand for long praying, you used to fast quite often; may Allah Almighty not deprive you of the mercy I hope He will show you, and may He grant us good solace.’ Then she looked at me and said, ‘O visitor of the sick! You have seen a preacher, and so have we.’”
I persevered, and perseverance always rewards well,
Is impatience beneficial so I may lose my patience?
I persevered about that if a little of it is borne by
Mountains in Ridwa, they would have cracked.
I suppressed my tears then sent them back,
Now the heart, not the eyes, is tearful.
“I said, ‘O woman, what have you been so patient about?’ She said, “A calamity that befell me which never afflicted anyone else at all.’ I asked her, ‘What was it?’ She said, ‘I used to have two lion cubs [sons] playing before my eyes. Their father sacrificed two sheep for Eid al-Adha.
One of them said to his brother, ‘O brother! Let me show you how our father sacrificed his sheep.’ He stood up, took a knife and slaughtered his brother. The killer ran away. Their father entered. I said, ‘Your son has killed his brother then fled away.’ He went out looking for him, then he found out that a lion had devoured him. The father returned but died on the way back out of thirst and hunger.’”
Someone else narrated this same incident, adding that he saw a beautiful woman showing no signs of grief. She said, “By Allah! I know nobody who has been afflicted as I have been,” and narrated the incident. He said to her, “How do you fare with impatience?” She said, “Had I found it helpful, I would not have preferred anything else over it, and had it lasted for me, I would have lasted for it.”
Someone has said that a woman was afflicted by the death of her son and she persevered. She was asked about it, so she said, “I have preferred to obey Allah Almighty over obedience to Satan.”
They have stated many viewpoints about it all of which revolve round the fast being a secret between Allah and His servant with which nobody is acquainted except Him. No servant of Allah is truly fasting except if he is sincere in his desire to obey the Almighty. They have also said that acts of adoration besides fasting share the latter in the secret of obedience such as one performing his prayers without being cleansed of impurity or in a garment which is polluted with impurity and other such secrets related to acts of adoration with which only Allah and their performer are familiar.
The best that I have heard in interpreting this tradition is that all acts of adoration are meant to seek nearness to Allah Almighty such as prayers, pilgrimage, charity, i`tikaf(solitude in mosque), tabattul (supplication), hadi (sacrifice ) and other types of adorations: The polytheists had performed them as they worshipped their gods and whatever they used as partners with Allah, yet nobody ever heard that a sect among the polytheists and followers of a creed worshipped their gods through fasting nor sought nearness to them through its medium, nor has fasting ever been associated with acts of worship save when it is part of Shari’a (law).
For this reason, the Almighty has said: "Fasting is for My sake, and I am the One Who rewards for it," that is, "Nobody is a partner with Me in it, nor has anyone been adored through it save Me: I, therefore, am the One Who rewards for it on My own; I do not let anyone else do so be he an angel close to Me or anyone else regardless of how close he is to Me."