In the Name of Allaah, Ar-Rahmaan, Ar-Raheem…
All praise is due to Allaah. May the Salaah and the Salaam be upon Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions and all those who follow him in goodness until the Day of Recompense, as to what proceeds:
Indeed the life of the Dunyaa is one of toil and struggle for the believer up until the time when he meets his Lord. It is for this reason that Allaah has enjoined patience upon His slaves and has made it such an integral part of the religion of al-Islam. The All-Knowing, the All-Wise, has mentioned patience more than 90 times in the Qur`aan, from them is His, the Most High, statement:
“And say not of those who are killed in the Way of Allaah, ‘They are dead.’ Nay, they are living, but you perceive (it) not. (154) And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” [Al-Baqarah 2:154-155]
And His Statement:
“By Al-‘Asr (the time). (1) Verily! Man is in loss, (2) Except those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, and recommend one another to the truth (i.e. order one another to perform all kinds of good deeds (Al-Ma’ruf) which Allaah has ordained, and abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds (Al-Munkar) which Allaah has forbidden), and recommend one another to patience (for the sufferings, harms, and injuries which one may encounter in Allaah’s Cause during preaching His religion of Islamic Monotheism or Jihad, etc.). (3)” [Sooratul-‘Asr: 103-1-3]
In the first of the above two passages from Allaah’s Glorious Book, Allaah informs His slaves of the sure fact that they will be tried and tested. However, it should be known that the objective of Allaah’s tests and trails is not for Him, the All-Knowing of what is in the breasts, to acquire some knowledge about His slave that He didn’t have. Rather, they are means by which He distinguishes the people of firm eemaan from those who have weak or no eemaan, the people of at-taqwaa and love of Allaah from the disobedient ones. As Allaah says in His Book,
“Alif-Lam-Mim. (1) Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. (2) And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). (3)” [Sooratul-‘Ankaboot 29:1-3]
The reality of this affair can be seen in the fact that when some Muslims are tested they are actually strengthened in their forbearance and reliance upon Allaah; while others are driven to despair and become disobedient to Allaah and His Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is from the deceptions of Shaytaan who threatens the slave with poverty and afterwards incites him to do what is unlawful to save himself from it. As Allaah says about him,
“Shaytaan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahsha (evil deeds, illegal sexual intercourse, sins etc.); whereas Allah promises you Forgiveness from Himself and Bounty, and Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.” [Sooratul-Baqarah 2:268]
In this second of these passages mentioned above (al-‘Asr 103:1-3), Allaah informs us that all of mankind is doomed except those who have the two qualities mentioned therein (a) eemaan, which consist of belief in the heart, testification with the tongue and action with the limbs, and (b) patience. How are these two qualities related? Alee ibn Abee Taalib, may Allaah be pleased with him, said “Sabr (patience) is to eemaan as the head is to the body; if the head is removed then the body will fall.” Saying that, he raised his voice and proclaimed, “You cannot have faith without patience!” For this reason ash-Shaafi’ee said concerning Sooratul-‘Asr; “If Allaah had sent down upon his creation no other proof besides this Soorah it would have sufficed them” [Taken from ath-Thalaathah al-Usool by Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhaab]
After a brief introduction, I would like to share some of my personal experiences with my brothers and sisters in hope that they are benefited by them. And Allaah says,
“Therefore remind (men) in case the reminder profits (them). (9) The reminder will be received by him who fears (Allah), (10)” [Sooratul-‘Alaa 87:9-10]
I am a Muslim who, at the time of writing this article, is 34 years of age and I have been in prison for the past twelve years. Due to a number of factors such as distance, frequent transfers, etc., I have not had a single visit from a family member over the course of the past twelve years. About half-way through my incarceration, I was faced with the calamity which every incarcerated person dreads, and that is the death of my mother to whom I was very close with, as I am her only child just as she was her mother’s only child. I myself have only one child whom I have not seen since I left the streets in 1998 except in pictures; and my contact with her has been sparse to say the least. Three of the past twelve years were spent on lock down at a maximum security prison in Marion IL, USA. These are some of my personal trials. As for the religious and general trials, then they are many, such as those who are abandoned by their wives or friends and family, the harassment by the correctional officers to the Muslims. In fact, today an officer went into a Muslim’s cell under the premise of a “Shakedown” (a cell search for contraband, etc.) and took all of his Islaamic books claiming that he had too many. He only left him with secular novels and a bible! The “shakedown” is what the officers use to antagonize the inmates who they don’t like. So at any given time an officer may go into your room, search through your belongings, taking your personal items and having no respect for anything that belongs to the inmate.
One may think that people in prison have it easy due to the fact that we get three meals a day and a free bed, however, the prison system serves pork almost on a regular basis, so if a Muslim doesn’t have the support of his/her family, there will be a lot of hungry nights. But in spite of all this, and many other trails that I have declined to mention, some more significant than others, Allaah has made my incarceration a source of guidance and abundance of good. He has made my prison to be a University and my cell to be a place of worship and study, thereby increasing me in eemaan and at-Tawakkul (trust) upon him. By Allaah, nothing has been taken from me except that Allaah has replaced it with that which is better. For I have seen individuals, both Muslims and non-Muslims, experience not even half the trails that I have endured, yet have twice the complaints. Indeed, some have even been driven to disobedience, apostasy from the religion or insanity. But a servant cannot be given a gift better and more abundant than patience.
My dear friend and mentor, who is incarcerated in another prison, is currently serving a sentence of double life plus fifty!! ‘O Muslim, let this sink in, DOUBLE LIFE PLUS FIFTY. This means hypothetically (if Allaah doesn’t decree his release), that if he were to die twice, he would have to come back and give the system 50 move years! But by Allaah, I have never seen a Muslim more upbeat; having more sincerity to Allaah, more love for Allaah, His Messenger and the believers; more of a reminder of what the Salaf were upon and more patient. This is what I think of him and I praise no one over Allaah. So how bad is your situation?
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, from Allaah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, who said, “When one of you looks to one who has been favoured over him in wealth or appearance, let him look to one who is lower than himself as opposed to one who favoured over him” [Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree, Kitaab Ar-Riqaaq, Hadeeth # 6490]
On the authority of Khabbaab, Allaah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi sallam said: “Amongst those who came before you, a man would be sawn in half, but that would not cause him to abandon his religion” [Reported by Ahmad, al-Bukhaaree and Aboo Daawud]
I advise the Muslims to have patience for the sake of Allaah. Have patience and Allaah will compensate you. And know that with every hardship comes two reliefs, as Allaah said,
“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief, (5) Verily, with the hardship, there is relief (i.e. there is one hardship with two reliefs, so one hardship cannot overcome two reliefs). (6)” [Sooratush-Sharh 94:5-6]
The scholars have explained that first relief comes when Allaah removes the hardship. The second comes in the hereafter when the slave meets Allaah and is rewarded for his patience. This is in addition to the fact that Allaah grants leadership to his slaves due to their patience and their firm faith, as Allaah says,
“And We made from among them (Children of Israel), leaders, giving guidance under Our Command, when they were patient and used to believe with certainty in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.). (24)” [Sooratus-Sajdah 32:24]
As for my affair, indeed it is a blessed one; for patience is the fruit of proper belief in Allaah, the mighty majestic and his qadr. Due to it a slave knows that (a) nothing comes to him of good or evil except that which Allaah has decreed for him, (b) Allaah is in full control of all of the affairs, (c) that Allaah does not burden any soul beyond what it can bear.
On the authority of Sa’d ibn Abee Waqqaas, Allaah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “The most severely tried amongst mankind are the Prophets; then those that are most like them, then those that are most like them. The people are tried according to their level of faith…” [Reported by at-Tirmidhee #2398, Ibn Maajah #4023, ad-Daarimee 2/320, Ahmad, and it is authentic]
So be patient with the trails of life, may Allaah bless you, and look for your reward with Allaah, the mighty and majestic. Put your trust in Allaah while acting within the legislated parameters. This is the path to success. May the prayers and peace be upon Muhammad, his family and Companions, ameen.
“So be patient (O Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Verily, the Promise of Allah is true, and ask forgiveness for your fault, and glorify the praises of your Lord in the Ashi (i.e. the time period after the midnoon till sunset) and in the Ibkar (i.e. the time period from early morning or sunrise till before midnoon) [it is said that, that means the five compulsory congregational Salat (prayers) or the ‘Asr and Fajr prayers]. (55)” [Sooratul-Ghaafir 40:55]
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