Let us have taqwa in the Lord of the Universe, by obeying all of His commands and abstaining from His prohibitions. May all our efforts be rewarded in this world and the hereafter. Amin.
Jemaah, last week’s sermon discussed the trait that is required in the religion. This is because every person will be tested by Allah s.w.t. and developing the trait of patience or sabr will make it easy for us to gain a place in Allah’s paradise in the hereafter. For this week, let us try to understand the meaning behind trials and sabr. Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said:
Meaning: “Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something good befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him.” [Hadith recorded by Imam Muslim]
Based on this hadith, we understand that Allah s.w.t. bestows His believers with special privileges. That is why, despite any test that the believer faces – be it a blessing or a disaster – he will attempt to understand it and appreciate the wisdom behind it. Every blessing is met with gratitude, while every disaster is faced with patience, for that is the character of a mukmin.
In discussing the trait of sabr, it is important to reflect and understand the lives of those who have epitomised the spirit of sabr in facing the challenges that they were tested with. Among those that have been mentioned in history is the story of Prophet Ayub a.s.. Allah s.w.t. has mentioned it in the Qur’an and how he was tested with a disease that afflicted his body. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran surah Al-Anbiya, verses 83-84:
Meaning: “And Ayub, when he called to his Lord, "Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful." So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah].”
The story of Prophet Ayub a.s. is a lesson for us regarding the true meaning of trials and sabr. Sometimes when God tests us, some of us will whine and sigh, in fact some will even blame fate and so on. There are also those who assume that they are tested because they are not loved by Allah s.w.t. and that Allah is not pleased with them.
Jemaah, if the prophets themselves were tested, what more laymen like us? In fact Prophet Ayub a.s. was tested with ill health and also his family.
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was asked: “Ya Rasulullah, who is the person who is given the greatest trial?" The Prophet replied: "The Prophets, then those who follow (those who are important) and so on. A slave will be tested suitable with his level of faith. If his faith (iman) is strong, then the trial is heavier. If his faith is weak, then he will be tested appropriate to the level of his iman.” [Hadith reported by Ibnu Majah]
Thus, when we are being tested by Allah s.w.t. it does not mean that Allah hates us, but it could very much be the reverse. Sometimes, a person is tested even though he is one who is dearly loved by Allah s.w.t. The test is as a kaffarah or an expiation for his past sins. Let us study another hadith of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. (which means): “No Muslim is afflicted with any harm, poverty, accident, anxiety, sadness, illness or grief, or even pricked by a thorn, but that Allah will remove his sins because of it.” [Hadith recorded by Imam Al-Bukhari]
After understanding the trials from Allah s.w.t. for a mukmin, the question that follows is how can we instil sabr when we are tested? How can we develop resilience?
The way to do so is as suggested by Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. (in a hadith which means): “Look at the person below you, and not the person above you, because that is more appropriate, for you not to belittle the nikmat Allah has given you.” [Hadith recorded by Imam Muslim]
Hence jemaah, when we feel that the trials we face are too heavy for our shoulders to bear, just look at those whom Allah have tested with far greater tests. We should hence be grateful to Allah s.w.t. for the blessings He has showered upon us. Despite the heavy burden of the trials that we face, there are many other blessings that God has bestowed upon us continuously.
Another aspect of sabr that we need to pay attention to is the resilience needed by an individual and the community to achieve its dreams and to attain success. Just as how sabr is needed to face trials, sabr is also needed to achieve our dreams and hopes, whether it is for this life or the hereafter.
In this world, one cannot achieve one’s dreams and fulfil one’s objectives in life without having sabr. A person who has sabr will be successful, and the reverse applies as well.
Just think about these scenarios: a farmer who is impatient in waiting for his seeds to grow, will not be able to bear the fruits of his labour; and a student who is impatient in his studies will not achieve excellent results. And so that is how people succeed in this world – by having sabr.
At times, they trip and fall, but they do not wait for a long time to pick themselves up and rise again. At times, they make mistakes, but they do not hesitate to correct these mistakes and make amends. At times they have cuts and bruises, but they strive to heal their wounds quickly. Often times they fail, but they do not surrender and admit defeat, nor do they give up. Just look at the life of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. In his tenth year of prophethood, when he was fervently spreading the message and meeting with leaders from the different clans in a bid to find a more appropriate place and town to move to; there were those who shot down his request, and there were others who made all sorts of demands. Rasulullah s.a.w. did not give up despite seeing his repeated attempts not bearing the desired results, until it was by Allah’s plans that he met the people of Yathrib, now known as Madinah.
As the Malay saying goes, every hike has its descend. So surely, with every difficulty comes ease as well.
The story that I have just shared clearly depicts the importance of having sabr – whether it is to overcome the challenges in life, or to attain success. I am sure that every one of us present today has his own dreams. Some of us dream of success in our careers or studies, while others dream of happiness in their marriage and family life.
Whatever our hopes and dreams are, let us strive to never neglect them. Continue to strive diligently and with sabr, and believe that we will one day attain what we desire. Be confident that Allah is always with those who are sabr. At the same time, do not ever stop making doa to Allah, asking Him to grant us sabr in chasing our dreams for this world and the hereafter. Amin.