Golden Afflictions

Imam Muhasibi (rahmatullahi alayh) writes: A righteous servant is tested with affliction. You will not be able to achieve what you want except by giving up what you desire. And you will never reach what you hope for unless you exercise patience over what you dislike.Spend all your energies in giving due consideration to all that beenmade obligatory upon you.

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahulla) commentates:

Abu Umamah (radhiy Allah ‘anhu) narrates that Rasulullah (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) test you with affliction while He Knows fully well about you. This is just how you check your gold with fire. From among you is he who comes out like pure gold. So that is the person whom Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) saved from evils. From among you is he comes out like gold that is inferior to the previous one. So that is the person who has some doubt. From among you is he who comes out like black gold. That is the person who has been really put through a temptation.”1

Ibn Qayyim (rahmatullahi alayh) says: “The person whom Allah created for paradise will continue receiving its gifts of difficulties. And the person whom Allah created for hell will continue receiving its gifts of vain desires.”2

In his book al-Funoon, Imam Abu a-Wafa ibn Aqil (rahmatullahi alayh) says: “Bounties are guests and the way of showing hospitality to them is gratitude. Afflictions are guests and the way of showing hospitality to them is exercising patience. You should therefore endeavour that your guests leave you grateful for the wonderful hospitality – bearing witness to what they hear and see.”

Difficulties and hardhips are bounties of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa)

Ibn Taymiyyah (rahmatullahi alayh) says: “From among the perfection of Allah’s bounty upon His believing servants is that He imposes difficulties and hardships upon them in such a way that it forces then towards believing in His Oneness. They then call upon Him in total devotion, they hope from Him and from no one else. In so doing, their hearts are attached to Him and no one else. They thus acquire the qualities of placing their trust in Him, turning to Him, experiencing the sweetness of Iman, tasting its sweetness, and freedom from polythiesm. All these qualities are a far greater bounty upon them than the removal of some illness, fear, drought or harm which they may have been experiencing. The absolute devotion to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) that these believers in the Oneness of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) acquire cannot even be described. Each believer has a share of this according to the strength of his Iman.”

Affliction is the Bellows of a Servant

Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilaani (rahmatullahi alayh) says: “O my son! The affliction has not come to destroy you. Rather, it has come to test your patience and your Iman.  So an affliction is actually a bellows of a servant – a bellows used by an iron-monger in order to remove the rust that is on steel – he either comes out as gold or as filth. As stated by a poet:

“We smelt it and thought that it was silver. However, the bellows exposed the filth of the steel.”

You should know that were it not for afflictions, a servant would become haughty, he would transgress and oppress. Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) thus saves him from all this through afflictions, He purifies him of all the filth that is within him, so glory to that Being who shows His Mercy through His afflictions and tests a person through His Bounties.  A poet says: “At times, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) bestows His bounty through afflictions even if they are very severe. And Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) tests some people through bounties.”

Abu al-Wafa Ibn ‘Aqil says: “You should know that the pleasure of the intellect by what the Creator has decided is from among the acts of worship that are most devoted, that are the severest and the most difficult.  Allah (subhanahu wa ta’alaa) has drawn our attention to our inability to foresee the consequences. He says: ‘It is likely that you dislike something while it is good for you. And perhaps you like something while it is bad for you. Allah knows while you do not know.'”3


Extracted from Imam Harith al-Muhasibi, Risalah al-Mustarshideen, Researched and explained by Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah (rahimahullah), (2nd Edition) p.85-86

1. al-Haakim, al-Mustadrak, vol. 4. p.314
2. Ibn Qayyim, al-Fawaa’id, p.32
3. Ibn Mufih al-Hanbali: al-Adaab ash-Shar’iyyah, vol. 2, pp. 193, 200, 204


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