Advising Muslims with perseverence and patience…
The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was after all a human being, saddened by the negative attitude he was met with, and grieved by the ugly behavior of those he was striving to guide. He went through such difficult times that he needed to be comforted.
His comfort and support came from his Lord, who did not want His Messenger to be overcome with grief:
َ إِنَّ فَضْلَهُ كَانَ عَلَيْكَ كَبِيرًا
“…Surely His grace to you is abundant.” (al-Isra, 87)
وَمَنْ كَفَرَ فَلاَ يَحْزُنْكَ كُفْرُهُ اِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُهُمْ فَنُنَبِّئُهُمْ بِمَا عَمِلُوا اِنَّ اللهَ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ نُمَتِّعُهُمْ قَلِيلاً ثُمَّ نَضْطَرُّهُمْ اِلَى عَذَابٍ غَلِيظٍ
“And whoever disbelieves, let not his disbelief grieve you; to Us is their return, then will We inform them of what they did. Surely Allah is the Knower of what is in the breasts. We give them to enjoy a little, then will We drive them to a severe chastisement.” (Luqman, 23-24)
وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا تَكُن فِي ضَيْقٍ مِّمَّا يَمْكُرُونَ
“And grieve not for them and be not distressed because of what they plan.” (an-Naml, 70)
The Almighty was thus reassuring His Messenger, advising him to be patient:
فَاصْبِرْ عَلَى مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ الْغُرُوبِ
“Therefore be patient of what they say, and sing the praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before the setting.” (Qaf, 39)
His determination strengthened by these ayah, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was easing the pain of his companions and mending their broken hearts.
Khabbab –Allah be well-pleased with him- explains:
“One day while he was under the shade of the Kaabah, we went to the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, complaining to him of the torment of the idolaters.
‘Among the people before you’, he began to explain, ‘there were believers who were caught and placed in a ditch and were cut head down into two halves with saws; and there were those whose flesh was flayed with steel rakes, who still did not turn away from their religion. I assure you by Allah that He shall complete His religion and grant it supremacy. So much so that a person will be able to journey from Sana to Hadramut without fear, except of wolves for his sheep. But you are being impatient!’” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar, 29)
Then the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- recited the following verses:
لاَ يَغُرَّنَّكَ تَقَلُّبُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فِى الْبِلاَدِ مَتَاعٌ قَلِيلٌ ثُمَّ مَأْوَيهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ وَبِئْسَ الْمِهَادُ لَكِنِ الَّذِينَ اتَّقَوْا رَبَّهُمْ لَهُمْ جَنَّاتٌ تَجْرِى مِنْ تَحْتِهَا اْلاَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا نُزُلاً مِنْ عِنْدِ اللهِ وَمَا عِنْدَ اللهِ خَيْرٌ لِلاَبْرَارِ
“Let it not deceive you that those who disbelieve go to and fro in the towns fearlessly. A brief enjoyment, then their abode is hell, an evil resting-place. But as for those who are careful of (their duty to) their Lord, they shall have gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding in them; an entertainment from their Lord, and that which is with Allah is best for the righteous.” (Al-i Imran, 196-198)
As the idolaters’ persecution increased, ayah of the kind above served to console the hearts of Believers. In this sense, together with drawing the person closer to the Creator, severe tests and hardship served as Divine scales measuring the trust and submission of Believers in their Lord. The most fitting attitude for Muslims to display in times like these is mentioned in the Quran as such:
فَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ وَلَا تُطِعْ مِنْهُمْ آثِمًا أَوْ كَفُورًا
وَاذْكُرِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ بُكْرَةً وَأَصِيلًا
وَمِنَ اللَّيْلِ فَاسْجُدْ لَهُ وَسَبِّحْهُ لَيْلًا طَوِيلًا
“Therefore wait patiently for the command of your Lord, and obey not from among them a sinner or an ungrateful one. And glorify the name of your Lord morning and evening. And during part of the night adore Him, and give glory to Him a long (part of the) night.” (al-Insan, 24-26)
It was certain for a Muslim who heard these instructions to become content at heart and acquire strength and patience to endure sufferings of all kinds. Especially the tahajjud salat performed at night served to bring the Believer closer to Allah and grant the soul with so much strength that the truth become fixed in the heart. The Almighty indeed says:
إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْءًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا
“Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise).”(al-Muzzammil, 6)
Although the command to perform tahajjud is directly exclusive to the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, nonetheless it is something the rest of his ummah can do if they wish, according to their capacities. The same goes for the rest of the other forms of supererogatory worship that have been advised for the pious to the extent it aids in spiritual progress.
Allah, glory unto Him, who has blessed believers with paths of happiness moreover declares:
وَقُلْ جَاء الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا
“And say: “Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish.”” (al-Isra, 81)
However, those responsible for advancing the Truth are required to do what they can. As man faces many difficulties due to the test of servanthood, he may never reach the desired end without putting up a struggle.
The Almighty states that this also holds true for prophets:
حَتَّى اِذَا اسْتَيْئَسَ الرُّسُلُ وَظَنُّوا اَنَّهُمْ قَدْ كُذِبُوا جَاءَ هُمْ نَصْرُنَا فَنُجِّىَ مَنْ نَشَاءُ وَلاَ يُرَدُّ بَأْسُنَا عَنِ الْقَوْمِ الْمُجْرِمِينَ
“Until when the messengers despaired and the people thought they had been told a lie, Our help came to them and whom We pleased was delivered; and Our punishment is not averted from the guilty people.” (Yusuf, 110)
The more Muslim hearts were being relieved and their efforts increased by the revelation of these verses, the more enraged the idolaters were becoming. Far from stopping their torments of the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- and the Companions, they were every day coming up with new methods of cruelty. The suffering Muslims were made to go through was seemingly never ending, becoming more unbearable by the day.
Things got so out of hand that even the horrendous thought of assassinating the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- began to cross the minds of the idolaters. Still, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace-, the exemplar of patience, was seeking the protection only from the Almighty.
Not wanting His Messenger to give in to grief and agony, the Almighty was warning him:
فَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ اللّهَ مُخْلِفَ وَعْدِهِ رُسُلَهُ إِنَّ اللّهَ عَزِيزٌ ذُو انْتِقَامٍ
“Never think that Allah would fail his messengers in His promise: for Allah is Exalted in power, – the Lord of Retribution.” (Ibrahim, 47)
فَاصْبِرْ كَمَا صَبَرَ اُولُوا الْعَزْمِ مِنَ الرُّسُلِ وَلاَ تَسْتَعْجِلْ لَهُمْ كَاَنَّهُمْ يَوْمَ يَرَوْنَ مَا يُوعَدُونَ لَمْ يَلْبَثُوا اِلاَّ سَاعَةً مِنْ نَهَارٍ
“Therefore bear up patiently, as did the messengers endowed with constancy bear up with patience. And do not seek to hasten for them (their doom). On the day that they shall see what they are promised, they shall be as if they had not tarried save an hour of the day. A sufficient exposition! Shall then any be destroyed save the transgressing people?” (al-Ahqaf, 35)
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