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Desires & Calamities

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Desires & Calamities <http://www.cageprisoners.com/articles.php?id=4071>

by Babar Ahmad

A Sahih hadith reported by At-Tirmidhi narrates on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: "When Allah created Paradise, He sent Jibreel to it and said, 'Look at it and the pleasures I have prepared for its inhabitants.' So Jibreel came to Paradise and looked at what Allah had prepared for its inhabitants. He then returned to Allah and said, 'I swear by Your Grandeur that not a single person will hear of it except that he will enter it (i.e he will do anything to enter it).' Then Allah ordered Paradise to be surrounded by adversities, calamities and detestable things and He said to Jibreel, 'Go back and look at it and what I have prepared for its inhabitants.' Jibreel went back to Paradise and found that it had been surrounded by adversities, calamities and detestable things, so he returned to Allah and said, 'I swear by Your Grandeur that I fear that no one will enter it (i.e he will do anything to avoid it).'

Then Allah said to Jibreel, 'Go to Hell and look at it and the punishments that I have prepared for its inhabitants.' Jibreel looked at Hell and found it extremely horrible, so he said to Allah, 'I swear by Your Grandeur that not a single person will hear of it except that he will avoid entering it.' Then Allah ordered Hell to be surrounded by desires and luxuries and said to Jibreel, 'Go back to it.' Jibreel returned to Hell and then said, 'I swear by Your Grandeur that no one will be able to escape from it.'"

An indicator of whether your life is leading you towards Paradise or Hell is to consider the circumstances of your life. If you are worshipping Allah and your life is full of hardships and detestable things, then this is a positive sign. What are the things that a person detests in life? Fear, hunger, poverty, thirst, lack of security, lack of shelter, imprisonment, bereavement, being estranged from loved ones, loneliness, uncertainty, etc., etc., to name but a few. Yet these are also some of the things that Paradise is surrounded by; these are the things that indicate whether or not a believer is on the path to Paradise.

Then consider, what are the things that a person desires or loves in life? Wealth, children, spacious dwelling, safety, security, plentiful food and drink, expensive clothing, being with loved ones, etc., etc., to name but a few. Yet these are also some of the things that Hell is surrounded by; these are the things that indicate to a believer whether or not he is going towards his eternal destruction.

For this reason, many of the wealthy Sahabah used to weep uncontrollably whilst repeating the verse in Surah Al-Ahqaf (46:20): "And the Day, those who disbelieved are exposed to the Fire, it will be said, 'You exhausted your pleasures during your worldly life and enjoyed them, so this Day you will be awarded the punishment of extreme humiliation because you were arrogant upon the earth without right and because you were defiantly disobedient.'" Umar bin Al-Khattab, Abdur-Rahman bin Awf and others, may Allah be pleased with them all, would frequently mention this verse, when they even experienced pleasures as small as a wholesome meal.

Following your desires leads to the Hell Fire. That is why many of the Pious Predecessors used to say, "If you want to obey Allah, disobey your nafs (soul, desires, etc)." Likewise, it is reported in a poem from Imam Ash-Shafi (Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak is also said to have mentioned it): "The best thing for your nafs (soul) is to disobey it." Therefore, if you want to obey Allah, consult your heart and do the opposite of what your soul orders you to do. If your soul orders you to sleep instead of praying, get up and pray. If your soul orders you to only spend out of your unwanted possessions, then spend out of the things you love most, for Allah says in Surah Ale-Imran (3:92): "Never shall you attain true piety unless you spend from that which you love." If your soul orders you to pray at home, go and pray in the masjid. If your soul orders you to relax at home instead of visiting your sick, fellow Muslim, get up and go visit your sick, fellow Muslim for you will find Allah with him.

Therefore, consider your life and be your own judge. If Allah is pouring upon you luxury upon luxury, wealth upon wealth, comfort upon comfort, then that is a sign that something is wrong and it is something to worry about. Moreover, if this is happening whilst you are disobedient to Allah or neglectful of His Commands, then it is a sign of your imminent destruction. Luxuries and comforts make a person forget Allah and become heedless in their duties.

On the other hand, if you are trying your best to worship Allah and be mindful of His Commands, and yet your life is fraught with adversities, hardships and detestable things, then rejoice for this is a good indication that you are on the path to Paradise. Adversities and hardships make a believer remember Allah more and turn to Him with sincerity. A well-known saying says: "Hardship is as beneficial to the soul as it is unwelcome in life. And comfort is as harmful to the soul as it is welcome in life."

So O prisoner in the Path of Allah, do not be sad when you are given miserable food, when you are given ragged clothes, when you are estranged from your family and loved ones and when you see others surpass you in wealth and children. Rather, rejoice and be happy as these are all signs that you are on the path towards Paradise, which is surrounded by so many detestable things that even the Angel Jibreel feared no one would be able to enter it because of these adversities.

The 13th Century scholar Al-Izz bin Abdus-Salam said, "The state of tribulation and affliction drives man closer to Almighty Allah, whereas the state of health and blessing drives him away from Allah, as He says in the Quran, 'And when harm touches man, he invokes Us, lying down on his side, or sitting or standing. But when We have removed his harm from him, he passes on his way as if he has never invoked Us for a harm that touched him!...' (Quran 10:12)"

Hasan Al-Basri said, "Do not detest the misfortunes that befall you, for what you detest may be the cause of your salvation and what you like may be the cause of your ruin."

Finally, Ali bin Abi Talib is reported to have said, may Allah be pleased with him, "O son of Adam, do not be happy with richness and do not despair of poverty. Do not feel sad during affliction and do not rejoice over prosperity, for just as gold is tried by fire, the pious are tried by affliction. You will not attain what you want except by giving up what you desire, and you will not attain what you aspire to except by enduring patiently what you hate, and exerting yourself in implementing that which has been made compulsory upon you (by Allah)."

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