Monday, June 4, 2012

Surat al Baqara 2:155 "Trials and Patience" "Sabr"

Surat-al-Baqara 2:155
"And most certainly shall We try you by means of fear, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of selves and of [labour's] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity "

From the Tafseer al Kabir of Imam Razi

This verse is related to the verse of the same 
Surat 2: 45 "And seek support with patience and the prayers" meaning seek support as we will be testing you.
1. Earlier in verse 2: 152, Allah swt states " And be grateful unto Me, and deny Me not." Added to " If you show yourself grateful, we will increase our [gifts to you]".  He informed thus that obedience to the proscribed rules leads to blessings. He revealed that the following of those rules involves tests, which require patience. Those tests function as follows:  He gives gifts and demands gratitude and sends trials and commands patience, in order for a human being to reach the rank of Gratitude and Patience together. The Prophet (saaws) stated: " Faith is 2 halves, one half patience and the other half gratitude".
2 . How can we attribute the acts of trials and tribulations of creation to Allah swt?
Earlier in the same Surat Allah swt states 2: 124: "And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands "; the wisdom of using this verse as an introduction to the present one is so that the believers become familiar with the notion of trials and so that their terror decreases. This also serves to inform them that they will be tried without any doubt so that whoever among the believers is a hypocrite will move away from the new revelation for fear of trial. Exclusive Devotion to Allah (Ikhlas) and turning to the door of Allah (swt) during a state of trial and difficulties is a greater proof of sincerity than Ikhlas when life opens its door to the believer. 

3. Know then that all that you may encounter in life of what you may like or dislike can be divided into 1) what exists now 2) what existed in the past 3) and what will exist in the future. If what went on in the past goes through your mind we call that memory or remembrance, and if it is present, we call it taste or Wajd (also used to denote states of rapture), the latter is so named because it is a state that you find in your self (WJD root= Found) , and if you think of something in the future and your thinking overcomes your heart, we call it expectation. If the expected is disliked, it causes a pain in the heart named fear and anxiety while if the expected is beloved it causes repose, so that repose is hope while fear is the pain of the heart awaiting what it is disliked by it.

4. Hunger from famine, loss of belongings and of selves, of family members; and loss of fruits refers to the death of children according to Imam al-Shafei.

"But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity "
Know then that Patience under those circumstances is a duty as He knows that all of those trials and hardships occur in justice and wisdom; as for those who are not settled in their faith, those are the ones described in Surat al-Hajj  22 :11  "There are among men some who serve Allah, as it were, on the verge: if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces: they lose both this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see! "
Difficulties that are due to the injustice of others must not be borne with, guarding against them or fighting those injustices is allowed, even commanded.
Imam al Ghazali stated: "Know then that Patience is a quality of human beings not expected in angels or in animals; the former because of their perfection, the latter because of their imperfection. The animals are preys to their instinctual desires, which are not opposed by an intellect, so that one could not observe in them a steadfast opposition between the force of the intellect and the desire, a state which is what we call Patience (Sabr). As for the angels, they are dedicated to the longing for the Divine Presence and the enjoyment of the station of Nearness from the Presence (Qurb); they are not prey to instinctual desires, which require the opposition of other forces. 
As for man, in his young age he is as an animal, with desires for food, then for play, etc.. sexuality surfaces eventually, at this stage he still lacks the strength of Patience completely. With maturity, one sees the emergence of the force of the intellect calling to him to move away from the bare instinctual needs and to seek the other spiritual pleasures. It is this action of opposition that is called Patience. 
Know also that there are two types of patience: the physical, which includes privations and tolerance for hard work and pain, and the psychological which entails holding back from the Nafs (worldly self) the various elements of instinctual and characterological desires; all those types of situations have been described under the rubric: patience, by Allah swt as he stated: 
Surat al-baqara 2: 177:….. "and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God." 
Al-Qaffal stated: " Patience does not imply that one does not feel the pain of what is disliked and it does not preclude the hatred of it, for that is not possible. It is rather that, patience is forcing the Nafs (the worldly self) not to show terror, by holding back sorrow and its manifestations even if profuse tears or change of color should appear”. 
The Prophet stated: " Patience is at the first impact"after which most people will show signs and traces of their sorrow and sadness which are expected.
Allah swt mentioned patience in more than 70 verses of the Qur'an and praised it as a virtue, some of the verses are:
32: 24 "And We appointed, from among them, leaders, giving guidance under Our command, so long as they persevered with patience"
28: 54 "These shall be given their wage twice over for that they patiently endured"
7:137" The fair promise of thy Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, because they had patience and constancy"
39:10 "God will recompense the deeds of those who have exercised patience without keeping an account". 

Allah swt has promised those who are patient that He will be with them:
8: 46 "Exercise patience; God is with those who have patience".
He also promised them what he did not promise anyone else:
2 :157 "They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance."
And among the best Ahadith on the subject in addition to what has been mentioned above, the Prophet (saaws) stated: " The best of what humans have been endowed with are certainty of belief and patience; whosoever has been given a generous proportion of them should not worry about what he may have missed of night prayers or days of fasting."
He also stated: " Faith is Patience" similar to his saying: "Al-Hajj is Arafat".
From all of the above we can deduce that:
1.  Trials are NOT punishment, as Allah swt has promised them to the believers including the companions of the Prophet.
2.  When those trials are received with patience, they result in great advancement in the Path towards Allah swt.
3.  All trials are from Allah swt despite what the people of dualism might say in attributing illnesses and problems to other than Allah and the astrologers who attribute them to the stars.

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