Generally speaking, when adversity intensifies and misfortune increases, relief is close. Allah, Most High, says,
“Then when the Messengers despaired and thought themselves denied, Our help came to them, and those We willed were saved.” (Yusuf 12:110)
“Poverty and illness afflicted them and they were shaken to the point that the Prophet and those who had faith with him said, ‘When is Allah’s help coming? Be assured that Allah’s help is very near.” (Yusuf 12:87)
He informs us that Yaqub, peace be upon him, never gave up hope of meeting Yusuf and that he asked his brothers,
“Seek news of Yusuf and his brother. Do not despair of solace from Allah.” (Yusuf 12:83)
and he said,
“…perhaps Allah will bring them all together.” (Yusuf 12:83)
A wonderful wisdom in attaching the onset of relief to intense distress is that in such circumstances a person gives up hope in any object of creation relieving him. Instead the person turns to Allah and depends on Him alone. When a person severs hope in creation and places his dependency on Allah, then will He respond and relieve him. Tawakkul, trust, is to stop raising ones eyes to creation having given up hope in them. This was stated by Imam Ahmad and he adduced as proof the saying of Ibrahim who, (when about to be burned in the fire), was asked by Jibril, ‘Do you need anything?’ He replied, ‘From you, no.’ (Bayhaqi)
Tawwakul is one of the greatest routes through which ones needs are met for Allah suffices a person who puts his trust in Him,
“Whoever puts his trust in Allah – He will be enough for him.” (al-Talaq 65:3)
Fudayl said, ‘By Allah! Were you to give up all hope in creation so that you no longer want anything from them, your Master would grant you everything you want!’
Another wisdom is that when hardship intensifies, the servant must strive against Shaytan because he will whisper to him, causing him to despair and give up hope. Man must repress these whisperings and the reward of striving against the enemy and repressing him will be the removal of the tribulation. The authentic hadith mentions,
“Your supplication will be answered so long as he is not impatient: he says, ‘I have supplicated but have not received a response,’ and therefore gives up supplication.” (Bukhari)
Another wisdom is that if relief is slow in coming, and the servant gives up hope of ever receiving it, especially after a plenitude of supplication and humble entreaty, he will look inwards and blame his self saying, ‘I have only been afflicted in this way because of you, if there was any good in you, I would have been answered.’
This self censure and realisation is more beloved to Allah than many actions of obedience for it leads to a servant breaking his soul for the sake of his Master. The servant has acknowledged that he himself is not deserving of a response, and when in such a state, Allah’s response and relief is close at hand. Allah is with those who have broken their souls for His sake, the extent of His mending is commensurate to the extent of the breaking.
Wahb said, ‘A man worshipped Allah for some time, then a need arose that he needed fulfilled so he fasted for seventy Saturdays, eating eleven dates every Saturday. He then asked Allah for his need but it was not granted him so he looked to himself and said, ‘If there was any good in you, you would have been given your need!’ At that point, an angel came down and said, ‘Son of Adam, this hour which you are in is better for you than all your previous years of worship. Allah has now fulfilled your need!’
Whoever actualises this, knows and witnesses this in his heart will know that Allah’s blessings conferred in times of tribulation are greater than those bestowed in times of ease. This fact is reflected in the authentic hadith in which the Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said,
“There is nothing that Allah ordains for the believer except that it is good for him. If he encounters times of ease, he is grateful and that is good for him. If he encounters misfortune, he is patient and that is good for him. This only holds true for the believer.” (Muslim)
It is from this vantage point that the Gnostics do not choose one state to the exclusion of the other, instead they are content with whichever has been decreed by Allah, and they establish that servitude which is befitting each situation.
Umar said, ‘I care not if I awake in a state that I like or dislike since I do not know in which of the two states goodness lies.’ (Ibn Abi al-Dunya)
Umar ibn Abdul Aziz said, ‘I awoke one morning to find that my delight and relief lay in the workings of the ordainment and decree.’
O person! Why is it that when We summon you, you flee from Us?! We shower blessings on you yet you forget Us and remain heedless! We afflict you with tribulation that you may return to Us, that you may stand at Our threshold and humbly entreat Us! Tribulation brings you and Us together, well-being brings you together with your self!
O person, your gratitude for Our blessings is in itself a blessing conferred by Us, so be grateful for it! If you are patient in the face of tribulation, patience is a grace We have conferred upon you, so make mention of it! Every circumstance you pass through is a blessings from Us, so be not ungrateful!
“If you tried to number Allah’s blessings, you could never count them. Man is indeed wrong-doing, ungrateful.” (Ibrahim 14:34)
Here ends the treatise by the grace of Allah, His providence and His divine accord. All praise is due to Allah.
The Legacy of the Prophet Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali p159-166