Affliction is an adornment for the believer and a mark of honour
for the man of intellect, because facing it directly needs stead
fastness and firm-footedness, both of which confirm belief. The
Prophet said, 'We, the company of the prophets, are the people
who have the hardest trials, then after us come the believers,
then the others like them.'
Whoever tastes the food of affliction while under God's protec-
tion enjoys it more than he enjoys God's blessing. He yearns for
it when it is not there, because the lights of blessing lie under
the balance of affliction and trial, and the balance of affliction
and trial lies under the lights of blessing. Many are delivered
from affliction and then destroyed in blessing. God praised none
of His bondsmen, from Adam up to Muhammad, until He had
tested him and seen how he fulfilled the duty of worship while
in affliction. God's marks of honour come, in fact, at the last
stage, but the aSictions themselves come in the beginning.
Whoever leaves the path of affliction is ignoring the lamp of
the believers, the beacon of those near to God, and the guide for
those on the right path. There is no good in a slave who complains
of a single trial preceded by thousands of blessings and followed
by thousands of comforts. Whoever does not show the patience
required in affliction is deprived of thankfulness in the blessings
he reccives. Similarly, whoever does not give the thankfulness
owed for blessings is denied the patience owed in affliction. Who-
ever is denied both of them is an outcast.
Ayyub said in his supplication, 'O God, verily seventy comforts
and ease did not come to me until You sent me seventy afflictions.'
And Wahb ibn Munabbih said, 'Affliction to a believer is like a
bit to a horse and a halter to a camel.' 'Ali said, 'Steadfastness
in relation to belief is like the head to the body. The head of
steadfastness is affliction, but only those who act righteously