Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Earning reward for patience, perseverance|
|07/17/01 at 04:52:03|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
Earning reward for patience, perseverance
The Prophet’s companions were able to develop a keen insight into Islam, its constitution and method of dealing with human life. The best among them were even able to attain a highly refined understanding of the basic Islamic concepts which made their judgment both accurate and mature. Let us consider the following Hadith which has been related by Ahmad and Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad: "A man came to visit Abu Ubaidah ibn Al-Jarrah when he was ill. He asked him: 'How is the reward of the Ameer getting on?' In reply Abu Ubaidah asked him: 'Do you know what earns you a reward?' The man said: 'What befalls us of things which we dislike.' Abu Ubaidah said: 'You earn a reward for what you spend or get to be spent on your behalf for God's cause. (He then enumerated all articles of a horse's equipment, even including the horse's rein.) What you complain of physically is credited to you by God in order to erase some of your past sins'."
Perhaps it is important first to say a few words about Abu Ubaidah who has made this distinction between what earns a reward and what erases past mistakes and sins. Abu Ubaidah was one of the very early companions of the Prophet. The Prophet sent him on several missions, some of which involved fighting or chasing the non-believers. His leadership qualities were manifest to the extent that Abu Bakr appointed him as one of the principal commanders of Muslim armies fighting in Syria and Palestine. At the time of Umar, he was appointed commander in chief of all Muslim armies in those two important provinces which were at the time under the Byzantine Empire. The Prophet gave him the title of "The Trusted Man of the Muslim Community." Moreover, he was one of the ten companions of the Prophet who were given the happy news of assured admission into heaven.
It is not uncommon to confuse earning a reward with the forgiveness of sins. Abu Ubaidah's visitor made this common error, and asked him about his illness in an indirect but highly comforting manner. He asked about his reward, meaning that if the illness was very severe, his reward would be greater. To a Muslim, this is most comforting. He is reminded that what he suffers does not go in vain.
However, Abu Ubaidah felt that he should correct his visitor. He pointed out to him that a handsome reward is earned by donating one's money to further the cause of God. He enumerated every article of equipment a horseman needs, no matter how cheap it might be. This example is only to be expected from an army commander. To him, the most important thing is to concentrate his soldiers' attention on their duty to sacrifice. On the other hand, physical complaints, pains and illness erase some of one's past sins.
Someone may suggest that it will eventually come to the same thing, since one's reward is weighed up against one's sins to determine his destiny in the hereafter. The fewer his sins are, the higher his position in heaven is. Again, the greater his reward, the better his position. The two will be weighed against each other and the side which is preponderant determines the outcome.
Nevertheless, the distinction is real. When we examine the Prophet’s Hadiths on this point, we find that they concur in stressing the erasing of sins as a result of illness or calamities and reversals which one may have to endure in life. Abu Saeed Al-Khudri and Abu Hurairah, both companions of the Prophet, quote him as saying: "Whatever befalls a Muslim of physical weakness or complaint or worry or distress or harm or despondency, even a thorn in his finger, is used by God to erase some of his sins." (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others). Hera the Prophet enumerates all prospects of misfortune, going down to having a thorn in one's finger. All these would be used to forgive him some of his past sins. When he endures whatever happens to him with patience and perseverance, his reward is much greater. This is because he combines the misfortune with patience, which is in itself a virtue.
This is indeed an aspect of God's grace which many people tend to overlook. We are told by the Prophet that when illness and misfortune continue for some length of time, the person who endures them may come on the Day of Judgment without a sin to account for. He would have been already forgiven. This is illustrated by the Hadith in which Abu Hurairah quotes the Prophet as saying: "Misfortune may continue to befall a believer in his body, family or property until he meets God, the Almighty, with no sins whatsoever." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Ahmad and At-Tirmithi).
When we consider all these Hadiths, we are no longer surprised at the patience and fortitude shown by early Muslims in the face of calamities. They treated whatever befell them as part of life and were happy to earn forgiveness of their past sins. This continues to be the attitude of those of us who know what we stand to gain in return for enduring misfortune with patience. Again the companions of the Prophet provide us with a good example to follow.
Huthaifah ibn Al-Yaman was a companion of the Prophet from the Ansar. He was appointed as a commander of a Muslim army fighting against the Persian Empire. He was at Al-Mada'in when he was seriously ill.
His people learnt that his illness might be terminal, so they came to visit him during the night or just before dawn. He asked them: "What hour is it? They said: 'late night or nearly dawn (as the case might be). He said: I seek shelter with God against a morning of fire. He then asked them whether they brought a cloth for him to be wrapped in. When they answered in the affirmative, he said: Do not spend over much of such cloth. If I am to meet a happy end, my wrappings will be replaced by something better. If mine is the other type of destiny, I will lose these wrappings very quickly." (Related by Al-Bukhari in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad).
What we learn from all these Hadiths and reports is that we should face up to any misfortune with courage and patience. When we do so, we earn the forgiveness of much of our sins. Our position in the hereafter is thus enhanced. We stand a better chance of being admitted into heaven.
[i]Author: Adil Salahi - Arab News of 26 May 2000[/i]
Please include the author and his family in all your supplications. Jazakallahu Khairan.
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
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