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Khutbah: Enduring Hardship


I am sure that each and every one of us has,  at some point in his or her life, been  visited by grief, tragedy, or tremendous loss, emotionally or materially. It may have  been a serious illness or accident or death of a loved one, or we may have failed an important  examination, or we may have seen a business or professional career which has grown and prospered over many years, finally come to disaster. 

To those who have suffered such a loss, their feelings are hard to describe adequately. There is a sense of utter despair, emptiness, and a numbing of the senses. It can become so intense that one actually questions the whole purpose and meaning of life. In this country we have many organizations and charities that offer professional help like bereavement counseling or advice on dealing with financial hardship. However, many people are unable to come to terms with sudden catastrophic loss, and therefore, we often hear of someone being so overcome with grief that they have taken leave of their senses, they suffer prolonged and repeated bouts of deep depression, a complete change of personality. In extreme cases, some victims of hardship lose all inclination for
life at all and they commit suicide.

How should we Muslims deal with intense personal suffering and grief? How should we comfort a friend or relative who is in distress?

In Sura Al-Baqara, verses 155-157, Allah subhanallahu ta'ala reminds us:

Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger; some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say when afflicted with calamity: "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhir raji-oon"

"To Allah we belong and to Him is our return." They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah and Mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance.

From these verses we can see that in a Muslim's life, hardship and suffering should never come as a complete surprise. In fact, Allah promises us some hardship as a certainty, somewhere during our lifetime. It is a test of our iman, our faith in Allah, and we should not despair, because there are lessons to be learnt from every situation, especially from misfortune.

I am reminded of a Turkish proverb which says that the best teacher is a bad experience. A true believer should know that during his lifetime, he must expect to be visited by success and failure, pleasure and pain, loss and gain. This is the inseparable duality of life. We cannot value anything without knowing its opposite. We must accept life as it comes, in the best of times and the worst of times, with equal grace and forbearance.

In our arkaanul Imaan, we say:

"Wa bil qadri khairi wash sharr-ree minal laahi ta 'Aalah."

" And the consequences of good and evil, come from Allah"

Let us consider Nabi Ayyub's example, which appears in Sura Al- Anbiyya_h, v. 83 and 84:

"And (remember) Ayyub when he cried to his Lord "Truly distress has seized me but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful."

So We listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him and We restored his people to him and doubled their number as a Grace from Ourselves and a thing for commemoration for all who serve Us"

Nabi Ayyub was a prosperous man, with faith in Allah, and he suffered many hardships. His cattle were destroyed, his servants killed by the sword, and his family crushed under his roof. But he held fast to his faith in Allah. As a further calamity he was covered with ugly sores from head to foot, and his friends abandoned him. But throughout this ordeal, his faith, his iman remained rock-solid, unswerving, undiminished. 

Because of this, Almighty Allah was pleased with him, so he was restored to full health. Not only was his prosperity redoubled, but his family and friends returned to him, and Allah gave him 7 sons and 3 daughters. He lived to a good old age, and saw four generations of his descendants before he died.

This inspiring story of Prophet Ayyub is a wonderful example to us all. When we encounter sudden hardship, we should not feel sorry for ourselves,  because self-pity leads us nowhere.  We should place our complete trust in Allah subhanallahu ta'ala, and have the certainty in heart and mind, that at the end of our pain and suffering, Allah's love and mercy will embrace us.
To a Believer, good fortune and misfortune are merely two sides of the same coin of life. Although we do not welcome hardship, we know that even in the noonday of life, we live in the shadow of death; in the peak of our prosperity, we are just a few short paces away from poverty and in the prime of our good health, illness lurks in the shadows nearby.

A hadith narrated by Abu 'Abbas 'Abdullah, says:

"Remember Allah in times of ease, and He will recognize you in times of distress. What hit you could not have missed you, what missed you could not have hit you. Remember that victory comes with patience, relief comes with affliction and ease comes with hardship".

                       innallaha wa malaaikata yusalluna alan nabi. Ya ay yuhal
                       latheena amanu sallu alayhi wasalli ma tas leema.
                       Allahumma salli ala Muhammad, wa ala ali Muhammad, kama
                       salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik
                       ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali
                       ibrahim. Fil ala meen, innaka hameedun majeed.


                       Sub' hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata
                       illah billah yu althi yual theem.

My dear Brothers and Sisters, 

"verily in the Messenger of Allah we have the finest of examples"

Prophet Muhammad [sallal-lahu 'alayhi wasallam] also endured much pain and hardship, especially in his youth, with extraordinary patience and perseverance. He was an orphan, cared for by milk-mother, grandfather, and uncles. During the early years of his mission, he was jeered, taunted, threatened, reviled and persecuted by his own tribe, the Quraish of Makka.  Many of his followers were killed for their acceptance of Islam.  In the 63 years of our prophet Muhammad's life, he experienced every human hardship from loss of father, mother and grandfather to loss of dear friends, personal wealth and rejection from his tribe. Because of his unswerving devotion to Allah, he was granted success in this world, and in the hereafter. History has witnessed his achievements. Whatever personal grief, suffering or loss we might encounter in our lifetime, it would be appropriate to remember Sura Dhuha,-ha. This Sura addresses Nabi Muhammad directly, but it also applies to all Muslims indirectly, in all times and all circumstances.

                       Wadh dhuha_
                       Wal laili idza_ saja_
                       Ma_ wad da'aka rab buka wa ma_qala_
                       Wa lal a_khiratu khairul laka minal u_la_
                       Wa lasaufa yutika rabbuka fatarda_
                       Alam yajika yatiman fa a_wa_
                       Wa wajadaka da_lan fahada_
                       Wa wajadaka a_ilan fa agna_
                       Fa am mal yatima fala_ taqhar
                       Wa am mas sa_ila fala_ tanhar
                       Wa am ma_ bini mati rabbika fahad-dith

By the glorious morning light, and by the night when it is still; Your Lord has not forsaken you, nor is He displeased. Verily, the hereafter will be much better for you than the present. Have we not found you an orphan, and gave you shelter and care?  Have we not found you wandering, and gave you guidance? Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness, nor turn away The petitioner unheard; but the blessings of your Lord Rehearse and proclaim!.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, next time we encounter grief or hardship, and we feel lonely and depressed, let us remember this Sura, that offered hope and reassurance to the greatest of men. It offers the same hope and reassurance to us also. At the end of every dark tunnel of despair is the reward of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Let us pray, may Allah give us strength to endure hardship with patience, and to emerge from all the trials and tribulations of this life, with our Iman renewed and our trust in Allah redoubled.

Aqeemus salaah!

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