Triumphant in the times of Tribulations by Following the Prophet
By Shaykh Faraz Khan
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
In today’s age and time, we see many trials and tribulations all around the world. Perhaps, we feel that the most affected people from all these tribulations are from the Muslim community. Shaykh Faraz talks about how we can see the light in the midst of the darkness by following our beloved Prophet and his illuminated path (peace and blessings be upon him).
Tribulations in the Prophetic Life
Tribulation is what defines the context of Seerah. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) underwent the most difficult of trials. He was orphaned at birth, losing his father Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him). He lost his mother Aminah (may Allah be pleased with her) at the age of 6. Then, he lived under the care of his grandfather Abdul Mutalib whom he lost at the age of 8. Following this, he was brought under the care of Abu Talib and was brought up in his house.
He had seven children: Qasim, Zainab, Ruqaiya, Umm Kulthum, Fatima, Abdullah, Ibrahim (may Allah be pleased with them all). Of the seven children, he lost six of them in his life except for Fatima.
He was persecuted by his people, his own kinsmen, his own family. He was ridiculed and fought against, hostility was shown to him. All throughout the blessed Prophetic life, we find tribulation after tribulation. And when he was asked, what his most difficult time was? He referred to the year of sadness (Am al-Ḥuzn).
The Year of Sadness
The year in which our beloved Muhammad lost two of his loved ones: Abu Talib and Lady Khadija.
A father figure to the Prophet but was also his means for the political protection in Mecca. Despite the hostility and ridicule directed against the Prophet, the Quraysh could not wage the war. They could not attack or threaten his blessed life while Abu Talib was alive. Because of the tribal system of the Quraysh and Abu Talib being the head of his clan, maintained that protection of him.
Lady Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) is the beloved blessed wife, companion, best friend of the Prophet. She is the minister of truth, the genuine support for the Prophet. She is the one whom Allah Most High decreed that the Messenger of Allah would have most of his children.
During their marriage, the revelation began and in the famous Hadith of the beginning of revelation, our mother Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) describes that when the Prophet came back from Hira after the first revelation and the encounter with Jibreel – Lady Khadija comforted him.
A Great Loss
After losing Abu Talib and Lady Khadija, the Prophet decided to make dawah to Tai’f, a place near Mecca. He preached and invited them to Islam. He was seeking support so that he can continue his preaching in Mecca. Perhaps they might afford him the political support now that Abu Talib passed.
But the leader of Tai’f mocked him, they were rude to him. Later, when the Prophet made dawah to the public of Tai’f, their leaders riled up the people to be hostile towards him and they got slaves and children to throw stones at him. This is the most intense tribulation for our Beloved Prophet.
Prophetic Light Tribulations
Supplication the of Prophet in Tai’f:
“O Allah! I complain to You of my weakness, my scarcity of resources, and the humiliation I have been subjected to by the people. O Most Merciful of those who are merciful. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. To whom have you entrusted me? To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair? So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. Your Afiya is of more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are pleased. There is no power and no might except by You.”
This supplication teaches us his manifesting his servanthood to Allah, the Exalted. This was his concern: is this a manifestation that Allah is upset with me? Or is this simply a test? A test which is an expression of Allah’s love. Of course for the Prophet, everything was an expression of the intimate love of Allah for him.
Is Allah Upset With Me?
In facing hardship – we turn to Allah Most High in servitude and we ask Allah and ourselves: Is this a sign that Allah is upset with me? Or is this a raising of my ranks?
How do we answer these questions? By seeking forgiveness and asking ourselves: am I involved in something displeasing to Allah? Also, a way for us to have an indication of whether a test is an expression of Allah’s pleasure and love or His displeasure is how we respond during it? Do we have the patience, fortitude, and contentment with Allah Most High, and what He has decreed for us?
“Whoever relies on the beautiful choice of Allah for him, he will not desire anything other than what Allah chose for him” –Hussain ibn Ali
It is beautifully indicated by Shaykh Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (may Allah be pleased with him) when he said: if a person has patience and is content with Allah’s decree then it’s a sign that the test is coming from Allah’s pleasure and love. But if a person is lacking patience and falling apart then it is a sign that the test is from the displeasure of Allah.
“Your afiya is of a more expansive relief to me”
In the above dua when the Prophet said: “Your afiya is of a more expansive relief to me”. It can be understood from another Hadith, where the Prophet said that the best thing to ask Allah for, after certitude is afiya; afiya encompasses all good in terms of one’s life and livelihood.
The Prophet’s light triumphs during tribulation because his light is a mirror and expression of the light of Allah Most High. Allah is the light and the source of all light in the heavens and the earth (Quran 24:35).
The Answer is Allah
The answer to the philosophical problem of evil and suffering is explicitly given in this dua because it is the light of Allah that removes all darknesses. In other words, if we recognize Allah is governing all of our tribulations and He is the owner and master of every moment of existence and Allah is the one who has decreed everything eternally, then the darknesses of our tribulations, trials, anxiety, depression and trauma are illuminated by Allah Himself.
Reliance on Allah
“Your need for Allah is intrinsic to what you are, who you are? It never leaves us, and when tribulations occur they are but reminders of what we forget, that we need Allah in every moment” – Ibn Ata-Allah
Relying on Allah, the illuminator and the light of the heavens and earth lights up the darknesses. The darkness of our circumstance is illuminated when we express our absolute intrinsic need for Allah.
The light of the Prophet is at heart the most salient virtue of his life is his perfection of slavehood to Allah, the Exalted, and expressing his need to Allah.
“If one’s need for Allah is authentic and real then one’s enrichment through Allah will be authentic and real.” – Abu Bakr Al-Kittani
Means for increasing contentment with Allah Most High
The beauty of the Prophet, his blessed light is a perfect reflection of Al-Fatiha itself which begins after the Basmala, all praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds. Whatever our circumstances are, whether we are having the good times or the bad times, what should be reverberating and echoing in our hearts and on our tongues is all praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.
About Shaykh Faraz Khan
Shaykh Faraz A. Khan has spent the last several years studying and teaching traditional Islamic sciences, with a focus on Hanafi jurisprudence, Hadith studies and methodology, theology, logic, and Arabic grammar.
In 2004 Shaykh Faraz moved to Amman, Jordan. Since then, he has been honored to sit at the feet of many eminent scholars. His teachers include Shaykh Ahmad al-Jammal, Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Ani (Allah have mercy on him), Shaykh Akram Abdul Wahhab, Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu ’l-Hajj, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Bilal Najjar, Shaykh Hamza al-Bakri, and Shaykh Naeem Abdul Wali.
Shaykh Faraz also translated and annotated the classical Hanafi primer Ascent to Felicity (Maraqi ‘l-Sa`adat) by Imam Shurunbulali [published by White Thread Press, 2010], which Shaykh Faraz Rabbani has described as “the best mid-sized manual of Hanafi fiqh available in English. Highly recommended.”