Lecture by Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Sameera
This lecture is brought to you by the Memphis Islamic Center (MIC). For more information about MIC, please visit www.memphisislamiccenter.org
The verse that mentions the story of Ayyūb is very interesting. Allāh mentions a number of prophets in Sūrah Ṣād. Of the prophets, Allāh says, “And remember, O Muḥammad…” Allāh tells the Prophet Muḥammad to think about Ayyūb as a role model. We need to understand that all the prophets are role models for other prophets. They are also role models for us. Every prophet has something the other prophets will benefit from. Our Prophet Muḥammad is told in the Qur'ān: “Be patient like the strong prophets of old were patient.” Allāh tells our Prophet , “Look at the stories of those before you. Through the trials of the previous prophets, your own chest will become affirmed, and you will get hope and optimism.” One of the stories that Allāh reminds our Prophet Muḥammad about is the story of Ayyūb. Allāh calls him His slave and His servant.
“When he made du'ā' to his Lord, he said, 'O my Lord, Shayṭān has afflicted me with a pain and with torture.'” What is the story of Ayyūb? We don't have it mentioned in the Qur'ān and Sunnah in detail, but just references are given. We gather from other sources [the Isra'iliyyāt], which we are allowed to narrate. Isra'iliyyāt are the stories that are found in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Our Prophet Muḥammad told us about our position towards those stories. He said, “You may narrate them, but don't believe in them fully and don't deny them unless you have knowledge from our own book.” The gaps that are filled in by the stories of the Old Testament are allowed to be narrated. “Go ahead and tell the people that we are getting it from the Old Testament. There is no problem in that. But don't believe in it like you believe in the Qur'ān. Allāh knows – maybe they changed some details, subtracted, or added. Don't deny it – it may be true – unless something is found in the Qur'ān that contradicts.”
Ayyūb 's Test
From the Old Testament, we learn the story of Ayyūb in much more detail. Ayyūb is called Job in the Old Testament. The story of Ayyūb, as summarized in the Old Testament, is that he was blessed with an immense fortune and an immense wealth. Allāh blessed him with ten sons, which is a huge number. Allāh blessed him with a large house and many agriculture and many plantations. He was a thankful servant of Allāh . Allāh wanted to test and try to see whether he would be thankful if all of this is taken away. “What would you do, O Ayyūb, if you don't have your wealth, your plantations?” Overnight, a storm came and it was one of the thunderstorms that have fire in it as well. They are very rare but happen. This test from Allāh came and took everything that Ayyūb had. He was outside of his house, and the house itself collapsed, and all of his children died. Only his wife was saved. Everybody else was taken back to Allāh . The entire property was destroyed. In addition to that, he was then afflicted with a disease. What was this disease? Some books say leprosy and other books say other things. Basically, his skin began to fester and wound. It became so difficult to look at him. Ayyūb had been a handsome man, and he was blessed with beauty and a good body. He was then afflicted with a type of pain and a type of suffering that people couldn't bear to look at him.
He had to abandon the city and live in a shanty-house and a small structure. Nobody would come close to him except his wife who was very dedicated, and she continued to support her husband and continue to take care of him throughout this time. His worship did not change at all. He continued being just as thankful for what he had, and he continued praying and fasting and doing whatever he could despite the fact he didn't have anything of what he used to have. His attitude towards his Lord did not change at all. He passed the test. Allāh says, “This is our true servant Ayyūb who worships Us regardless of the situation he is in, whether he is rich or poor, whether he is healthy or sick, the Lord will not change. Allāh's blessings will be given if you put your faith in Him.” He prayed to Allāh and blamed it all on Shayṭān. “O my Lord, Shayṭān has done all of this,” and this is of the positive attitude of the believer. We said many, many times: the believer never ascribes evil to Allāh even though at the end of the day nothing happens except if Allāh decrees. We don't ascribe it to Allāh. We ascribe it to ourselves. “It is because of my sins.” Or we ascribe it to the Shayṭān, but we don't ascribe evil to Allāh. Our Prophet said, “All good comes from you, O Allāh. Evil I will not ascribe to You.” Ibrāhīm made the du'ā', “When I fall sick, He cures me.” Even though in the grand scale, the sickness is from Allāh and the cure is from Allāh, but how did Ibrāhīm phrase it? “When I fall sick. (It is my fault). He is the One who cures me.” We ascribe good to Allāh. We don't ascribe evil to Allāh.
Ayyūb says, “Shayṭān caused all of this for me, and he has caused me pain. O my Lord, you know my situation.” Allāh responded and he was tested for a few years (three years, five years). He was tested for a time. But everyone should realize that when you are tested, then that test is a temporary test and there is always a light at the end of the tunnel if you truly believe in Allāh.
After those few years, Allāh told him, “Kick the ground. Where you kick the ground, you will find water coming out from there. Wash yourself with this water. It is cold and pure water.” When he washed himself, he came out as handsome as he ever was, so much so that when his wife came with his daily food, she saw this beautiful stranger and said, “Where is my husband? He used to be around here.” She didn't even recognize him because he had gone back to even a better state. Allāh says, “We gave him back his whole family, all the wealth that he had, and We doubled it.” Why? To show that this is what happens when you have patience.
What is Patience?
I want to talk about patience because this is the month of patience. Our Prophet said, “The month of Ramadan is the month of patience.” Our Prophet said, “If you can conquer fasting, fasting is half of all patience.” If you can perfect your fasting, then you have perfected 50% of patience. The rest of patience will be through other things. Patience (ṣabr) is a part and parcel of our life. Allāh in Sūrat'l-Muddaththir, the first surah to come down after iqra', Allāh tells the Prophet , “Be patient for the sake of your Lord.” Being patient for Allāh is part of īmān.
Ṣabara actually means “to restrain, to tie up.” You say that an animal is maṣbūr if the animal is tied up. You say that the prisoner is ṣabra if his hands are tied up. Ṣabara actually means to tie up, to be withheld, to restrain. Of course, you understand the logical connection between the original meaning and patience because what is patience? Patience means you control yourself. You put your hands down and an invisible knot around your hands and an invisible string around your tongue. This is what you are holding and you are restraining,
The real meaning of ṣabr is to withhold. The reason why ṣabr is such a difficult action is because it is an inaction, it is no action. You are not supposed to do something. Your blood is boiling, and ṣabr tells you to trap it, clamp it down, control it. You want to scream, shriek, yell, and hit. Ṣabr means calm down and control it. This is the reality of what ṣabr is.
Allāh praises ṣabr in over 50 verses of the Qur'ān. Allāh says, “Allāh loves those who are patient.” Allāh says, “The believing men and women are those who are patient men and patient women.” Allāh says, “Allāh is with the ṣābirīn.” Allāh says, “Those people will be given the highest apartments in Jannah because they were patient.” Al-ghurfah are the highest levels of Jannah. Allāh says, “The angels will enter in upon you in Jannah and will tell you, 'Peace is on you today because you were patient. Because you had ṣabr, this is where you are right now.'” Allāh says, “Allāh saved them because of their ṣabr.” Allāh's Punishment is lifted because of your patience, and Allāh's Reward is a sign and the highest levels of Jannah are a sign. In fact, this is one of the best rewards of patience. We said many, many times that every deed is given between 10 to 700 times reward. There are some exceptions. Fasting is one of them. There is no limit because fasting is the embodiment of patience, and Allāh says about patience, “Those who are patient will get their reward back without it being counted.” When Allāh does not count, can you imagine how much you are going to get?
There are so many blessings as well. The ḥadīth qudsi in Tirmidhi: the Prophet said Allāh said, “When somebody is tested with his son or daughter dying…” The most painful death is not the death of a parent but the death of a child. You expect the death of a parent, but you don't expect the death of a child. The death of a child is the greatest calamity that can befall any parent. The ḥadīth qudsi said, “Whichever parent is tested by taking away his child and he remains patient at that, then that child shall intercede for him to go to Jannah.” Also in the ḥadīth in Tirmidhi, the Prophet said that Allāh said, “If I take away the two pearls from the believer (his eyes), and he becomes blind and remains patient at that, then I have no reward lesser for him than Jannah itself.” These are all showing the importance of ṣabr that Allāh is speaking. The rewards here for patience are nothing less than Jannah itself. Allāh tells the believers, “If you only have patience – you are scared about the enemies of Islam and are worried about them – and have taqwa in Allāh, I will send 5,000 angels to take care of them.” The bottom line: if you have ṣabr, nobody can destroy you. Allāh is going to be on your side. When you have ṣabr, you will get Allāh's Rewards, Allāh's Blessings, and Allāh's Help.
As the saying goes, the fruit of patience is always sweet. If you try to be hasty, you are not going to get the fruit. If you are patient, you will get the fruit. My dear brothers and sisters, this is the month of fasting. It is the month of ṣabr. If we can perfect our fasting, we have perfected 50% of ṣabr. Allāh wants us to fast, one of the reasons being to teach us ṣabr. Why is fasting a part of ṣabr? Because we restrain ourselves from food and drink and that which is the most necessary thing for us.
Three Types of Ṣabr
Ṣabr is of three types.
1. Ṣabr in the face of a calamity. Death of a loved one, car accident, loss of a job, muṣībah happens. How do we do ṣabr at that point in time? We act Islamically. We don't say what we shouldn't say. We don't move our hands and wail and cry. We act responsibly and sensibly. This is the first category of ṣabr.
2. Restrain ourselves from committing sins. If we see some alcohol and temptations come to drink it, some of us may have a problem with this, but they have ṣabr and control it. This ṣabr is generally more difficult than the first category because in the first category, you can't help it if you are in an accident and have to be patient. If somebody dies, what are you going to do? You are forced into it. In the second category, you have the will to do a sin, but ṣabr comes in and you restrain yourself. The highest category of ṣabr is:
3. Restrain yourself from permissible things and put yourself into worship of Allāh constantly. Allāh says, “Be extra patient as you worship Him.” Praying five times a day is a sign of patience. Fasting is a sign of patience. Why? Because you are withholding and restraining yourself in order to do these good deeds.
How to Attain Patience
The final point: How does one attain patience? Two points:
1. Study the blessings of patience. Simply reading the Qur'ān and Sunnah and imām al-Nawawi has a very good chapter in Riyāḍ'l-Ṣāliḥīn on patience. Simply read this and be aware of the blessings of patience. This will bring about an immense ease when a calamity happens how to be patient.
2. Ask Allāh to give you patience. Our Prophet said, “Whoever turns to Allāh to get ṣabr, Allāh will give him that ṣabr.” Ask Allāh for that patience and ask Allāh to be granted that peacefulness and serenity to be able to conquer your actions.
Remember that the Prophet said, “The strong person is not the one who can beat somebody else up. The strong person is the one who can control himself when he is angry because that is the ultimate patience.” The ultimate patience is not to control somebody else but to control yourself. This is the month of ṣabr.
May Allāh grant us the perfection of patience. May Allāh accept our fasting. May Allāh grant us the tawfīq to stand on laylat'l-qadr. May Allāh cause the Qur'ān to be an intercessor for all of us. May Allāh cause us all to be amongst those who are patient. Āmīn.