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Lessons in Staying Behind – Part 6: ‘With Difficulty Comes Ease’


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Remember that there is much good in bearing with patience that which you dislike, and that victory comes with patience, and that with hardship comes a way out and with difficulty comes ease.” (Ahmad).

Golden words of advice spoken to Ibn ‘Abbas by the Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam). In the story of Ka’b bin Malik (radhiAllahu anhu) and those who stayed behind is a reflection of the truthfulness of these words.

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40 painful days of isolation have passed. Ka’b bin Malik (radhiAllahu anhu) and the two companions await a response, a sign of relief. Divine revelation had ceased to descend upon the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam), by Allah’s wisdom, just as He delayed it in the incident of the slander of Aisha (radhiAllahu anha).  But the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) now has a message for Ka’b and his companions. A messenger was sent. Had he come with tidings of relief? Were the Muslims were permitted to speak to them?

When forty out of the fifty nights elapsed, behold! There came to me the messenger of Allah’s Apostle and said, ‘Allah’s Apostle orders you to keep away from your wife,’

I said, ‘Should I divorce her; or else! what should I do?’ He said, ‘No, only keep aloof from her and do not cohabit her.’ The Prophet sent the same message to my two fellows. Then I said to my wife. ‘Go to your parents and remain with them till Allah gives His Verdict in this matter.’

The trial is bitter, with seemingly no signs of a sweet end. Yet Ka’b responds with words showing his ardent desire to ensure compliance with the order of the Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam).  If he was told that he must divorce her, he would have done so immediately without delay.

Here we notice exemplary manners from the Companions in dealing with the commands of the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam). The messenger who came to Ka’b did not reply with extra words beyond those conveyed to him by the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam). He did not say ‘I think he meant this (to divorce) or I think he meant not to divorce.’ He repeated the previous command without further interpretation.  Ka’b also complied immediately and refused to ask for flexibility, even when others told him to seek it:

Kab added, “The wife of Hilal bin Umaiya came to Apostle and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Hilal bin Umaiya is a helpless old man who has no servant to attend on him. Do you dislike that I should serve him? ‘ He said, ‘No (you can serve him) but he should not come near you.’ She said, ‘By Allah, he has no desire for anything. By, Allah, he has never ceased weeping since his case began till this day of his.’

In testing His slaves, Allah is Merciful. From His mercy upon them was that this command came towards the last days of the test, perhaps they would not have been able to remain patient had it come earlier on. Through this,  is a reminder to console ourselves in testing times by pondering over the mercy of Allah, that He did not allow the test to be worse.

The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) was also merciful to his ummah. Even though the matter was serious, he exempted Hilal bin Umaiya by allowing his wife to serve her elderly husband.

On that, some of my family members said to me, ‘Will you also ask Allah’s Apostle to permit your wife (to serve you) as he has permitted the wife of Hilal bin Umaiya to serve him?’ I said, ‘By Allah, I will not ask the permission of Allah’s Apostle regarding her, for I do not know what Allah’s Apostle would say if I asked him to permit her (to serve me) while I am a young man.’

Then I remained in that state for ten more nights after that till the period of fifty nights was completed starting from the time when Allah’s Apostle prohibited the people from talking to us.

Separating a man from his wife, a hefty matter, only emphasized that this was indeed a great trial. But, Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) in his book Zad Al-Ma’aad, points out that the command to avoid their wives, was in fact a sign of closely approaching good in two ways.

First, the messenger sent by the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) was considered a type of ‘speaking’ with them, after he had completely avoided them, even through an intermediary.

Second, the specific command for them to avoid their wives served as a reminder for them to abandon any means of pleasure and increase in worship. When worship is increased, this signals that the period of test or punishment is almost over. Related to this is the last ten nights of Ramadan, when the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) set an example of avoiding his wives and heavily increasing worship, before the month reaches its end.

So as signs of the end of this trial begin to appear, for every afflicted believer, there are also tidings of hope.  When you are overcome by distress, worry, and debts or when backs are turned to you and a genuine smile can no longer spread across your face due to the grief shadowing your days, think of Ka’b (radhiAllahu anhu). Remember now that it is a sign from Allah, that the time has come to turn to none but Him, subhanahu wata’ala.

وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِّمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّه

And who is better in religion than one who submits himself to Allah.” (al-Nisaa’ 4:125)

This is the purpose of your trial; that you are freed from arrogance, pride and cured of the hardened heart that comes with a state of ongoing ease and prosperity.

The goal is to repent to Allah and flee to Him, so that your heart is attached to Him like never before. Ka’b bin Malik had no one to complain to but Allah. Refrain from complaining to the creation, who cannot relieve you of your agony.  In fact, we should be shy from Allah, that He sees us asking and hoping in other than Him. Ka’b never gave up hope in Allah when everyone turned away. To give up hope in your Creator and Sustainer is to hold poor thoughts of Him, subhanahu wata’ala. How is it that we fail to place our trust in Him, when He is more Merciful to us than our own selves?

In the hands of the people, you will not find honor or even disgrace. When you keep asking of them, they increase in annoyance. As for Allah, when you ask Him, He is more pleased.  Allah loves to hear his slaves invoking, begging and asking from Him Alone.

أَمَّن يُجِيبُ الْمُضْطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكْشِفُ السُّوء

Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil.” (al-Naml 27:62)

Reflect on the example of Prophet Ayyub (alayhe asallam) who, in a state of affliction in wealth, children and health, called out to Allah:

وَأَيُّوبَ إِذْ نَادَى رَبَّهُ أَنِّي مَسَّنِيَ الضُّرُّ وَأَنْتَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

فَاسْتَجَبْنَا لَهُ فَكَشَفْنَا مَا بِهِ مِن ضُرٍّ ۖ وَآتَيْنَاهُ أَهْلَهُ وَمِثْلَهُم مَّعَهُمْ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَابِدِينَ

And [mention] Job, when he called to his Lord, “Indeed, adversity has touched me, and you are the Most Merciful of the merciful.”

So We responded to him and removed what afflicted him of adversity. And We gave him [back] his family and the like thereof with them as mercy from Us and a reminder for the worshippers [of Allah]. (al-Anbiyaa‘ 21:83,84)

Allah ends off the example of this Prophet by describing it as  ذِكْرَىٰ لِلْعَابِدِينَ : ‘A reminder for all those who worship Us.’

On these words, Ibn Kathir comments: “We made him an example lest those who are beset by trials think that We do that to them because We do not care for them, so that they may take him as an example of patience in accepting the decrees of Allah and bearing the trials with which He tests His servants as He will.’ (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

When you turn to Allah in supplication, be sure of a response. If it is delayed, He will compensate you by filling your heart with patience and certainty, both of which are sources of reward, until invoking Him carries a sweetness of its own. A delayed response makes the believer blame none but himself, hence leading to repentance. Once we humble ourselves, seeking forgiveness, admitting that indeed we are undeserving due to our sins, Allah will forgive and bring forth relief.

It is not the calamity that has narrowed our life, rather falling in the trap of the incapable ones is what restricts us. The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said: “The most incapable person is the one who does not make du`a.” (Sahih Al-Jami’)

The heart of the believer is pulled towards its Lord in times of hardship, unlike those hearts numbed from sensing the alarm that awakens the living hearts.  Every test is a key with which we unlock our hearts. Allah (subhanahu wata’ala) says,

فَلَوْلَا إِذْ جَاءَهُم بَأْسُنَا تَضَرَّعُوا وَلَـٰكِن قَسَتْ قُلُوبُهُمَ

Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened.” (al-An’aam 6:43)

Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri narrated: One day the Messenger of Allah (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) entered the mosque. He saw there a man from the Ansar called Abu Umamah and said to him: “What is the matter that I am seeing you sitting in the mosque when there is no time of prayer?

Abu Umamah said: “I am entangled in sorrow and debts.”

The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) replied: “Shall I not teach you words by which, when you say them, Allah will remove your sorrow, and settle your debts?

Abu Umamah said: “Yes, Messenger of Allah”

The Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) said: “Say in the morning and evening:

اللهم إني أعوذ بك من الهمِّ والحزَن ، والعجز والكسل ، والجبن والبخل ، وضَلَع الدَّيْن وغلبة الرجالَ

Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min al-hamm wa’l-hazn wa’l-‘ajz wa’l-kasal wa’l-jubn wa’l-bukhl wa dala’ al-dayn wa ghalbat al-rijaal

O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.”

Abu Umamah said: “When I did that Allah removed my distress and settled my debt.” (Abu Dawud).

When Abu Umamah faced hardship, he fled to Allah, Who aided him with the du’aa that the Prophet (sallaAllahu alayhe wasallam) taught him, thus relieving his distress.

Finally, after you plead to your Creator, seeking a way out of the darkness, recall the example of Prophet  Zakariya (alayhe asallam) who upheld righteous deeds whilst invoking Allah for offspring.  When the angels came to grant him glad tidings of a son, Yahya, they found him standing in the mihrab. Istiqamah on the obedience of Allah, after du’aa is a cause of being blessed with a response, as opposed to heedlessness and displeasing Allah, after asking Him.

فَنَادَتْهُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ يُصَلِّي فِي الْمِحْرَابِ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يُبَشِّرُكَ بِيَحْيَىٰ

So the angels called him while he was standing in prayer in the chamber, “Indeed, Allah gives you good tidings of John.” (Aal-‘Imran 3:39).

As for our beloved companion, Ka’b bin Malik (radhiAllahu anhu), a messenger came to him while he too was in a state of obedience, having just concluded the fajr prayer:

When I had offered the Fajr prayer on the 50th morning on the roof of one of our houses and while I was sitting in the condition which Allah described (in the Qur’an) i.e. my very soul seemed straitened to me and even the earth seemed narrow to me for all its spaciousness, there I heard the voice of one who had ascended the mountain of Sala’ calling with his loudest voice, ‘O Kab bin Malik! Be happy (by receiving good tidings).’ I fell down in prostration before Allah, realizing that relief has come.

Allah has spoken the Truth;

فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًاَ

For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (al-Sharh 5,6).

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Mariam is of Middle Eastern origin, raised in North America, not quite settling in one specific place. After living up in the North of North America, she has shifted continents and currently residing in a rapidly flourishing, historical city located in the desert of Arabia. She is a recent graduate of the American Open University, with a Bachelors in Islamic Studies. She believes that regardless of where a person is, writing is a tool to reach out and express that which inspires, touches and affects them. So she writes; perhaps that which inspires her will be a source of good for at least one other person.



  1. Umm Sulaym

    July 14, 2010 at 3:17 AM

    Asalamoalaykum Warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

    We all need reminders and the best reminder is that which comes at the right time. Alhamdolilah Allah SWT brought me to this article…and I feel rejuvenated after many emotionally challenging experiences these past few days.
    JazakAllahu khayran dearest sis for being the means through which Allah SWT nourished my soul.

    May Allah SWT bless you (and every Muslim who helps another) so much so that you/they don’t experience any hardship after death.ameen.

    -Umm Sulaym

    • Mariam E.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:12 AM

      wa Alikum asallam warahmatu Allahi wabarakatu

      Ameen to your du’aa and the same for you sister.

    • mr

      July 16, 2010 at 11:22 PM

      jazakallah for this duaa. its beautiful.

  2. muslimah

    July 14, 2010 at 3:45 AM

    jazakAllah khayr for this post. I really needed the reminder. great timing.

  3. Ayesha

    July 14, 2010 at 8:22 AM

    barakAllahufeeki sister…jazakAllahukhairan for the amazing post…..Allahu yataqabbal minnik..

  4. Sarah

    July 14, 2010 at 8:47 AM

    JazakiAllahu khayrn sister… absolutely beautiful <3

  5. abuabdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    July 14, 2010 at 10:57 AM

    BaarakAllahi feeki. MashaAllah, a well-written article on a story that always yields benefits to the one who seeks them.

  6. Pingback: Lessons in Staying Behind – From Muslim Matters « Random Reflections

  7. ummahmed

    July 14, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Mashaallah.Alhamdulillah.I really needed this…Excellent reminder.Jazakallahu khairaa.

  8. ahmad b

    July 14, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    jazakAllah khair sister! Masha’Allah this is just the artilce i needed to read. alhamdulillahi rabil ‘alameen.

  9. anon

    July 15, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    Very good article Jazak’Allah Khair.

    Just quick note that there’s a typo in the transliteration of the du’a told to abu Umamah (Radiallahu Unho)

    Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min al-hamm wa’l-hazn wa’l-‘ajz wa’l-kasal wa’l-bukhl wa’l-jubn wa dala’ al-dayn wa ghalbat al-rijaal

    is what you have, but jubn comes before bukhl in the arabic and translation so you mixed the order in the transliteration I think.

  10. Rehana

    July 15, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    So amazing… subhallah. An eloquent style that touches the heart, may allah swt strengthen your pen (and your heart)


  11. elham

    July 15, 2010 at 8:11 PM

    Mash’Allah, a very heart-touching part 6 , this one is my favorite so far. May Allah accept it from you.

  12. Farhana

    January 10, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Its indeed a very nice article and a reminder at the right time for those who are going through trials to be patient and invoke Allah (S.W.T) for ease.

    Jazak Allah

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