First Matter: The real misfortune is the one that affects religion

F i r s t M a t t e r : True and harmful misfortune is that which affects religion. One should at all times seek refuge at the Divine Court from misfortune in matters of religion and cry out for help. But misfortunes that do not affect religion in reality are not misfortunes. Some of them are warnings from the Most Merciful One. If a shepherd throws a stone at his sheep when they trespass on another’s pasture, they understand that the stone is intended as a warning to save them from a perilous action; full of gratitude they turn back. So too there are many apparent misfortunes that are Divine warnings and admonishments, others that constitute the penance of sin; and others again that dissolve man’s state of neglect, remind him of his human helplessness and weakness, thus affording him a form of tranquillity. As for the variety of misfortune that is illness, it is not at all a misfortune, as has already been said, but rather a favour from Allah and a means of purification. There is a tradition which says: “Just as a tree drops its ripe fruit when shaken, so too do sins fall away through the shaking of fever.”1

Job (Upon whom be peace) did not pray in his supplication for the comfort of his soul, but rather sought cure for the purpose of worship, when disease was preventing his remembrances of Allah with his tongue and his meditation upon Allah in his heart. We too should make our primary intent, when making that supplication, the healing of the inward and spiritual wounds that arise from sinning.

As far as physical diseases are concerned, we may seek refuge from them when they hinder our worship. But we should seek refuge in a humble and supplicating fashion, not protestingly and plaintively. If we accept Allah as our Lord and Sustainer, then we must accept too all that He gives us in His capacity of Sustainer. To sigh and complain in a manner implying objection to Divine Determining and Decree is a kind of criticism of Divine Determining, an accusation levelled against Allah’s compassion. The one who criticizes Divine Determining strikes his head against the anvil and breaks it. Whoever accuses Allah’s mercy will inevitably be deprived of it. To use a broken hand to exact revenge will only cause further damage to the hand. So too a man who, afflicted with misfortune, responds to it with protesting complaint and anxiety, is only compounding his misfortune.


1. Bukhari, Mardâ 3, 13, 16; Muslim, Birr 45; Ibn Maja, Adab 56; Darimi, Rikak 57; Musnad i, 381, 441, 455; iii, 152.

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