Sometimes in life, hardships befall us. It sometimes feels like difficulties add up on one another and the light at the end of the tunnel, is merely a mirage. So how do we maintain our productivity during times of tribulation? As Muslims, we should know that they are part of our life in the dunya and we should be prepared to behave in the best way in such times. Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has been exceptionally merciful as to provide us with tips to remain steadfast in times of trial:
“And seek help in patience and As-Salah and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for humbly submissive [to Allah]” (Quran chapter 2, Verse 45).
Patience comes first in the sequence of this ayah. Patience is not an easy behavior to gain. The Almighty has granted us several examples of patience shown by the Prophets ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) during hard times, in the Sunnah and the Qur’an. He has also detailed for our perusal their dua’s which received a favorable answer. One of the most powerful of these narrations told to us by Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the one of Ayyub ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him). There are many gems of wisdom in this story for a productive Muslim.
The Story of Ayyub ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him)
Ayyub ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) was a Prophet of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). It is said he was a descendant of Ibrahim ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him)and was extremely wealthy. He had plenty of livestock, cattle, and crops, many children and beautiful houses. Ayyub ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) was a devotee of Allah. He was engaged in constant remembrance of Allah, giving charity to the poor in such an extensive way that it is narrated that an angel said:
“The best creature on earth today is Ayub, a man of noble character who displays excellent patience and always remembers his Generous Lord. He is an excellent model for the worshippers of Allah. In return, his Lord has blessed him with a long life and plenty of riches, yet he is never haughty or selfish. His family, his servants, as well as the needy and the poor share in his good fortune. He feeds and clothes the poor and buys slaves to set them free. He makes those who receive his charity feel as if they are favouring him, so kind and gentle is he.”
Ayyub was tested in all his riches, losing everything he had: possessions, children. Then he was tested with regard to his body until there was no part of it that was healthy except his heart. Everybody around him shunned him: friends, relatives and even strangers; he was left alone on the edge of the city and there was no one who treated him with compassion except for his wife, who took care of him. He lived in a state of indigence, sickness for 13, 17, or 18 years depending on the narrations. The Prophet of Allah, Ayyub ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him), had the utmost patience! He is the best example of that. So much that Allah praised him in His Glorious Quran:
“…Truly! We found him patient. How excellent a slave! Verily, he was ever oft-returning in repentance to Us”[38:44].
Dua of Ayuub ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him)
Yazid bin Maysarah said: “When Allah tested Ayyub, upon him be peace, with the loss of his family, wealth and children, and he had nothing left, he started to focus upon the remembrance of Allah, and he said:
I praise You, the Lord of lords, Who bestowed His kindness upon me and gave me wealth and children, and there was no corner of my heart that was not filled with attachment to these worldly things, then You took all of that away from me and You emptied my heart, and there is nothing to stand between me and You. If my enemy Iblis knew of this, he would be jealous of me.
The Qur’an teaches us that Ayyub ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) said:
“And (remember) Ayyub, when he cried to his Lord: “Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy”[21:83].
Came the answer of Allah:
“So We answered his call, and We removed the distress that was on him, and We restored his family to him, and the like thereof along with them as a mercy from Ourselves and a Reminder for all those who worship Us.”[21:84]
Ibn Kathir in his tafsir mentioned “a Reminder for all those who worship Us”:
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 subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) and bearing the trials with which He tests His servants as He wills.’ And Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has the utmost wisdom with regard to that.
What a happy end for those who trust Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He)! We should learn to remain productive in the darkest times and make the most of every single minute of it. Following this example we could:
Step 1 – Say Alhamdulillah first.
“The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity”[Bukhari].
Step 2 – Engage ourselves in repentance in an extensive way.
Step 3 – Trust Allah whatever befalls us and think well of Him. During the dark times of Ayyub’s ‘alayhi’l-salām (peace be upon him) tribulations he kept thinking well of Allah.
Step 4 –
“Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy.”[21:83].
We should make dua to Allah alone, using duas from the Quran and Sunnah.
Step 5 – Be patient; we shouldn’t be hasty in obtaining an answer from Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He). And remember, Allah, most merciful loves us and everything that befalls us is for the best.
Step 6 – Stay away from sins.
Step 7 – Be proactive by being thankful in times of ease.
“…And whosoever has Taqwa of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things”[65:2-3].