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Aspects Of Islamic Faith - 75: Patience In Adversity - The Prophet's Way

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was kind to all people, particularly those who were in obvious distress, even though they may not be Muslims. He never hesitated to console anyone who has suffered a calamity. He overlooked the reaction of such people and tried to help them by reminding them that patience and resignation in times of distress would be of great help.

Anas ibn Malik reports: "The Prophet saw a woman crying by the side of a grave. He said to her: ‘Be mindful of God and be patient'. She said to him: ‘Leave me alone. You have not experienced my calamity; and you do not know him.' She did not recognize the Prophet. She was then told that he was the Prophet. She came to see him, but she did not find guards at his home. She said to him: ‘I did not realize who you were'. He said: ‘True patience is that shown at the first blow'." (Related by Al-Bukhari).

Al-Bukhari lists this Hadith under the subheading of ‘visiting graves'. His reason for such entry is to show that visiting graves was permissible for both men and women, because the Prophet did not tell the woman that she could not visit the grave of her relative.

The Hadith is reported in a very concise way. It is apparent that the woman did not only cry by the side of the grave; she was lamenting her loss, crying aloud and wailing. Had she been only tearful, the Prophet would not have taken issue with her, because weeping for the loss of a loved one is permissible. The Prophet told the woman only to show patience and to accept God's will, as death was the lot of all people.

Unaware of the identity of her interlocutor, the woman spoke to him rather rudely, telling him to leave her alone. Her reaction is characteristic of those who panic when calamity strikes. The Prophet left her without disturbing her further. There appears to be a time gap between her conversation with the Prophet and her being informed of his status.

She was worried when she learnt that he was the Prophet, because she might have thought that he was like other heads of states and kings. Hence, she went to see him in Madinah to apologize for her behavior, fearing that he might punish her for her behavior.

When she was guided to his home, she was again surprised as there were no guards or doormen. She could simply knock and enter. This gave her some reassurance, as she realized that he was not like rulers. He was not followed by a number of men attending to his wishes when he talked to her the first time, and now she found his home unattended by guards. She went in to apologize, saying that she did not know the Prophet when he talked to her.

Once more, the Prophet did not dwell on the personal aspect. He did not tell her that she should have behaved differently even though she did not know him. He simply alerted her, and those who were present, to the fact that patience in adversity was always the proper attitude of a believer. He now elaborated that true patience is that shown as the calamity strikes. It is then that a true believer should say in total resignation and acceptance of God's will: "We all belong to God, and to Him we shall all return".

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