The Backbone that Never Breaks

{“And from the people is he who worships Allah as if he were on an edge. If good befalls him, he is content with it. And if a trial befalls him, he turns back on his face. He loses both this world and the Hereafter. That is the clear  loss.”} [al-Hajj; 11]

Commenting on this verse, Ibn Kathir said in ‘Tafsir al-Qur’an al-‘Adhim’ (3/279):

“This means that he enters the religion on an edge. So, if he finds what he likes, he sticks with it. Otherwise, he retreats. al-Bukhari reported…that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “A man would come to Madinah. If his wife gave birth to a son and his mare gave birth to foals, he would say: “This is a good religion.” If his wife didn’t give birth and his mare didn’t either, he would say: “This is a terrible religion.”” And Ibn Abi Hatim reported…that Ibn ‘Abbas said: “Some bedouins would come to the Prophet and become Muslims and then they’d return to their homelands. If they returned to a year of rain, produce, and good children being born, they would say: “This religion of ours is good. So, stick to it.” If they came back to a year of hunger, bad children being born, and drought, they would say: “There is no good in this religion of ours.” So, Allah revealed this verse.”

…And ‘Abd ar-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said: “This is in regards to the hypocrite. If everything is going well for him in his life, he is consistent in his worship. If things change and go bad for him, he goes back and wavers in his worship except when things are going good. So, if a trial, hardship, test, or inconvenience befalls him, he abandons his religion and returns to kufr.””

In ‘Fi Dhilal al-Qur’an’ (4/2412), Sayyid Qutb commented on this verse by saying:

“Even if this addresses the Islamic call back then, it is an example that is repeated in every generation – this person who weighs his belief using the scales of profit and loss, thinking that he is engaged in some sort of business deal…

Belief is the firm backbone in the life of the believer. The world crashes around him, and he remains firm on this support column. The events going on and the pressures existing around him push down on him, and he remains holding firmly to this rock that cannot be shaken. The crutches fall from under him, and he leans on this foundation that cannot be moved from its place or swept away.

This is the value of belief in the life of the believer. Therefore, it is a must for him to stand up straight on it, be sure of it, confident in it, not shaky in it, and not waiting for any reward for it, as it in itself is a reward. This is because it is the protective force that he turns to and the supporting column that he leans on. Yes, it is itself a reward for one opening his heart up to the light and going after guidance. As a result, Allah grants him this belief and faith for him to turn to for support and assurance. It is itself a reward whose value the believer realizes when he sees the confused, distraught people around him blown about and thrown around by the wind, engulfed in anxiety – while his belief keeps his heart tranquil, his feet firm, his mood calm, and his connection to Allah. He is confident as a result of this connection.

As for the type of person mentioned in this verse, he turns his belief into a business deal: {“…If good befalls him, he is content with it.…”} Here, he says that it is good to have faith. He is gaining some benefit, things look good, he is picking his crops, he is profiting from his deal, and he can stand up to the wind. {“… And if a trial befalls him, he turns back on his face. He loses both this world and the Hereafter…”} He loses this world through the trial that he was afflicted with and was unable to exercise patience and hold himself together in the face of, and did not turn to Allah during. He loses the Hereafter due to his reversing course and his abandonment of his beliefs and the guidance that was made so easily available for him.

And the Qur’an depicts such a person as worshipping Allah “on an edge,” shaky in his beliefs, shaky in his worship. It depicts this state as the impending physical movement of one who is prone to collapse at the first hint of pressure. This person reverses course when he is simply touched with trouble, and his standing on the edge is simply a prelude to him going back from what he was upon and collapsing.

The measurement of profit and loss is something that belongs in business, not your beliefs. ‘Aqidah is a truth that should be adopted simply on account of what it is – the reaction of the heart that has opened itself up to light and guidance that has no choice but to react with whatever it encounters. So, this belief carries its reward in its nature, due to the confidence, tranquility, and pleasure it contains. So, it doesn’t look for reward from anything other than itself.

The believer worships his Lord out of gratitude for being guided, for the confidence that comes along with being close to Him. If any reward were to come, this would be from the favor of Allah due to this person’s faith and worship!

The believer doesn’t test his Lord. From the start, he accepts whatever He Decrees for him, surrenders from the start to whatever he will experience, is pleased from the start with whatever ease or hardship comes his way. It is not a business deal between a buyer and seller. Rather, it is the submission of the Creation to the Creator – the One who runs his affairs and was the reason for his existence in the first place.

The one who reverses course when he is touched with trouble endures a loss in which there is no doubt: {“…That is the clear loss…”} He loses the tranquility and confidence and calmness and pleasure, in addition to losing his money, family, health, or any of the other material possessions that Allah tests people through – He tests their confidence in Him, their patience in the face of these tests He brings, their own sincerity to Him, and their willingness to accept His Decree. This person also loses the Hereafter and the pleasures and closeness to Allah it contains…what a loss!”

He continues:

“…And Allah presents for the believers something better than whatever this life can give you, even if you lose whatever it gives you during the course of your trials and tribulations:

{“Truly, Allah will admit those who believe and do good deeds to gardens underneath which rivers flow. Indeed, Allah does what He Wills.”}

So, whoever is touched by any type of trouble or test, he should stay strong and not become shaky. He should manifest his confidence in the Mercy and help of Allah and His ability to remove all hardships and compensate and reward for them…”

7 Responses to “The Backbone that Never Breaks”

  1. zanjabeel Says:

    Jazakillah khayr ukhi, may Allah forgive us , guide us and save us from the [ real loss ] and have mercy on us ameen

    In the words of Allah is all the strength we need
    May Allah make us a strong ummah to rectify the wrongs ameen

  2. Umm Ishaaq Says:

    Another beautiful piece. باركالله فيك

  3. As Salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh

    And the same with those who worship Him in hardships, turn their faces to Him, their prayers, their dua’s, with all the sincerity they can come up with…

    But, when they see that they are safed, their dua’s are answered … they turn to on what they were before, they forgett about Him, their sincerity becomes carelessness

    The Prophet salAllahu alayhi wa Sallam, did not say without a reason that ONLY the MU’MIN is always on a win. Only he is persistent in worshiping his Lord with all the sincerity of his heart, subhanAllah

    Shukr for the translatings abu sabaya

    Wa alaykumu Salam wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh

  4. Asalamo Alaikom Warahmatullahe Wabarakatuhu brothers & sisters in Islam,

    Masha Allaah, a beautiful explaination by Ibn Kathir rahimahu Allaah and May Allaah reward you for sharing this classic and most important part of our every day *issue i.e Trials & Tribulations and How a Believer looks at it and deals with it [in turns get rewarded in this Dunya and look forward for a greater reward in al-Akhira bi izn Allaah].

    *O Allaah we ask You to make us satisfied and happy with what You have decreed for us* ameen Allaahum Ameen

    Asalamo Alaikom Warahmatullahe Wabarakatuhu

  5. Ibn jafar Says:

    “…This is the value of belief in the life of the believer. Therefore, it is a must for him to stand up straight on it, be sure of it, confident in it, not shaky in it, and not waiting for any reward for it, as it in itself is a reward. This is because it is the protective force that he turns to and the supporting column that he leans on. Yes, it is itself a reward for one opening his heart up to the light and going after guidance. As a result, Allah grants him this belief and faith for him to turn to for support and assurance. It is itself a reward whose value the believer realizes when he sees the confused, distraught people around him blown about and thrown around by the wind, engulfed in anxiety – while his belief keeps his heart tranquil, his feet firm, his mood calm, and his connection to Allah. He is confident as a result of this connection…”

    Those of us who have had the displeasure of living a life without eman know the truth and value of this statement.

    Excellent piece…

  6. Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh,

    This came at a good time. A highly beneficial reminder. Eemaan goes up and down. Sometimes a persons eemaan takes a dive but then he repents and becomes better than what he was if he didn’t fall but there are also some people don’t learn the lesson. It is the Qadar of Allaah that we fall into trials. Al Hamdulillaah for inspiring brothers like Al Iskandari to remind us and give us hope.

    MAy Allaah reward you immensely.

    Assalaamu alaykum

  7. Asalamualikum,

    This was much needed akhi al azeez. Incredibly beautiful piece especially what Syed Qutub said about this verse. May Allah reward you and forgive our sins..Ameen

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