The Islamic Personality is a balanced personality. It is not extreme and it must contain both fear and hope for a believer to realise their full potential in worshipping the Creator Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
Ibn al-Qayyim said:
“The heart, in its journey to Allah سبحانه وتعالى is like that of a bird: love is its head, and fear and hope are its two wings. When the head and two wings are sound, the bird flies gracefully; if the head is severed, the bird dies; if the bird loses one of its wings, it then becomes a target for every hunter or predator.”
When Shaitan whispers to the believers he plays on fear and hope trying to corrupt this balance and lead the person astray. He will whisper to the believer about the punishment of Allah and make you lose hope in forgiveness for your sins saying, “You are going to hell anyway why bother doing good deeds?” If this doesn’t work then he will give the believer too much hope where he becomes lazy in performing the obligatory duties and abstaining from sins because, “Allah is All Merciful and will forgive you.” This is something we find among the Christians nowadays. Both extremes are wrong and both will ultimately lead to inaction and giving up worshipping Allah. As Ibn al-Qayyim says a bird cannot fly with only one wing whether of hope or fear.
Anas (ra) narrated that the Prophet ﷺ visited a youth while he was dying: He ﷺ said: “How are you finding yourself?” He said: “I have hope in Allah, O Messenger of Allah but I also fear for my sins.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “These two things (i.e. hope and fear from one’s sins) cannot meet together in the heart of a servant except that Allah gives him what he hoped for and saves him from what he feared.”
Reported by at-Tirmizi and Ibn Maajah. Hafiz al-Munziri said the isnad is hasan.
What follows are a series of examples showing how Allah is merciful to the believers at all points in their life and death.
1. Mercy of Allah in this life
One aspect of Allah’s mercy which is misunderstood by many are the tests and trials (fitna) of this life
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَنْ يُتْرَكُوا أَنْ يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe, and will not be tested [la yuftanoon]”
The word fitnah from a linguistic point of view means purification. So to extract gold out of worthless rock requires exposure it to harsh fire to separate impurities through a smelting process.
Al-Azhari said: “The Arabic word fitnah includes meanings of testing and trial. The root is taken from the phrase fatantu al-fiddah wa’l-dhahab (I tested the quality of gold and silver), meaning I melted the metals to separate the bad from the good…” (Tahdheeb al-Lughah, 14/196).
Allah سبحانه وتعالى tests the believers out of mercy not hatred. The test is preparation for fulfilling Islamic duties, wiping out sins and raising our rank in jannah. These experiences strengthen us.
Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari related that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “This nation of mine is one upon which there is mercy; there is no punishment upon it in the Hereafter; its punishment is in this world – with trials, earthquakes, and killings.” [ibn Kathir]
Ahmad reported via Mus’ab b. Sa’d from his father who said: I said: “O Messenger of Allah ﷺ which people are tested most?” He ﷺ said: “The Prophets come first, then the righteous, then the next best, then the next best of people. A man will be tested on account of his adherence to the Deen. If he is strong in his commitment, he will be more sorely tested, and if there is some weakness in his commitment the test will be lightened for him. A man will continue to be tested until he walks upon the face of the earth with no sin on him.”
You will find that many multi-millionaires started off growing up in poverty which became a catalyst for them go and seek their provision (rizk). These life experiences shape personalities and for the believers help them in achieving their ultimate goal which is the pleasure of Allah سبحانه وتعالى.
In Kyrgyzstan the Muslim activists carrying dawah face severe fitna from the regime with many of them being sent to prison. Yet this fitna strengthens them.
Kara-Suu Imam Rashad Kamalov, whose father was gunned down by state security services in Kyrgyzstan said: Because of the oppression, “more Kyrgyz are devoted to the religion and practice Islam,” But tyranny will not work forever, he added. “After someone has experienced fear once, the fear disappears.”
One Member of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Kyrgyzstan said: “Whenever there is a crackdown, many more people become members of Hizb ut Tahrir, young people get interested in who we are. We sit down with them and study the teachings of Muhammad ﷺ and they agree with our peaceful way. There are lots of our people in prison, and they are very productive. There is a whole army of our people coming out. AFTER PRISON THEY ARE NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING. Very soon we will have an Islamic state – Al Khilafah.”
The believer’s attitude to tests is to bear them patiently and not to compromise Islam by keeping in mind the goodness in them. This is something very easy to say but in practise very difficult to perform which is why the reward of the one who does this is so high.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says:
إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُم بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ
“The steadfast will be paid their reward in full without any reckoning.”
2. Mercy of Allah in Death
Believers shouldn’t fear death but be happy to die.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever loves to meet Allah, Allah will love to meet him, and whoever hates to meet Allah, Allah will hate to meet him.” ‘Aisha or one of his wives said: “But we all dislike the idea of death.” He ﷺ said, “It is not what you are thinking. When death approaches the believer and he is given the news of Allah’s pleasure and honour, nothing will be more dear to him than what lies ahead of him, so he will love to meet Allah and Allah will love to meet him. But when death approaches the disbeliever and he is given the news of Allah’s wrath and punishment, nothing will be more disliked by him than that what lies ahead of him, so he will hate to meet Allah and Allah will hate to meet him.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
Death is a stressful event, but for the believer, the angels will descend to him at the time of death to help him through it.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “When the believer is about to depart from this world and go forward into the Next World, angels with faces as bright as the sun descend from the heavens and sit around him in throngs stretching as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head and says, “Good soul, come out to forgiveness and pleasure from Allah!” Then his soul emerges like a drop of water flows from a water-skin and the angel takes hold of it. When he has grasped it, the other angels do not leave it in his hand even for the twinkling of an eye. They take it and place it in a perfumed shroud and fragrance issues from it like the sweetest scent of musk found on the face of the earth.
Then they bear it upwards and whenever they take it past a company of angels, they ask, ‘Who is this good soul?’ and the angels with the soul reply, ‘So-and-so the son of so-and-so,’ using the best names by which people used to call him in this world. They bring him to the lowest heaven and ask for the gate to be opened for him. It is opened for him and angels who are near Allah from each of the heavens accompany him to the subsequent heaven until he reaches to the heaven where Allah the Great is. Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says, ‘Register the book of My slave in ‘Illiyun and take him back to earth. I created them from it and I return them to it and I will bring them forth from it again.’
His soul is then returned to his body and two angels come to him. They make him sit up and say to him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He replies, ‘My Lord is Allah.’ They ask him, ‘What is your religion?’ He replies, ‘My religion is Islam.’ They ask him, ‘Who is this man who was sent among you?’ He replies, ‘The Messenger of Allah.’ They ask him, ‘How did you come to know these things?’ He replies, ‘I read the Book of Allah, believed it, and declared it to be true.’ Then a Voice from on high declares, ‘My slave has spoken the truth, so spread out carpets from the Garden for him and open a gate of the Garden for him!’
3. Mercy of Allah on the Day of Judgment
Narrated Salman Al-Farisi: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Indeed, Allah has one hundred (portions of) mercy; because of one there is compassion between creation, and ninety-nine are reserved for the Day of Resurrection.”
The Day of Judgment is undoubtedly a difficult day. The earth is in turmoil. Mountains are crumbling. Seas overflowing and the sky splitting. This would be a terrifying event for anyone to witness. However, for the believer they will be met by angels as they leave their graves to help them through this stressful time.
لَا يَحْزُنُهُمُ الْفَزَعُ الْأَكْبَرُ وَتَتَلَقَّاهُمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ هَٰذَا يَوْمُكُمُ الَّذِي كُنْتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ
“The great fearful event shall not grieve them, and the angels shall meet them: This is your day which you were promised.”
The length of this day is 50,000 years with no food or water but for the believers it will be shortened.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said upon being questioned about the length of the Day, “By Him in whose hand lies my soul, it shall be shortened for the believer until it becomes briefer for him than the prescribed prayer which he used to perform in the world.” [Ahmed]
4. Being created as a member of the last ummah, the Muslim Ummah is a mercy
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “You are the final of seventy nations, you are the best and most honoured among them to Allah.” [Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, and Al-Hakim]
Abdullah bin Mas’ud said, “The Messenger of Allah said to us, “Does it please you that you will be one-fourth of the people of Paradise?” We said, Allahu Akbar!’ He added, “Does it please you that you will be one-third of the people of Paradise. We said, Allahu Akbar!’ He said, “I hope that you will be half of the people of Paradise.” [Ahmed]
We finish with a quote from Ibn Al-Qayyum which beautifully summaries this topic.
Ibn Al-Qayyum said: “Had Allah lifted the veil for His slave and shown him how He handles his affairs for him, and how Allah is more keen for the benefit of the slave than His Own Self, the slave’s heart would have melted out of love for Allah, and would have been torn to pieces out of thankfulness to Allah.
Therefore if the pains of this world tire you, do not grieve.
For it may be that Allah wishes to hear your voice by way of du’a. So pour out your desires in prostration and forget about it and know, that verily Allah does not forget.”
And finally a du’a:
اللَّهُمَّ اجْعَلْ خَيْرَ عُمْرِي آخِرَهُ ، وَ خَيْرَ عَمَلِي خَوَاتِمَهُ ، وَ خَيْرَ أَيَّامِى يَوْمَ أَلْقَاكَ فِيهِ
Allahumma aj’al khaira ‘umuri akhira, wa khaira ‘amali khawaatimah, wa khaira ayyami yawmal-qaaka fih
O Allah! Make the best of my life the end of it, and the last of my deeds the best one; and the best of my days the Day when I meet You!