The exemplary young Companions: Patience and resignation to the will of God

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Rahmatullah Khan Shakir (1901-2000), Former Assistant Editor and Manager of Al Fazl

The mourning rituals, before Islam, were part and parcel of the Arab culture and were performed with full effort and care. 

At the death of a relative, people would tear at their faces and hair, beat their breasts and cry and bewail bitterly. It was obligatory for women to open their hair and put dust in it and follow the funeral lamenting and bewailing, so much so that some women would have their hair cut; women were hired to cry and wail and they would cry very bitterly. 

After laying the body to rest, a table would be laid to serve lunch to the wailing women. Likewise, events in commemoration of the deceased would be held on the third and fortieth day, and this would occur on a six-monthly and yearly basis. It was compulsory for every bereaved person to hold them to be considered a respectable person in society.

The Holy Prophetsa forbade all such absurd rituals and taught that any affliction from God Almighty should be borne with fortitude. The Holy Quran says that true believers are those who, at the time of every affliction, say, “We belong to Allah and we are to return to Him”, and resign to the will of God with patience. They do not resort to unusual and unnatural crying and bewailing. Despite their centuries-old customs of bewailing, the Companionsra followed this command in all its spirit. Below are some accounts in this regard.

Demonstration of Islamic patience at the death of a child

Many accounts of Hazrat Abu Talhahra have been given in this series. He was an illustrious companion. 

Once, his son was ill whom he left to go to work in the morning. The son died in his absence. His wife not only herself restrained from wailing, but she forbade her neighbours as well from crying. No professional women were hired. She only said:

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬اِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

and kept quiet. She also forbade all others not to apprise Abu Talhahra of the death in the house. 

In the evening, when he returned home and asked after his son, the wife replied that he was calmer than before. Then, she served dinner to her husband. He spent the night comfortably. 

The next morning, the wife asked her husband, “Is somebody allowed to raise an objection if he has to return a borrowed thing?” Hazrat Abu Talhahra replied in the negative, at which she said to him to exhibit forbearance at the death of his son. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Faza‘il-us-Sahabah, Bab min Faza‘ili Abi Talhah Al-Ansari)

Not dwelling on the consequences of a will of God

After the death and obsequies of his son, Hazrat Abdullahra bin Umar started racing with the local Bedouins. At this, Hazrat Nafi‘ra commented, that immediately after burying his son, he had started to race with the Bedouins. Hazrat Abdullahra replied, “The consequences of a will of God must be cast to oblivion in whatsoever manner.” (Tabqat Ibn Saad,  Vol. 5, p. 204, Zikr Waqid bin Abdullah)

Accepting the will of God at martyrdom of close relatives

After the Battle of Uhud, the female Companionsra came out of the town to ask after their relatives. One of the ladies was Hazrat Hamnahra bint Jahsh. The Holy Prophetsa asked her to accept the will of God at the martyrdom of her brother, Hazrat Abdullahra bin Jahsh. She heard the news with great fortitude and invoked forgiveness for him. 

After that the Holy Prophetsa asked her to be resigned to the will of God at the martyrdom of her maternal uncle, Hazrat Hamzahra bin Abdul-Muttalib. At this news, too, she showed great forbearance. She only said:

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬اِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

invoked forgiveness for him and observed silence. (Tabqat Ibn Saad, Vol. 8, p. 241, Zikr Hamnah bint Jahash)

Accepting the will of God

Hazrat Abdullahra bin Abbas was on a journey when he got news of the death of his brother Qathm. He only said:

اِنَّا‭ ‬لِلّٰهِ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬اِنَّا‭ ‬اِلَيْهِ‭ ‬رَاجِعُوْنَ

offered two nawafil off the road, mounted his camel again and advanced to his destination. 

One is stunned to read the accounts of profound patience and resignation to the will of God found in the lives of the Companionsra. Not only men, but accounts of women also bring tears to one’s eyes when especially they are compared with the examples in this age of ours. 

Patience at son’s death

A son of the female companion Hazrat Umm Atiyyahra fought in a battle in the time of the Rightly Guided Khilafat. He fell ill during the battle and came to Basra. Learning about his illness, his mother immediately set off for Basra to visit her ailing son. Before she could reach there, her son passed away a couple of days earlier. She exhibited profound patience and resignation at this fatal blow and on the third day, she wore perfume and said, “Except at the death of one’s husband, no one is allowed to mourn for more than three days.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Jana‘iz, Bab Ihdad-ul-Mar‘ati ‘ala Zaujiha

As has been discussed, bewailing and lamentation at somebody’s death is not allowed according to the teachings of Islam. But one point is necessary to be cleared that grievance at the death of a dear one is a natural thing, whose absence is not a merit but amounts to stone-heartedness. It is not objectionable if tears roll down one’s cheeks as a result of it. Islam only forbids bewailing and lamentation and from such actions that amount to an objection and complaint against the divine will and exhibiting impatience.

Ignoring the teaching of the Holy Prophetsa and the practice of the Companionsra, the practice of the present-day Muslims on such occasions is tantamount to stigmatising the Islamic teachings. Adopting the customs of their non-Muslim neighbours, Muslims have absolutely forgotten their Islamic values. On the occasion of deaths, they follow the Hindus or the Arabs of the time of ignorance by bewailing and lamentation, beating their chests, pulling their hair, giving meals and practising rituals on the third or fortieth day etc. None of the above-mentioned rituals are allowed according to the teachings of Islam. And most regretfully, the maulvis who were responsible to keep the true teachings of Islam alive, for their vested interests and temptations, have imprinted such absolutely unIslamic rituals on the minds of the Muslim masses as a necessary part of Islam that the masses are made to believe that the soul of the deceased cannot attain tranquility without such things. 

May Allah have mercy on the poor condition of the Muslims. Amin.

(Translated by Shahid Mahmood Ahmad, Missionary in Ghana, from the original Urdu, Muslim Nau-jawanon kay Sunehri Karnamey)

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