صفحة جديدة 1
Means of Steadfastness:
Standing Firm in Islam
Book by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
Means of Steadfastness in Islam
Situations where steadfastness is required
Praise be to Allaah; we praise Him and seek His help and
forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of our own selves and from
our evil deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides cannot be led astray, and whomsoever He
leaves astray cannot be guided. I bear witness that there is no god except
Allaah alone, with no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and
Steadfastness in the religion of Allaah is a basic
requirement for every sincere Muslim who wants to follow the Straight Path with
determination and understanding. This matter is of great importance for a number
of reasons, including the following:
- The present situation of the societies in which Muslims live, the types
of temptation to which they are painfully exposed and the kinds of whims and
desires, doubts and confusion which have caused religion to become something
strange, so that those who adhere to it are likened to something weird, and
people say: “The one who holds on to his religion is like one who holds on
to a burning coal.”
Anyone who has a brain will not doubt that Muslims
today need the means of steadfastness more than their predecessors among the
salaf did, and that the effort required is greater, because of the
corruption of our times, and the scarcity and weakness of brothers and
supporters who could help.
- The high incidence of apostasy (riddah) and backsliding, even
among those who are working for Islam, which causes Muslims to fear ending
up the same way, so he seeks the means of standing firm so that he can reach
dry land, as it were.
- The relationship of this issue to the heart, of which the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) said: “It changes more than a pot of rapidly boiling water.”
(Reported by Ahmad, 6/4; al-Haakim, 2/289; al-Silsilat al-Saheehah,
1772). The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) also gave another example of the heart:
“The heart (qalb) takes its name from its constant changes (taqallub
– alteration, variation, ups and downs). The likeness of the heart is that
of a feather at the root of a tree, being turned over and over by the wind.”
(Reported by Ahmad, 4/408; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2364).
As a later poet said:
“He is only called insaan (man) because of his
And it is only called al-qalb (the heart) because
it constantly varies (yataqallib).”
Making the one stand firm who is tossed about by the winds of
doubt and confusion is a serious matter which needs tremendous means as befits
the seriousness and difficulty of the task at hand.
It is part of Allaah’s mercy towards us that He has shown to
us, in His Book and through the words and life of His Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) many ways of being steadfast in
Islam. I will discuss some of them below:
Means of Steadfastness in Islam
Turning towards the Qur’aan
The Qur’aan is the foremost aid to standing firm in
Islam. It is the strong rope and clear light of Allaah. Whoever adheres to
it, Allaah will protect him; whoever follows it, Allaah will save him; and
whoever calls to its way will be guided to the Straight Path.
Allaah has stated that the reason why this Book was
revealed in stages was to help His Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to stand firm in his faith. In
the context of refuting the doubts of the kuffaar, He says (interpretation
of the meaning): “And those who disbelieve say, ‘Why is not the Qur’aan
revealed to him all at once?’ Thus (it is sent down in parts), that We may
strengthen your heart thereby. And We have revealed it to you gradually, in
stages. And no example to similitude do they bring (to oppose or to find
fault in you or in this Qur’aan), but We reveal to you the truth (against
that similitude or example), and the better explanation thereof.”
Why is the Qur’aan such a source of strength?
- because it cultivates faith and purifies the soul through contact
- Because these aayaat bring peace and tranquillity to the heart of
the believer, so he will not be tossed about by the winds of fitnah; his
heart will be content with the remembrance of Allaah.
- Because it provides the Muslim with the correct understanding and
values with which he will be able to evaluate the situation around him.
It also gives him the standards against which he may judge things in a
proper and consistent manner, without varying from one situation or
person to another.
- Because it refutes the doubts that are stirred up by the enemies of
Islam, kuffaar and munaafiqeen alike, as in the following examples from
the early days of Islam:
- The effect of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): “Your
Lord (O Muhammad) has neither forsaken you nor hated you” [al-Duhaa
93:3] on the heart of the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), when the mushrikoon said,
“Muhammad has been forsaken…” (See Saheeh Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi,
- The effect of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): “… The
tongue of the man they refer to is foreign, while this (the Qur’aan) is
a clear Arabic tongue” [al-Nahl 16:103]. The Quraysh claimed that
Muhammad (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him) was taught by a human being and that he took the
Qur’aan from a Roman carpenter in Makkah.
- The effect of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): “…Surely
they have fallen into trial [fitnah]…” [al-Tawbah 9:49] on the
hearts of the believers, when the munaafiq had said, “Grant me leave
(to be exampted from jihaad) and put me not into trial.” [al-Tawbah 9:49
– interpretation of the meaning].
Is it not the greatest of help, strengthening the
heart of the believer, refuting doubts and silencing the voices of
falsehood? Indeed it is, by Allaah.
When the believers were coming back from al-Hudaybiyah,
Allaah promised them much war booty which they alone would go and take
(i.e., the booty of Khaybar). [He told them that] the munaafiqoon would ask
to accompany them, but the Muslims would say, “You shall not follow us.”
They would persist in trying to change the words of Allaah, and they would
say to the believers, “Nay, you envy us,” to which Allaah responded by
saying, “Nay, but they understand not except a little.” [al-Fath, 48:15 –
interpretation of the meaning]. Then all of this happened to the
believers, step by step, word by word.
- From this we can see the difference between those whose lives are
connected to the Qur’aan, who read it, recite it, memorize it, study it,
ponder its meanings and take it as their starting-point and their
refuge, and those who are preoccupied with the words of man.
- Would that those who seek knowledge would devote most of their
efforts to understanding the Qur’aan properly!
Adhering to the laws of Allaah and doing righteous deeds
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Allaah
will keep firm those who believe, with the word that stands firm in this
world and in the Hereafter. And Allaah will cause to go astray those who are
zaalimoon (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.), and Allaah does what He
wills.” [Ibraaheem 14:27].
Qutaadah said: “As for the life of this
world, Allaah will help them to be steadfast in doing good and righteous
deeds, and in the Hereafter (He will help them) to remain steadfast in the
grave.” A similar interpretation was narrated from more than one of the
Salaf. (Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem by Ibn Katheer, 3/421).
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “… but if
they had done what they were told, it would have been better for them, and
would have strengthened their (Faith)” [al-Nisa’ 4:66], i.e., it would
have strengthened them in their adherence to the Truth.
This is clear, for how can you expect steadfastness on
the part of those who are too lazy to do righteous deeds when fitnah raises
its ugly head and calamity increases? But Allaah will guide those who
believe and do righteous deeds by their faith to the Straight Path. So the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) used to persevere in doing righteous deeds, and the most
beloved of good deeds to him were those that were continuous, even if they
were small. When his Companions started to do anything, they would persist
in it, and when ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) did something,
she would keep it up.
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
used to say: “Whoever perseveres in doing twelve rak’ahs [i.e., the sunan
rawaatib or sunnah prayers which the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did constantly], Paradise will
be his right.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi, 2/273; he said, the hadeeth
is hasan or saheeh; see also Saheeh al-Nisaa’i, 1/388 and Saheeh
According to a hadeeth qudsi, Allaah says:
“My slave will keep drawing near to me with naafil acts of worship until I
love him.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari; see Fath al-Baari,
Studying the stories of the Prophets and following their example
The evidence for this is the aayah (interpretation of the
meaning): “And all that We relate to you (O Muhammad) of the news of the
Messengers is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart thereby.
And in this has come to you the truth, as well as an adminition and a
reminder for the believers.” [Hood 11:120].
These aayaat were not revealed at the time of the
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him) for the purpose of mere entertainment and amusement.
They were revealed for an important purpose, which was to strengthen the
heart of the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) and likewise the hearts of the believers.
- Think about the meaning of the aayah (interpretation of the
meaning): “They said: ‘Burn him and help your aalihah (gods), if you
will be doing.’ We (Allaah) said: ‘O fire! Be you coolness and safety
for Ibraaheem!’ And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst
losers.” [al-Anbiya’ 21:68-70]. Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “The last thing
Ibraaheem said when he was thrown in the fire was, ‘Allaah is Sufficient
for me and He is the Best Disposer of affairs.’” (Al-Fath, 8/22)
Do you not feel how he stood firm in the face of oppression and torture,
when you read this story?
- Think about the aayah in which Allaah tells us about Moosa
(interpretation of the meaning): “And when the two hosts saw each other,
the companions of Moosa said: ‘We are sure to be overtaken.’ Moosa said:
‘Nay, verily! With me is my Lord, He will guide me.’” [al-Shu’ara’
26:61-62]. Do you not feel how he stood firm when he was being pursued
by the hosts of Pharaoh and was surrounded by cries of despair from his
- Read the story of the magicians of Pharaoh, which is an example of a
small group that adhered firmly to the truth once it had become apparent
to them. Do you not see how they stood firm in the face of threats
issued by the oppressor who said, “Believe you in him (Moosa) before
I give you permission? Verily! He is your chief who taught you magic. So
I will surely cut off your hands and feet on opposite sides, and I will
surely crucify you on the trunks of date-palms, and you shall surely
know which of us [I (Pharaoh) or the Lord of Moosa] can give the severe
and more lasting torment.” [Ta-Ha 20:71 – interpretation of the meaning].
The small group of believers stood firm, with no thought of retreat, and
said: “We prefer you not over the clear signs that have come to us,
and to Him Who created us. So decree whatever you desire to decree, for
can only decree (regarding) the life of this world.” [Ta-Ha 20:72 –
interpretation of the meaning].
- Also think about the story of the believer in Soorat Yaa-Seen, the
believer of Pharaoh’s household, the people of the Ditch (al-ukhdood),
and others, which teach us the greatest lessons we could ever learn
about standing firm in our faith.
One of the characteristics of the believing slaves of
Allaah is that they turn to Allaah with du’aa’, asking Him to help them to
stand firm: “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after
You have guided us…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:8 – interpretation of the meaning]; “Our
Lord! Pour out constancy [patience] on us and make our steps firm…”
[al-Baqarah 2:250 – Yusuf ‘Ali’s translation].
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
told us that “The hearts of the sons of Adam are as one between the fingers
of the Most Merciful, and He directs them as He wills.” (Reported by
Imaam Ahmad from Ibn ‘Umar; see Saheeh Muslim bi Sharh al-Nawawi,
16/204). The Messenger of Allaah
often used to say, “O Controller of the hearts, make my heart adhere firmly
to Your religion.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi from Anas. Tuhfat
al-Ahwadhi, 6/349; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 7864).
Remembrance of Allaah (dhikr)
This is one of the greatest means of being steadfast in
Think about the combination described in this aayah
(interpretation of the meaning): “O you who believe! When you meet (an
enemy) force, take a firm stand against them and remember the Name of Allaah
much, so that you may be successful.” [al-Anfaal 8:45]. Dhikr is one of
the most effective aids to standing firm in jihaad.
“Think about how the physical strength of the Persians
and Romans let them down when they needed it most” (Ibn al-Qayyim, may
Allaah have mercy on him, in Al-Daa’ wa’l-Dawaa’) – despite the small
numbers of men and weapons of those who remembered the Name of Allaah much.
How did Yoosuf (upon whom be peace) stand firm in the
face of temptation of the part of the powerful and beautiful woman who
called him to do wrong? Did he not enter the fortress of “seeking refuge in
Allaah” and thus defeat the waves of temptation? This is the effect of
adhkaar (remembering Allaah) on making the believers steadfast.
Striving to follow the correct way
The only correct way, which every Muslim must follow, is
the way of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah, the path of the victorious group and
the saved sect, the people of pure ‘aqeedah and sound methodology, the
followers of the Sunnah and the (sound) evidence. The Muslim must be
distinct from the enemies of Allaah and be different from the people of
If you want to know the value of this in standing firm,
then ask yourself: why have so many people, in the past and nowadays, been
led astray? Why have they become confused? Why have their feet not stood
firm on the Straight Path? Why did they not die following it, or why did
they come to it so late in life, after wasting so much precious time?
So you see them, moving from one kind of misguided bid’ah
to another, from philosophy to ‘ilm al-kalaam (Islamic philosophy),
from Mu’tazili thought to the way of twisting and misinterpreting the clear
aayaat of the Qur’aan, from one Sufi tareeqah to another…
Thus are the people of bid’ah, confused and shaky in
their faith. See how the people of ‘ilm al-kalaam are deprived of
steadfastness at the time of death. Hence the salaf said, “The people who
suffer the most doubt at the time of death are the people of al-kalaam.”
But think about it: has any follower of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah ever
turned his back on this way in discontent after he has come to know and
understand it? People may abandon it because of their whims and desires, or
because of doubts if their understanding is weak, but no one has left
because he saw something more correct or because he thought this way was
The proof of this is to be seen in the questions posed by
Heraclius to Abu Sufyaan about the followers of Muhammad
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). He asked, “Has anyone ever left
this religion out of discontent after entering it?” Abu Sufyaan said, “No.”
Then Heraclius said, “This is how it is when the joy of faith fills the
heart.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, 1/32).
We have heard a lot about great leaders who moved from
one kind of bid’ah to another, and others whom Allaah guided and so they
left falsehood behind and joined the madhhab of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah,
despising their former ways. But do we ever hear about the opposite?
If you want to stand firm in your Islam, then you must
follow the way of the believers.
Training and education
Gradual, conscious training in faith, based on knowledge,
is one of the basic factors in standing firm in Islam.
Training in faith is that which fills the heart and
consciousness with fear, hope and love (of Allaah), as opposed to the
dryness which results from ignoring the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah and
devoting too much attention to the words of men.
Training based on knowledge is that which is based on
saheeh evidence, as opposed to mere imitation and blind following.
Conscious training is that which recognizes the way of
the sinners and wrongdoers, studies the plots of the enemies of Islam and
properly understands and evaluates reality and events, as opposed to a
blinkered worldview and narrow horizons.
Gradual training is that which takes the Muslim step by
step towards achieving perfection with proper planning, as opposed to
spontaneous and hasty progress in fits and starts.
In order to understand the importance of this element in
standing firm, let us go back to the seerah of the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and ask ourselves:
- What was the source of the Companions’ steadfastness in Makkah, at
the time of their persecution?
- How could Bilaal, Khabbaab, Mas’ab, the family of Yaasir and other
dispossessed Muslims stand firm? How could even the greatest of the
Sahaabah stand firm when they were boycotted by others?
- Is it possible that they could have stood firm without extensive
training under the supervision of the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), which had honed and refined
- Take, for example, the Sahaabi Khabbaab ibn al-Arat (may Allaah be
pleased with him), whose owner used to heat an iron skewer until it was
red-hot, then place it on his bare back where it would burn until it was
extinguished by the fat of his back flowing over it. What made him able
to bear all that with patience and perseverance?
- And think of Bilaal beneath the rock on the burning sands, and
Sumayyah in chains and fetters…
- Look at the Madani period: we may ask, who was it who stood firm
with the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) at Hunayn when most of the Muslims
fled? Was it the new converts who had become Muslim at the Conquest of
Makkah, and who had not yet received sufficient training at the hands of
the Prophet (peace and blessings of
Allaah be upon him), most of whom had gone out only in search of booty?
No… most of those who stood firm were the crème de la crème of the
believers, who had already received that great training.
If they had not received such training, do you think
they would have stood firm?
Having confidence in the road you are following
No doubt the more confident the Muslim is of the path he
is following, the more steadfast he will be in adhering to it. There are
many ways of achieving this, including the following:
- Feeling that the way which you are following is not something new that
started in this century, but that it is an ancient and venerable way which
the Prophets, speakers of truth, scholars, martyrs and righteous people have
followed before you. This will reduce your feelings of loneliness and
replace your alienation with a sense of comfort, and your sadness will turn
to joy because you will feel that all these people are your brothers in this
way and methodology.
- Feeling that you are among the chosen. Allaah says (interpretation of
“…Praise and thanks be to Allaah, and peace be on His
slaves whom He has chosen (for His Message)! …” [al-Naml 27:59]
“Then We gave the Book (the Qur’aan) for inheritance to
such of Our slaves as We chose…” [Faatir 35:32]
“Thus will your Lord choose you and teach you the
interpretation of dreams (and other things)…” [Yoosuf 12:6]
Just as Allaah has chosen the Prophets, so the righteous
have a share in this being chosen, which is that they have inherited the
knowledge of the Prophets.
- How would you feel if Allaah had created you inanimate, or a dumb beast,
or an atheist kaafir, or one who calls to bid’ah, or an immoral wrongdoer,
or a Muslim who does not call others to Islam, or one who calls to a way
that is filled with error?
- Do you not see that this feeling of having been chosen by Allaah and
been made one of those who call to the way of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah is
one of the factors which will keep you steadfast in your methodology and in
Calling others to Allaah (da’wah)
The soul that is not active will stagnate. One of the
most important fields in which one can be active is the field of da’wah,
calling others to Allaah. This is the work of the Prophets, work which will
save you from punishment, realize your potential and enable you to achieve
great things. “Now then, for that (reason), call (them to the Faith), and
stand steadfast as you are commanded…” [al-Shoora 42:15 – interpretation of
the meaning]. It is not true to say that someone is neither making
progress nor slipping back (for if you are not making progress, you are
therefore falling back – no one is static). If a person is not occupied in
acts of worship and obedience, he will be busy with sin and disobedience,
and faith can wax and wane (it does not remain constant).
Calling to the correct methodology – by devoting time to
it, making mental and physical efforts, and speaking out, so that da’wah
becomes the main concern of the Muslim – will block the Shaytaan’s efforts
to tempt him and lead him astray.
In addition to that, being challenged by obstacles and
stubborn people on the journey of da’wah will make the da’iyah stronger in
Besides bringing a great reward, da’wah is also a means
of being steadfast in one's faith and protecting oneself from backsliding,
because the one who is attacking does not need to defend himself, and Allaah
is with the da’iyahs, making them stand firm. The da’iyah is like a doctor
fighting illness with his experience and knowledge: by fighting the illness
in others he will be the least likely to suffer it himself.
Keepin close to people who will help make you steadfast
These are people whose characteristics the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) referred to in the hadeeth,
“Among the people are some who open the way to goodness and close the way to
evil.” (Hasan, reported by Ibn Maajah from Anas, 237, and by Ibn Abi ‘Aasim
in Kitaab al-Sunnah, 1/127. See also Al-Silsilat al-Saheehah,
1332). Looking for scholars, righteous people and believing da’iyahs, and
keeping close to them, is a great help in remaining steadfast. When times of
trial arose in Islamic history, Allaah helped the Muslims to stand firm with
the help of some individuals.
For example, ‘Ali ibn al-Madeeni (may Allaah have mercy
on him) said: “Allaah supported His Religion with al-Siddeeq [Abu Bakr] at
the time of the Riddah (apostasy), and with Ahmad at the time of the test.”
Think about what Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on
him) said about the role of his shaykh, Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] in
helping Muslims to stand firm: “When our fear became too great and we began
to think the worst and things got too difficult for us, we would come to
him. We only had to see him and hear his words, and all that would go away,
to be replaced by tranquillity, strength, assurance and calm. Glory be to
the One Who made His slaves witness Paradise before their meeting with Him,
opened its door to them in this world and caused them to feel its fragrant
breezes so that they would devote all their energy to seeking it and
competing for it.” (Al-Waabil al-Sayib, p. 97).
Here Islamic brotherhood emerges as a basic source of
steadfastness. Your righteous brothers, leaders and teachers are a source of
help for you on the path, a strong pillar on which you can lean. They can
make you more steadfast through the aayaat they know and the wisdom they
possess… Stick with them and live among them; do not be alone, lest the
shayaateen overwhelm you, for the sheep that the wolf eats is the one that
wanders off away from the flock.
Being confident of the help of Allaah, and that the future belongs to Islam
We need to stand firm even more when victory is delayed,
so that we will not go astray after being steadfast. Allaah says
(interpretation of the meaning): “And many a Prophet fought (in Allaah’s
Cause) and along with him (fought) large bands of religious learned men. But
they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allaah’s Way, nor
did they weaken nor degrade themselves. And Allaah loves al-saabireen (the
patient ones). And they said nothing but: ‘Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and
our transgressions (in keeping our duties to You), establish our feet
firmly, and give us victory over the disbelieving folk.’ So Allaah gave them
the reward of this world, and the excellent reward of the Hereafter…” [Aal
When the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) wanted to calm down his
persecuted Companions and make them steadfast, he told them, at times of
persecution and testing, that the future belonged to Islam. What did he say?
Al-Bukhaari reported from Khabbaab that he said: “Allaah will certainly
complete this matter (i.e., Islam), until a traveller will be able to go
from San’aa’ to Hadramawt fearing nothing except Allaah and the wolf that
may attack his sheep.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari; see Fath al-Baari,
Telling the young generation about the ahaadeeth that
give the good news of the future belonging to Islam is an important part of
their education and training to stand firm in their religion.
Understanding the reality of falsehood and not being misled by it
Allaah tells us (interpretation of the meaning): “Let
not the free disposal (and affluence) of the disbelievers throughout the
land deceive you.” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:196]. This offers reassurance to the
believers and helps them to stand firm.
Allaah also tells us: “… Then, as for the foam, it
passes away as scum upon the banks…” [al-Ra’d 13:17]. This is a lesson
for those who have intelligence, not to fear falsehood or to submit to it.
The Qur’aan also exposes the aims and means of the people
of falsehood, as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And thus
do We explain the aayaat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs,
revelations, etc.) in detail, that the way of the mujrimoon (criminals,
polytheists, sinners) may become manifest” [al-An’aam 6:55] – so that
the Muslims will not be caught unawares and so that they will know from
which direction Islam will be attacked.
How often have we heard about and seen movements
collapsing and dai’yahs losing their steadfastness because of attacks which
they did not expect due to their ignorance of their enemies.
Acquiring the characteristics that will help one to remain steadfast
The most important of these is sabr (patience).
Al-Bukhaari and Muslim report that the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “No one is given any gift
greater and more bountiful than patience.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari in
Kitaab al-Zakaah, Baab al-Isti’faaf ‘an al-mas’alah; and by Muslim in
Kitaab al-Zakaah, Baab Fadl al-Ta’affuf wa’l-Sabr). The greatest
patience comes at the onset of a disaster, and if something unexpected
befalls a man, the disaster will overwhelm him and he will lose his
steadfastness, if he does not have patience.
Think about what Ibn al-Jawzi (may Allaah have mercy on
him) said: “I saw an old man, nearly eighty years old, who always used to
come to jamaa’ah prayers. A son of his daughter died, and he said, ‘No one
should pray to Allaah any more, because He does not respond.’ Then he said,
‘Allaah is stubborn and does not leave us a son.’” (Al-Thabaat ‘ind
al-Mawt by Ibn al-Jawzi, p. 34). Exalted be Allaah far above what he
When the Muslims were defeated at Uhud, this disaster was
quite unexpected, because Allaah had promised them victory, but Allaah
taught them a hard lesson through the blood of the martyrs. “(What is the
matter with you?) When a single disaster smites you, although you smote
(your enemies) with one twice as great, you say: ‘From where does this come
to us?’ Say (to them), ‘It is from yourselves (because of your evil
deeds).’…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:165 – interpretation of the meaning]. How
could they have been the cause of it?
“… you lost your courage and fell to disputing about
the order, and disoebeyed after He showed you (of the booty) which you love.
Among you are some that desire this world…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:152 –
interpretation of the meaning].
The advice of righteous men
When the Muslim is faced with trials and his Lord tests
him in order to purify him, one of the means which Allaah gives him to help
him stand firm is a righteous man who will advise and help him. Through this
man’s words Allaah helps the believer to stand firm and directs his steps.
These words remind him of Allaah, the Meeting with Him, His Paradise and His
Hell. There follow some examples from the life of Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah
have mercy on him), who entered the test and emerged as pure gold.
He was taken to al-Ma’moon in chains, and (al-Ma’moon)
had already issued him such a stern warning before he reached him that a
servant said to Imaam Ahmad, “It hurts me, O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah, that
al-Ma’moon has unsheathed a sword which he has never unsheathed before, and
he swears by his relationship to the Messenger of Allaah
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
that if you do not accept what he says about the Qur’aan being created, he
will certainly kill you with that sword.” (Al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah,
At this point, the intelligent scholars took the
opportunity to say to their imaam words that would help him to remain
steadfast. In al-Siyar (11/238), al-Dhahabi reports from Abu Ja’far
al-Anbaari: “When Ahmad was taken to al-Ma’moon, I was told about it, so I
crossed the Euphrates and found him sitting in an inn, where I greeted him.
He said, ‘O Abu Ja’far, why did you go to the trouble (of coming here)?’ I
said, ‘Listen to me, today you are the leader and the people are following
you. By Allaah, if you accept that the Qur’aan is created, a lot of people
will go along with that, but if you do not, then neither will they. Even if
this man (al-Ma’moon) does not kill you, you will still die, because death
is inevitable, so fear Allaah, and do not go along with (al-Ma’moon).’ Ahmad
began to weep and said, ‘Ma sha Allaah.’ Then he said, ‘O Abu Ja’far,
say it again,’ so I said it again, and he kept saying, ‘Ma sha
With regard to his being taken to al-Ma’moon, Imaam Ahmad
said: “We reached al-Rahbah at midnight, and a man came to us and said,
‘Which of you is Ahmad ibn Hanbal?’ He was told, ‘This man.’ He said to the
camel-driver, ‘Slow down.’ … Then he said, ‘Listen to me, why should you
worry if you get killed here and go to Paradise?’ Then he said, ‘May Allaah
be with you,’ and left. I asked about him and I was told, ‘He is an Arab
from the tribe of Rabee’ah who deals with wool in the desert. He is called
Jaabir ibn ‘Aamir, and they say good things about him.’” (Siyar
A’laam al-Nubala’, 11/241).
In al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah, it says that a
Bedouin said to Imaam Ahmad: “Listen to me, you are a representative of the
people, so do not be bad news for them. You are the leader of the people
today, so beware of doing what they are asking you to do, lest you bear
their sins on the Day of Resurrection. If you love Allaah, then bear this
with patience, for the only thing standing between you and Paradise is your
Imaam Ahmad said: “His words strengthened my resolve not
to do what they were asking me to do.” (Al-Bidaayah wa’l-Nihaayah,
It was reported that Imaam Ahmad said: “I never heard any
stronger words at that time than what a Bedouin said to me at Rahbat Tawq, a
village between al-Raqqah and Baghdaad on the banks of the Euphrates. He
said, ‘O Ahmad, if they kill you for the truth, you will be a shaheed
(martyr), and if you live, you will be praised.’ And so my heart grew
strong.” (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 11/241).
Imaam Ahmad said of the young man Muhammad ibn Nooh, who
accompanied him at that time of trial: “Even though he was so young, he had
such great knowledge, and I never saw anyone who adhered more firmly to the
command of Allaah than Muhammad ibn Nooh, and I hope that his end was good.
He said to me one day, ‘O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah, you are not like me. You are a
man whom people follow, and they are straining their necks to see what you
will do, so fear Allaah and adhere to His commands.’ Then he died, and I
prayed the janaazah (funeral) prayer for him and buried him.” (Siyar
A’laam al-Nubala’, 11/242)
Even his fellow-prisoners, whom Imaam Ahmad used to lead
in prayer in chains, had a role to play in helping him to stand firm. One
day when he was in prison, Imaam Ahmad said, “I don’t care about being in
prison – it is no different from my home – or about being killed by the
sword, but I am afraid of the trial of being whipped.” One of the other
prisoners heard him and said, “Don’t worry, O Abu ‘Abd-Allaah, it is only
two lashes of the whip, then you don’t feel where the rest fall.” It was as
if this reassured him and calmed him down. (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’,
So try to seek advice from righteous people, and try to
understand it if it is given to you.
Seek their advice before you travel, if you think that
something could happen to you. Seek their advice when you are facing some
trial, or before some test that you expect to face. Seek their advice if you
are appointed to a position of authority or if you inherit some wealth.
Make yourself stand firm, and help others to do so too.
Allaah is the Protector of the believers.
Thinking about the delights of Paradise and the punishments of Hellfire, and
Paradise is the abode of joy, the consolation of those
who grieve, the final destination of the believers. The soul is by nature
not inclined to make sacrifices or work hard or stand firm unless it gets
something in return that makes difficulties easy and helps it to overcome
the obstacles in its way.
The one who knows about the reward will find it easy to
work hard, because he will be aware that if he does not remain steadfast, he
will miss out on Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth. The soul
needs something to lift it above the dust of this earth and raise it to the
The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used the mention of Paradise to
encourage his Companions to stand firm. According a a hasan saheeh hadeeth,
the Messenger of Allaah (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by Yaasir, ‘Ammaar and Umm ‘Ammaar
when they were being tortured for the sake of Allaah and said, “Patience,
family of Yaasir, patience, family of Yaasir, for your destination is
Paradise.” (Reported by al-Haakim, 3/383; it is a hasan saheeh hadeeth. See
Fiqh al-Seerah, ed. Al-Albaani, p. 103).
The Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to tell the Anssar: “You will face
selfish people after my death, so have patience until you meet me at the
Hawd (cistern – on the Day of Judgement).” (Agreed upon)
Similarly, one should think about the situation of both
groups (believers and kuffaar) in the grave, the gathering, the reckoning,
the scales of justice, the bridge over Hell, and the other events of the
Remembering death protects the Muslim from backsliding
and helps him to adhere to the limits set by Allaah, so that he does not
transgress them. If he knows that death is closer to him than his own
shoelaces and that his time could come at any moment, how can he let himself
slip or persevere in deviation? Hence the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Always remember the
destroyer of pleasure.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2/50; classed as saheeh in
Irwa’ al-Ghaleel, 3/145).
Situations where steadfastness is required
There are many such situations, which need to
be discussed in detail, but we can only list them in brief here.
Times of trial and tribulation
Trials and tribulations can cause the heart to change.
Whether they are the trials of ease or of hardship, only those who have
understanding and whose hearts are filled with faith can remain steadfast.
Among the different types of trials are:
- The trial of wealth. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And of them are some who made a covenant with Allaah (saying): ‘If He
bestowed on us of His Bounty, we will verily give charity and will be
certainly among those who are righteous. Then when He gave them of His
Bounty, they became niggardly, and turned away, averse.” [al-Tawbah 9:75-76]
- The trial of worldly power and authority. Allaah says (interpretation of
the meaning): “And keep yourself patiently with those who call on their
Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His Face, and let not your eyes overlook
them, desiring the pomp and glitter of the life of the world; and obey not
him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, one who follows
his own lusts and whose affair (deeds) has been lost.” [al-Kahf 18:28].
Concerning the danger of these two types
of trial, the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Two hungry wolves sent against the
sheep could not do more damage to them than the damage done by a man’s
eagerness for wealth and power to his religion.” (Reported by Imaam
Ahmad in al-Musnad, 3/460; see also Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5496).
The meaning is that a man’s desire for wealth and power will do more damage
to his religion than the damage done by two hungry wolves to a flock of
- The trial of one's wife. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“… Verily, among your wives and your children there are enemies for you
(i.e., may stop you from the obedience of Allaah), therefore beware of
them!…” [al-Taghaabun 64:14]
- The trial of children. The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Children are the cause of
cowardice, the cause of stinginess and the cause of grief.” (Reported
by Abu Ya’laa, 2/305 – it also has corroborating reports. See also Saheeh
- The trial of persecution, oppression and injustice. Allaah has described
this in the most evocative terms in the Qur’aan (interpretation of the
meaning): “Cursed were the people of the ditch, fire supplied
(abdunantly) with fuel, when they sat by it (the fire), and they witnessed
what they were doing against the believers (i.e., burning them). They had
nothing against them, except that they believed in Allaah, the All-Mighty,
Worthy of all Praise! To Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the
earth! And Allaah is Witness over everything.” [al-Burooj 85:4-9]
Al-Bukhaari reported from Khabbaab (may
Allaah be pleased with him) who said: “We complained to the Messenger of
Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) when he was reclining on his cloak in the shade of the Ka’bah. He
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Among the people who came
before you, there was a man who was taken and put into a hole dug for him in
the earth, then a saw was put on his head and he was cut into two pieces,
and an iron comb was used to tear the flesh from his bones, but this still
did not turn him away from his religion.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari,
see Fath al-Baari, 12/315).
- The trial of the Dajjaal (“antichrist”), which is the
greatest trial in this world. The Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “O people, there has never
been any fitnah (trial) on the face of the earth since Allaah created Adam
greater than the trial of the Dajjaal… O slaves of Allaah, O people, stand
firm, for I shall describe him to you in a way that no Prophet before me has
described him…” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 2/1359; see Saheeh
With regard to the heart and the trials it is subjected to,
the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon him) said: “Hearts are exposed to trials one after the other. Any heart
that succumbs to them is stained with a black spot, and any heart that resists
them becomes pure white, until all hearts of one of these two types. The white
heart is intensely white and will not be harmed by any trial so long as heaven
and earth remain, and the black heart is intensely black and does not recognize
good or forbid evil, except what suits its own whims and desires.” (Reported by
Imaam Ahmad, 5/386, and by Muslim, 1/128 – this version narrated by Muslim).
Steadfastness in jihaad
“O you who believe! When you meet (an
enemy) force, take a firm stand against them…” [al-Anfaal 8:45 –
interpretation of the meaning]. One of the major sins (kabaa’ir) in our
religion is running away from the battlefield. When the Prophet
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
was carrying earth on his back when they were digging the trench (al-khandaq),
he repeated with the believers, “Make us steadfast when we meet our
enemies.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari in Kitaab al-Ghazawaat, Bab
Ghazwat al-Khandaq. See al-Fath, 7/399)
Steadfast adherence to the manhaj (methodology of the Qur’aan and
“Among the believers are men who have been true to
their covenant with Allaah [i.e., they have gone out for jihaad (holy
fighting), and showed not their backs to the disbelievers], of them some
have fulfilled their obligations (i.e., have been martyred), and some of
them are still waiting, but they have never changed [i.e., they never proved
treacherous to their covenant which they concluded with Allaah] in the
least.” [al-Ahzaab 33:23 – interpretation of the meaning]. Their
principles are dearer to them than their own souls, and their determination
knows no compromise.
Steadfastness at the time of death
The kuffaar and immoral people are denied steadfastness
at the most difficult and most stressful times, and they cannot utter the
Shahaadah at the time of death – which is one of the signs of a bad end. A
man was told when he was dying to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah, and he
started to move his head from right to left, refusing to say it. Another
started to say, “This is an excellent piece, this is a bargain,” when he was
dying. A third began to mention the names of various chess pieces, and a
fourth started to hum the tunes of songs, or to mention the name of someone
he loved. This is because those things distracted them from remembering
Allaah in this world.
You may see some of these people with blackened faces, or
a foul odour, or turning away from the qiblah – laa hawla wa laa quwwata
illa billaah (there is no strength or power except with Allaah).
But the people of righteousness, who follow the Sunnah,
are helped by Allaah to stand firm at the time of death, and so they utter
the Shahaadatayn. You may see some of them with a cheerful face and a
pleasant scent, looking as if they are hearing good news when their souls
are taken from their bodies.
This is an example of one of those whom Allaah helped to
be steadfast at the time of death. His name was Abu Zar’ah al-Raazi, one of
the imaams of the scholars of hadeeth:
“Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn ‘Ali Warraaq Abu Zar’ah said: we
were with Abu Zar’ah in Shahraan, one of the villages of al-Riyy, when he
started dying, and Abu Haatim, Ibn Waarah, al-Mundhir ibn Shaadhaan and
others were with him. They remembered the hadeeth, ‘Tell those who are dying
to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah,’ but they felt too shy to tell Abu
Zar’ah to say it. They said, ‘Let us mention the hadeeth.’ Ibn Waarah said:
‘Abu ‘Aasim told us, ‘Abd al-Hameed ibn Ja’far told us, from Saalih,’ and he
started to say ‘Ibn Abi…’ but he could not go any further. Then Abu Haatim
said, ‘Bundaar told us Abu ‘Aasim told us, from ‘Abd al-Hameed ibn Ja’far,
from Saalih…’ but he could not go any further, and the rest remained silent.
Then Abu Zar’ah said, whilst he was dying, he opened his eyes and said:
‘Bundaar told us, Abu ‘Aasim told us, ‘Abd al-Hameed told us, from Saalih
ibn Abi Ghareeb from Katheer ibn Murrah from Mu’aadh ibn Jabal who said: The
Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings
of Allaah be upon him) said, “Whoever says as his last words La ilaaha
ill-Allaah, will enter Paradise.”’ Then his soul departed, may Allaah
have mercy on him.” (Siyar A’laam al-Nubala’, 13/76-85).
These are the ones of whom Allaah says (interpretation of
the meaning): “Verily, those who say: ‘Our Lord is Allaah (Alone),’ and
then they stood straight (followed Islam truly), on them the angels will
descend (at the time of their death) (saying): ‘Fear not, nor grieve! But
receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!’”
O Allaah, make us among them. O Allaah, we ask you to make us
adhere to Islam with determination and wisdom. And the end of our prayer is:
praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds.