By Tariq Mehanna

Food for Thought by Tariq Mehanna

“For every bit of joy, there is a bit of sadness, and no household is filled with joy except that it is then filled with sadness.” – ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud

“There is no laughter except that it is eventually followed up with weeping.” – Ibn Sirin

Ibn Muflih commented on these deep, universal statements in the book ‘al-Adab ash-Shar’iyyah’ (2/151-152): “And we witness the most amazing things in regards to how rapidly the world changes along with those living in it.”

He then quoted Hind bint an-Nu’man: “You had seen us while were the most honored of people, who had the most authority. The Sun barely had set when you then saw us as the most belittled of people. Allah has made it a must that He fills no home with comfort except that He then fills it with a source of lessons (i.e. some difficulty).”

And her sister wept during one of her days of glory, and she was asked: “Why do you weep? Did someone hurt you?” She replied: “No, but I saw my family living in comfort, and a home is rarely filled with joy except that it is then filled with sadness.”

She also said: “Today we are living better than we were yesterday. We find written in some books: ‘There is no family that lives in comfort except that it will be followed up with a lesson, and time doesn’t show any people a day that they love except that it reserves for them a day they will hate.'” She then recited the following lines of poetry:

…While we were leading the people, and the command was ours * We were suddenly servants, pushed around;
So, uff! to a world whose pleasures do not last * Which turns and alternates our circumstances, time and again…

Very relevant are the words of Ibn al-Jawzi in the book ‘Sayd al-Khatir’ (p. 93), which provide a sort of way out from the downside: “Know that the days we live aren’t consistent in nature, as Allah Said: {“And such are the days; We rotate them between the people…”} [Al ‘Imran; v. 140] Sometimes you’re poor, sometimes you’re rich; sometimes you’re honored, sometimes you’re humiliated; sometimes your friends are happy for you, sometimes your enemies rejoice over you. The happy person is the one who sticks to just one constant principle in every situation: to be conscious of Allah (taqwa). If you are rich, it will beautify you. If you are poor, it will open the doors to patience for you. If you are comfortable, it will complete your blessings. If you are experiencing difficulty, it will uplift you. You will not be hurt regardless of whether the days go up or down with you, or whether they leave you naked or full or hungry – because all of these circumstances are temporary and will change. Taqwa is the basis of safety, and is a guard that never sleeps…”

All of the above words describe the reality of pretty much every human being – believer or not, righteous or wicked – in every time and place. Thus, they are food for thought for us all…

– Tariq

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