Yahya ibn Mu’adh was once asked, ‘When does a slave reach the ranks of Ridha (being pleased with Allah)?’ He said:
“When he acts upon 4 principles with which he deals with his Lord: That he says: ‘(O Allah), if You give me, I shall accept and if You prevent me, then I shall be content. If You were to leave me, I shall still worship You, and were to call me I shall indeed answer.” [Hilyat al-Awliya']
Being pleased with Allah `azza wa jall no matter what happens is from the greatest signs that a believer is a sincere and strong believer. It shows caliber, truthfulness and integrity in one’s practise of Islam. As human beings, we’re bound to go through ups and downs in life, we’re tested with many things – sometimes the test is easy but sometimes it’s difficult and will knock you down unsuspectingly – but this is not the key issue in our lives. Trials & tribulations, ups & downs, good & bad times etc, are all from the Sunan of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala that every living thing will experience in their lifespan. But the crucial matter at hand is how we deal and cope with these issues.
It might be the case that a few years ago, you used to be a very strong Muslim, steadfast in your faith, consistent in your ‘Ibadah (worship in all its forms) and being very active in general. Throughout the years however, you notice that things are not the same anymore, you’re slacking, you no longer have that zeal to learn, to develop and progress in your Deen, and your worship is minimal at it’s best – no Sunnah prayers, no extra fasts, no Qiyaam and definitely no sadaqah, what with all the credit crunch crunching right through your pocket!. When bad times hit you, you fall into some type of depression, unable to lift your chin, breathe in the air and say with a smile and fresh contentment, ‘Alhamdulillah `ala kulli hal’ (praising Allah for every circumstance).
Why? What’s changed?
It could be many reasons; it could be a personal thing for you. But at its root, undeniably, it’s to do with tarbiyyah – were you built up enough to endure those years? Were you strong enough from the beginning such that any problem you faced only made you stronger? Did you have the right self-tarbiyyah in the first place?
What Mu’adh ibn Jabal described above is a person who has trained themselves upon the principles of Islam… someone who has gone through effective tarbiyyah and who has really benefited from their knowledge and practise of Islam. It has penetrated them such that no matter what happens, they see beyond that matter and focus on Allah `azza wa jall Himself, since He is the Controller of all things, the Sustainer, the One to Who they’re returning to – and this is an incredible source of strength for the ‘Abd: when he turns to his Master and Keeper.
So, let us try to understand our affairs and be happy regardless of what situations we find ourselves in. If it’s good, then be thankful and if it’s not what you expected, then be patient and still be thankful because at the end of the day, it’s not about the issues you face… rather what’s being recorded in your book is how you deal with them and the deeds you subsequently do.
Really, brothers and sisters, I can’t stress how important tarbiyyah is in the life of a Muslim, or indeed in the life of any human being. Tarbiyyah is something which sees us through many things on a daily basis, it affects the way we worship Allah `azza wa jall and work Him in our lives, the way we deal with others, the way we conduct ourselves, the way we cope with the distresses of life, how we run our families, communities and how we perform as individuals in general. If we lack the solid, inside-out type of tarbiyyah, then throughout our lives, we’ll suffer one loss after another. We’ll see a downward spiral in our Deen and we’ll see little to no change in progress or development in our lives- in fact, it leaves us as stagnant beings and leads to our detriment.
A statement of Shaykh Ahmad Farid:
‘Al-Tarbiyyah al-Imaniyyah (training and developing oneself Islamically and internally) is a part of the tarbiyyah which a Muslim needs to take on in order to become a firm brick in the lofty castle of Islam. It is also a part of the tarbiyyah which is required to raise a generation upon the mode and manner of the first generation through whom Allah `azza wa jall permitted the conquest of lands, opened the hearts of slaves and they gave Islam strength and victory for many centuries to come…’
Without tarbiyyah, there’s not much you can do or maintain in your life.