ALLAH PROMPTS OUR AFFECTION THROUGH TRIBULATIONS
Basheer noticed the apathy in his children’s feelings toward him. Ghassan and Rami would come every morning into their father’s room, extend their hand, and say: “Father, our allowance, please,” in a dull routine manner. Upon receiving their allowance, they would hurriedly thank him and head out.
Basheer wanted to remind his sons that his relationship with them was not only about their allowance. So, one day, when they came demanding their money with extended hands, he told them, in a voice full of sincere love: “I love you, my sons.”
Basheer hoped that his eyes would meet his children’s eyes as he was saying these words and that he would see, in their eyes, the joy and appreciation of what he had just told them. He looked for any sign that his children loved him for who he was and not for the money he gave them.
But his children’s response was disappointing! They nodded absently and said: “We love you too,” with their hands still extended and their eyes fixed on their father’s pocket (where the money was).
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The father was shocked, and his smile faded. He removed his hand from his pocket without taking out his wallet.
The two boys realized what had just happened and how disrespectful they had been in response to their father’s soft words.
They withdrew their hands and tried to remedy the situation.
Rami started: “Father, I’m sorry. Of course, I love you. You are my father who cares and provides for me, and I can’t live without you.” Rami said these words with his allowance in mind, expecting his father to put his hand back in his pocket and produce the money.
But the father did not do that and instead remained silent. So Rami said: “Father, please, I need the money… I promise to be more tactful, but please don’t cut off my allowance.”
The father still didn’t respond, so Rami left the room angrily.
As for Ghassan, He was shaken to the core by the situation!
He truly loves his father, but he has been neglectful in showing his love because of his attachment to his allowance.
The disappointment and sadness on his father’s face awakened Ghassan’s feelings, and he realized how negligent he had been lately in fulfilling his father’s rights over him. He realized he had been selfish and neglectful of his father’s feelings, as he was not exerting any effort to bring joy to his father’s heart.
Ghassan’s eyes brimmed with tears, and he spoke in an unsteady voice: “I’m sorry, my beloved father… For so long, I have been oblivious to your rights over me! Please forgive me. Your smile is worth more to me than the whole world.” While saying these words, his eyes eagerly searched for any sign that his father’s gloom had lifted.
But the father remained sad and silent. He left his room and sat on the couch without a word.
Ghassan followed his father and continued his efforts to appease him by kissing his father’s hand, kissing his head, then holding his father’s hand with tears gushing down his cheeks and saying: “Father, please forgive me… I love you… You know I love you!”
The father struggled with conflicting feelings. He hated to see his son so broken, but he was still shocked by his children’s uncaring attitude earlier. Besides, he needed further assurances of the sincerity of Ghassan’s love for him. The father withdrew, returned to his room without saying anything, and closed the door behind him.
Ghassan felt lost, so he followed his father and spoke to him through the closed door: “Father, please… I can’t bear living if you are unhappy with me… I can’t bear seeing you upset and disappointed… I did wrong, Father, but I love you… Please forgive me… Please smile at me… Please hold me in your arms!”
The sound of Ghassan’s weeping got louder and louder, like a child panicking after his mother abandoned him in a desert.
At this point, Ghassan’s bitter weeping broke the estrangement dam in the father’s heart!
He opened the door, picked up his son, who was down on his knees, embraced him, wiped away his tears, and kissed his head. Ghassan’s cries continued, but they turned to whimpers of joy as his feelings of longing were fulfilled.
The father reached for his wallet to give Ghassan his allowance, but Ghassan returned the wallet to his father’s pocket, hugged his father, and said: “Forget about the money now. All I want is to have my loving father back… As long as you are pleased with me, nothing else matters.”
And to Allah belongs the highest example. Allah may see His servants’ love for Him shrivel and their attachment to His worldly Blessings increase, even while He continues to approach them with His affection and Love and wants them to reciprocate this love.
So, if He sees nothing but obliviousness and negligence from them, He withholds some of His Blessings to shake them out of their negligence and make them realize how Allah’s Blessings have distracted them from Allah, the Bestower of Blessings.
As for insensitive people like Rami, they will not understand this lesson. They will persist in their negligence with minds fixated on the ‘allowance’… They ask Allah for forgiveness and strive to do good to regain their ‘allowance’. Their prime issue is not Allah’s reproach but that their ‘allowance’ was cut off!
Such shallow thinking, shortsightedness, and apathy!
They only think about what they need to do to regain the blessing, and they don’t see a need to be thankful and reciprocate love with love.
As for sensitive, kind-hearted people with mindful hearts like Ghassan, cutting off the ‘allowance’ lifts the veil of negligence that clouds their sight and forces them to realize the real disaster: their negligence to fulfill Allah’s Right over them and their ingratitude towards Him. Their concern centers on appeasing Allah the Exalted and proving that they reciprocate His Love. Regaining the ‘allowance’ becomes a secondary issue because they can survive —albeit with difficulty— without the ‘allowance’ while they cannot bear to live one moment in the state of loss without Allah’s support or love.
At the end of the day, both may regain their allowance:
“To each We extend —to these and to those— from the gift of your Lord. And never has the gift of your Lord been restricted.” [Surah Al-Isra, 17:20]
But the negligent, uncaring person will come out of the trial unchanged —without achieving any benefit— as long as the recommencement of his allowance is his utmost goal and ambition.
While for the mindful person, this trial was the best blessing, as it freed his soul from the shackles of negligence and uplifted it to the orbit of Allah’s love!
“Are they equal in comparison?…” [Surah Hud, 11:24]
It is reported that some Righteous people —known for getting their prayers answered— wouldn’t ask Allah for relief from affliction or calamity!
You may say: I’m sure these reports are exaggerated. Perhaps! However, if we understand the meanings discussed in this section, such stories will no longer seem far-fetched. Maybe they perceived the calamity as a warning from Allah that they had been negligent of Him and that He wanted them to reciprocate His love. This mindset takes over, and the afflicted believer tries to discover his areas of negligence, rekindle the meaning of love in his heart, and find ways to prove the sincerity of his love for Allah Almighty.
Such a mindset may distract the believer from asking Allah for relief from his calamity. He may even consider prioritizing his prayers for relief as a discourtesy towards Allah, as it shows a lack of concern for the reason for the calamity: a prompt to reciprocate Allah’s love. He knows that the continuation of the calamity is a persistent incentive to re-enter the circle of Allah’s love. His concern becomes to revive his heart with the meanings of love, and he leaves the timing of relief to Allah; with complete trust in His Wisdom and Mercy.
Do you now understand how Allah “prompts” our love for Him through trials?
Do you remember the saying of our Prophet, Peace be upon him:
“…When Allah loves a people, He subjects them to trials…”?
Summary of this section
View trials positively. Don’t perceive them as mere punishment but rather as a prompt to elicit our love for Allah!
When Allah sees our negligence and coldness towards Him, He afflicts us so we can review our relationship with Allah, feel shame, love Him, and get close to Him.