In the following ayaat, the typical behavior of people are mentioned i.e. how people change with times of happiness and sadness.
Very few people remain calm and composed in either one of these situations. And very few people continue doing what they were already doing, whether they are happy or sad.
The states and circumstances of people are forever changing. Nothing is constant. No blessing remains forever in this Dunya, nor does any hardship.
Whatever a person enjoys in the life of this world is short-lived, and that is due to the nature of this Dunya itself – it is imperfect, fleeting and temporary!
The same goes for the different hardships that people go through, they too don’t remain forever.
The real test is seeing what a person does with the changing situations and circumstances that he goes through in life.
Most people change when their situations change, and that is because they are slaves to their desires, doing whatever their souls want them to do, on impulse.
Very few people are true slaves of Allah, who remain balanced regardless of the state they are in. They exercise Sabr at times of hardship and do Shukr during times of happiness as we will read later on.
In the following ayah, we observe how a person behaves when a blessing is given to him, and then taken away. And through this the true nature of the person is exposed.
وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ – 11:9
And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful.
The person described in this ayah feels as though he is the most unfortunate person in the Dunya. Allah describes him as Ya’oos. He completely despairs in the Mercy of Allah, he does not maintain hope that Allah will reward him for his patience and suffering, nor does he think that perhaps Allah will replace his loss with something better!
Rather he is disheartened, ungrateful for the little he did enjoy and becomes hopeless of any goodness in the future. And this can also lead to physical harm as well! So such a person goes to an extreme when it comes to sadness!
The Prophet (saws): “No fatigue, nor illness, nor worry, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick of a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it.” [al-Bukhari]
But when will this happen? Only when the believer is positive and hopeful and doesn’t despair in the Mercy of Allah!
Now Allah mentions another extreme behaviour…
وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاءَ بَعْدَ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي ۚ إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ – 11:10
But if We give him a taste of favor after hardship has touched him, he will surely say, “Bad times have left me.” Indeed, he is exultant and boastful –
He forgot how hopeless, despairing and ungrateful he was at the loss earlier and now he doesn’t even thank Allah when the blessing is restored.
Fakhoor – is a person who shows off for the slightest of things. He is someone who makes a lot of noise just to get the attention of others, while boasting and looking down on them.
So this happiness that is being described in this ayah, is not in the positive sense. He is arrogantly happy. He doesn’t turn towards Allah and thank Him. Rather he turns away and thinks that he is the best. He celebrates his accomplishments by disobeying Allah and exceeding the limits. So his happiness has no bounds!
Now Allah mentions the people who don’t respond in the typical manner stated above, rather they adopt a balanced approach to their ever changing circumstances…
إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ أُولَٰئِكَ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ – 11:11
Except for those who are patient and do righteous deeds; those will have forgiveness and great reward.
They are patient over their hardships and difficulties, they submit to the Decree of Allah. They don’t lose hope, nor do they despair of the Mercy of Allah. They don’t react negatively and exceed His limits. Yes, their hearts may feel sad, and their eyes may shed tears, but their tongues will not say anything that is displeasing to Allah.
But Sabr is not just at times of hardship, but also during times of happiness. Such people control themselves when they experience delight and joy, they remain calm, refraining from boasting and indulging in self-praise.
And they also continue to do good. Just because they are going through a difficult situation, doesn’t mean they give up on their worship. And similarly, in times of ease as well, they will continue to remember Allah, and thank Him and do all those good deeds that they were doing before.
So these people save themselves from negative reaction both at times of hardship and ease, and they remain as they were, calm and composed, without succumbing to changes in their situations.
And for such people, is forgiveness of their sins and a great reward in the Hereafter.
The Prophet (saw) said, “By He in Whose Hand is my soul! Allah does not decree any matter for the believer except that it is good for him. If any blessing befalls him, he is thankful (to Allah) and that is good for him. If any harm comes to him, he is patient and that is also good for him. This is (a bounty) exclusively for the believer.” [al-Bukhari]