Perhaps the title of this short article would make you say, “Here’s a hadith (Prophetic narration) about the fantastic, unimaginably wonderful things in paradise!” But the truth is that the wonders referred to in this hadith are very much attainable here and now, and very much pertain to our day-to-day life. This hadith in fact, it is the key to happiness itself!
The hadith is narrated in Sahih Muslim, where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
“Wondrous are the affairs of the believer. His affairs are all good, and this is only the case for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is thankful, and it is good for him. When something harmful happens to him, he is patient, and it is good for him.”
This hadith is also narrated in Masnad Ahmad in an interesting context. It is said that the Prophet chuckled and then asked his companions, “Will you not ask me what makes me laugh?” They asked him what made him laugh, and so he then said, “Wondrous are the affairs of the believer…” till the end of the hadith. Now, let’s deconstruct this hadith:
- The question then comes to mind: What made the Prophet (peace be upon him) laugh? What did he (peace be upon him) consider wonderful? The answer is in the hadith: the affairs of the believer. The word “affairs” means matters of personal concerns. So the joy of the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him, was for a believer. Everything that concerns a believer on a personal level is wonderful! His affairs are all good!
- The Arabic word “Khair” is often used when we say “Jazakum Allahu Khair”, meaning, “May Allah grant you Khair”. But what does it mean? It is much greater than just goodness; it is well-being, prosperity and welfare. And so, each and every matter that concerns a believer is full of goodness, well-being, prosperity, and welfare. How is that so? Keep reading to find out…
- There’s a qualifying condition here: this applies to believers only; and this is only the case for the believer, no one else. The word “believer” means someone who accepts something as truth. What is this truth, you ask? In this context, it is belief in the Oneness, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of Allah (Glory be to Him).
- We all know this quote: “Life is full of ups and downs.” In the context of this hadith, life is full of pleasure and harm. As Allah says in the Quran, “Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns: that Allah may know those that believe…” (Quran, ch.3, v.140)
In his book, The Message of the Quran, Muhammad Asad deduces the meaning, “[F]or it is by turns that We apportion unto men such days (of fortune and misfortune): and (this) to the end that God might mark out those who have attained to faith…”
- The true test in the alternating ups and downs, fortunes and misfortune, pleasure and harm is in our response to it… so that Allah, Al-Jalalayn says, “may know, through knowledge manifested outwardly, those who believe, who are sincere in their faith from others.”
The question is: Will our belief in the Oneness, Omnipotence and Omnipresence of Allah, be manifested in our actions through the pleasures and harms of this life?
- How can we be truly sincere in our faith? How can we past the test? The hadith gives us the answer: by being thankful and patient.
- When a believer is blessed with fortune, be it a good grade, fitness, wealth or anything that pleases, the first thought that comes to mind is that this is not due to his or her own efforts or skills, but that it is a blessing from Allah. The feeling is one of gratitude and he or she immediately thanks Allah for it. This is the inner manifestation of one’s belief, in response to a blessing.
- The external manifestation of one’s belief is what stems out of this gratitude and thankfulness to Allah. What are you going to do with the blessing? This is a question we will all be asked on the Day of Judgment. And so, scholars highlight that true thankfulness is not just in a saying or a fleeting feeling. It is in the action taken using this blessing… What are you going to do with your fitness? What are you going to do with your wealth? What are you going to do with your creativity? When the blessing is used to further the cause of Islam and in doing good; this is true thankfulness. So, it is good for him.
- When a believer is tested with misfortune, be it anything harmful and displeasing, the first thought that comes to mind is that this is just another test in this lesser life. It is another opportunity for reward and goodness by being patient and courageous in face of adversity and hardship. This patience is a manifestation of one’s belief. It is an understanding that everything is under Allah’s control. It is belief and trust in Allah’s Omnipresence. And so, it is good for him.
By perfecting these two qualities of thankfulness and patience, a believer may truly attain happiness. Any matter that concerns him or her becomes a source of goodness! Oh, no wonder the Prophet, may peace be upon him, laughed! Oh, how profound of a meaning, how powerful a character! How wondrous an affair!