Other’s Calamity – Our Responsibility

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Written by Shaykhul-Hadīth, Hadrat Mawlānā Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafizahullāh

When a person is afflicted with a calamity, catastrophe, grief etc., the people around him/her; the family, friends and the wider Muslim community, all have a role to play. We often remain neglectful and fail to fulfil our duties in this regard. I would like to mention a few points concerning this which will be of benefit inshā’allāh.

1. Feel for others

The Sharī’ah has advised us that we should realise and feel the pain the afflicted Muslim is going through. It is unfortunate that we have become very hard-hearted and do not feel the pain of others. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has given much emphasis to brotherhood and having feeling for one-another, rather feeling for every living creature. Take a look at the beautiful teachings of Islām:

Allāh ta’ālā states in a verse mentioning the qualities of the Sahābah radhiyallāhu ‘anhum, “…compassionate among themselves…” (48:29)

In another verse, Allāh ta’ālā instructs us regarding non-Muslims:

“Allāh ta’ālā does not forbid you as regards those who did not fight you on account of Faith, and did not expel you from your homes, that you do good to them, and deal justly with them. Surely Allāh ta’ālā loves those who maintain justice.” (60:8)

Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has stated:

“The Muslims are like one body. If the eye is in pain, the whole body will feel that pain; if the head is in pain, the whole body will feel that pain.” (Muslim)

“A true believer is one from whose hands and tongue other people are safe (be they Muslims or non-Mulisms).” (An-Nasā’ī)

“Fear Allāh ta’ālā with regards these speechless animals; ride them whilst they are healthy and consume them whilst they are healthy.” (Abū Dāwūd)

2. Give Support

Together with realising the difficulties and pain the ones afflicted are undergoing, the Sharī’ah has instructed us to give support and condolence. Rather than becoming bystanders, we should act positively. It is for this reason the instruction of ta’ziyah (consoling) has been given. In one hadīth Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has stated:

“The one who consoles a bereaved mother, will be dressed with a [special] garment in Jannah.” (At-Tirmidhī)

“A Muslim who consoles his brother during a calamity or distress, will be clothed with garments of honour by Allāh ta’ālā on the Day of Qiyāmah.” (At-Tabrānī)

So, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has encouraged us to console the one afflicted and the whole purpose of consoling is to give support and lessen the grief from the one afflicted. It is strange to note our adverse conduct in this regard that we, instead of offering supporting words, increase the grief and sorrow by our statements. We, in order to show we are very much grieved, say and do those things which act as salt on the wound. Lāhawla walā quwwata illā billāh!

When consoling, we should give a positive outlook to the difficulty. (The points mentioned of positive thinking in the previous editorial can be used to console the grieved.) A positive aspect to the matter works wonders in reducing the grief of the afflicted. If someone’s father has passed away, one can give a negative aspect to the issue and say, ‘What a great loss! Truly you have now lost a great person. How will you cope without him?’ etc. and one can also speak positively and say, ‘You were very fortunate that the cool shadow of your father remained over you for 40 years. There are so many people whose fathers have passed away in their childhood…’

It is narrated that after the demise of ‘Abbās radhiyallāhu ‘anhu, his son, Ibn ‘Abbās radhiyallāhu ‘anhumā remarked, “No one consoled me better than the Bedouin.” The story is that a Bedouin came to console Ibn ‘Abbās radhiyallāhu ‘anhumā and said the following couplets:


Exercise patience so that we too will be able to exercise it through you. Indeed the patience of the people is dependent upon the patience of the leader.

Better for you than [your father] ‘Abbās radhiyallāhu ‘anhu is your reward [upon exercising patience] after him; and Allāh ta’ālā is better for ‘Abbās radhiyallāhu ‘anhu than you!

3. Make Du’ā

Making a du’ā is one of the best ways to assist the one afflicted. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has stated that from amongst the du’ā that is most quickly accepted is the du’ā of the absent person for another. (Abū Dāwūd)

Du’ā is the most powerful weapon a believer has. Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has stated, “Du’ā is a weapon of the believer…” (Al-Hākim)

Our du’ā should not be restricted to the affected. If such a calamity has occurred wherein there is some mischief from a person, then also make du’ā of divine guidance for that person too. Our attitude should be to pray for the enemies instead of cursing and making inappropriate statements. To understand this, we only need to look into the sīrah of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam. Whilst returning from Tā’if, after having been persecuted by its people, Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam made du’ā for them instead of cursing them.

4. Take Lesson and Prepare

Seeing another in a pitiful condition is an opportunity to learn a lesson. It was the Grace of Allāh ta’ālā that we are not in their shoes, but Allāh ta’ālā is All-Powerful. He can bring such adverse conditions upon us too; therefore, we should use such incidents to bring a positive change in our lives. One should reflect in the following ways:

a.   Look at the one afflicted and start to prepare for such times. We should always ask Allāh ta’ālā for ‘āfiyah, however, as we have discussed previously, difficulties and hardships in this world are inevitable, hence we should mentally prepare ourselves so that we react correctly in such circumstances. We should embed in our minds that should I be afflicted, I will exercise patience and think positively, so that I may reap the rewards promised for patience.

b.   In preparation for such times, one needs to begin to rectify his life and make it one of taqwā, as this is the only tool which will allow a person through difficult circumstances. Allāh ta’ālā states, “…Whoever creates the veil of taqwā between himself and the disobedience of Allāh ta’ālā, Allāh ta’ālā will bring forth a way out for him.” (65:2)

c.   When such catastrophes occur to close ones or to someone in our locality, the feeling of loss can be more easily perceived and lessons can be learnt. In a recent incident, in our locality, a whole family was lost out by a fire and only one member remained. It is not difficult to understand the extent of this loss and how the remaining individual must be feeling. Having realised the severity of this loss, one should reflect on the ḥadīth of Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam that whoever misses the ‘Aṣr ṣalāh, it is as if he has lost his whole family and wealth. (Muslim)

This way it will become easy for us to realise the loss we are making daily and this realisation will encourage us to repent sincerely and submit to the Commands of Allāh ta’ālā.

5. Think About the Future

When calamities strike they tend to be sudden. Those who are afflicted with a calamity and leave this world do not have the opportunity to decide in what state they wish to leave. If they leave in a good state, with Īmān and taqwā; they are fortunate. The same can be our state; death may come unannounced. We need to contemplate and ponder whether we are ready to face death if it was to strike suddenly without notice.

Rasūlullāh sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam has said, “Each person will be resurrected in the state he/she has died.” (Muslim)

Therefore, we should immediately begin preparing for the inevitable and remain ready at all times. May Allāh ta’ālā grant us all the tawfīq. Āmīn.