All throughout life our environments change, but there is one thing that remains constant no matter what situation we may fall into: the fact that we are constantly in a relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). With each emotion that results in action, we are paving our way to our permanent abode in the After Life.
There are four main states that we may find ourselves in:
- The State of Blessing.
- The State of Hardship.
- The State of Sin.
- The State of Obedience.
These four states are not completely separate from one another; a person may be going through more than one at the same time. For each one of these states, there is a specific form of worship mandated.
The State of Blessing
In the state of ni`am, or blessing, the believers should respond with shukr. Shukr is often times translated as “gratitude,” however it encompasses more than just that. There are three parts to shukr and if one of these parts is not present, the shukr is not complete. The blessing must be reflected in:
1. Your heart
Strive to be pleased internally with what Allah has bestowed upon you. Never think, “I deserve this,” or, “I earned this myself.
2. Your limbs
Be sure not to commit any haraam (unlawful act) with the blessing that Allah (swt) has bestowed upon you. This is the epitome of ungratefulness.
3. Your tongue
Thank Allah (swt) verbally and be sure to not boast about what has been bestowed upon you.
We must also remember that if you are thankful during times of ease and blessings, Allah (swt) will increase those blessings. On the other hand, if you are ungrateful, the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon you will decrease and eventually disappear.
The State of Hardship
In the state of Al-Balaa’, or hardship, the believer should respond with sabr. Sabr is to have patience and ridda (acceptance) of the state in which you have been placed. You do not have to be pleased with your current situation, but you should acknowledge that the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing, has allowed you to be in this state so it must be for the best. During this time you should also increase acts of worship and obedience to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala.
The State of Sin
Being human, we will all be in states of sin at one point or another. Our beloved Messenger ﷺ said, “Every son of Adam is a sinner, and the best of sinners is the one who seeks forgiveness.” From the words of Rasulullah ﷺ we see that when we are in the state of sin, we should react to this by doing istighfaar, or seeking forgiveness. It is not enough to simply mutter an “I’m sorry, God” and return to our daily routine, rather there are parts to istighfaar and if one of them is not there, the istighfaar is not complete. The istighfaar must encompass:
- Renouncing the sin.
- Firm intention to never return to the sin.
- Regret for having committed the sin.
- If the sin was against the rights of another human being: compensation for that wrong doing.
The State of Obedience
In the state of obedience (I pray that this is our most frequent state) the believer should respond by striving to maintain ikhlaas (sincerity) while acting, as well as responding with shukr. Any action, if done for the wrong intention, will not be accepted. We learn this from the first hadeeth (report of the words or actions of the Prophet ﷺ) in Imam An-Nawawi’s collection of forty hadeeth:
“Actions are (judged) by motives (niyyah), so each man will have what he intended. Thus, he whose migration (hijrah) was to Allah and His Messenger, his migration is to Allah and His Messenger; but he whose migration was for some worldly thing he might gain, or for a wife he might marry, his migration is to that for which he migrated.”
Shaytaan (the devil) often times, finding us in an obedient state, will use his whispers to cause us to be arrogant. Arrogance is one of the most tempting, yet destructive sins that one can fall into. Remember that the sin that shaytaan committed was a sin of arrogance and he is now destined to eternal destruction. A way to combat these whispers is to display shukr. Remember that Allah (swt) is the one who allowed you to be obedient. Any good that you do should be attributed to the blessing of Allah (swt) upon you, not the righteousness of your own soul. And the more you thank Him for allowing you to be obedient, the more He will bestow upon you the means to be obedient.
I ask Allah to cause us to be of those who respond in the appropriate manner no matter what state we are in.
Thanks, Shaykh! Many good points in this article. I especially like the point about shukr; gratitude is not just a feeling but an action.
“[We said], ‘Work, O family of David, in gratitude.’ And few of My servants are grateful.”
(Surat Saba 34:13)
Great Reminder. I feel like I should print it out, fold it up, and put in my wallet.
And like you wrote may Allah make the state of Obedience the state we are always in.
Jazakum Allahu Khayer
What an excellent article and great reminder. It’s so refreshing to read something written for TODAY’S Muslims in a style which makes sense and appeals to the heart and mind. Please keep up the great work!
As Salaamu’ Alaikum, Imam Suhaib, please email me to make a connection I would like to share some Islamic information with you.
Your brother in service to Allah
Another enlightening article. It comes at a time when I am currently going through some stuff in life, very uplifting and educational words. I thank Allah for allowing me to be a Muslim, and to hear the advice of his beloved messenger. Thank you for this article, this website rocks. Salaams to all.