Distress, trail, hardship, struggle, adversity, these are unavoidable components of the Human experience. No matter who you are, you will at one stage in your life experience something which you will find difficult to cope with. In these times Allah is the Best of helpers, however, a person who removes a tribulation for another, he is truly a noble person. This excellent trait has been emphasised in Islam, but like many things it is not allocated its due right.
We must firstly comprehend one vital premise, that this transient life is but a test. Allah sends upon his creation certain hardships to examine their faith and conduct, as He clarifies; “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” (2:155) From this verse it is clear that Allah will definitely test us, it is how we react to the test which is important. We should not despair at the magnitude of the test before us, as Allah mentions, “Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” (2:286) We all have the ability to overcome these various tests, it is upon us to supplicate to the Creator for ease in these instances.
Since we know that everyone will be tested, we should try our utmost to alleviate some of their distress. This is the most commendable course of action. In respect to easing distress, the Holy Prophet has assured us: “Whoever eases a distress of the world for a mu’min (Believer), Allah will ease one of the distresses of the Day of Rising for him. Whoever makes it easy for someone in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in the world and the Next Life. Whoever conceals [the wrong action of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal his in the world and the Next Life. Allah is ready to help the slave as long as the slave is ready to help his brother.” (Muslim) This Prophetic Guarantee should be sufficient to create the fervor in a Believer’s heart, he should be willing to help his brother through a rough patch. Yet we see that there is an unfortunate indifference within the Muslims of today, they do not care about anyone’s suffering, they are actively trying to help themselves only. Our moral obligation to our fellow man is moribund, it is dying an agonising death due to our selfishness. We remain aloof from our own brother’s suffering, as thought the bonds of faith and humanity we share are non-existent.
If you think that your brother’s suffering does not affect you, then it seems the words of the Messenger have not reached you, when he said; “Allah only shows mercy to those of His slaves who are merciful.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) Take heed! It could very well be that in this world you did not ease your brother’s hardship, and similarly Allah could withhold his help on the Day of Judgement. So create excuses in this world for Allah to forgive you in the Hereafter, it could very well be that you doing an insignificant deed in the eyes of people, tilts your scales in your favour on the Day of Judgement.
The prophet has also warned us, “Allah will torment those who torment people in the world.” (Muslim) (Abu Dawud) There are many twisted individuals, they are sadistic, they not only withhold help from their brother when they have the means to help him, but they get a corrupt enjoyment out of seeing people go through adversity. These are people who have viruses in their hearts, they are depraved, and will not attain success.
There are many ways to help your brother, the Prophet has mention some and their merits; “If a mu’min feeds a mu’min in hunger, Allah will feed him on the Day of Rising from the fruits of the Garden. If a mu’min gives drink to a mu’min in thirst, Allah will give him to drink on the Day of Rising from the choicest sealed wine. If a mu’min clothes a mu’min who is naked, Allah will clothe him with green garments of the Garden” (Tirmidhi) This honour will only be conferred upon those believers who were the instruments with which Allah eased the difficulties of other believers. We are all aware of the terrifying portrayals the Prophet has given to us about the Day of judgement, yet these are avoidable if we open our hearts and help others.
One very common difficulty that many people go through is in regards to property and money, and those people can be helped through two means: either by allowing them time [to repay a debt] until their circumstances improve, and that is obligatory, as Allah says, “If someone is in difficult circumstances, there should be a deferral until things are easier.” (2:280) And sometimes it may be by forgoing repayment if they are in debt, and if not then by giving him enough as will remove his difficulty. Both are meritorious. The Prophet mentioned to us about such a virtuous man, “There was a carpenter who used to deal with people allowing them credit. If he saw someone [with whom he dealt] in hardship, he would say to his children, ‘Overlook [his debt] so that perhaps Allah might overlook [our wrong actions and shortcomings],’ and so Allah overlooked [his wrong actions].” (Bukhari) (Muslim) This successful man understood that all bounties are from Allah, so he was not miserly or tight-fisted, instead he would ease the afflictions of others, due to this Allah acted magnanimously with him.
The Prophet also told us, that we can have anything that our hearts desire if we simply help others: “Whoever wishes that his supplication should be answered and his distresses removed, then let him deliver the person in difficulty [from his distress]” (Ahmad) Whatever we supplicate for will be given to us if we assist our brothers, we can only benefit from this profitable venture. In reality we are not helping a distressed believer but rather he is a means of help to us, as this will enable us to be counted under this Hadith and be worthy of Allah’s help in our own problems.
Allah give us the means to help his slaves. May He allow us to become those whom the prophet has praised. May He give us an easy reckoning because of our mercy on people. Ameen.