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A Personification of Patience

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Khalaf Al-Birzaalee mentions the following incident:

On one occasion, a man with leprosy who was also blind and had lost his arms and legs was brought to me. I thus took him and kept him with the other lepers. I thereafter forgot about him for a few days. When I remembered, I (went to see him and) said to him, “O so-and-so! I had forgotten about you! How are you doing?” He replied, “My Beloved, He Whose love is such that it is infused into my every particle and it prevents me from perceiving the pain of my condition, does not forget me.”

I (again apologized and) said, “I forgot (i.e. I did not intentionally neglect to check on you).” He replied, “I have One who always remembers me – and why would the lover not remember his beloved when he is before his eyes all the time, in signs recognized by intelligence and understanding? (i.e. when I recognize Allah Ta‘ala through His signs and constantly remember Him, then how can He forget me?)”

I then asked him, “Shall I not get you married to a woman who will assist you to remain clean?” Hearing this, the man began to weep. He then took a deep breath, turned his eyes towards the sky and exclaimed, “O the Beloved of my heart!” He then lost consciousness.

When he recovered, I asked him, “What is your answer (i.e. do you want me to get you married)?” He responded, “How will you get me married, when I am already the king of the world and all its brides?” I replied, “What kingdom of the world do you possess, when you do not even have arms and legs, and you are blind, eating like an animal eats?” He answered, “(What I possess is) my happiness with my Master, Who is such that when he tested my limbs (with sickness), he still spared my tongue to remain engaged in His remembrance.”

(When I heard his response,) it (created a deep impression on my heart and) had a profound effect on me. Nevertheless, he passed away shortly thereafter.

After his demise, I took out a cloth to use for his kafan, but since the cloth was long, I trimmed the excess portion from its length. (After attending to his burial, when I went to sleep,) I had a dream in which I was told, “O Khalaf! You treated My friend and beloved with miserliness regarding the long kafan. We have returned your kafan to you and have enshrouded him, from Our side, in silk and brocade.”

(On awakening,) I proceeded to the room where the kafans were stored and found that the kafan had indeed been returned and was lying within.

(Sifatus Safwah vol. 1, pg. 565)

Lessons:

1. Despite his sickness and losing the use of his eyes and limbs, the leper had such love for Allah Ta‘ala that he did not even feel the pain of his affliction. When a person develops this level of love for Allah Ta‘ala, then everything besides Allah Ta‘ala loses importance and seems insignificant.

2. The leper regarded himself to be ‘the king of the world’ on account of the fact that Allah Ta‘ala had allowed his tongue to remain engaged in His remembrance. In other words, he did not look at what he had lost, but looked at what he still enjoyed, and regarded this bounty to be more valuable than the entire world. Indeed, the bounty of the tongue can never be adequately appreciated, and a tongue that remains engaged in Allah Ta‘ala’s remembrance is invaluable.

3. A person being afflicted with poverty, sickness or a calamity is not necessarily a sign of Allah Ta‘ala being displeased with him, just as affluence, good health and prosperity are not necessarily signs of Allah Ta‘ala being pleased with a person. At times, Allah Ta‘ala, in His wisdom, makes a person undergo difficulties, and through holding firmly to sabr (patience), these tests become his ticket to Jannah (read more on this here). Hence, though the leper seemed downtrodden in this world, he enjoyed an extremely high rank in the Hereafter on account of his patience.

4. No matter what condition we experience in life, we must accept the decision of Allah Ta‘ala and remain pleased with His decision. We must never complain against Allah or object to His decision. However, we should also make du‘aa to Allah Ta‘ala to alleviate the difficulty and bless us with ‘aafiyah (comfort).