“Rise to the occasion” is an English maxim that is often heard and well known. The gist of this maxim is that a person should try to change and adapt in order to improve his reaction and performance under a special set of circumstances. One example of this may be a person who is suddenly faced by an emergency, yet remains level-headed and does not panic, rather adapting to the situation and securing his safety.

A person will encounter different occasions throughout his life, and the circumstances and tests of each occasion will vary. In order to pass the test, one will have to try his best to “rise to the occasion” by behaving in the manner that is expected of him at that time.

In this manner, Deen also presents us with different occasions. From a wedding to a janaazah – the demand of each occasion and the nature of each test is different. However, for a person to be able to ‘rise to the occasion’, he will have to know how to please Allah Ta‘ala in each and every situation, together with how to avoid inconveniencing people.  

For example, a janaazah is an occasion of grief and mourning. Hence, if a person has to crack jokes and make merry on this occasion, not only will his behaviour be deemed inappropriate and insensitive, he will hurt the feelings of those who are bereaved. Similarly, when eating, we should not discuss any matter which will cause people to lose their appetite, e.g. conveying the news of someone’s demise.

When faced with any occasion or situation, we should first ponder and think before acting. We should ask ourselves, “What does Allah Ta‘ala expect of me? How can I ensure that I will not harm or inconvenience anyone?”

It may be that we are about to visit a friend, and at that precise moment, our mother asks us to make her a cup of tea. Similarly, it may be that after a trying and tiring day, we are expected to entertain a guest. Likewise, it may be that we were about to put our feet up and relax when our husband needed something. In all these situations, we can either choose to secure our own comfort, or we can rise to the occasion and adapt by putting our wants aside and giving preference to others. This is the response that will please Allah Ta‘ala and cause us to ‘rise’ in Jannah.