The Bitterness of the Dunya is the Sweetness of the Hereafter – A Consolation of Enjoining Patience Under Tribulations


الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد


When discussing some the remedies which help to enjoin patience when one is faced with tests and tribulations; Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (rahimahullaah) said:


“From its remedies is that he should look at what he has been afflicted with, thus he will find that his Lord has indeed caused there to remain with him the like of it – or better than it. Likewise He has preserved for him – if he is patient and is pleased – that which is greater than the passing of that calamity – by many times over, and had He Willed – then He could have made it greater than it actually is.

From its remedies is that he should weigh up between the greater of the two pleasures and the two enjoyments – and the more enduring of the two: the pleasure of his enjoyment over what he has been afflicted with, and the pleasure of his enjoyment upon the reward of Allaah for him. So if the predominance becomes clear to him; then he favours the weightier predominant one – so let him praise Allaah for His conferred ability. Yet if he favours the outweighed outrivaled one from every aspect; then he should know that his calamity in regard to his sound intellect and his heart and his religion is greater than his calamity which he has been afflicted with in his worldly affair.

From its remedies is that he should know that The One Who afflicted him with it is The Most Just of judges and The Most Merciful of those who have mercy, and that He, The Glorified, did not send the affliction to him in order to destroy him by way of it; or to punish him by way of it; or to annihilate him. Rather; He inspects (examines) him by way of it in order to test his patience and his pleasure towards Him – as well as his Eemaan. In order to hear his implore as well as his supplication, and to see him lying prostrate at His door – seeking protection beside Him, broken hearted before Him – raising tales of complaints to Him.

From its remedies is that he should know that were it not for the trials of the dunya (worldly life) and its tribulations, the servant would be afflicted with the sicknesses of pride and self-amazement and tyrannical haughtiness and the hardness of the heart – of a nature that would be a cause for his destruction – sooner or later. So from the mercy of The Most Merciful of those that have mercy is that He inspects (examines) him on occasions with an array of remedies by way of tribulations, to act as a protection for him against these sicknesses and a preservation of the soundness of his servitude, as well as vacating the corrupt, vile, dangerous substances from him – so Glory be to He Who Bestows Mercy by way of His trials – and puts to test by way of His Beneficent Favours.

As was said (in a line of poetry):

‘Indeed Allaah may grant favour through tribulation – even if it is intensified,

And yet Allaah may test some of the people through blessings.’

So were it not that He, The Glorified, treats His servants by means of the remedies of trials and afflictions; they would have exceeded the bounds and commit outrage and shown impertinence, and Allaah, The Glorified – when He intends good for a servant; He causes him to drink an antidote from affliction and test – in accordance to his state so that through it he may expel the perilous sicknesses. Such that once He refines him and purifies him and clears him; He enables him to be worthy of the most virtuously noble of the levels of the dunya – and it is servitude to Him, and the most elevated reward of the Hereafter – and it is: to look at Him and nearness to Him.

From its remedies is that he should know that the bitterness of the dunya; is itself the very sweetness of the Hereafter, Allaah, The Glorified turns (reverses) it as such, and the sweetness of the dunya; is itself the very bitterness of the Hereafter. So for him to translocate from the bitterness that is discontinuous to sweetness that is everlasting is better for him than the opposite of that. For indeed; if that is hidden from you; look then to the saying of As-Saadiq Al-Masdooq[1]:

حُفَّتِ الْجَنَّةُ بِالْمَكَارِهِ ، وَحُفَّتِ النَّارُ بِالشَّهَوَاتِ

((Paradise is surrounded by undesirable things [hardships]; and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by temptations.))[2]


In this standpoint the intellects of the creation are at variance, and the realities of men become apparent; whilst most of them prefer the sweetness that is discontinuous over the sweetness that is everlasting – which does not cease. He likewise does not bear the bitterness of a (short) time for the sweetness that is eternal, or the humble insignificance of a (short) time for honour that is eternal, or the trial of a (short) time for well-being that is eternal.

For indeed; whatever is currently present with him is testimony, and what awaits is the unseen, and the Eemaan is weak, and the mandate of desires reigns supreme. So in consequence there is born out of that a preference of the temporal – and a rejection of the Hereafter.

This is the status of the outlook that alights upon the apparent nature of the affairs – and of their initial outsets and their beginnings. As for the outlook that is discerningly sharp-eyed – that penetrates the temporal veils, and surpasses beyond them to (perceive) outcomes and utmost limits – then it ultimately holds a different significance.

So summon yourself to that which Allaah has prepared for His allies and the people of obedience to Him by way of permanent bliss and eternal happiness and the greatest success. As well as that which He has prepared for the people of idle in-activity and forfeiture by way of disgrace and punishment and everlasting grief.

Then select which of the two types is more suited to you, and everyone works according to his manner, and every individual aspires to that which is appropriate for him – as well as that which is more deserving for him.

Do not be presumptuous towards this remedy, for the critical severity of its requisite on the part of the (medical) practitioner as well as the ailing patient calls to its elucidation – and with Allaah lies the ability to success.”


(Abridged from: Zaadul-Ma’aad vol 4 p. 190-196)



[1] The honest one – the one declared as truthful who is believed – i.e. the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).

[2] Reported with this wording by Muslim (no.2822)

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