Issue 84 / November - December 2011
Two Assurances and Two Fears
Question: It is narrated in a Prophetic saying that God said the following: "I will not give my servant two fears or two assurances at the same time." Many of us live in comfortable and luxurious conditions, so what will our situation be in light of this saying?
"Fear" and "hope" are two great blessings that God has given us or will do so in the future. Using these two blessings in a measured way as a vehicle to reach God is another blessing, indeed a greater blessing.
This question carries an implied assumption that there exists an association between one's sense of security and a life of comfort and possibly luxury while fear is connected with leading a life in poverty and destitution. At first glance, this may readily provide a partial explanation, but it would be wrong to assume that this is an exhaustive commentary. Another way to understand this hadith could be as follows:
"I will not give my servant two assurances at the same time." If a person is living carefree and in indulgence in the world, is not concerned about the next life, and has no worries about the destruction of his soul and spiritual life, and if that person has no fear of the losing his subtle qualities, no fear of the death of his feelings and the extinction of his spiritual faculties and thus lives without fear, that person cannot be without fear in the next world.
If a person lives with fear in this world-fear in the sense mentioned above-and is always anxious both in his words and actions, saying, "O my Lord! If it were not for Your benevolence, I could not protect my faith; if not for Your grace, I could not protect my subtle points; if not for Your generosity, I could not survive; if not for Your Compassion and Mercy, I cannot enter Heaven. If not for the Beloved, the Mercy of the World, I would not have found my way and would have remained in depravity." If he can always exist in this fear and frequently take himself to account, control himself, and take the opportunity to renew himself, in the next world-God willing-there will be no fear for him.
However, there is an indispensible truth in the way this question is phrased, and it is not far from the meaning expressed in the hadith. If a person acts without concern and fear as if he came to this world only to live, and if he never feels any anxiety, then that person should be concerned about himself. In fact, even if this does not happen often, he should worry about living only in comfort and languor and feel shame for it. The following example clarifies the matter a little more: As related in sound narrations, Umar b. Abdulaziz would sometimes repeat the verse, "When the chains are around their necks, and fetters (around their legs). They will be dragged," (40:71) and would fall on the floor. In addition, he would read this verse many times and pass out: "You consumed in your worldly life your (share of) pure, wholesome things, and enjoyed them fully (without considering the due of the Hereafter, and so have taken in the world the reward of all your good deeds). So this Day, you are recompensed with the punishment of abasement because of your scornful arrogance on the earth against all right, and because of your transgressing (the bounds set by God)" (46:29).
Yes, it is very normal for a believer with a sound heart to have such a concern, and actually this fear is the result of profound contemplations. But God may have also given this world in terms of substantial health to a person as He gave to Abdurrahman ibn Awf and Uthman ibn Affan, two giant believers. In that case, believers should make use of their wealth for the sake of lofty purposes and serve humanity for the sake of God. It is not necessary to give away possessions entirely; it is better to give in measured terms to those who are in need. A part of the assets should be retained so that they can be invested and wealth multiplied; thus, in the end one can donate a greater amount. Let it suffice that our intentions are pure, that we know this wealth is a trust from God and that we are ready to give it away when our Lord wants it.
This should be a benchmark against which we frequently check the level of our hearts. Can we comfortably say, deep within our consciences, that we are ready to give every time we hear the command and suggestions by Our Lord? Can we say, "Yes, O My Lord, I am ready to give!"? If we can do this, in other words, if the state of our heart is not attached to the possessions we have, then an increase in wealth can bear no negative impact upon us, and our property will not be the cause of any worry concerning the Hereafter, if God so wills. On the other hand, if a person insists on living heedlessly, having no belief or spiritual quest, simply, yet unwisely seeking to please the never-pleased carnal self-may God forbid-such a person will be bogged down in the swamp, headfirst. Let these two points not be confused.