“Alhamdulillah!” How often do we not hear these words, exclaiming the praise of Allah Ta‘ala?
Indeed, our Deen teaches us to recite these words on a multitude of occasions. When wearing our clothing… after eating… after drinking… when commencing a journey… before making wudhu… on awakening… In fact, even the Quraan Majeed commences with the words “Alhamdulillah”!
When we say “Alhamdulillah”, we are praising Allah Ta‘ala by accepting that He is the One who blessed us with all goodness and every favour that we enjoy. Our imaan, beauty, wealth, strength, intelligence, dignity and other bounties are all from Allah Ta‘ala – Alhamdulillah!
However, as Muslims, we do not only praise Allah Ta‘ala when things go our way and conditions are favourable. Rather Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) taught us that even in trying times, we should praise Allah Ta‘ala. Thus, if Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) saw something that he disliked, he recited,
اَلْـحَمْدُ لِلّٰهِ عَلىٰ كُلِّ حَال
All praise is due to Allah Ta‘ala in every condition. (Sunan Ibni Maajah #3803)
In other words, even when we are undergoing difficulties, we should not forget to praise and thank Allah Ta‘ala for the countless bounties that we still enjoy. Even if we are sick and ailing, we should still hold firmly to “Alhamdulillah”.
A doctor named ‘Abdur Rahmaan, who would treat Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (rahimahullah) and Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah), narrates the following:
On one occasion, Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (rahimahullah) and Bishr Haafi (rahimahullah) were both sick. When I would go to Bishr (rahimahullah), I would ask him, “How are you feeling O Abu Nasr?” When replying, he would first praise Allah Ta‘ala and thereafter inform me of his condition. Hence, he would reply, “I praise Allah Ta‘ala to you. I find myself to be (feeling) such-and-such.”
However, when I would go to Abu ‘Abdillah, Imaam Ahmad bin Hambal (rahimahullah), and ask him, “O Abu ‘Abdillah! How are you feeling?” he would merely reply, “I am well.” Hence, I one day remarked to him, “Your brother Bishr (rahimahullah) is sick, and when I ask him of his condition, he commences by praising Allah Ta‘ala and thereafter informs me of his state.” When he heard this, Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah) said, “Ask him who he learnt this from.” I responded, “I am afraid to ask him.” Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah) thus said to me, “Tell him ‘your brother, Abu ‘Abdillah, asks who you learnt this from.’”
When I thereafter went to Bishr (rahimahullah), I conveyed to him the question of Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah). Hearing the question, he said, “Abu ‘Abdillah wants everything with a chain of transmission. Azhar (rahimahullah) narrated from Ibnu ‘Aun (rahimahullah) that Ibnu Seereen (rahimahullah) said, ‘When the servant praises Allah Ta‘ala before complaining, then his statement is not regarded as a complaint.’ When I inform you of any condition that I am undergoing, then I only do so in order to show you the power that Allah Ta‘ala has over me.
(Receiving this answer,) I left Bishr (rahimahullah) and proceeded to Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah), informing him of what Bishr (rahimahullah) had said. From that day onwards, whenever I would go to Imaam Ahmad (rahimahullah), he would say, “I praise Allah Ta‘ala to you.” Then he would mention to me the condition that he was experiencing. (Taareekh Baghdaad vol. 11, pg. 567)
If we only mention the difficulties that we are undergoing, and we fail to acknowledge the innumerable bounties that we still enjoy, our conduct will convey a message of disappreciation. On the contrary, if we praise Allah Ta‘ala, He will bless us abundantly in this world and the next.
In one hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “When the servant of Allah Ta‘ala falls ill, Allah Ta‘ala sends two angels to him and instructs them saying, ‘See what he says to those who visit him.’ Thereafter, when people come to visit him, if he praises and glorifies Allah Ta‘ala, then the angels convey that to Allah Ta‘ala, though Allah Ta‘ala has complete knowledge (of all that has transpired). Allah Ta‘ala then says, ‘I take it upon Myself, for the sake of My servant, that if I cause him to pass away (in this illness), then I will admit him into Jannah, and if I allow him to recover, then I will replace his flesh with better flesh, and blood with better blood (i.e. I will grant him better health than he enjoyed prior to his illness), and I will expiate from him his sins.” (Muwatta Imaam Maalik #3465)
Hence, no matter the difficulties we experience, we must always thank and praise Allah Ta‘ala.