As Salaam Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu
By Sheikh `A'id Abdullah Al-Qarni
Da`iyah and Scholar — Saudi Arabia
Pain is not always a negative force; it is not something that one should always hate. At times, a person may benefit from the feeling of pain.
One might remember that, at times of great pain, one sincerely supplicated and remembered Allah. When a student studies hard, he or she often feels the pangs of heavy burden — sometimes perhaps the burden of monotony. But this student will eventually finish this stage of life and perhaps become a scholar.
Aches, pangs of passion, poverty, scorn of others, frustration and anger at injustices, and other feelings cause poets to write flowing and captivating verses. This is because poets feel the pain in the heart, nerves, and blood. As a result, they become able to infuse the same emotions, through poems, into the hearts of others. Many are the painful experiences the best writers had undergone. Those experiences inspired brilliant works that many people today continue to enjoy and benefit from.
A person who grew up in a life of comfort and repose and who was not stung by hardships might be an unproductive, lazy, and lethargic individual. Likewise, the poets who knew no pain and who never tasted a bitter disappointment will invariably produce heaps upon heaps of cheap words. This is because their words pour forth from their tongues and not from their feelings or emotions. Although they may comprehend what they have written, their hearts and bodies do not feel the experience.
More worthy and relevant to the aforementioned examples are the lives of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). They lived during the period of revelation and took part in the most important religious revolution the humankind has ever seen. Indeed, they had greater faith, nobler hearts, sincerer tongues, and deeper knowledge than those who came after them.
They lived through pain and suffering, and both of these are necessary for great revolutions. They felt the pains of hunger, poverty, rejection, abuse, banishment from home and homeland, and abandonment of all pleasures. They boldly endured the pains of wounds and even torture and death. They were in truth chosen people — the elite of humankind. They were models of purity, nobleness, and sacrifice. A confirmation of this meaning is related in the Qur'an concerning the people of Madinah and those around them of the dwellers of the desert as follows:
[This is because there afflicts them neither thirst nor fatigue nor hunger in Allah's way, nor do they tread a path that enrages the unbelievers, nor do they gain from the enemy a gain but a good work is written down to them on account of it; surely Allah does not waste the reward of the doers of good.] (At-Tawbah 9:120)
There are many in the history who have produced their greatest works out of the pain and the suffering they experienced. An example is the Arab poet known as Al-Mutanabbi. When he was afflicted with a severe fever, he wrote some of his best poems. So, one should not become excessively anxious and fearful of any potential pain or suffering. It may well be that through pain and suffering one will become stronger and more creative. Furthermore, a person who lives with a burning, yet passionate, heart is purer and nobler than a person who lives with a cold heart and a shortsighted outlook. Almighty Allah says,
[But Allah did not like their going forth, so He withheld them, and it was said (to them), "Hold back with those who hold back."] (At-Tawbah 9:46)
As the verse tells, those who lagged behind and did not take part in the battle and go through the accompanying hardships were not loved by Almighty Allah.
The words of a passionate sermon can reach the innermost depth of the heart and penetrate the deepest part of the soul, because the one who gives such sermons has experienced pain and suffering.
I have read many books of poetry and others filled with sermons. Many of these were passionless and did not seem to shake a hair on the body of the reader. Perhaps that is because the poets or the orators did not truly feel what they expressed. Hence, their works were cold like blocks of ice.
If one wishes to affect others, whether with speech, poetry, or even actions, one must first feel the passion inside. One must be moved by the meanings of what he or she is trying to convey. Then, and only then, one will come to realize that he or she can have an impact on others.
It goes without saying that the Islamic Shari`ah urges Muslims not to expose themselves to any hardship or pain for no lofty purpose. However, when a Muslim inescapably faces such difficult moments for the sake of Allah, it is a different story. In such a case, he or she should make best use of this feeling of his or hers.This believer should turn the pain into a force of creativity, thoughtfulness and giving. He or she is to be sure that those who feel the greatest pain are usually the most tenderhearted.