Allah created us unique and out of His mercy not only blessed us with intellect, feelings and emotions but also taught us how to use these faculties in the right way. Joy and grief are two such emotions decreed by Allah for us – emotions through which we can draw closer to Him if we comply with His commands. Being grateful and praising Allah when happy and patient when sad while accepting whatever He decrees is the characteristic of a true believer. For, everything that Allah decrees for a believer is good for him in both worlds. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for all his affairs are good, and that applies to no one except a believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him, and if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is also good for him.” (Muslim-2999)
Remaining calm especially at the loss of a loved one can be devastating and the grief that follows cannot be belittled but a believer who has faith in His Lord’s promises doesn’t let shaitan overpower his senses and continues to be patient for His sake. He knows that everything good and bad is a test from Allah and the real purpose of the test is actually to make him learn to continue doing good deeds with patience despite the burden of the test he is facing. That’s when he is blessed with the mercy, guidance and reward of Allah as explained in the second surah of the Qur’an.
Experiencing negative feelings of sadness and anxiety or crying when grieving a loss is natural. Even the prophets went through such times and felt these emotions of sorrow and hurt but we need to learn and follow their attitudes of controlling their emotions and being steadfast in the obedience of Allah.
Anas bin Malik narrated: “We went with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to the blacksmith Abu Saif. He was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim (the son of the Prophet). Allah’s Messenger took Ibrahim, kissed him and smelled him. Later when we entered Abu Saif’s house, Ibrahim was in his last breaths, and the eyes of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) started shedding tears. ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Auf said, “O Allah’s Messenger, even you are weeping!” He said, “O Ibn ‘Auf, this is mercy.” Then he wept more and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.” (Bukhari 23:390)
In another narration, Abdullah ibn Umar said: Sa‘d ibn ‘Ubaadah fell sick and the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to visit him with ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqaas and ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with all the companions). When he entered upon him, he found him unconscious with his family around him and he said: “Has he died?” They said: No, O Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) wept, and when the people saw the Prophet weeping, they also wept. He said: “Listen, Allah does not punish for the tears of the eye or the grief of the heart, rather He punishes for this” – and he pointed to his tongue – “or shows mercy (because of it).” (Bukhari-1304, Muslim-924)
These touching narrations teach us that being composed when grieving and submitting to the will of Allah does not exclude emotions. And while such emotions are characterized as a sign of human compassion granted by Allah, Prophet (peace be upon him) also placed limits on excessive display of grief. Merely crying when grieved is allowed but it is forbidden when it accompanies wailing or complaining. Furthermore, according to hadeeth, the family of a deceased is allowed to mourn him for three days only, but a widow may mourn her husband for four months and ten days.
Unfortunately we see many people nowadays spoil the image of Islam by grieving over the dead in ways that were forbidden by the Prophet (peace be upon him). They are seen beating their chests, slapping their cheeks, striking their shoulders with chains and cutting their heads with swords while complaining or uttering words of shirk. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never prescribed for his followers to do any of these things or anything similar to them to mark the death of a leader or the loss of a martyr irrespective of his status. During his lifetime, he (peace be upon him) lost his beloved wife Khadijah, almost all his children and a number of companions were martyred such as Hamzah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Zayd ibn Haarithah and Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib. He did mourn their loss, but he did not do any of the things that some people nowadays do. He or his companions did not strike their chests or scratch their faces, or shed blood or take the day of the loss of their beloved spouses, children or companions as a festival or day of mourning. Rather they used to remember their loved ones who had passed away; they used feel sad, silently shed tears and seek relief in prayer. According to a report by Abu Dawood, whenever something distressed him or pleased him, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say to Bilal: “Relieve us with it (i.e., the prayer).” He (peace be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, tears his garment, or wails with the cry(words) of the Jaahiliyyah.” (Bukhari-1294, Muslim-103)
When one remembers his beloved who has passed away or when he remembers some similar calamity, it is best to say that which Ali ibn al-Husayn narrated from his grandfather, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who said: “There is no Muslim who is afflicted by a calamity and when he remembers it, even if it was in the dim and distant past, he says “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon” (Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return), but Allah will give him a reward like that of the day when it befell him.” (Ahmad)
He (peace be upon him) also said, ‘A person will be in the company of those whom he loves’. (Bukhari) So be consoled, oh believers, and patiently endure as the life of this world is temporary and we will soon be reunited with our beloved in Paradise if Allah wills.