By A. Zeynep Donmez – Ozlem Ata Translated from Turkish by Yilmaz Kaso
A chapter from the book “Friday of the Youth” Sydney, AUSTRALIA
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ
فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
“Once you reach a decision, put your trust in God. Surely God loves those who put their trust in Him.” (Al’ Imran 3/159)
قَالَ رَجُلٌ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَعْقِلُهَا وَأَتَوَكَّلُ أَوْ أُطْلِقُهَا وَأَتَوَكَّلُ قَالَ “ اعْقِلْهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ ”
“(A man asked while he had his camel with him) O Messenger of God! Shall I tie it and rely (upon God), or leave it loose and rely (upon God)?” He said: “Tie it and rely (upon God).” (Tirmidhi, Sifat al-Qiyamah, 60)
Today, I would like to start my speech with a story about the Son of the Stone. Who is the Son of the Stone? Have you ever heard of him? Do you think he can be a superhero?
No! He is the famous hadith scholar Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (1372-1449). His real name is Shihabuddin, and he is Palestinian. He is named “Asqalani” because he is from a place called Asqalan. Then, why do we call him the Son of the Stone?
During his student years, Ibn Hajar often failed because he could not understand the lectures. So, he accepted his failure and decided to return to his hometown from the city where he was studying. On his way back to his hometown with sadness, he saw the drops of water falling from the ceiling of a cave, making a deep hole in the hard stone on the floor. He began to think:
– My head is not thicker than this stone. How come drops leave marks on the stone, but the lessons that I study leave no trace in my mind? Then, like these water droplets, I must constantly study and learn with determination and perseverance!
Ibn Hajar immediately returned and started to study with perseverance to reach his goal. As a result, he became a great and famous scholar and showed us the power of perseverance by signing his works as “Ibn Hajar,” which means “the Son of the Stone.”
In this true story we told, we talked about perseverance. Perseverance means making a firm decision to do and complete a job and striving to achieve the result, that is, persistently fulfilling the requirements to accomplish a job. The key to success is the same. First, you set a goal, and then you stick to it and work with firm faith and perseverance. You should seek the support of God while making every effort you can; because no work can be achieved unless He says “Be!”
The hadith that we read at the beginning, about how to rely upon God, is significant. It is not reasonable for a person to expect God’s support if he/she does not do everything he/she has to do to complete a task or neglects his/her duties and does not take responsibility for it. So, know that everyone gets the reward for their own efforts. For example, if we aim to get a passing grade for a subject we failed, we must first study it properly. We should solve sample questions and ask those who know where we do not understand. While doing all these, we must ask for God’s support, never neglect our daily prayers or other duties towards Him. God the Almighty commands His servants to ask for help in such a way.
You will not always have school lessons to study in your life. Yet, you will always have works that you will need to show perseverance to complete. God has given examples of them in the Qur’an:
“O my son! Establish the prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid (people) from what is wrong and show patience over what befalls you. Indeed, these are of the matters that require determination.” (Luqman 31/17)
According to the verse, praying duly and regularly is one of the things that require determination. Since it is mentioned first in verse, we can understand that prayer is the most important task that requires determination to carry on. It is also not easy to strive to enjoin people goodness and prevent evil. Although most people know good and evil, they may not dare object to the evil people around them do. Even though they can warn once, they may not show perseverance to warn people constantly. After warning once, he/she may say that “I did it, but it didn’t work,” and quickly gives up warning. However, the verse states that this is also one of the matters that require determination. Another issue that requires determination is showing patience when something unpleasant happens to you. Showing patience means staying strong and resilient. Yet, strength and resilience may not benefit the person unless he/she shows persistence. For example, you studied a class but did not get the grade you wanted. In this case, not studying other exams because you failed in the first exam means you are not patient. However, if you keep studying, the result will definitely change.
The life of the world is a weary test. The verse on this subject is as follows:
“You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with God much abuse. But if you show patience and refrain from doing wrong, indeed, that is of the matters (worthy) of determination.” (Al’ Imran 3/186)
This means that there will always be various difficulties in our struggle for life. We must remember that these are all tests. In order to pass these tests, we must refrain from opposing God’s orders and be patient without going astray. According to the Qur’an, this is one of the things that require determination.
According to verse 43 of Surah Al-Shura, forgiveness is also one of the matters that require determination. When a person forgives a crime, he/she should not reveal it from then on. For example, you caught a friend stealing an item of yours, but you forgave him and didn’t tell anyone about it. As time went by, you cannot reveal this crime for whatever reason it be, and you cannot ask that person to be punished. You could reveal it the first time you saw it, but it is not allowed to go back after forgiving. Because, according to the verse, forgiveness is one of the matters that require determination.
If we realize the importance of perseverance and apply it to our lives, we hope that we will be among the saved ones.