In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Aasim Bin Humaid said, “I heard Mu’aadh Ibn Jabal saying, ‘Indeed, you will not see in this Dunyaa except affliction and trial, the affair will not increase except in severity and you will not see from the rulers except harshness. (see appendix a) You will not see an affair that is terrifying and causes you hardship, except that it will be lesser in severity than what will occur thereafter’. Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal said [i.e. after hearing this statement], ‘O Allaah! Make us pleased (with You)! O Allaah! Make us pleased (with You)’”.
The author [Ibnul Bannaa] transmitted this narration in which Mu’aadh said, “Indeed, you will not see in this Dunyaa, except affliction and trial”. That is because this Dunyaa is a place of affliction, trial and test. Allaah [Glorified and Exalted be He] said: [وَنَبۡلُوكُم بِٱلشَّرِّ وَٱلۡخَيۡرِ فِتۡنَةً۬ۖ وَإِلَيۡنَا تُرۡجَعُونَ – And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned]. [Surah Al-Anbiyaa. Aayah 35]
Then Mu’aadh said, “And the affair will not increase except in severity”. That is because the affair of the believers alternates between perfection and deficiency, and an era will not come to the people except that the era thereafter will be lesser in virtue.
Then Mu’aadh said, “And you will not see from the rulers except harshness”. Meaning, the way you are [i.e. righteous or sinful] will determine who will rule over you. Whenever deficiency occurs in the religious affairs of the people, this will also be the state of the one who rules over them.
Then Mu’aadh said, “And you will not see an affair that is terrifying and causes you hardship, except that it will be lesser in severity than what will occur thereafter”. Meaning, it may be that a person witnesses an affair which he considers to be terrifying and difficult, but then another era comes thereafter and he considers it more severe than the one that occurred during his youth.
Mu’aadh made these statements to notify the believer regarding the state he should be in when afflictions occur, so that he strives against his soul [i.e. in obedience to Allaah], remains steadfast upon the truth, turns truthfully to Allaah [in obedience, submission, reliance, repentance etc], pleased with Allaah, not to deviate and not to be like those who are destroyed, and that he seeks Allaah’s Protection against the trials that are apparent and that which is hidden. This is the reason why Imaam Ahmad said twice [i.e. after hearing Mu’aadh’s speech], “O Allaah! Make us pleased (with You)! O Allaah! Make us pleased (with You)”.
This shows what a Muslim should be upon during trials – that he should be pleased with Allaah in two ways: [رضىا بالله and رضا عن الله]. The meaning of Ridaa Billaah can be found in a hadeeth of Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] as follows:
ذَاقَ طَعْمَ الإيمَانِ مَنْ رَضِيَ بِالله رَبّا وَ باْلإِسْلاَمِ دِيناً و بِمُحَمّدٍ رسولا
The one who pleased that Allah is his lord and Islam is his religion and Muhammad is his messenger shall taste the sweetness of Eemaan. Ridaa Billaah is related to being pleased with the Names and Attributes of Allaah.
As for Ridaa Anil laah, it can be found in the statement of Allaah: [رضي الله عنهم ورضوا عنه] and it is related to being pleased with Allaah’s reward and good recompense.
Therefore, with regards to the trials, it is obligated on a Muslim to turn to Allaah [in submission, obedience, reliance, humility, repentance etc]. Whenever the trial becomes more severe, he increases in turning to Allaah. Indeed, the Prophet [sallal-laahu-alayhi wasallam] said, “Worship during Al-Harj [i.e. during chaos, confusion, disorder, fighting, killing etc] is like emigrating to me”.
This shows that during trials a Muslim should turn to Allaah – turn to worship, remembrance of Allaah, submit and humble himself to Allaah. As for many other people, trials bussies and diverts them from remembrance of Allaah; rather many people are preoccupied with the trial and (diverted) from obedience to Allaah. How many people are preoccupied with trials and diverted from establishing the prayer at its fixed time! How many people fall into evil due to Fitan! Fitan is destructive and no one is saved from it, except the one whom Allaah saves.
And in relation to Mu’aadh’s statement, it has also been reported in Shu’ab Al-Imaan by Bayhaqi from Abee Mas’ood Al-Ansaari who said, “A time will not reach you except that the time after it will be worse than it”. So they (i.e. the people) said, “Indeed, a time has reached us in which we had things in abundance and a time in which we did not have things in abundance”. He said, “By Allaah! Indeed, I neither mean your time of abundant produce nor your time of scarcity, rather I mean the disappearance of knowledge or the scholars. Indeed, before you there was Umar, so show me a time like his?!” Perhaps it can be said (in relation to this statement of Abee Mas’ood regarding this era of ours, “Ibn Baaz was here (i.e. alive amongst us few years ago), so show us someone like him (or an era like his)?!” However, good is still present. Even though the likes of these statements are transmitted, but also the texts regarding tranquillity, the people of virtue and that good will remain should be mentioned, such as the statement of the Prophet, “There will not cease to be a group of my Ummah who will be upon the truth, neither will they be harmed by those who oppose them nor by those who betray them until the establishment of the hour (i.e. the day of judgement)”.
This proves that good will remain and the likes of these narrations [i.e. the narrations by Abee Mas’ood and Mu’aadh] are not aimed at leaving a person in a state of hopelessness and despair; rather it is aimed at making him turn to Allaah (in obedience, submission, reliance, humility, repentance etc] and to be from the people of virtue, even if they are few. (Ref 1)
Appendix a: https://www.abukhadeejah.com/the-tyranny-of-the-rulers-a-reason-for-rebellion/ – By Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah preserve him]
[Ref 1: An Excerpt From ‘Sharh Risaalah Al-Mughniyah Fis Sukoot Wa Luzoomil Buyoot. Lessons 2 – https://al-badr.net/download/esound/choroohat/risalah-mughniyah/002.mp3]