In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
The Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] used to supplicate saying:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْبُخْلِ وَالْجُبْنِ ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَالِ
O Allaah! I seek refuge with You against distress and grief, helplessness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, being heavily in debt and being overcome by men. [Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Number 2893]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [rahimahullaah] said: So, the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] sought Allaah’s Refuge against eight affairs and each of them is connected to another thing.
Distress and Grief: Distress and grief are connected to each other and they are pains in the heart. If it is in relation to an affair that has elapsed, then it is grief; and if related to an affair in the future, then it is distress. So, if the basis of the pain is related to something missed in the past, it is grief; and if its basis is related to fear of what is to come in future, it is distress.
Helplessness And Laziness: Helplessness and Laziness are connected to each other. When one is delayed from what is beneficial and its perfect [accomplishment], it is considered to be helplessness. And if the affair is related to lack of intent, it is considered to be laziness.
Cowardice And Miserliness: Cowardice and miserliness are connected to each other, because indeed Ihsaan [i.e. to do good for others, generosity, etc] brings happiness to the heart and comfort to the inner self, overcomes distress and repels rancour. And abandoning it [i.e. Ihsaan] would cause the heart to be constricted and prevents it from reaching blessings by way of it. Cowardice is to abandon Insaan by way of physical actions and miserliness is the abandonment of Insaan through wealth.
Being Heavily In Debt And Being Overcome By Men: Being heavily in debt and being overcome by men are connected to each other, because being subdued and overcome can occur from the person himself or from others- either based on truth or falsehood. The cause of being heavily in debt emanates from the person himself and no wrong is committed against him, and being overcome by men is tantamount to falsehood [committed against him] and not from himself.
The intent in this discussion is that the Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] [showed and clarified] that grief is something a person should seek refuge against, because indeed it weakens the heart, weakens one’s determination and changes one’s intent. And there is nothing more beloved to shaytaan than bringing sadness to the believers. Allaah [The Exalted] said: [ إِنَّمَا ٱلنَّجۡوَىٰ مِنَ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنِ لِيَحۡزُنَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا – Secret counsels (conspiracies) are only from Shaitan (Satan), in order that he may cause grief to the believers] [Surah Al-Mujaadilah. Aayah 10]
Grief is one of the ailments of the heart which prevents it from arising, embarking upon and striving [to pursue what is beneficial] – preventing it from attaining reward due to the calamities that afflicts a person outside his own choice, such as sickness, pain and what is similar. [Ref 1]
A Perfect Example to Learn From Ya’qoob [alayhis salaam] That One Turns to Allaah In Times of Grief And Not to Despair
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
وَتَوَلَّىٰ عَنۡہُمۡ وَقَالَ يَـٰٓأَسَفَىٰ عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ وَٱبۡيَضَّتۡ عَيۡنَاهُ مِنَ ٱلۡحُزۡنِ فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ۬
قَالُواْ تَٱللَّهِ تَفۡتَؤُاْ تَذۡڪُرُ يُوسُفَ حَتَّىٰ تَكُونَ حَرَضًا أَوۡ تَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡهَـٰلِكِينَ
قَالَ إِنَّمَآ أَشۡكُواْ بَثِّى وَحُزۡنِىٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَأَعۡلَمُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
And he turned away from them and said: “Alas, my grief for Yusuf (Joseph)!” And he lost his sight because of the sorrow that he was suppressing. They said: “By Allah! You will never cease remembering Yusuf (Joseph) until you become weak with old age, or until you be of the dead.” He said: “I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you know not.
Meaning: Ya’qoob [alayhis salaam] turned away from his sons after they informed him of this news [i.e. their claim that Benjamin was caught stealing and is detained in Egypt], and he [Ya’qoob- alayhis salaam] became extremely grieved and saddened. His eyes became white because of the grief in his heart and the sadness that made him weep a lot; so his eyes became white. [فَهُوَ كَظِيمٌ۬ – because of the sorrow that he was suppressing]. [وَقَالَ يَـٰٓأَسَفَىٰ عَلَىٰ يُوسُفَ – He said, “Alas, my grief for Yusuf (Joseph)!”]- Meaning: He manifested his old grief and constant longing, which was concealed, but this recent calamity has now reminded him of the previous calamity, which was greater than this second one.
So, his sons said to him whilst being amazed with his state: [تَٱللَّهِ تَفۡتَؤُاْ تَذۡڪُرُ يُوسُفَ حَتَّىٰ تَكُونَ حَرَضًا أَوۡ تَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡهَـٰلِكِينَ – By Allah! You will never cease remembering Yusuf (Joseph) until you become weak with old age, or until you be of the dead]- Meaning: You will not stop remembering Yoosuf in all circumstances until you lose all power and become unable to move or speak or you die. He said: [ قَالَ إِنَّمَآ أَشۡكُواْ بَثِّى وَحُزۡنِىٓ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَأَعۡلَمُ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ – I only complain of my grief and sorrow to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you know not]- Meaning: I have not disseminated my speech, rather I only complain of my grief – which in my heart – to Allaah alone; neither to you nor others. Therefore, say whatever you want, [because (I know from Allaah what you do not know]- Meaning: Allaah will return them to me and gladden my eyes due to being reunited with them. [Ref 2]
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from Tareeq Al-Hijratayn. Pages 606-607. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from Tafseer As-Sadi. Slightly paraphrased]