In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Allaah [The Most High] said:
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا ۖ وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty (30) months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: ‘’My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims [submitting to Your Will].’’ [46:15]
This is from Allaah’s kindness to His slaves and also that parents deserve to be thanked; therefore, Allaah commanded the off-spring to be dutiful and kind to their two parents- to speak to them kindly, spend on them and through other ways of kind treatment. Then Allaah [The Most High] stated the reason behind this command and mentioned what the mother endured due to her child- the severe difficulties she faced during pregnancy, then the great difficulty of childbirth, breast feeding and baby-sitting. These difficulties are not present just for a short period- an hour or two; rather its time period is lengthy [ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا– Thirty months]. And in most cases the period of pregnancy is nine months or (a bit less or more), and then breast feeding during the remaining months after childbirth.
Then Allaah said: [حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً – Till when he (i.e. the person) attains full strength and reaches forty years]– the period in which he exits youth and attains complete [discernment, maturity etc.]; [وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي – And reaches forty years, he says: My Lord! Grant me the power and ability]: Meaning: Grant me the ability [through speech and deeds [أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ – that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents]: Meaning: to be grateful due to the blessings of Islaam and the things You have given me in the worldly life; and to be grateful to for granting me the ability to utilise these worldly blessings in acts of obedience to You, because You are the One Who guided me towards them and the One Who preserve them. Therefore, a person should acknowledge the favours of Allaah, declare his inability to thank Allaah the way Allaah deserves and praises Allaah [The Most High] for such favours.
Likewise, the blessings that are bestowed upon the parents are blessings for their offspring, because the children will receive some of those blessings through their parents, especially the blessing of the Religion of Islaam, because indeed the righteousness of parents – through knowledge and deeds- is the greatest means for the offspring to be righteous. Then Allaah said (i.e. that this person who has reached the age of forty says): [وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ – And that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You]; so that such deeds are based on everything that will make them upright and safeguarded against corruption. Then Allaah said (i.e. that this person who has reached the age of forty says): [وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي – And make my off-spring good]-Meaning: Just as I ask for goodness for myself, I also ask Allaah to make the affairs of my off-spring good. [إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ – Truly, I have turned to You (Allaah) in repentance] from sins and disobedience, and I return to obeying You; [وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ – And truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will)] [An Excerpt from ‘Tayseer Ar-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer Kalaam Al-Mannaan’. Slightly paraphrased]
Imaam Ash-Shawkaani [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:
وفي هذه الآية دليل على أنه ينبغي لمن بلغ عمره أربعين سنة أن يستكثر من هذه الدعوات
And in this Ayah is evidence that indeed it is befitting for the one who has reached the age of forty to increase in making these supplications.
رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will).” [Fat’hul Qadeer 5/22. Slightly paraphrased]
Fear of Deviation
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ أَن تَكُونَ لَهُ ۥ جَنَّةٌ۬ مِّن نَّخِيلٍ۬ وَأَعۡنَابٍ۬ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ لَهُ ۥ فِيهَا مِن ڪُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ وَأَصَابَهُ ٱلۡكِبَرُ وَلَهُ ۥ ذُرِّيَّةٌ۬ ضُعَفَآءُ فَأَصَابَهَآ إِعۡصَارٌ۬ فِيهِ نَارٌ۬ فَٱحۡتَرَقَتۡۗ كَذَٲلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَڪُمُ ٱلۡأَيَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ
Would any of you love to have a garden with date-palms and vines, with rivers flowing underneath, and all kinds of fruits for him therein, while he is stricken with old age, and his children are weak (not able to look after themselves), then it is struck with a fiery whirlwind, so that it is burnt? Thus does Allah make clear His Aayaat (proofs, evidences, verses) to you that you may give thought. [Surah Al-Baqarah. Aayah 266]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said that Imaam AlHasan Al-Basri [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “By Allaah! Very few amongst the people understand this parable. A very old man whose body is weak and his children are many would be very much in need of his garden. By Allaah! One of you would be more in need of his deeds when he is cut off from this worldly life [i.e. through death]”.
It has been reported in Saheeh Al-Bukhaari that one day Umar [may Allaah be pleased with him] said to the companions of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] “What do you think about this Aayah [أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ أَن تَكُونَ لَهُ ۥ جَنَّةٌ۬ – Would any of you love to have a garden]? They replied, ‘Allah knows best’. Umar became angry and said, ‘Either say that you know or say that you do not know’. Then Ibn Abbaas [may Allaah be pleased with him and his father] said, ‘O chief of the believers! I have something in my mind to say about it’. Umar said, ‘O son of my brother! Say, and do not underestimate yourself’. Ibn Abbaas said, ‘In this Aayah there has been put forward a parable for deeds’. Umar said, ‘What kind of deeds?’ Ibn Abbaas said, ‘For deeds’. Umar said, ‘This is an example for a wealthy man who does good deeds out of obedience to Allaah and then Allaah sends him Satan whereupon he commits sins till all his good deeds are lost'”. (A)
Few Benefits From The Above Narration
This narration shows Ibn Abbaas’s strong understanding and the precedence Umar gave him even when he was young. This hadeeth also shows a scholar motivating his student to speak in the presence of those older than him if he knows that the young one is worthy of it, in order to encourage him, broaden himself (in understanding) and make him desirous of knowledge. (B)
“Umar stated that Allaah sent this wealthy person a shaytaan and he lost all his good deeds”. Question: Why does this occur? Answer: It occurs based on Allaah’s Perfect and Just Decree, as recompense for one’s wickedness (c); due to a hidden plot in one’s heart (d), due one turning away from guidance and behaving as if he does not know Allaah’s guidance (e); turning away from Allaah’s reminder, which he revealed to his Messenger, turning away from understanding it and pondering upon it, and that which Allaah intends by way of it, so Allaah leaves such a person with his devil as a punishment – the devil that follows him. So, this devil becomes his ally (f); because none submits to Allaah sincerely and truthfully, and performs the deeds of the people of Jannah, except that Allaah will never abandon him. (g). Such a person was not compelled to go astray, rather he made a choice, but his choice is under the Will of Allaah. We do not know what was in the hearts of those who deviated, so Allaah deviated their hearts; but we know – with absolute certainty – that Allaah passes Just Judgments and He does not do injustice to anything; rather it is the people who wrong themselves. (h)
So Allaah said: [أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ – Would one of you love]; This statement is more profound than a negation and prohibition, just as when you see someone committing a repugnant deed, so you say to him, “A sensible person would not do this! Would someone who fears Allaah and the Hereafter do this?!”. [أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ – Would one of you love] is more profound [or intense] in showing one’s rejection than saying, “Would you want”, because love and wish in this situation is more repugnant and evil than just wanting.
[أَيَوَدُّ أَحَدُڪُمۡ أَن تَكُونَ لَهُ ۥ جَنَّةٌ۬ مِّن نَّخِيلٍ۬ وَأَعۡنَابٍ۬ – Would any of you love to have a garden with date-palms and vines]; These two [fruits] have been specifically mentioned because they are the most valuable and they contain more benefit, for indeed they are a source of food, nourishment, medicine, drink and fruitage – whether sweet or sour, and are eaten when moist or dry. Their benefits are numerous indeed. The people differ regarding which of the two is better and more beneficial. Some say the date palm and others say the vine, and each group provided proofs to establish their statement, and we have mentioned this in another place [i.e. in another book]. In summary: This affair differs based on different countries, for indeed Allaah made it a common affair in a way that one of them does not dismiss the authority of the other. The date palm – when in its most favourable land and place- is better and more beneficial than the vine in that place; and the vine – in its suitable land and habitat – is better than the date palm in there. And Allaah knows best.
The intent is that these two types of fruits are the noblest and the best of fruits, so a garden that has both of them would be the best of gardens. In addition to this, rivers flow under this garden, which makes it more perfect and greater in status. And in addition to this, there’s no absence of other types of fruits in this garden which one desires; rather there are all types of fruits therein; however most of its produce and its main purpose is for the date palm and vines. Allaah said: [ۥ فِيهَا مِن ڪُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ – and all kinds of fruits for him therein]. And similar to this statement is also the statement of Allaah:
[وَٱضۡرِبۡ لَهُم مَّثَلاً۬ رَّجُلَيۡنِ جَعَلۡنَا لِأَحَدِهِمَا جَنَّتَيۡنِ مِنۡ أَعۡنَـٰبٍ۬ وَحَفَفۡنَـٰهُمَا بِنَخۡلٍ۬ وَجَعَلۡنَا بَيۡنَہُمَا زَرۡعً۬ا – And put forward to them the example of two men; unto one of them We had given two gardens of grapes, and We had surrounded both with date-palms; and had put between them green crops (cultivated fields)]. [ كِلۡتَا ٱلۡجَنَّتَيۡنِ ءَاتَتۡ أُكُلَهَا وَلَمۡ تَظۡلِم مِّنۡهُ شَيۡـًٔ۬اۚ وَفَجَّرۡنَا خِلَـٰلَهُمَا نَہَرً۬ا – Each of those two gardens brought forth its produce, and failed not in the least therein, and We caused a river to gush forth in the midst of them]. [وَكَانَ لَهُ ۥ ثَمَرٌ۬ – And he had property (or fruit)… ][Surah Al-Kahf. Aayaat 32-34]
Then Allaah said about this garden [i.e. the one mentioned in Baqarah 266]:
[فَأَصَابَهَآ إِعۡصَارٌ۬ فِيهِ نَارٌ۬ فَٱحۡتَرَقَتۡۗ – then it is struck with a fiery whirlwind, so that it is burnt], [just as Allaah stated about the garden in Surah Kahf, Aayah 42], [وَأُحِيطَ بِثَمَرِهِۦ فَأَصۡبَحَ يُقَلِّبُ كَفَّيۡهِ عَلَىٰ مَآ أَنفَقَ فِيہَا وَهِىَ خَاوِيَةٌ عَلَىٰ عُرُوشِہَا – So his fruits were encircled (with ruin). And he remained clapping his hands with sorrow over what he had spent upon it, while it was all destroyed on its trellises].
Then Allaah said: [وَأَصَابَهُ ٱلۡكِبَرُ – while he is stricken with old age]. This shows his great need of this garden, and his heart’s attachment to it can be seen in various ways (as follows): Indeed, he has reached very old age and cannot earn or engage in trade, the son of Aadam increases in eagerness for things when he gets older, he has children, so he is eager that his garden should remain because both him and his children are in need of it, his children are weak and they are a burden on him – neither do they benefit him with their strength nor their deeds, and he is responsible for their livelihood because they are weak and incapable [of doing anything]. This is the great extent to which his heart is attached to this garden and the great need him and his children have of it. So, when you truly perceive this situation and this need, then what will be the calamity if his garden is stricken by a fiery whirlwind and burns it. By Allaah! Indeed, Al-Hasan Al-Basri spoke the truth (when he said), “Very few amongst the people understand this parable”. And due to this, Allaah notified us regarding the greatness of this parable and prompted the hearts to reflect upon it due to their great need of it. Allaah said: [كَذَٲلِكَ يُبَيِّنُ ٱللَّهُ لَڪُمُ ٱلۡأَيَـٰتِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَفَكَّرُونَ – Thus does Allah make clear His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses) to you that you may give thought].
If a truly sensible person was to ponder upon this parable and took it as a guide for his heart, it would suffice and heal it. So, if a person was to perform deeds of obedience to Allaah, but then followed it with that which nullified it due to disobedience to Allaah, it would be like the fiery whirlwind that burnt the garden. [An Excerpt from Tareequl Hijratayn pages 456-458. Slightly paraphrased. Publisher Daar Ibn Rajab 2nd edition 1421AH (2001)]
The Balance Between Fear and Hope
Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh al-Uthaymeen [may allaah have mercy upon him] stated: Imaam Ahmad [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “It is obligated on a person that his fear and hope are the same because if one of them is more than the other he is destroyed”. Amongst the scholars are those who say that if you desire to perform an act of obedience, you should have more hope that Allaah will accept it, raise your status by way of it and strengthen you. And if you desire to commit an act of disobedience, you should have more fear so that you do not fall into it. And amongst the scholars are those who say that fear and hope should be based on the circumstances of a person; if one is in a state of poor health, he should have more hope because the Prophet [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] said, “None of you should die except whilst having good thoughts about Allaah”. This is because if one has overwhelming fear whilst he is in a state of poor health, it may lead him to despair of Allaah’s Mercy. As for when one is in a state of good health, he should have more fear because a state of good health is a reason for corruption [i.e. it corrupts some people because they take it for granted and are ungrateful etc]. The best position – in my view – regarding this dangerous subject matter is that a person (approaches the affair) based on his circumstances and the position that is more precise is that a person should have more hope when he performs a good deed, and when he desires an evil deed, he should have more fear. [Sharh Hilyatil Taaluibal Ilm. Page 35-36]
[Ref A: Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. 4538]
[Ref B: Fat-hul Baari Sharh Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Vol 8 page 254]
[Ref c. See Tafseer As-Sadi, Surah Israa. Aayah 5]
[Ref d: See Sharh Arba’een page 87-88. 1st edition. 1424 (2003)]
[Ref e: Zaadul Maseer. Tafseer Surah Az-Zukhruf Aayah 36]
[Ref f: Al-Jawaab Al-Kaafee 136-137. By Imaam Ibnul Qayyim]
Ref g: See Sharh Arba’een page 88. 1st edition. 1424 (2003)- By Shaikh Uthaymeen]
[Ref h: Sharh Al-Arba’een pages 55-56- 1st edition 1428 (2007)-by Shaikh Saaleh Aaala As-Shaikh].