The Ignorant Man’s Complaint

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Imām Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya (RA)

Only an ignorant person will complain to people about Allāh ﷻ. This is due to extreme ignorance and his misunderstanding the reality of Allāh ﷻ and the people. If an individual was to truly recognise the reality of his Creator, he would not complain about Him. Similarly, if he was to know the reality of the people, he would not complain to them.

One of the Salaf (predecessors) saw a man who was complaining with regard to his poverty and lack of wealth. He said:

“By Allāh, you are complaining about the One Who is full of compassion for you to a person who will have no compassion on you!”

An Arab poet has said:

تشكو الرحيم إلى الذي لا يرحمُ

وإذا شكوت إلى ابن آدم إنما

When you complain to a human, in reality you are complaining about the Most-Compassionate, to those whose nature is not to have such compassion.

The ʿārif (one with the recognition of Allāh ﷻ) complains to Allāh ﷻ alone. The best ʿārif is he who complains to Allāh ﷻ regarding his own mistakes rather than about other people. In reality, he complains about what causes people to overpower him, bearing in mind the verses of Allāh ﷻ:

وَمَآ أَصَٰبَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٖ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتۡ أَيۡدِيكُمۡ وَيَعۡفُواْ عَن كَثِيرٖ ٣٠

“Whatever hardship befalls you is because of what your own hands have committed, while He overlooks many (of your faults).”[1]

مَّآ أَصَابَكَ مِنۡ حَسَنَةٖ فَمِنَ ٱللَّهِۖ وَمَآ أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٖ فَمِن نَّفۡسِكَۚ

“Whatever good comes to you, it is from Allāh; and whatever evil visits you, it is from your own self.”[2]

أَوَلَمَّآ أَصَٰبَتۡكُم مُّصِيبَةٞ قَدۡ أَصَبۡتُم مِّثۡلَيۡهَا قُلۡتُمۡ أَنَّىٰ هَٰذَاۖ قُلۡ هُوَ مِنۡ عِندِ أَنفُسِكُمۡۗ

“How is it that when you suffered from a hardship, the twice of which you had afflicted upon them, you say, ‘Where did this come from?’ Say,’ This is from your own selves.’”[3]

As a result, there are three stages of complaint:

  1. The lowest stage is to complain to people about Allāh ﷻ.

  2. The best and highest stage is to complain to Allāh ﷻ regarding one’s own self.

  3. The middle stage is to complain to Allāh ﷻ regarding His creation.[4]

[1] [Al-Shūrā: 42/30].

[2] [Al-Nisāʾ: 4/79].

[3] [Āl ʿImrān: 3/165].

[4] Al-Jawziyya, Ibn Qayyim, Al-Fawāʾid, Dār Ibn al-Jawzī (1427/2006), Cairo, p. 93.