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Explanation of the word ‘istidraj’

Question

Please provide the authenticity and commentary of the narration below:

In a Hadith narrated from Sayyiduna ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir (radiyallahu ‘anhu), Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

إذا رأيت الله تعالى يعطي العبد من الدنيا ما يحب وهو مقيم على معاصيه فإنما ذلك منه استدراجا

“When you see that Allah Ta’ala gives a person (material) things of the worldly life which he desires whilst he remains persistent in sinning, then [know] that it is only Istidraj from Allah Ta’ala.

(Musnad Ahmad, vol. 4 pg. 145)

 

Answer

This Hadith has been graded as sound (hasan) by both ‘Allamahs: Munawi and Azizi (rahimahumallah).

(At-Taysir, vol. 1 pg. 99, and  As-Sirajul Munir, vol. 1 pg. 131. Also see: Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 629)

 

Explanation

The word استدراج can be defined in a few different ways. In this Hadith, the word استدراج  is used to portray a meaning whereby Allah Ta’ala brings a person nearer to punishment by degrees (i.e gradually), by means of respite, the continuance of health, and the increase of favour.

(Arabic Lexicon vol. 3 pg. 868; Also see: Qamusul Muhit, vol. 1 pg. 255, Tajul ‘Urus, vol. 3 pg. 364-365, and Mirqat, Hadith: 5201)

 

Taking into consideration the above definition, the following explanation has been given:

 

Allah Ta’ala has mentioned in the Quran:

 

من عمل صالحا من ذكر أو أنثى وهو مؤمن فلنحيينه حياة طيبة ولنجزينهم أجرهم بأحسن ما كانوا يعملون

That male or female who does good and is a Mu’min (believer), We will certainly grant them a good (peaceful and contented) life (in this world) and most surely reward them (in the Hereafter as well) for the good that they do.

(Surah Nahl, Ayah: 97)

 

Many verses of the Quran, like the one above, as well as Hadiths have testified to the fact that a person will live a pleasant life enjoying the bounties of Allah Ta’ala so long as he is obedient and fulfils the commandments of Shari’ah. Nevertheless, there are many individuals in the world who seem to be living luxurious comfortable lives enjoying the various blessings of Allah Ta’ala despite constantly sinning and living a life contrary to the dictates of Shari’ah.

One shouldn’t be deceived and led astray to doubt the promises of Allah. This Hadith shows us that such people (as described above) are only gradually being led astray and lured into destruction. Every new bounty they are blessed with is not a result of the good life they are living, but rather it is a trap. With the coming of each blessing they begin to feel more and more entitled and even start boasting about it. This then becomes a means of them being blinded from the reality of the Hereafter, and thus they slowly begin to completely indulge in transgression. They will be granted respite and the chance to repent but will be too engrossed in the bounties they’ve been given and too full of themselves to take heed. This will continue until a time comes when Allah Ta’ala seizes them with His punishment and holds them accountable for even the most minute of bounties He has blessed them with. Only then will it become clear that the bounties they enjoyed for such an insignificant amount of time was actually a means of increasing their own perpetual destruction (incurred because of their own doing).

 

Looking at the full version of the Hadith in question, Nabi (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) has explained the above through the use of a single verse of the Quran. The rest of the Hadith is as continues:

 

“Thereafter Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) recited:

فلما نسوا ما ذكروا به فتحنا عليهم أبواب كل شيء حتى إذا فرحوا بما أوتوا أخذناهم بغتة فإذا هم مبلسون

When they neglected the warning they had received, then, (instead of punishment) we opened the gates of every kind of prosperity for them; but just as they were rejoicing in what they were given, We took them by surprise, and lo! They were plunged into despair!

(Surah Al-An’am, Ayah: 44)

 

(Refer: Mirqat, Hadith: 5201, Faydul Qadir, Hadith: 629, At-Taysir, vol. 1 pg. 99, and As-Sirajul Munir, vol. 1 pg. 131)

 

And Allah Ta’ala knows best.

 

Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar