Sa‘īd b. Jubayr narrates from Ibn ‘Abbās who reported that people mentioned about the merits of Sha‘bān in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (s) so he said: it is a distinguished month and it is my month, the carriers of ‘arsh (Divine Throne) sanctify it and know its right, and it is the month in which sustenance is increased for the believers. [Sha‘bān] is the month of performing deeds, the good is multiplied seventy times and the evil is diminished, the sins are forgiven, the good deeds are accepted. [In this month] the Omnipotent (God) -the Exalted (and) the Majestic, takes pride in it at His servants, and looks at those who frequently fast in it and those who frequently pray in it, and boasts about them to the carriers of ‘arsh. (Ibn Tāwūs, Iqbāl 684; Hurr al- ‘Āmilī, Wasāil, H 13952)
قَالَ رَبِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِي إِلَيْهِ ۖ
وَإِلَّا تَصْرِفْ عَنِّي كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
Qāla rabbis-sijnu ahabbu ilayya mimmā yad ‘ūnani ilayhi, wa-illā tasrif ‘annī kaydahuna asbu ilayhinna wa-akum minal-jāhilīn.
He [Yūsuf] said, ‘My Lord! The prison is dearer to me than to what they invite me. If You do not turn away their schemes from me, I will incline towards them and become one of the ignorant ones.’
(Sūrat Yūsuf, No 12, Āyat 33)
The above verse narrates the reaction of Prophet Yūsuf (a) when invited to sin and threatened with prison if he dared to refuse. For a close servant of Allah ‘azza wajall such as Yūsuf (a), even the hardest of situations become easy when he knows he is in the obedience of his Lord. Not only does he choose what Allah wants, but his heart also finds that to be dear and pleasurable. Such is the state of ridā that we want to discuss.
The word ridā means to be happy and pleased with something. In the context of our discussion, it is a state of the heart whereby an individual is inclined to and pleased with that which Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā has decreed, no matter how bitter this decree may appear. This is a lofty state and one that is difficult for the servant of Allah to attain.
In a narration from Imam al-Ridā (a) it is narrated that Prophet Yūsuf (a) complained to Allah: My Lord! What did I do to deserve the prison? In response Allah revealed to him: You chose it when you said, ‘My Lord! The prison is dearer to me than to what they invite me.’ In the continuation of this narration, Allah refers to the prison as being ʿāfiyah for him, meaning a state of true well-being. This narration illustrates to us that during tests, the natural dimension of man will undergo difficulty and be under pressure. Despite this the heart of God’s close servants remain pleased with His decree. That Yūsuf (a) complained to his Lord does not indicate a lack of ridā, but rather it shows this natural dimension of him being a human being who suffers through difficulty, just like anyone else.
Two points with regards to the state of ridā:
1) The teachers of akhlāq advise us to ponder upon the merits of remaining pleased with Allah’s decree, and then strive to engrave this onto our hearts with the pen of action. By repeatedly choosing Allah’s obedience and not succumbing to sin, and by accepting Allah’s decree and being pleased with it at the level of our mind and our thoughts, slowly man’s heart is affected. External actions are such that eventually they affect the soul and deep-rooted traits are formed.
Naturally, to constantly choose Allah’s obedience over sin and to persuade oneself that this is what is best for the self requires vigilance and careful accounting of oneself. It is for this reason that the Quran and the blessed narrations of the Ahlul-Bayt (a) have given so much importance to pondering and thinking about our actions and where we are going. In a narration from Imam Ali (a), he says: One who takes account of his self, becomes aware of his defects, and thoroughly grasps his sins. (Ghurar al-Hikam, H 8927)
2. Having the state of ridā does not mean that one does not strive to remove themselves from any difficulty that has befallen them. It is Allah’s will that this transient world is a place of change and upheaval, and we must strive to come out of difficulty in a manner that is sanctioned by the intellect and the sharīʿah. At the same time, we must strive to always be pleased with whatever happens after we have tried our best. Imam al-Sādiq (a) narrates that the Prophet (s) would never say: if only that had not happened. (Al-Kāfī, 2:63, H 13). He was pleased with whatever happened, as it came from Allah.
The story of Prophet Yūsuf (a) in the prison is a reminder of how a true servant of Allah is pleased with Him, even in the most difficult of times. We pray to Allah the Exalted that he blesses us with the state of His Ridā.; especially during these days where the world is afflicted with the pandemic and unprecedented physical and emotional tests have afflicted the believers.
Source: Ali Ibn Ibrahim Qummī, Tafsīr al-Qummī.