Physical misfortunes grow when they are seen to be large, and shrink when they are seen to be small. For example, a dream enters one’s vision at night. If one pays it attention, it swells up and grows; if one does not, it disappears. So too if one attempts to ward off an attacking swarm of bees, they will become more aggressive; whereas if one pays them no attention they will disperse. Thus if one regards physical misfortunes as great and grants them importance, they will grow, and because of anxiety pass from the body and strike root in the heart. The result will then be an inward affliction on which the outward misfortune fastens to perpetuate itself. But if the anxiety is removed by contentment with the divine decree and reliance on Allah, the physical misfortune will gradually decrease, dry up and vanish, just like a tree whose roots have been severed. I once composed the following verses in description of this truth:
Cry not out at misfortune, O wretch, come, trust in Allah!
For know that crying out compounds the misfortune and is a great error.
Find misfortune’s Sender, and know it is a gift within gift, and pleasure.
So leave crying out and offer thanks; like the nightingale, smile through your tears!
If you find Him not, know the world is all pain within pain, transience and loss.
So why lament at a small misfortune while upon you is a worldful of woe? Come, trust in Allah!
Trust in Allah! Laugh in misfortune’s face; it too will laugh.
As it laughs, it will diminish; it will be changed and transformed.