Complaining about Allah vs. Complaining to Allah: ibn al-Qayyim

In his famous book of assorted benefits, al-Fawaa’id, Ibn al-Qayyim mentions the following issue:

فَائِدَة الْجَاهِل يشكو الله إِلَى النَّاس وَهَذَا غَايَة الْجَهْل بالمشكو والمشكو إِلَيْهِ فَإِنَّهُ لَو عرف ربه لما شكاه وَلَو عرف النَّاس لما شكا إِلَيْهِم

A point of benefit: The ignorant one complains about Allah to the people, and this is the height of ignorance when is comes to complaining about something and complaining to someone. For if he had known his Lord, then he would not have complained about Him, and if he had known the people, then he would not have complained to them.

وَرَأى بعض السّلف رجلا يشكو إِلَى رجل فاقته وضرورته فَقَالَ يَا هَذَا وَالله مَا زِدْت على أَن شَكَوْت من يَرْحَمك وَفِي ذَلِك قيل : ـ

One of the salaf saw a man who was complaining to another man about his poverty and dire need, so he said, “O you! By Allah, the only thing you’ve done is to complain to someone who does not take pity on you for that.” And it is said:

إذا شَكَوْت إِلَى ابْن آدم إِنَّمَا … تَشْكُو الرَّحِيم إِلَى الَّذِي لَا يرحم

When you complain to a son of Adam
You are only complaining about the Most Merciful One to someone who does not show mercy

والعارف إِنَّمَا يشكو إِلَى الله وَحده وَأعرف العارفين من جعل شكواه إِلَى الله من نَفسه لَا من النَّاس فَهُوَ يشكو من مُوجبَات تسليط النَّاس عَلَيْهِ فَهُوَ نَاظر إِلَى قَوْله تَعَالَى وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَمَا كسبت أَيْدِيكُم وَقَوله {وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِنْ نَفسك} وَقَوله أَوَلَمَّا أَصَابَتْكُمْ مُصِيبَةٌ قَدْ أَصَبْتُمْ مِثْلَيْهَا قُلْتُمْ أَنَّى هَذَا {قُلْ هُوَ مِنْ عِنْد أَنفسكُم} ـ

But the one who is aware complains only to Allah alone, and the most aware of the aware ones is he who complains to Allah about his own self, and not about people. So he complains about the factors which cause people to get the better of him, for he is cognizant of the statement of Allah:

وَمَا أَصَابَكُمْ مِنْ مُصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ

And whatever strikes you of disaster – it is for what your hands have earned [42:30]

And His statement:

وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِنْ نَفْسِكَ

but what afflicts you of evil is from your own self [4:79]

And His statement:

أَوَلَمَّا أَصَابَتْكُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَدْ أَصَبْتُم مِّثْلَيْهَا قُلْتُمْ أَنَّىٰ هَـٰذَا ۖ قُلْ هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ أَنفُسِكُمْ

Why [is it that] when a [single] disaster struck you, although you had struck [the enemy, in the battle of Badr] with one twice as great, you said, “From where is this?” Say, “It is from yourselves.” [3:165]

فالمراتب ثَلَاثَة أخسها أَن تَشْكُو الله إِلَى خلقه وأعلاها أَن تَشْكُو نَفسك إِلَيْهِ وأوسطها أَن تَشْكُو خلقه إِلَيْهِ

So there are three levels. The lowliest of them is to complain about Allah to His creation and the highest is to complain about yourself to Him, and the middle one is to complain to Him about His creation.

[al-Fawaa’id 1/87-88]

See also: “I complain of my grief and sorrow only to Allah”: Tafsir al-Qurtubi

See also: Two types of despairing of Allah’s Mercy: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: The Levels of the Believers: Tafsir al-Sa’di

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