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4:69 Whosoever obeys God and the Messenger—they will be with those whom God has blessed, the prophets, the sincerely truthful, the witnesses, and the wholesome. What beautiful companions they!

Ibn ʿAbbās says that this verse came down concerning Thawbān, who had become wasted and weak in love for God’s Messenger, his back bent and his face yellow. One day the Messenger said to him, “O Thawbān, what is it with you? Has your face turned yellow because you stay awake at night?”

He said, “O Messenger of God, this and that, as you know.”

He said, “O Thawbān, are you placing a great deal of suffering on yourself through various sorts of discipline? You have become so weak and your back is bent over!” Thawbān said, “Yes, O Messenger of God, it has been something of all that.” The Messenger said, “O Thawbān, is it that you are desiring?” Thawbān’s eyes filled with tears when he heard talk of desire. How long will you ask me, “Why are you suffering?” In truth, you know my state better than I.

“O Messenger of God, I do not know how the nights pass until the day comes and I see you again. O Messenger of God! The hardest sorrow is that in the next world you will be in the highest of the High Chambers, and I will be held back from seeing you.” While they were in the midst of this came Gabriel, the messenger of the Presence, the courier of mercy, bringing a verse: “Whosoever obeys God and the Messenger—they will be with those whom God has blessed,” and so on to the end. God’s Messenger recited it to him and made his heart happy, placing a balm on his woundedness. Yes, it wants a pain like this for there to appear a balm-like that! Until you burn, you will not find a way out. Until you drown in Remember Me! in the ocean of remembrance, you will not reach the shore of security by the hand of I will remember you [2:152].

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