Imām Ibn al-Qayyim [d. 751 AH] said:
ʿAbdullah ibn Ḥārith ibn Nawfal once mentioned [the prophet] Sulymān ibn Dāwūd and the kingdom that he was granted [by Allāh], then he recited the saying of the Most High:
هَٰذَا مِن فَضْلِ رَبِّي لِيَبْلُوَنِي أَأَشْكُرُ أَمْ أَكْفُرُ ۖ ﴿٤٠﴾
‘This is from the favour of my Lord to test me whether I will be grateful or ungrateful,’
but he did not claim it to be due to his own munificence. Then he mentioned Qārūn and his saying:
قَالَ إِنَّمَا أُوتِيتُهُ عَلَىٰ عِلْمٍ عِندِي ۚ ﴿٧٨﴾
“He said, ‘I was only given it because of the knowledge I have’”
That is, Sulaymān acknowledged that what he was granted was from among the bounties of Allāh upon him, and from His favours, and that he was being tested with it, so thanked Him for it. While Qārūn thought that what he was given was due to his own self, and that he was deserving of it. Similar to this is the saying of the Exalted:
وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِّنَّا مِن بَعْدِ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ هَٰذَا لِي ﴿٥٠﴾
“And if We let him taste mercy from Us after an adversity which has touched him, he will surely say, ‘This is [due] to me’”
that is, I am from among its people and I am most deserving of it. Thus I have been specially granted [this mercy], just as a king is granted a kingdom.
As for the believer, he views it only as being from the kingdom of his Lord. It is but a bounty from Him which He has chosen to bless His servant with, unadulterated by entitlement of any kind [on the part of the servant]. It is a form of charity granted to His servant, just as it is within His rights to refuse the granting of it.
For if He was to refuse its awarding, He would not be depriving His servant of that which he is deserving of. Those who lack this outlook will feel entitlement for what they have, as if they are deserving of it. They will begin self-adulation, using the granted boon as a means of excessive overstepping in wantonness, which then leads to an air of erroneous superiority, and haughty boastfulness. Their only resulting share [of their boon] is that of delusional happiness and prideful vainglory. As the Most High says:
وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِنَّا رَحْمَةً ثُمَّ نَزَعْنَاهَا مِنْهُ إِنَّهُ لَيَئُوسٌ كَفُورٌ ﴿٩﴾ وَلَئِنْ أَذَقْنَاهُ نَعْمَاءَ بَعْدَ ضَرَّاءَ مَسَّتْهُ لَيَقُولَنَّ ذَهَبَ السَّيِّئَاتُ عَنِّي ۚ إِنَّهُ لَفَرِحٌ فَخُورٌ ﴿١٠﴾
‘And if We give man a taste of mercy from Us and then We withdraw it from him, indeed, he is despairing and ungrateful. But if We give him a taste of favour after hardship has touched him, he will surely say, “Bad times have left me.” Indeed, he is exultant and boastful’
They have been blamed in relation to their state of despair and ungratefulness when they are tested with catastrophe, and exultance and boastfulness when they are tested with bounties. Instead of praising Allāh, thanking and commemorating Him when a catastrophe is removed they say: “Bad times have left me.” If they were to say: “Allāh has removed hardship from me by means of His mercy and bounty”, they would not be blameworthy. Rather, they would be praised [for this attitude]. Instead, they chose to be mindless of the Granter of Favour in His removal [of the catastrophe], and in their attributing this removal to Him alone. Thus, they turn to exultance and boastfulness.
Source: al-Majmūʿ al-Qayyim: 606
Translated by: Riyāḍ al-Kanadī