A high-ranking member of the Riyadh community related to me that in 1376 Hijri, a group of fishermen from the town of Jubayl set out for the ocean, and after spending three days and three nights fishing, they did not manage to catch even a single fish. Meanwhile, a group of nearby fishermen caught many fish. They were surprised, not merely from the disparity between their failure and the other group’s success, but because they were performing the five daily prayers and failed while the other group was not praying and succeeded. One of them said, “How perfect is Allah! We prayed to Allah every single prayer and we didn’t get anything; the other group did not prostrate to Allah even once over the last few days and look at all that they managed to get!" In this way, the Shaytaan (Devil) whispered evil suggestions to them and advised them to abandon the prayer. The next morning, they did not wake up for the Morning Prayer. They also neglected to perform the Noon and Afternoon Prayers. Before nightfall, they set out for the ocean; they caught a fish and upon slitting it open they found a pearl in its stomach ~ a very expensive pearl. One of them took the pearl in his hand, stared at it, and said, after reflecting, "How perfect is Allah! When we obeyed Him we got nothing, and when we disobeyed Him this is what we got! Indeed, this sustenance before us is of a doubtful nature." Then he took hold of the pearl and hurled it into the ocean, saying immediately afterwards, "Allah will recompense us with better than this. By Allah, I will not take it, for we acquired it after abandoning the prayer. Come with me, and let us leave this place wherein we disobeyed Allah." They traveled three miles before camping for the night. Shortly afterwards they went fishing again, and they caught a fair-sized fish. When they slit it open, they found the same valuable pearl inside its stomach. They said, “All praise is due to Allah, Who has provided us with good sustenance? They caught the fish after praying, remembering Allah, and asking for His forgiveness, so this time they kept it.
You should notice one important difference: the object was one and the same, but it was filthy when they acquired it while they were disobeying Allah, and it was pure when they acquired it while obeying Him.
(Would that they were contented with what Allah and His Messenger gave them and had said: Allah is Sufficient for us. Allah will give us of His Bounty, and [also] His Messenger [from alms, etc]. We implore Allah [to enrich us].) (Quran 9: 59)
Verily, it is Allah’s kindness. So whenever somebody abandons something for Allah, Allah provides him with something that is better.
This reminds me of a story of ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him). One morning, he entered Masjid al-Koofa to pray two voluntary units of prayer. Before entering, he found a boy standing at the door. He said to him, “O’ boy, restrain for me my mule until I finish praying." As ‘Ali was entering the Mosque, he made an intention to reward the boy with a dirham for his services. Meanwhile, the boy removed the noseband from the mule and rushed off to the marketplace to sell it. When ‘Ali came out of the Masjid, he found no boy, but only his mule without its noseband. He commissioned a man to go after the boy and ordered him to go to the marketplace since it was more than likely that the boy would go there to sell the noseband. The man found the boy auctioning it in the market and he bought it from him for a dirham. He returned to ‘Ali and informed him of what happened. After hearing what occurred, ‘Ali said, "How perfect Allah is! By Allah, l intended to give him a lawful dirham, but he refused to take it other than in an unlawful way."
(Whatever you [O’ Muhammad] may be doing, and whatever portion you may be reciting from the Qur’an, ---- and whatever deed you [mankind] may be doing [good or evil], we are Witness thereof when you are doing it. And nothing is hidden from your Lord [So much as] the weight of an atom [or small ant] on the earth or in the heaven.) (Qur’an I0: 61)