Allah (S.W.T.) has promised the believer that there are times in life where we will be tested. During these times, the truthful one (the believer) is distinguished from the liar (the hypocrite and disbeliever).
Allah, The Exalted says;
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ ۖ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ
“Do people think that they will e left alone because they say: “We believe, and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).”
Allah, The Most High, has not created this world for His mere amusement as the spiritually bereft say. Allah, in His infinite wisdom created because He is Al-Khaaliq (the Creator and Maker of everything–it is who He is. Shaykh ul-Islaam ibn Taymiyyah states in Majmoo ‘ul-Fataawa that Al-Khaaliq was always Allah’s attribute–He did not ecome the Creator when the creation came into existence, rather He has always been the Creator. This has always been His attribute.”
Allah, The Exalted says;
وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
“And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (alone).”
This is a point that many miss due to ignorance of Allah’s attributes and exaggeration of their own station. Mankind and Jinn are all created things, created to worship Allah. Allah can do whatever He wills with his slaves and success can only be achieved when we submit ourselves to the Divine Will of Allah and put our complete confidence in Him and Him alone.
Why do bad things happen?
Many people, even those who believe their faith to be strong struggle with this question during the times of trials. It is important to note here that what we deem bad is a matter of perception.
Firstly, we must understand that this dunya (worldly life) is a place for trials and testing. It was not designed for our complete comfort. We are all here on a journey back to Allah. Trials are a means for us to propel forward in that journey as it prevents spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional stagnation.
We must understand that Allah, The Most Kind, does not wrong us–it is we who wrong ourselves. He never commands Al-Fahishah (evil, immoral deeds, wrongdoing).
Allah, The Exalted, says;
ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
“Evil (sins and disobedience to Allah) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds), that He (Allah) may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His Pardon).”
When evil touches us as an individual or a society, it is a sacred pause given to us from our Creator, to stop and reflect on our behavior and ask Him for his divine guidance. Allah loves when His slaves call upon Him as He is always near and ready to respond and appreciate the good service of His slaves. Allah is At-Tawwaab, The One Who guides His servants to repent and accepts their repentance.
Abu Huraira (R.A.) reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) having said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, if you were not to commit sin, Allah would sweep you out of existence and He would replace (you by) those people who would commit sin and seek forgiveness from Allah, and He would have pardoned them.
(Sahih Muslim, 2749)
It may be hard to self-reflect for the person who has suffered what they deem as a grievous offence such as a oppression, murder of a loved one, rape, a victim of violent assault, theft, or the harm of their child. Many people undergoing these types of trials may wonder what they in particular could have done to deserve a test so mighty.
Again, it is a matter of perception. We must understand that we will undergo trials and that this dunya is not our final home. One The Day of Judgement our time spent here will feel so brief as if it had been a day or part of a day. All the things we are being tested with belong to Allah, The Exalted. It is from Allah whom we call came, and to Allah we shall all return.
Covetousness is a blameworthy characteristic that can be found in the nature of mankind. When we release the need to control, manipulate, hold on to, and possess things of this dunya, we will have achieved an honorable status in this life and the next.
Narrated Abu Huraira (R.A): Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.”
(Sahih Al-Bukhari 5645)
Allah is Al-Barr, The Most Benign and Kind. Trials are not meant to destroy us completely as anyone undergoing a trial, weather Muslim or Non-Muslim usually experiences Allah’s encompassing Mercy. Trials are their to illuminate the dark parts within our selves and society so that we may repent before we earn the wrath of our Lord.
A trial can be different from a punishment though, there may be some level of punishment within a trial. This is all part of Allah’s Mercy–as any affliction is a means by which evil deeds are removed.
It was narrated from Mus’ab bin Sa’d that his father, Sa’d bin Abu Waqqas (R.A.), said:“I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, which people are most severely tested?’ He said: ‘The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A person is tested according to his religious commitment. If he is steadfast in his religious commitment, he will be tested more severely, and if he is frail in his religious commitment, his test will be according to his commitment. Trials will continue to afflict a person until they leave him walking on the earth with no sin on him.’”
( Sunan Ibn Majah 4023)
Trials should push us to repentance, then to do goodly deeds in an effort to become pious.
Allah, The Exalted says;
لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا ۚ وَإِن تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
“You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties ad in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah; but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqun (the pious) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs (and that is from the great matters which you must hold on with all your efforts.”
A trial can be a means of guidance or deviation…
It is during the time of affliction that Shaytan works the hardest at deviating people from the path of Allah with His waswas. His goal is to make us think evil thoughts about Allah and then surely, we will be lost.
Allah, The Exalted says;
وَيُعَذِّبَ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقَاتِ وَالْمُشْرِكِينَ وَالْمُشْرِكَاتِ الظَّانِّينَ بِاللَّهِ ظَنَّ السَّوْءِ ۚ عَلَيْهِمْ دَائِرَةُ السَّوْءِ ۖ وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَعَنَهُمْ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ جَهَنَّمَ ۖ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
“And that He may punish the Munafiqun (hypocrites), men and women, and also the Mushrikun men and women, who think evil thoughts about Allah: for them is a disgraceful torment. And the Anger of Allah is upon them, and He has cursed them and prepared Hell for them- and worse indeed is that destination.”
It is imperative that the true believer be constant in warding off the evil attacks of Shaytan, especially during trying times as Allah, The Exalted instructs the believers;
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ۚ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ
وَإِمَّا يَنزَغَنَّكَ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ نَزْغٌ فَاسْتَعِذْ بِاللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah orders the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it (the above quality) except those who are patient-and none is granted it except the owner of the great portion (of happiness in the Hereafter i.e. Paradise and of a high moral character) in this world. And if an evil whisper from Shaitan (Satan) tries to turn you away (from doing good) then seek refuge in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the Allah-Knower.
Trials are a time for understand and submitting to Al-Qadr…
On the authority of Abu Abbas Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: One day I was behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) [riding on the same mount] and he said, “O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]. And know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” It was related by at-Tirmidhi, who said it was a good and sound hadeeth. Another narration, other than that of Tirmidhi, reads: Be mindful of Allah, and you will find Him in front of you. Recognize and acknowledge Allah in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity. And know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.
(40 Hadith Nawawi, 19)
May Allah, The Exhaled, make us those who trust him completely. May He increase our knowledge of His Divine attributes. May He make us those who bear trials, all trials, with Sabr Jameel. May Allah make us those who submit ourselves to His will. May Allah guide us to His straight path, plant our feet firmly upon it, and allow us to worship Him, until death overtakes us. Allahummah Ameen.