In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
The reality of this worldly life!
The article was collected by Ummu Mariam.
Verily, all praises and thanks are due to Allah, we praise Him, seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evils of our souls and evils of our deeds. One whom Allah guides none can lead him astray, and one whom He misguides, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad (SAAS) is His servant and His messenger.
"O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. (Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always), and die not except in a state of Islam [as Muslims (with complete submission to Allah)]." (Al-Qur‘aan 3:102 - interpretation of the meaning)
"O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you." (Al-Qur‘aan 4:1 - interpretation of the meaning)
"O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (SAAS) he has indeed achieved a great achievement (i.e. he will be saved from the Hell-fire and made to enter Paradise)." (Al-Qur‘aan 33:70-71 - interpretation of the meaning)
Ammaa ba'd (as for what follows), the best of speech is the speech of Allah that is the Book of Allah. The best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAAS). Of all matters, the worst are innovations; and everything new is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation, and every deviation leads to Hell-fire.
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Verily, We have made that which is on earth as an adornment for it, in order that We may test them (mankind) as to which of them are best in deeds [i.e. those who do good deeds in the most perfect manner, that means to do them (deeds) totally for Allah's sake and in accordance with the legal ways of the Prophet (SAAS)]. And verily, We shall make all that is on it (the earth) a bare dry soil (without any vegetation or trees, etc.)." (Al-Qur‘aan 18:7-8)
"The pleasures of life are short-lived, and more often than not, they are followed by sorrow. Life means responsibility, a journey wherein change is constant and difficulties are relentless in their onslaught.
You will not find a father, a wife, or a friend who is free from problems. Allah has willed for this world to be filled with two opposites: good and evil, righteousness and corruption, happiness and misery. Thus goodness, uprightness, and happiness are for Paradise; evil, corruption, and misery are for the Fire. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "This world is cursed along with all that is in it, except for these: the remembrance of Allah, what follows it (i.e. good deeds and whatever Allah loves), the scholar, and the student."
So live according to your reality without always envisioning the ideal life, one that is free from worry and toil. Accept life as it is and adapt accordingly to all circumstances. You will not find in this world such things as the flawless companion or the perfect situation, because flawlessness and perfection are qualities that are foreign to this life. It is necessary for us to make amends: to take what is easy and leave what is difficult; and very frequently, to overlook the faults and mistakes of others.
Look around you, to the right and to the left. Do you not see the afflicted and the unfortunate? In every house there is mourning and upon every cheek run tears.
How many tribulations and how many people persevere with patience? You are not alone in your troubles, which are few compared to those of others. How many sick people remain bedridden for years while suffering from unspeakable pain?
How many have not seen the light of the sun for years due to their imprisonment, having knowledge of nothing but the four corners of their cell?
How many men and women have lost their dear children in the prime of youth?
How many people are troubled or tormented?
Find consolation with those that are worse off than you; know that this life is like a prison for the believer, an abode of grief and sadness. In the morning castles are bustling with inhabitants; then in an instant, disaster occurs, and they are empty and desolate. Life can be peaceful, the body in good health, wealth abundant, and children healthy; and yet in only a matter of days, poverty, death, separation, and sickness can all take their place.
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And you dwelt in the dwellings of men who wronged themselves, and it was clear to you how We had dealt with them. And We put forth (many) parables for you." (Al-Qur‘aan 14:45)
You must adapt like the experienced camel, which manages, when necessary, to kneel upon a rock. You must also compare your difficulties with the difficulties of those around you, and with those that have come before you: you should realize that you are in good shape relative to them, and that you have merely been pricked by tiny difficulties. So praise Allah for His kindness, be thankful for what He has left for you, seek recompense from Him for what has taken, and seek consolation with those that are afflicted.
You have a perfect example in the Prophet (SAAS). The entrails of a camel were placed upon his head; his feet bled; his face was fractured; he was besieged in a mountain pass until he was forced to eat tree leaves; he was driven out of Mecca; his front tooth was broken in battle; his innocent wife was accused of wrongdoing; seventy of his Companions were killed; he was bereaved of his son and of most of his daughters; he would tie a stone around his stomach to lessen the pangs of hunger; and he was accused of being a poet, a magician, a soothsayer, a madman, and a liar – all at the same time. Yet Allah protected him throughout these severe trials and tribulations. Prophet Zakariya (Zacharias) was killed, Prophet Yahya (John) was slaughtered, Prophet Muusa (Moses) was afflicted with great trials, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) was thrown in the fire, (may peace be upon them all), and the Imams of righteousness followed them upon this path. 'Umar was assassinated, as was 'Uthman and 'Ali (may Allah be pleased with them all). Many scholars of the past have been flogged, imprisoned, or tortured. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken…" (Al-Qur‘aan 2:214)" (Don't be sad, by Sheikh 'Aa‘id ibn 'Abdullah al-Qarni)
The wisdom behind calamities and the purpose of trials!
The following questions and answers were taken from: www.islam-qa.com.
I am a young woman. I used to live a happy life, although un-Islamic (except I used to pray and fast and wear reasonable hijab). Then since I got married, I started to become religious al-hamdulillaah. But this is when my problems started. I always think to myself that I was not that bad in my life before marriage (as compared to other people who are much more unreligious), and I have not done many sins. So why all this is happening to me and what is the solution?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah. And blessings and peace be upon Allah's Messenger, who said: "Allah has shared out your attitudes among you just as He has shared out your provisions. Allah gives worldly provision to those whom He loves and those whom He does not love, but He gives religion only to those whom He loves. So whoever is given religion, Allah loves him…" (Narrated by Ahmad; classed as sahiih by al-Albaani in as-Silsilat-us-Sahiihah) Based on this hadiith, you should praise Allah a great deal for this blessing which He has bestowed upon you by enabling you to adhere to His religion. Note that trials are the nature of this world which is the world of tests and trials. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "…And We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. And to Us you will be returned." (Al-Qur‘aan 21:35)
In the face of every trial the Muslim's attitude should be that of one who is certain that Allah does not decree for him anything but that which is good for his worldly and spiritual affairs. Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said: "How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him." (Narrated by Muslim)
Everything that you have mentioned in your question comes under the heading of being tested by means of things that no person would want. What you must do is to bear it with patience and realize that all of that comes from Allah for the purpose of good which He wants for you.
Adherence to the commands of Allah is not the cause of the trials that have befallen you, because one of the things stated by sharee'ah is that righteousness is one of the causes of happiness and that the opposite is the cause of misery. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision)…" (Al-Qur‘aan 16:97)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "…Then whoever follows My Guidance he shall neither go astray, nor shall be distressed. But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur‘aan nor acts on its teachings), verily, for him is a life of hardship…" (Al-Qur‘aan 20:123-124)
Faith brings true happiness in both this world and in the Hereafter, and turning away from the remembrance of Allah causes misery and hardship. True happiness is in the heart and is not cancelled out by whatever trials may befall the believer. Indeed the trials of this world happened to the Prophets too, as it says in the hadiith: "The people who are most sorely tried are the Prophets, then those who are closest to them, then those who are next closest." (Ahmad; classed as sahiih by al-Albaani in as-Silsilat-us-Sahiihah) According to another version, "A man will be tested according to the level of his religious commitment, and the trials will keep affecting a servant of Allah until he is left walking on the face of the earth with no burden of sin whatsoever." (Narrated by ibn Maajah; classed as sahiih by al-Albaani in Sahiih Sunan ibn Maajah). As stated above, in the first hadiith quoted, ease and hardship in this life are not related to a person's religious commitment.
What we advise you to do is to strive to make yourself be patient and keep away from corrupt thoughts and from thinking negatively about Allah. Do not let your adherence to Islam weaken because of these thoughts. One of the most important means that will help you to achieve this is making du'aa‘ (supplication). Indeed, difficulties may be a means of a person making more du'aa‘ to his Lord, which will open the door to much good for him. Choose the supplications from al-Qur‘aan and Sunnah that are appropriate to seeking relief from distress, such as the prayer of Ayyuub (AS): "Verily, distress has seized me, and You are the Most Merciful of all those who show mercy." (Al-Qur‘aan 21:83 – interpretation of the meaning)
Be certain that you will receive a response, and do not be in too much of a hurry, for Allah is more merciful towards His servant than a mother to her child. Strive to protect yourself with dhikr (remembrance) as prescribed in sharee'ah.
Another thing that will help you to be patient is to read the siirah (biography) of the Prophet (SAAS), and the trials and hardships that he endured. You should also ponder the reward for those who are patient in this world and in the Hereafter. One of the most useful books on this topic is 'Uddat-us-Saabireen by ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullaah. [Note: an abridged translation of this book is available in English under the title "Patience and Gratitude", Ta-Ha Publishers, London, UK.]
We ask Allah to grant you patience and reward you for it, and to heal you and your child, and to restore good relations with your husband and your family. May He help us and you to adhere steadfastly to the path of truth.
I have seen on TV many of the calamities that have befallen the Muslim ummah, in Palestine our wounds are bleeding; in Chechnya our bodies are cut; in Afghanistan our houses are destroyed; in the Philippines and in Kashmir… and now in Iraq. Tomorrow only Allah knows who will face this fate… Are these calamities and these disasters that we see good or bad?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
Disasters and calamities have been created for a reason, which none can fully comprehend but Allah. Some of the things that Allah has shown to us indicate this.
Disasters and calamities are a test of the believer's patience. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, 'When (will come) the Help of Allah?' Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!" (Al-Qur‘aan 2:214)
This is a sign of man's weakness and his need for his Lord, and shows that he cannot succeed unless he realizes his need for his Lord and starts beseeching Him.
Calamities are a means of expiation of sin and raising one's status. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "There is nothing that befalls a believer, not even a thorn that pricks him, but Allah will record one good deed for him and will remove one bad deed from him." (Narrated by Muslim)
Abu Huraira (RAA) narrated that Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said: "Trials will continue to befall the believing man and woman, with regard to themselves, their children and their wealth, until they meet Allah with no sin on them." (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi; classed as sahiih by al-Albaani in as-Silsilat-us-Sahiihah.)
Jabir (RAA) narrated that Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said: "On the Day of Resurrection, when people who had suffered affliction are given their reward, those who were healthy will wish their skins had been cut to pieces with scissors when they were in the world." (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi. See as-Silsilat-us-Sahiihah.)
One of the reasons for calamities is so that people will not feel content only with this world. If the world were free of calamities, man would love it more and feel content with it, and would forget about the Hereafter. But calamities wake him up from his negligence and make him strive for the place in which there are no calamities or trials (Paradise).
One of the greatest reasons behind calamities and trials is to warn against falling short in some matters, so that man can make up for the areas in which he has fallen short. This is like the warning that is issued to an employee or student who is falling short. The purpose behind it is to make him make up for his shortcomings. If he does that, then all well and good, otherwise he deserves to be punished. The evidence for that includes the verse (interpretation of the meaning): "Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you [O Muhammad (SAAS)]. And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health (with calamities) so that they might humble themselves (believe with humility). When Our Torment reached them, why then did they not humble themselves (believe with humility)? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made fair-seeming to them that which they used to do." (Al-Qur‘aan 6:42-43)
Another reason… is as a punishment for those who were previously warned, but did not benefit from the warning and mend their ways, and persisted in their sin. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "…So We destroyed them for their sins…" (Al-Qur‘aan 8:54)
And Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And indeed, We destroyed generations before you when they did wrong, while their Messengers came to them with clear proofs, but they were not such as to believe! Thus do We requite the people who are mujrimuun (disbelievers, polytheists, sinners and criminals)." (Al-Qur‘aan 10:13)
Allah, the Exalted, also says (interpretation of the meaning): "And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allah and be righteous) to those among them who lead a life of luxury. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction." (Al-Qur‘aan 17:16)
Ibn Taymiyah rahimahullaah said: "Grief may be accompanied by that for which a person will be rewarded and praised, so it may be good in that sense, not that grief is good in and of itself, such as one who feels sad for falling short in religious matters or for calamities that befall the Muslims. In this case a person will be rewarded for what is in his heart of loving good and hating evil, and so on, but grief in itself, if it leads to failure to do that which is enjoined, namely patience, striving (for the sake of religion), seeking benefits and warding off harm, is forbidden, but if the person does not give it up (that which is enjoined), he should be contented with the remission of his sins."
So the one who wishes that Allah would change his situation without any effort on his part and that of others like him needs to understand this.
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Verily, We sent (Messengers) to many nations before you [O Muhammad (SAAS)]. And We seized them with extreme poverty (or loss in wealth) and loss in health (with calamities) so that they might humble themselves (believe with humility)." (Al-Qur‘aan 6:42)
As-Sa'di rahimahullaah said: (This means) We sent (Messengers) to the nations who came before you, and they disbelieved in Our Messengers and rejected Our signs. So We seized them with poverty, sickness, calamities and disasters as a mercy from Us to them, so that they might humble themselves before Us and turn to Us at times of hardship.
And Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "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)." (Al-Qur‘aan 30:41)
As-Sa'di interprets the word fasaad (translated here as "evil") as referring to the disasters that develop on land and sea, which are making people's lives difficult and causing a lot of problems with regard to their livelihood and well-being.
And the disasters that befall them themselves, such as diseases, plagues and the like, which happen because of the things their own hands have wrought of evil deeds that can only lead to bad consequences.
This phrase "that He (Allah) may make them taste a part of that which they have done" means, so that they might know that Allah is requiting them for their deeds, so He gives them a foretaste of the recompense of their deeds in this world, "in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His Pardon)" i.e., repent from their deeds that have had this bad effect on them, and set their affairs straight.
Glory be to the One Who blesses by means of His punishment, for if He were to make them taste all that they have done, no living creature would be left alive on earth.
Worship at times of hardship and tribulation has a special flavour and a special reward. It was narrated from Ma'qil ibn Yasaar (RAA) that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "Worshipping at times of tribulation and confusion is like migrating to join me." (Narrated by Muslim)
An-Nawawi rahimahullaah said: "The Prophet (SAAS) said, 'Worshipping at times of tribulation and confusion is like migrating to join me.' The reason why worship at such times is of such great virtue is that people become negligent about worship and are distracted from it, and no one focuses on worship except a few."
Al-Qurtobi rahimahullaah said: "Tribulation and great hardship will happen until the matter of religion is taken lightly and people will care about nothing but their worldly affairs and how to earn a living. So worship becomes very important at times of tribulation, as Muslim narrated from Ma'qil ibn Yasaar in the elevated [marfuu'; a narration from the Prophet (SAAS)] report: 'Worshipping at times of tribulation and confusion is like migrating to join me.'"
Blessings that come after pain, hardship and calamity are more precious to people. So then they appreciate the blessings of good health and safety as they should be appreciated.
Another of the benefits of calamities is a reminder of how Allah has blessed man, because the man who is created with sight – for example – forgets the blessing of sight and does not really appreciate it, but if Allah tests him with temporary blindness, then restores to him his sight, he will fully understand the value of this blessing. If things are always easy a person may forget this blessing and not be grateful for it, so Allah takes it away and then restores it, as a reminder to him to be grateful for it.
Calamity may remind the person to whom it happens and others of the blessings of Allah. So when a person sees one who is insane, he appreciates the blessing of sanity; when he sees one who is sick, he appreciates the blessing of sound health. When he sees a kaafir (disbeliever) who is living like cattle, he appreciates the blessing of faith. When he sees an ignorant man he appreciates the blessing of knowledge. Only the one whose heart is open will feel this. Those who have no heart do not give thanks for the blessings of Allah, rather they are arrogant towards the creation of Allah.
The benefit of calamity is that it rescues man from negligence and alerts him to his shortcomings in keeping his duty to Allah, so that he does not think that he is perfect, which would lead to hardening of his heart and negligence.
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "When Our Torment reached them, why then did they not humble themselves (believe with humility)? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made fair-seeming to them that which they used to do." (Al-Qur‘aan 6:43)
One of the benefits of tribulations and hardships is purification. Hardships reveal how people really are, and distinguish the good from the bad, the true from the false, the believer from the hypocrite. Allah says of the Battle of Uhud and what happened to the Muslims on that day, explaining part of the wisdom behind this trial (interpretation of the meaning): "Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good…" (Al-Qur‘aan 3:179)
So the true nature of all things is shown clearly.
When Muslims help those Muslims who have been afflicted by calamity, they will be rewarded for that. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, mercy and compassion is that of the body; when one part of it suffers, the rest of the body joins it in staying awake and suffering fever." (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
And he (SAAS) said: "None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." (Narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
At times of hardship and war we see the true meaning of the words of Allah (interpretation of the meaning): "…Help you one another in al-birr and at-taqwaa (virtue, righteousness and piety)…" (Al-Qur‘aan 5:2)
We know that calamities may be because of sins and that they expiate sins, but what is the wisdom behind the calamities that befell the Prophets?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
In His Book, Allah has mentioned different kinds of calamity that befell the Prophets. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And indeed, We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of Messengers. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear signs and supported him with rooh-ul-qudus [Gabriel (AS)]. Is it that whenever there came to you a Messenger with what you yourselves desired not, you grew arrogant? Some you disbelieved and some you killed." (Al-Qur‘aan 2:87)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And when it is said to them (the Jews), 'Believe in what Allah has sent down,' they say, 'We believe in what was sent down to us.' And they disbelieve in that which came after it, while it is the truth confirming what is with them. Say [O Muhammad (SAAS) to them]: 'Why then have you killed the Prophets of Allah aforetime, if you indeed have been believers?'" (Al-Qur‘aan 2:91)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Then if they reject you [O Muhammad (SAAS)], so were Messengers rejected before you, who came with al-bayyinaat (clear signs, proofs, evidences) and the Scripture and the Book of Enlightenment." (Al-Qur‘aan 3:184)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And (remember) when Moses said to his people: 'O my people! Why do you annoy me while you know certainly that I am Allah's Messenger to you?' So, when they turned away (from the path of Allah), Allah turned their hearts away (from the Right Path). And Allah guides not the people who are faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah)." (Al-Qur‘aan 61:5)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And among them are men who annoy the Prophet [Muhammad (SAAS)] and say: 'He is (lending his) ear (to every news).' Say: 'He listens to what is best for you; he believes in Allah; has faith in the believers; and is a mercy to those of you who believe.' But those who annoy Allah's Messenger [Muhammad (SAAS)] will have a painful torment." (Al-Qur‘aan 9:61)
Abraham (AS) was tested with the enmity of his father and his people, and by being thrown into the fire. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "They said: 'Burn him and help your aalihah (gods), if you will be doing.' We (Allah) said: 'O fire! Be you coolness and safety for Abraham!' And they wanted to harm him, but We made them the worst losers." (Al-Qur‘aan 21:68-70)
And he was tested with the command to sacrifice his son Ishmael (AS). Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: 'O my son, I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offering you in sacrifice to Allah). So look what you think!' He [Ishmael (AS)] said: 'O my father! Do that which you are commanded, in shaa‘ Allah (if Allah wills), you shall find me of as-saabiroon (the patient).' Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he (Abraham) had laid him (Ishmael) prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering); We called out to him: 'O Abraham! You have fulfilled the dream!' Verily, thus do We reward the muhsinuun (good-doers). Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial. And We ransomed him (Ishmael) with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram)." (Al-Qur‘aan 37:102-107)
Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullaah said in al-Fawaa‘id (p. 42): The path is the path for which Adam (AS) exerted himself, and for which Noah (AS) wept, and al-Khaleel [the most beloved i.e. Abraham (AS)] was thrown into the fire, and Ishmael (AS) was laid down to be sacrificed, and Joseph (AS) was sold for a low price and remained in prison for several years, and Zachariah (AS) was cut in two with a saw, and John (AS) was slaughtered, and Job (AS) suffered severe illness, … and Muhammad (SAAS) suffered poverty and all sorts of trials and tests. End quote.
Our Prophet (SAAS) was told of the calamities that he would face from the first day of his Prophethood. Waraqah ibn Nawfal said: "Would that I were a young man, would that I would be alive when your people expel you." Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said: "Will they expel me?" He (Waraqah) said: "Yes. No man has ever come with that which you have brought but he was faced with hostility. If I live to see that day, I will support you strongly…" (Narrated by al-Bukhari)
Just as Allah protects the Prophets and takes care of them, so too He tests them as He wills with the disbelievers' persecution of them:
These are some of the reasons why Allah tested His Prophets and Messengers with the persecution of their people. Great Wisdom is His and from Him come perfect blessings. There is no god who is worthy of worship but Him and no Lord besides Him. End quote.
Ibn al-Qayyim said in Miftaah Daar as-Sa'aadah (1/299-301): If you ponder Allah's wisdom in that with which He tests His servants and chosen ones, by means of which He directs them to achieve the highest goals and reach the highest positions, which they could not have achieved without these tests and trials… All these tests and trials are in fact a kind of honour, for while they appear to be trials and tests, in fact they are mercy and blessings. How many great blessings from Allah are the direct consequences of tests and trials?
Think about the story of our father Adam (AS), and how his test ended with him being chosen and brought close to Allah, and repenting and being guided and raised in status.
Think about the story of our second father Noah (AS), and how his test and patience with his people all those centuries led to his victory, when the people of earth were drowned in answer to his prayer, and mankind after that were all descended from his offspring, and Allah made him the fifth of five, namely the Messengers of strong will (cf. al-Qur‘aan 46:35), who are the best of the Messengers. And Allah commanded His Messenger and Prophet Muhammad (SAAS) to be patient like him [Noah (AS)], and praised him for his gratitude, saying (interpretation of the meaning): "…Verily, he [Noah (AS)] was a grateful servant." (Al-Qur‘aan 17:3), and He described him [Noah (AS)] as being perfect in patience and gratitude.
And think about the story of our third father Abraham (AS), the imam of the monotheists and the Sheikh of the Prophets … and the most beloved of the Lord of the Worlds among the sons of Adam. Think about what his trials and patience and his offering himself to Allah led to. Think how his offering himself to Allah and supporting His religion led to Allah taking him as a most beloved (khaleel) for Himself … And Allah multiplied his descendants and blessed them and increased them until they filled the world, and He caused Prophethood and heavenly Books to be limited to his progeny thereafter, and He brought forth from them Muhammad (SAAS) and commanded him to follow the path of his father Abraham...
Then think about the one who spoke with Allah, Moses (AS), and what his trials and tests from the day of his birth until the end of his life led to, until Allah spoke to him directly and brought him close to Him, He wrote the Torah for him with His hand and raised him up to the highest heavens, and He forgave him for what He may not forgive anyone else, for he threw the Tablets to the ground and they broke, and he seized the beard of Allah's Prophet Aaron and pulled him towards him, and he smacked the face of the Angel of Death and put out his eye, and he argued with his Lord on the night of al-Israa‘ concerning Allah's Messenger, but his Lord loved him in spite of all that, and none of that made his Lord get upset with him, or lowered his status before Him. Rather he is close to Allah. Were it not for the great trials and calamities that he had already gone through for the sake of Allah and the immense hardships that he had suffered with Pharaoh and his people then with the Children of Israel, and the harm they caused him and the patience with which he bore it, he could not have achieved all that.
Think about the Messiah (AS) and his patience in dealing with his people, his forbearance for the sake of Allah and how much he had to put up with, until Allah raised him up and cleansed him of those who disbelieved and wrought vengeance upon his enemies, scattering them throughout the earth and taking away their kingdom and their pride until the end of time.
And when you come to the story of the Prophet (SAAS) and think about his experience with his people and his patience for the sake of Allah, how he put up with things that no other Prophet before him had had to bear, facing all kinds of situations, safety and fear, richness and poverty, security and stability in his own homeland then moving away and leaving it for the sake of Allah, the killing of his loved ones and friends before his eyes, the disbelievers' persecution of him in word and deed, using magic, lies and fabrications against him, but despite all that he was patient in obeying the command of Allah and calling people to Allah. No Prophet was persecuted in the way that he was persecuted, or went through what he went through for the sake of Allah, and no Prophet was rewarded as he was rewarded, for Allah raised high his fame (cf. al-Qur‘aan 94:4), joined his name to His and made him the leader of all mankind; He made him the closest of creation to Him, the greatest in status before Him and the one whose intercession is always accepted. Thus these trials and calamities were in fact an honour for him, by means of which Allah increased him in honour and virtue, and granted him the highest status.
And this is the case with his heirs after him; each one will have his share of trials and tests, which will help him to attain perfection according to his following of the Prophet.
And Allah knows best.
What is this world?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
This world is the place of striving and the Hereafter is the place of reward or punishment, where the believers will be rewarded with Paradise and the disbelievers will be punished with Hell.
Paradise is good and none but those who were good will enter it. Allah is good and accepts nothing but that which is good. So the way of Allah with His slaves is to test them with calamities and tribulations, so that the believer may be known from the disbeliever and so that the truthful may be distinguished from the liar, as Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Do people think that they will be 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 truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test)." (Al-Qur‘aan 29:2-3)
Victory and success cannot be achieved except after tests which will bring the good forth from the evil and tell the believer apart from the disbeliever, as Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which you are now, until He distinguishes the wicked from the good. Nor will Allah disclose to you the secrets of al-ghaib (unseen)…" (Al-Qur‘aan 3:179)
Among the trials with which Allah tests His slaves in order to distinguish the believers from the disbelievers is that which He mentions in the following verses (interpretation of the meaning): "And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to as-saabiroon (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: 'Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.' They are those on whom are as-salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones." (Al-Qur‘aan 2:155-157)
So Allah tests His slaves, and He loves those who are patient, and gives them the glad tidings of Paradise.
Allah tests His servants with jihad, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): "Do you think that you will enter Paradise before Allah tests those of you who fought (in His Cause) and (also) tests those who are as-saabiroon (the patient)?" (Al-Qur‘aan 3:142)
Wealth and children are a trial by means of which Allah tests His slaves, to know who will give thanks for them, and who will be distracted from Allah by them: "And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and that surely, with Allah is a mighty reward." (Al-Qur‘aan 8:28 – interpretation of the meaning]
Allah tests His slaves, sometimes with calamities and sometimes with blessings, to show who will be thankful and who will be ungrateful, and who will obey and who will disobey, then He will reward or punish them on the Day of Resurrection: "Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. And to Us you will be returned." (Al-Qur‘aan 21:35 – interpretation of the meaning)
Testing is according to one's faith; the most severely tested among mankind are the Prophets, then the next best and the next best. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "When I fall ill, my pain is equivalent to the pain of two men among you." (Narrated by al-Bukhari)
Allah tests His slaves with different kinds of trials:
Sometimes He tests them with calamities and tribulations to distinguish the believer from the disbeliever, the obedient from the disobedient, the grateful from the ungrateful.
Sometimes Allah tests His slaves with calamities; when they commit sin, He punishes them with calamities so that they might come back to him, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): "And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much." (Al-Qur‘aan 42:30)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And indeed We seized them with punishment, but they humbled not themselves to their Lord, nor did they invoke (Allah) with submission to Him." (Al-Qur‘aan 23:76)
Allah is merciful to His slaves; He sends repeated tribulations upon the ummah (nation) so that they may return and repent to Him, and give up that which Allah has forbidden, and so that Allah might forgive them. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "See they not that they are put in trial once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)." (Al-Qur‘aan 9:126)
It is part of the mercy of Allah that disasters befall sinners in this world, so that their souls might be purified and they might come back to Allah before they die: "And verily, We will make them taste of the near torment (i.e. the torment in the life of this world, i.e. disasters, calamities) prior to the supreme torment (in the Hereafter), in order that they may (repent and) return (i.e. accept Islam)." (Al-Qur‘aan 32:21 – interpretation of the meaning)
Sometimes Allah tests His servants with calamities in order to raise them in status and to expiate for their sins, as the Prophet (SAAS) said: "No misfortune or disease befalls a Muslim, no worry or grief or harm or distress – not even a thorn that pricks him – but Allah will expiate for some of his sins because of that." (Narrated by al-Bukhari)
(From Usool ad-Din al-Islaami, by Sheikh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim at-Tuwayjri)
Why was mankind created?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them for a (mere) play." (Al-Qur‘aan 21:16)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And We created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, for mere play. We created them not except with truth (i.e. to examine and test those who are obedient and those who are disobedient and then reward the obedient ones and punish the disobedient ones), but most of them know not." (Al-Qur‘aan 44:38-39)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Haa-Meem. [These letters are one of the miracles of al-Qur‘aan, and none but Allah (Alone) knows their meanings.] The revelation of the Book (this Qur‘aan) is from Allah, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them except with truth, and for an appointed term. But those who disbelieve, turn away from that whereof they are warned." (Al-Qur‘aan 46:1-3)
Just as it is proven that there is wisdom behind the creation of man from the standpoint of sharee'ah, it is also proven from the standpoint of reason. The wise man cannot but accept that things have been created for a reason, and the wise man regards himself as being above doing things in his own life for no reason, so how about Allah, the Wisest of the wise?
Hence the wise believers affirm that there is wisdom in Allah's creation, and the kuffaar deny that. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Verily, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for men of understanding. Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): 'Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted are You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire.'" (Al-Qur‘aan 3:190-191)
And Allah says, describing the attitude of the kuffaar towards the wisdom of His creation (interpretation of the meaning): "And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them without purpose! That is the consideration of those who disbelieve! Then woe to those who disbelieve (in Islamic Monotheism) from the Fire!" (Al-Qur‘aan 38:27)
Sheikh 'Abdurrahman as-Sa'di rahimahullaah said: Allah tells us of His perfect wisdom in creating the heavens and the earth, and that He has not created them in vain, i.e., in play with no beneficial purpose.
"That is the consideration of those who disbelieve" in their Lord, because they think that which does not befit His Majesty.
"Then woe to those who disbelieve (in Islamic Monotheism) from the Fire!" Allah created the heavens and earth in truth for truth. He created them so that His slaves might understand the completeness of His knowledge and power and the extent of His might, and that He alone is the One to be worshipped, and not those who have not created even an atom in the heavens or on earth. And that they might know that the Resurrection is true and that Allah will judge between the people of good and evil. The one who is ignorant of the wisdom of Allah should not think that Allah will treat them equally when judging them. Hence Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Shall We treat those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah – Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds as mufsiduun (those who associate partners in worship with Allah and commit crimes) on earth? Or shall We treat the muttaqoon (the pious) as the fujjaar (criminals, disbelievers, the wicked)?" (Al-Qur‘aan 38:28) This does not befit Our wisdom and Our judgement. End quote. (Tafseer as-Sa'di, p. 712)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Leave them to eat and enjoy, and let them be preoccupied with (false) hope. They will come to know!" (Al-Qur‘aan 15:3)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And surely, We have created many of the jinn and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, and they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones." (Al-Qur‘aan 7:179)
It is well known to wise people that the one who does a thing knows more about the wisdom behind it than anyone else and for Allah is the highest description (cf. al-Qur‘aan 16:60); He is the One Who has created mankind and He knows best the wisdom behind the creation of mankind. No one would dispute this with regard to worldly matters. All people are certain that their physical faculties have been created for a reason. The eye is for seeing, the ear is for hearing, and so on. Does it make sense for his physical faculties to have been created for a reason but for himself to have been created in vain? Or does he not agree to respond to the One Who created him when He tells him of the reason behind his creation?
Allah has told us that the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of life and death, is for the purpose of testing, so as to test man. Whoever obeys Him, He will reward him, and whoever disobeys Him, He will punish him. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And He it is Who has created the heavens and the earth in six Days and His Throne was on the water, that He might try you, which of you is the best in deeds. But if you were to say to them: 'You shall indeed be raised up after death,' those who disbelieve would be sure to say, 'This is nothing but obvious magic.'" (Al-Qur‘aan 11:7)
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Who has created death and life that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving." (Al-Qur‘aan 67:2)
From this test results a manifestation of the names and attributes of Allah, such as Allah's names ar-Rahmaan (the Most Gracious), al-Ghafuur (the Oft Forgiving), al-Hakeem (the Most Wise), at-Tawwaab (the Accepter of Repentance), ar-Rahiim (the Most Merciful), and other names of Allah.
One of the greatest reasons for which Allah has created mankind – which is one of the greatest tests – is the command to affirm His Oneness (tauhiid) and to worship Him alone with no partner or associate. Allah has stated this reason for the creation of mankind, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): "And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)." (Al-Qur‘aan 51:56)
Ibn Kathiir rahimahullaah said: i.e., I have created them so that I may command them to worship Me, not because I have any need of them. 'Ali ibn Abi Talhah said, narrating from ibn 'Abbaas: "except that they should worship Me (Alone)" willingly or unwillingly. This is the view favoured by ibn Jareer. Ibn Jurayj said: i.e., except that they should know Me. Ar-Rabii' ibn Anas said: "Except that they should worship Me", i.e., for the purpose of worship. End quote. (Tafsiir ibn Kathiir, 4/239)
Sheikh 'Abdurrahman as-Sa'di rahimahullaah said: Allah, may He be exalted, created mankind to worship Him and to know Him by His names and attributes, and to enjoin that upon them. Whoever submits to Him and does what is enjoined upon him will be one of those who are successful, but whoever turns away from that, he is the loser. He will inevitably gather them together in the Hereafter where He will reward or punish them for what He commanded and forbade them to do. Hence Allah mentions how al-mushrikeen (polytheists, idolaters, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) denied the reward or punishment, as He says (interpretation of the meaning): "…But if you were to say to them: 'You shall indeed be raised up after death,' those who disbelieve would be sure to say, 'This is nothing but obvious magic.'" (Al-Qur‘aan 11:7) i.e., if you were to speak to these people and tell them about the Resurrection after death, they would not believe you, rather they would reject your words vehemently and deny the message you brought, and they would say, 'This is nothing but obvious magic,' but in fact it is obvious truth. End quote. (Tafsiir as-Sa'di, p. 333)
And Allah knows best.
I often hear that there is great wisdom behind the calamities that befall people. What is this wisdom?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
Yes, there is great wisdom behind calamities, including the following:
To attain true submission and servitude ('ubuudiyyah) to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
Trials prepare the believers to prevail on earth.
Expiation of sins
It was narrated that Anas (RAA) said: Allah's Messenger (SAAS) said: "When Allah wills good for His servant, He hastens the punishment for him in this world, and when Allah wills ill for His slave, He withholds the punishment for his sins from him until he comes with all his sins on the Day of Resurrection." (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi, classed as sahiih by al-Albaani in as-Silsilat-us-Sahiihah)
Attainment of reward and a rise in status
Calamities provide an opportunity to think about one's faults and shortcomings and past mistakes. Because if it is a punishment, what was the sin?
Calamity is a lesson in tauhiid, faith and trust in Allah.
Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullaah said: Were it not that Allah treats His slaves with the remedy of trials and calamities, they would transgress and overstep the mark. When Allah wills good for His servant, He gives him the medicine of calamities and trials according to his situation, so as to cure him from all fatal illnesses and diseases, until He purifies and cleanses him, and then makes him qualified for the most honourable position in this world, which is that of being a true slave of Allah, and for the greatest reward in the Hereafter, which is that of seeing Him and being close to Him. End quote. (Zaad al-Ma'aad, 4/195)
Calamities drive out self-admiration from our hearts and bring them closer to Allah.
Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullaah said in Zaad al-Ma'aad: In His wisdom, Allah decreed that the Muslims should first taste the bitterness of defeat, despite their great numbers and adequate equipment and strength, so as to humble some people who felt proud as a result of the conquest of Mecca and who had not entered His land and His sanctuary as Allah's Messenger (SAAS) had entered it, bending his head whilst riding his horse to the extent that his chin almost touched the saddle, out of humbleness before his Lord. End quote.
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And that Allah may test (or purify) the believers (from sins) and destroy the disbelievers." (Al-Qur‘aan 3:141)
Al-Qaasimi rahimahullaah said: i.e., to cleanse them and purify them of sin and of pride and arrogance. He also cleanses them of the hypocrites, and make them stand out distinct from them… then He mentions another reason, which is "to destroy the disbelievers", for if they prevail they will transgress and overstep the mark, which will be the cause of their downfall and destruction. The laws of Allah dictate that when He wants to destroy His enemies and erase them, He makes available to them the means which will lead to their doom and eradication, among the greatest of which, after their kufr (disbelief), is their transgression and tyranny in persecuting, opposing and fighting His close friends… Allah destroyed those who waged war against Allah's Messenger (SAAS) and persisted in kufr on the day of Uhud. End quote.
To demonstrate the true nature of people, for there are people whose virtue is unknown until calamity strikes.
Al-Baihaqee rahimahullaah narrated in ad-Dalaa‘il that Abu Salamah said: Many people were confused – i.e., after the Israa‘ (the night journey) – and some people came to Abu Bakr and told him (about Allah's Messenger's night journey). He said: "I bear witness that he is telling the truth." They said: "Do you believe that he went to Syria in one night then came back to Mecca?" He said: "Yes, and I believe him in more than that, I believe what he says of the Revelation that comes to him from heaven." And because of that he was named as-Seddiiq (truthful).
Calamities strengthen people's resolve.
The Prophet (SAAS) was born an orphan, then it was not long before his mother died too. Allah reminded the Prophet (SAAS) of that when He said (interpretation of the meaning): "Did He not find you [O Muhammad (SAAS)] an orphan and gave you a refuge?" (Al-Qur‘aan 93:6)
It is as if Allah wanted to prepare the Prophet (SAAS) to bear responsibility and endure hardship from an early age.
Another reason behind calamities and hardship is that a person becomes able to distinguish between true friends and friends who only have their own interests at heart.
Calamities remind you of your sins so that you can repent from them.
Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much." (Al-Qur‘aan 42:30)
Calamities offer an opportunity to repent before the greater punishment comes on the Day of Resurrection. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "And verily, We will make them taste of the near torment (i.e. the torment in the life of this world, i.e. disasters, calamities) prior to the supreme torment (in the Hereafter), in order that they may (repent and) return (i.e. accept Islam)." (Al-Qur‘aan 32:21)
The "near torment" is hardship in this world and bad things that happen to a person. If life continues to be easy, a person may become conceited and arrogant, and think that he has no need of Allah, so by His mercy He tests people so that they may return to Him.
Calamities show you the true nature of this world and its transience, and that it is temporary conveniences, and that true life is that which is beyond this world, in a life in which there is no sickness or exhaustion. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "…Verily, the home of the Hereafter – that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew." (Al-Qur‘aan 29:64)
But this life is just hardship and exhaustion. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Verily, We have created man in toil." (Al-Qur‘aan 90:4)
Calamities remind you of the great blessings of good health and ease.
Calamities remind you of blessings and the One Who bestows them, and cause you to thank and praise Allah for His blessings.
Longing for Paradise
These are some of the wisdoms behind calamities, and the interests attained by them, and the wisdom of Allah is great indeed.
And Allah knows best.
If a calamity befalls the Muslim in his health or his wealth, etc, what is the correct way of dealing with it according to Islam?
All praises and thanks are due to Allah.
It is better for a believer that calamities will befall him in this world than that punishments would be stored up for him in the Hereafter; how can it be otherwise when he is raised in status thereby and his bad deeds are expiated? The Prophet (SAAS) said: "When Allah wills good for His servant, He hastens the punishment for him in this world, and when Allah wills ill for His slave, He withholds the punishment for his sins from him until he comes with all his sins on the Day of Resurrection." (Narrated by at-Tirmidhi; classed as sahiih by al-Albaani in Sahiih at-Tirmidhi.)
Al-Hasan al-Basri rahimahullaah said: "Do not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur, for perhaps in something that you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in something that you prefer will be your doom."
Al-Fadl ibn Sahl rahimahullaah said: "There is a blessing in calamity that the wise man should not ignore, for it erases sins, gives one the opportunity to attain the reward for patience, dispels negligence, reminds one of blessings at the time of health, calls one to repent and encourages one to give charity."
Through calamity the believer seeks reward, and there is no way to attain it but patience, and there is no way to be patient except with resolute faith and strong will.
Remember the words of the Messenger (SAAS): "How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him." (Narrated by Muslim)
So if calamity befalls a Muslim, he must say innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'uun (truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return), and say the supplications that have been narrated from the Prophet (SAAS).
How wonderful are those moments in which a person turns to his Lord and knows that He alone is the One Who grants relief from distress. How great is the relief when it comes after hardship. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "…But give glad tidings to as-saabiroon (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: 'Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.' They are those on whom are as-salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones." (Al-Qur‘aan 2:155-157)
Muslim narrated that Ummu Salamah (RAA) said: I heard Allah's Messenger (SAAS) say: "There is no Muslim who is stricken with a calamity and says what Allah has enjoined – 'Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. O Allah, reward me for my affliction and compensate me with something better' – but Allah will compensate him with something better." Ummu Salamah (RAA) said: When Abu Salamah died, I said: Who among the Muslims is better than Abu Salamah, the first household to migrate to join Allah's Messenger (SAAS)? Then I said it (before mentioned supplication), and Allah compensated me with Allah's Messenger (SAAS).
In his valuable book Zaad al-Ma'aad (4/189-195), ibn al-Qayyim has mentioned several things, including the following:
If he looks at what has befallen him, he will find that what his Lord has left for him is similar to it or better than it, and if he is patient and accepts it, He has stored up for him something that is many times greater than what he has lost through this calamity, and if He willed He could have made the calamity even greater.
The fire of calamity can be extinguished by thinking of those who have been hit even harder. Let him look to his right, does he see anything but calamity? Then let him look to his left, does he see anything but loss? If he were to look at the people around him, he would not see anything but people who are tested, either by missing out on something that they like, or by having happened to them that which they dislike. The pains of this world are like dreams or like a passing shadow. If you laugh a little you will weep a lot, and if you are happy for a day you will be miserable for a lifetime, and if you have what you want for a little while, you will be deprived for a long time. There is no day of happiness but it is followed by a day of pain. Ibn Mas'ud (RAA) said: For every moment of joy there is a moment of sorrow, and no house is filled with joy but it will be filled with sorrow. And ibn Sirin said: There is never any laughter but there comes weeping after it.
It should be noted that panicking will not make the calamity go away, and in fact it makes it worse.
It should be noted that missing out on the reward for patience and surrender, which is forgiveness, mercy and guidance that Allah has granted as the reward for patience and turning to Him [by saying innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'uun (truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return)], is worse than the calamity itself.
It should be noted that panicking makes one's enemy rejoice and makes one's friend feel sad; it makes Allah angry and makes Satan happy; it destroys reward and weakens resolve. If he is patient, seeks reward, strives to please Allah, to make his friend happy and to make his enemy sad, and seeks to relieve his brothers of their burdens and to console them before they console him, this is steadfastness and a sign of perfection – not slapping one's cheeks, rending one's garment, wishing for death and being discontent with the divine decree.
It should be noted that what comes after being patient and seeking reward is pleasure and joy that is many times greater than what he could have got from keeping what he lost. Sufficient for him is the "house of praise" that will be built for him in Paradise as a reward for his praising his Lord and turning to Him [by saying innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'uun (truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return)]. So let him decide which of the two calamities is greater: a calamity in this world, or the calamity of missing out on the house of praise in eternal Paradise. In Sunan at-Tirmidhi it is narrated in a marfuu' report: "On the Day of Resurrection people will wish that their skins had been cut with scissors in this world, when they see the reward of those who were struck with calamity." One of as-Salaf said: Were it not for the calamities of this world, we would come empty-handed on the Day of Resurrection.
It should be noted that the One Who is testing him is the Most Wise and the Most Merciful, and that He – may He be glorified – did not send this calamity in order to destroy him or cause him pain or finish him off, rather He is checking on him, testing his patience, acceptance and faith; it is so that He may hear his supplications, so that He may see him standing before Him, seeking protection, filled with humility and complaining to Him.
It should be noted that were it not for the trials and tribulations of this world, a person could develop arrogance, self-admiration, a pharaonic attitude and hardheartedness which would lead to his doom in this world and in the Hereafter. It is a sign of the mercy of the Most Merciful that He checks on him from time to time with the remedy of calamity so as to protect him from these diseases, to keep his submission and servitude sound, and to eliminate all bad elements that may lead to his doom. Glory be to the One Who shows mercy by means of testing, and tests by means of blessing, as it is said:
Allah may bless us with calamities even if that is hard, and Allah may test some people with blessings.
It should be noted that the bitterness of this world is the essence of sweetness in the Hereafter, as Allah will turn the former into the latter. Similarly the sweetness of this world is the essence of bitterness in the Hereafter. It is better to move from temporary bitterness to eternal sweetness than the other way round. If this is still not clear to you, then think of what the Prophet (SAAS) said: "Paradise is surrounded with difficulties, and Hell is surrounded with desires." End quote.
Sheikh-ul-Islam ibn Taymiyah rahimahullaah said: "A calamity that makes you turn to Allah is better for you than a blessing which makes you forget the remembrance of Allah."
Sufyan rahimahullaah said: What a person dislikes may be better for him than what he likes, because what he dislikes causes him to call upon Allah, whereas what he likes may make him heedless.
Ibn Taymiyah rahimahullaah regarded his imprisonment as a blessing that had been caused by his enemies. Ibn al-Qayyim rahimahullaah said: One day he – meaning ibn Taymiyah – said to me: What can my enemies do to me? My garden is in my heart; wherever I go it is with me and never leaves me. My detainment is seclusion (an opportunity for worship), my being killed is martyrdom, and being expelled from my city is a journey.
He used to say of his detainment in the citadel: If I were to spend the fill of this citadel in gold, that would not be sufficient to express my gratitude for this blessing. Or he said: That would not be sufficient to reward them for what they have brought to me of goodness.
When he was imprisoned, he used to say when prostrating: O Allah, help me to remember You, give thanks to You and to worship You well maa shaa‘ Allah. He said to me (ibn al-Qayyim) one day: The one who is really detained is the one who keeps his heart away from his Lord, and the real prisoner is the one who is captive to his whims and desires. When he entered the citadel and was within its walls, he looked at it and said: "…So, a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy, and outside it will be torment." (Al-Qur‘aan 57:13)
Allah knows that I (ibn al-Qayyim) have never seen anyone who was more content with his life than him, despite all the hardship that he experienced, and the lack of luxury and comfort, in fact the opposite of that, and despite the imprisonment, threats and exhaustion that he faced; despite all of that, he was the happiest of people with his life, the most content, the most courageous, the most satisfied. You could see the signs of joy and happiness in his face. When we felt afraid and were expecting calamity, and we had nowhere to turn, we would go to him and as soon as we saw him and heard his voice, all those fears disappeared and were replaced with contentment, courage, certainty and tranquillity. Glory be to the One who showed some of His servants His Paradise before they met Him, and opened its gates to them when they were still in this world of deeds and actions, so some of its breezes and fragrance came to them, which made them devote their energy to seeking it and competing in attaining it. End quote. [Al-Waabil as-Sayyib (p. 110)]
[Hardship strengthens your heart, atones for your sins, and helps to suppress an inclination towards pride and haughtiness. You might remember that in times of hardship you abandoned senseless folly and you remembered Allah. When you were afflicted, others extended brotherly compassion to you, and you became the fortunate recipient of the supplications of the righteous. At such times, you wilfully and humbly surrendered yourself to Allah's will and resigned yourself to His decree. Affliction begets circumspection and provides the afflicted with an early warning against following the path of evil. The one upon whom calamity has fallen can display courage with patience; and his circumstances, unlike the one who is drunk with worldly pleasures, permit him to solemnly prepare for a meeting with his Lord. He is able to pass judgment on this world with an impartial ruling, and thus he will come to know it as something that is not worth pining for. Other points associated with the wisdom and benefits of sometimes facing hardship, though they might escape our comprehension, are definitely present and known to the Lord of all that exists…
By being dissatisfied with one's situation and by thinking inappropriate thoughts about Allah, one opens the doors of anxiety and grief. On the other hand, contentment with one's situation and with Allah's Decree opens the door to a paradise on earth even before that of the Hereafter. To question and complain about what has been decreed cannot result in self-contentment and inner peace. Instead, it is by submission and acceptance that we can bring about those propitious results, because the One Who sustains all things should never be accused concerning what He has decreed. I still remember the story of ibn ar-Rawandi, the well-known atheist philosopher. He saw a common ignorant man who lived in castles and who was very wealthy. Ibn ar-Rawandi turned to the sky and exclaimed, "I am the philosopher of my generation yet I live in poverty, while this ignorant commoner is rich. This is a random and strange distribution." Allah then increased ibn ar-Rawandi in his misery, humiliation, and poverty. "…But surely the torment of the Hereafter will be more disgracing, and they will never be helped." (Al-Qur‘aan 41:16 - interpretation of the meaning)
During hard times, if one remains contented with one's situation, one is able to remain calm and composed, but moreover, one shows a true belief in the promise of Allah and His Messenger (SAAS). It is as if his heart has a voice that says: "…'This is what Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad (SAAS)] had promised us; and Allah and His Messenger [Muhammad (SAAS)] had spoken the truth.' And it only added to their faith and to their submissiveness (to Allah)." (Al-Qur‘aan 33:22 - interpretation of the meaning)
In contrast, the malcontented heart is filled with sickness, doubt, and instability; such a heart remains rebellious and troubled. It is as if this heart too has a voice, but the words it speaks are ever so different: "…Allah and His Messenger (SAAS) promised us nothing but delusions!" (Al-Qur‘aan 33:12 - interpretation of the meaning)
The people who possess this kind of heart are contradictory in their dealings. If they have rights upon another, they hurry to claim their rights. Yet if they are sought after to fulfil their obligations, they turn away in disdain. When good befalls them they feel calm and complacent, but when they are put to the test, how sudden is their change for the worse! They are those who have lost not only this world, but also the Hereafter. "…That is the evident loss." (Al-Qur‘aan 22:11 - interpretation of the meaning)
So those are two opposites which yield results that are equally opposite in nature: contentment leads to peace, which eventually leads to prosperity; resentment about Allah's decree leads to anxiety, which eventually leads to failure. You must remember that from the greatest of blessings that Allah can give to one of His slaves is bestowing tranquillity upon him, and one of the best ways of achieving tranquillity is being contented and pleased with Allah at all times.] (Don't be sad, by Sheikh 'Aa‘id ibn 'Abdullah al-Qarni)
Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope; he gets reward for that good which he has earned, and he is punished for that evil which he has earned. Allah, the Exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): "Verily, those who hope not for their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present world, and those who are heedless of Our aayaat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), those, their abode will be the Fire, because of what they used to earn. Verily, those who believe [in the Oneness of Allah along with the six articles of Faith, i.e. to believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, Day of Resurrection, and al-qadar (Divine Preordainments) - Islamic Monotheism] and do deeds of righteousness, their Lord will guide them through their Faith; under them will flow rivers in the Gardens of delight (Paradise). … And were Allah to hasten for mankind the evil (they have earned or what they invoke for themselves and for their children, while in a state of anger) as He hastens for them the good (they invoke) then they would have been ruined. So We leave those who expect not their meeting with Us, in their trespasses, wandering blindly in distraction." (Al-Qur‘aan 10:7-9, 11)
Oh! Our Lord! Make us submissive unto You and of our offspring a nation submissive unto You. Accept our repentance. Truly, You are the One Who accepts repentance, the Most Merciful. "…Our Lord! Punish us not if we forget or fall into error, our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You did lay on those before us; our Lord! Put not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear. Pardon us and grant us Forgiveness. Have mercy on us. You are our Maulaa (Patron, Supporter and Protector) and give us victory over the disbelieving people." (Al-Qur‘aan 2:286 - interpretation of the meaning)
Published on Sunday the 8th of Dhul-Qi'dah, 1428/the 18th of November, 2007