Overcoming Tests and Trials in this Life
By Farrukh Paasha, edited by Zawaj.com for clarity. (I added subtitles; also, the original article had been altered, with a few poorly written paragraphs added at the end. I could not locate the author, so I did my best to recreate the ending in a manner true to the spirit of the article and the author’s beautiful style of expression).
We will be tested
Allah, Glory be to Him, says in the Quran: “Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, ‘We believe,’ and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false” (Quran, 29: 2-3).
By virtue of being created as human beings, we will be tested. We will be thrown into countless trials, into situations that may arise unpleasant and awkward, and into times of difficulty when it seems as though there is little reason to hope.
Tests will come at us from every direction; events will test the very core of our character and the strength of our beliefs. And these are the tests we cannot afford to fail. And Allah, Glory be to Him, has not left us empty-handed.
Iman gives strength and sustenance
Building our knowledge and our characters as Muslims is the only way to overcome the mild to the severe trials we will face every day until we die. He says: “Have you not seen how Allah has given the parable of a beautiful word like a beautiful tree whose roots are firmly established, and whose branches tower in the sky? It gives its fruits at all times by the permission of its Lord, and Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may remember” (Quran, 14: 24-25).
A “beautiful word” in this verse refers to the Islamic statement of belief: la illaha ill Allah (there is no being worthy of worship except Allah). And the verse goes on to refer to a beautiful tree, which illustrates the character of a believer.
According to this verse, a believer is one whose Iman, or faith, is unwavering and firmly established. He or she cannot be swayed from the straight path by the winds of trials, no matter how fierce the storm. Knowing and believing that there is no being worthy of worship except Allah, Glory be to Him, and following His commandments provides a believer with the stability and confidence he or she needs to succeed.
A believer’s branches also “tower in the sky” like that of the beautiful tree. By this analogy, a believer’s Iman cannot remain hidden. A Muslim cannot claim to have Iman solely in the heart while not having it show in his or her actions.
Contrary to that, Iman is something so significant that by its nature, it must be seen by anyone who looks at or interacts with a Muslim. Your Iman raises you up to a higher moral level, just as the braches of the beautiful tree reach upwards towards to the sky.
These verses also mention that this tree that is compared with a true believer “gives its fruits at all times by the permission of its Lord.” The tree of Iman is ever fruitful, unlike a real tree that only gives fruits at certain times of the year.
Your faith and your belief in la illaha ill Allah sustains you night and day, in every season, during times of ease and times of great hardship. This is the parable of the believer whose good deeds never take a vacation – they are continuous throughout the day and the night. The chapter goes on to say “And the parable of an evil word is that of an evil tree uprooted from the surface of earth having no stability” (Quran 14: 26). An “evil word” in this verse refers to disbelief.
The verse describes the powerlessness and volatility of disbelief – it has no basis and he or she who disbelieves has little stability in life. The trials and difficulties of life can easily uproot such a person.
May Allah, Glory be to Him, make us be of those who are firmly rooted in their beliefs.
Sumayyah and Yasir
Islamic history is riddled with examples of Muslims who withstood tests that would seem unimaginably difficult today.
The Muslims of the past had an abundance of patience and perseverance which are two important traits of this beautiful tree of Iman.
Two Muslims who were of the most firmly rooted of believers were Sumayyah and Yasir, may God be pleased with them. After being among the first Muslims and agreeing to accept Islam in a very tumultuous period, Sumayyah and Yasir along with their son Ammar were tortured mercilessly at the hands of Abu Jahl. The family was left unprotected since they had no tribal affiliations in Makkah.
Unable to physically help them at the time, the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, would visit them and say, “be patient, O family of Yasir, because your promised place is Paradise.” He would then turn his face to the sky and say: “O Lord! Forgive the family of Yasir.” The prophet also prayed for the alleviation of Ammar’s suffering by placing Ammar’s head in his lap and saying: “O fire! Be cool and harmless for Ammar in the same manner in which you became cool and harmless for Ibrahim.”
Sumayyah and Yasir were both martyred in the cause of Allah, Glory be to Him, after refusing to leave their faith which was dearer to them than life itself. The family was honoured with the best of honours: the prophet’s guarantee of their home in paradise. These are the examples we should take as guides to our own lives. Too often do we compromise what we believe in to accommodate the uneducated assumptions of others. Too often do we forget the immense history of Islam and Muslims.
One of the reasons we have the gift of Islam is because we stand on the shoulders of people like Sumayyah and Yasir, may Allah be pleased with them. People who did not waver, did not compromise their Iman to please others or even to save their own lives. Just like in our Islamic history, our strength as a community and as individuals today can only stem from the remembrance of and obedience to Allah, Glory be to Him. These times are difficult and the pain often hits close to home. But by holding fast to our belief in la illaha ill Allah , we will stay firmly rooted, our branches will tower high towards the sky, and our hearts will never lack sustenance, InshaAllah.
Sources: Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 5
Hardships are an expiation for evil deeds
Allah tells us that we will be tested. He also makes it clear to us what is expected from us when we undergo these trials and what our reward will be if we are successful.
He says: “Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives and the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who, when misfortune strikes them, say: ‘Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him is our return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord and it is those who are rightly guided.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 155]
The Prophet (peace be upon him)said: “No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
In another narration, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “No Muslim is afflicted by harm, whether it is but the prick of a thorn or something worse, without Allah expiating his evil deeds on account of it and his sins falling away from him like leaves off a tree.’” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When Allah desires good for someone, He tries him with hardships.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
In reality, the entire Sacred Law (Shari’ah) is a tremendous blessing for us in this life and the next.
Obligations that initially seem difficult to fulfill have a polishing effect on the heart until eventually the one’s entire perspective changes. Outward submission leads to inward submission and heart fills with love and gratitude for Allah.
Obligations are not meant to be hammered out reluctantly; they are meant to be offered in the spirit of heartfelt gratitude to Allah for the myriad blessings that each of us has been given. Someone who is realized in this state will do everything for Allah; “worldly” activities such as eating, drinking, and conversing with friends are all performed with the intention of drawing closer to Allah.
Such a person will not worry over possible future problems, nor will he grieve over past difficulties, for he is busy with the One he loves. This is true happiness and anyone who misses out on it will never know the meaning of contentment.
So know that Allah is testing us because he wants good for us and he wants to see if we are going to come closer to him or more further away from him.
Allah is with the patient
Shaythan is wanting us to weaken and fail the tests from Allah. So will we let shaythan win? Or will we make the best of these opportunities and get closer to Allah than we have EVER been?
For if we are patient then Allah is with us so NOTHING can hurt or effect us!
Allah mentions in the Qur’an:
“Indeed Allah is with those who are patient.”
And Allah describes a certain kind of person in the Quran:
(256) There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in the Shaitan and believes in Allah he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.
(257) Allah is the guardian of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light… (Baqarah, 2: 256-257)
This is a person who believes in Allah and holds on to that belief with an unbreakable grip. That person is assured that he has grabbed onto something beautiful and powerful (Iman in Allah), and so Allah will care for him, save him, guard him, and bring him out of the darkness of ignorance, and the darkness of pain and confusion, into the light of peace, knowledge, and tranquility.
The Reward for Patience is Paradise
‘Ata ibn Rabah related that he heard Ibn ‘Abbas say: “Shall I show you a woman of Paradise?” I said: “Yes, indeed.” He said: “A black woman came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, and said: ‘I suffer from epileptic fits, and because of these, (at times) my body becomes uncovered. Would you invoke Allah, the Exalted One, to cure me of this disease? ‘ The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘If you wish, you can be patient and you will attain Paradise (for this suffering). But if you prefer, I will pray to Allah, the Exalted, to cure you of it?’ The woman said: ‘I will be patient,’ then added: ‘I become uncovered (when I have fits), so invoke Allah for me that I do not become uncovered. ‘ So the Prophet, peace be upon him, prayed for her.” [Source: Fiqh-us-Sunnah, volume 4, #1a]
This is not to say that we should not seek cures for illnesses, or seek solutions to our problems. Of course we should utilize all the tools Allah has given us!
But sometimes we are faced with a problem that has no apparent solution, or a permanent injury, or an illness that the doctors cannot cure. In these cases, we are assured that our suffering is not in vain. They are in fact a blessing in disguise, as they are a means by which we obtain Allah’s forgiveness and even attain Jannah (Paradise), Insha’Allah, as long as we are patient and content in our hearts. SubhanAllah, it’s a mark of His immense mercy and love for us that even our troubles become blessings.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihee Raaji’oon
“To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return”:-