How do you prepare when a test or an exam is on the corner? You almost give away yourself entirely just to pass this exam. You devote your heart and soul in its preparation just to clear it. Because you possibly know the results of these exams today will shape your career tomorrow 🙂 So you do what ever it takes to score good in it. Similarly, on the day of examination when we are handed over the papers to solve, there are questions we come across that are easy in nature and structure but on the contrary there are few questions that seem difficult to us.
Life is a similar test. Every moment of your life is a test that you will be made accountable for tomorrow – The Hereafter. Our life too revolves around some questions or phases that are difficult to handle. Phases where we are tested with pain and hardships. And on the other hand there are phases of ease that we are tested with. So to wrap this concept around I would put it this way, that we are tested in this life with calamities and hardships. But calamities and hardships aren’t the only test we are encountered in this life with. The ease, the comfort, the blessings that are bestowed upon us are a bigger test in reality. So, we are not just tested with calamities but we are also tested with ease. This life and everything associated with it are Allah’s blessings upon us, and when He takes it back, we are in no position to complain, because we never “OWNED” it. It was always His. We as believers must engrave this thought in mind that Allah (SWT) has his reasons of doing things, and indeed He’s the All-Knowing.
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) urged Muslims to keep forbearance and patience with the trials of destiny, as illustrated in this hadith:
“How strange is the matter of a believer, there is good in all his affairs, and this is only for the believer. If something good happens to him and he is grateful, then this is good for him, and if a calamity befalls him and he is patient, then this is also good for him.” – (Muslim)
Allah (SWT) says in the Glorious Qura’an:
“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (2 : 155)
Allah (SWT) further continued:
Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return.” (2 : 156)
Surah Al-Baqarah’s verse 155 sheds light over the test that we are made to appear in. In this life that we have, we will be examined with fears, loss of lives, hunger, but all these calamities or tests we are given to us by our Lord are indeed here for our own good. The calamities that strike us are here to elevate our imaan, to rejuvenate our faith. It’s human nature that we only remember Allah (SWT) when a calamity strikes us. When things aren’t coming along in our favor, it’s then that we return to no one but Him.
Just imagine yourself in the state, that you are boarded in a flight, and the plane on reaching the highest possible altitude realizes that due to a technical problem in it, it will crash anytime, any moment, any instant. Even the atheist boarded on this flight would pray to a Higher Power for the refuge in this hour of calamity.
In Surah Al-Baqarah’s verse 155, Allah (SWT) is emphasizing on the fact that We give glad tidings to the ones who remain patient over the calamities that We test them with. Believers who remain intact with their faith, and remain patient in attitude over what ever is sent down for them by Their Lord, they are the ones who Allah (SWT) raises in dignity. The very next Ayah (156) following it says that whenever a calamity strikes these believers they rest their trust in Allah alone, and they recite with their hearts that Indeed, “To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return.” This feeling of being submissive towards Allah (SWT) is the most priceless attitude that reflects the humbleness of character.
What actually we as Muslims need to digest is that whatever comes our way, be it a calamity or ease, we are tested at each occasion. In the worldly sense, calamity striking an individual is a “BAD” thing, but if you widen the lens and then evaluate, you will discover for yourself that this calamity was sent down to make you more humble and more closer to your Lord, so ultimately this calamity was a blessing from your Lord upon you.
Ibn Tamiyyah amazed me with his words;
“What can my enemies do to me? I have in my heart both my heaven and my garden. If I travel they are with me, never leaving me. Imprisonment for me is a chance to be alone with my Lord. To be killed is martyrdom and to be exiled from my land is a spiritual journey. (Ibn al-Qayyim, Waabil, p.69)”
Shaykh Malik Ibn Dinar (May Allah have mercy on him) before the phase of his repentance, was a man who was engaged in alcohol and not very good things to mention. He had a daughter whom he loved beyond emotions and his daughter was truly in love with him as well. At the age of 2, his daughter died. He went through so much agony on her passing away that he engaged in more drinking. One night when he almost passed out after drinking way too much, he had a dream. In his dream he saw that it was the Day of Resurrection and the dead were raised from their graves. He then saw a huge snake running after him. He was running harder to save himself from this snake. He then crossed paths with an old man who was weak and fragile. He said to the old man, that please save me from the curse of this snake. The old man responded, “I’m too weak to save you from this plight.” He continued running and finally reached a very large field where little children were placed. A voice from this crowd of children rose, “He’s my father” and this voice was of his daughter. His daughter made him sit down and asked the snake to leave. He then asked his daughter why was this snake running after him.
She replied, “This snake was your evil deeds” .
He continued asking, “Who was that old man?” ,
She replied, “Old man was your good deeds that were so weak to save you from the piles of your evil deeds”.
Malik Ibn Dinar then woke up from this dream and repented for all the evil deeds he committed in his life.
The crux that can be extracted out of this story is that Allah (SWT) took back the daughter of Malik Ibn Dinar because he wanted him to see the light. He wanted him to return to what is the absolute. So the departure of his daughter was a mercy Allah did to him, so that he could ponder and return to what is the real thing.
Abu-Musa-Al Ashari reported that the Prophet Muhammad ( صلى اللهعليه وسلم) said,
“When a son of a servant of Allah dies, Allah Says to the angels, ‘Have you taken the son of My servant?’ They say, ‘Yes.’ Then Allah Says, ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’ They say, ‘Yes.’ Allah Says, “What has My servant said?’ They say, ‘He has praised You and said, Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un (To Allah we belong and to Him is our return). Then Allah Says, ‘Build a house for My servant in Paradise and call it the house of praise.’
From Tirmidhi, Musnad Ahmad and ibn Habban.
May Allah (SWT) guides us all (Ameen Ya’Rabbul Aalameen).
Sister Yasmin Mogahed‘s Lecture
UMich MSA Halaqa (2/16/2012)
Here’s the link to it: