One theme that ran throughout my Hajj trip was that this life is a balance between hardship and ease. We go through stages in life alternating between tests of hardship and tests of comfort, and my Hajj trip was no different.
On the one hand, I was treated to five star treatment including a Hotel roomÂin Mina (ten in a room though), three buffets a day and even spending money. On the other hand, I had to endure bus drives that lasted forever, dangerous crowds, fiqh clashes with roommates and very long walks. It was a complete balance, for every luxury I enjoyed I faced a tough test.
This got me thinking about the reality of this world. We are always going through tests as Allah has informed us, “He is the one who created death and life to test which of you is the best of deeds,” (Surah Mulk 67:2) These tests take different forms and come with regular intervals of ease, as Allah has promised us, “Indeed with every hardship is ease, indeed with every hardship is ease,” (Surah Ash-Sharh 94:5-6)
This is exactly as my trip was, Hardship WITH ease. Many times people misunderstand this verse to ONLY mean that the ease will come after the hardship; while that is true, the wording suggests that the hardship itself has ease along with it to help you through. For example, you could be unemployed yet at the same time have a supportive wife comforting you during that period, or you could be stuck with an abusive spouse yet have children around you who are the coolness of your eyes. As the proverb goes, “Every dark cloud has a silver lining,”
There is another aspect that people tend to ignore though, which is that the comfort and luxury itself is a test. Tests do not come only in the form of hardships, but also in the form of extreme comfort that can make you forget Allah, and I saw many people fall into this during my Hajj trip.
I saw people so caught up with the fancy hotels that they would stay all day in the hotel watching television and not go to the Haram for their prayers. I saw people at Arafah indulging in lavish meals and then sleeping during the one time in your life that Allah answers all your du’as, and I saw people sleep through salah in Mina due to the comfort of their hotel rooms.
It is important to understand that Islam is not against Halal entertainment and comfort, rather we are encouraged to enjoy the good things of this world, but in moderation. Ibadah should be our priority and especially when you are on a spiritual journey like Hajj, our minds should be focused on ibadah and getting a Hajj Mabroor more than anything else.
Hardship may come with ease, but in either situation Allah always comes first.