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Why We Are Tested: The Psychology of Suffering & Misfortune – Part #3


This is Part #3 of a multipart post: You can find part #1 here  and #2 here


Sixth: The factors that assist a person to be successful in the test through calamities are the following:

  1. Gratitude and a realization that it could have been much worse.
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A tribulation, however great it is in magnitude, in it there is some ease and compassion because it could have been more severe than it is, so therefore praise Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has made it as such and did not make it any more difficult to bear than it is.It is related that one of the pious person was afflicted with an illness on his foot. The disease began to spread to his leg, so the physicians decided to amputate his leg. During the amputation of his leg he became unconscious. When he regained consciousness tragic news was brought to him that one of his sons had fallen off from the roof of the house and died. When he heard this terrible news he implored: All praise is due to Allah, O Allah if You have taken away an organ, You have left many limbs, and if You have taken one child, then You have left with me [many] children.There is no doubt that the reason of his gratitude towards Allah is his knowledge that the calamity could have been far worse than what had occurred. And there is no doubt that the tribulations of this life on the self (nafs), the family and on wealth is lesser in severity than the tribulations in the religion, May Allah protect us.

2. Focusing on the Reward.

The human being is rewarded on account of his patience and contentment; and the reward is superior to what he loses in this Life (dunya). Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

‘’Surely We will test you with a bit of fear and hunger, and loss in wealth and lives and fruits, and give good tidings to the patient. who, when a suffering visits them, say: “We certainly belong to Allah, and to Him we are bound to return.” Those are the ones upon whom there are blessings from their Lord, and mercy as well; and those are the ones who are on the right path’’. (2: 155 – 157)

He also says:

‘’Certainly those who observe patience will be given their reward in full without measure’’. (39:10)


‘’Verily Allah is with those who are patient’’ (2:153).


If, for example, a person who works in government, excels in his profession, despite the difficulties associated with it and gets acknowledgment from the  prime minister, the person will feel that he has been honored  to the extent that he believes there is no other tribute that can match up to what he has received.
If then a dispute were to erupt between him and some of his colleagues and the prime minister tells him ‘do whatever you see appropriate, I am with you, do not fear anyone’, indeed he will sense that he has been aided and supported to the highest degree.If this is the condition of that person, how will it be with the one who is patient (sabir), and it is not a prime minister, or a king or any of the creation who says ‘I am with you’, for people do not possess any power to harm or benefit themselves, how are they able to harm or benefit others? However, it is Allah, the Most High, the King, the Creator and the Provider, the One who gives life and death, who administers the affairs of the universe, informs him: ‘Indeed I am with you’!!! Indeed this is a great blessing which leaves any calamity of this life to be insignificant.

3. A believer is aware that calamities are from the sunnan (conventionality practice) of Allah in the universe, which must be established, so therefore he prepares for them psychologically, and when the calamities strike him he is patient and relegates the affairs to Allah. As for the non-believer, he assumes that he will be safe from the calamities however when it strikes him he becomes bewildered and bemused and does not observe patience nor is he able to restrain or control himself (self).

4. Knowing that victory and relief will eventually come. Allah says:

‘’Indeed with every difficulty there is ease, indeed, with every difficulty there is

ease’’. (Inshirah: 5, 6)


The word ‘usr’ (hardship) in this verse is singular and definite implying that it is one hardship, and the second word is an emphasis (mu’akkadah) of the former. As for the word ‘yusr’ (relief) it is indefinite (munakkar), what this denotes is two reliefs, and this is why they would say: ‘No (one) hardship will overcome (two) reliefs’ (lan yaglibah ‘usrun yusrain) The relief of Allah is near – as every night has a day, even if it is prolonged. Have you not heard Allah’s statement?

‘Until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said, “When (will come)the help of Allah?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.’ (Baqara:214)

5.  The knowledge that everything belongs to Allah alone and whatever we have is a trust.

All that the person possesses such as good health, energy, abilities and wealth, and everything that has been afforded to him of children and power and prestige, indeed these are all possessions of Allah, the Most High, and a loan (from Him) which will have to be repaid; they will come to an end either through tribulations or by death.

6. Knowing that impatience will not repel the tribulation from being inflicted upon him.

Conversely the reward in the Hereafter may not be granted to him and in this Life he will earn the displeasure of Allah and also this may be a cause to make his enemies gloat.

7. Constantly reminding oneself that there is Allah’s knowledge and wisdom behind every test.

In order for him to overcome the hardship of the calamity he should remind himself of the wisdom of tribulations, and that Allah has only tried him to actualize certain wisdom.

8. Remembering the tests of the  people of the past.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) informs us of the tribulations of the nations before us and their perseverance.

Allah says:

Indeed Ibrahim [as], the friend of the Most Merciful, was tested with the most difficult of ordeals. He was thrown in the fire yet Allah saved him, he was commanded to leave his wife and son in the desert wherein there was no soul there other than them, any food or water to drink yet he carried out the command of Allah without hesitation. He was also tried when he was ordered to sacrifice his son with his own hands, accordingly he executed the command of Allah; however Allah, in all cases, saved him and protected him.

The people of the ditch were also given a severe test, they were given a choice between their religion and their life, and they chose their religion. They were raised in ranks because of their belief (Aqidah) and faith (iman) despite all the material considerations, the pressure from the oppressors, the whisperings of the devils, and the desires of the souls and its weaknesses, and thus, as a result of their perseverance, the victory and relief was solely due to the Aqidah (belief) above anything else.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was tested in his self and honor. He was accused of lying, he was attacked and beaten, and he was exiled from his homeland and also was exposed to attempts to assassinate him.

His companions were also exposed to all kinds of suffering and torment, both physical and psychological, individually and collectively. However, this did not deter them from being firm in their religion, they did not weaken or waver, and they did not sell their religion in exchange for  thelife of this world(dunya). Their faith (iman) did not shudder in face of the fear that was in front of them, nor did they denounce it in fear of death. This was because they sold themselves for the sake of Allah – and whosoever sells himself for Allah can never give it up for anyone else.

The Muslims are continuing, to this today, to present their lives in the way of Allah, in defense of the purity of Islam, for its comprehensive message, for its uniqueness; they stand in front of those who wish to distort it from its original message. They are defending it from those who wish to misuse Islam for their benefit and desires; from those who aspire to demarcate Islam from life and to relegate it to simple superficial practices as opposed to real trans formative principles.

As for the Hadith at hand,

“I have no reward except Jannah for a believing slave of Mine who shows patience and anticipates My reward when I take away his favorite one from the inhabitants of the world.”

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) mentioned in it one type of misfortune – the death of a favorite one. This is whomever a person has a special place in his heart for –  whether he be a father,  a son,  a wife,  a friend,  a brother, or a sister.

Therefore, whoever has a safiyy (favorite one), thereafter Allah selects him/her to die as a martyr, for example, and the person is patient or he is thankful to Allah because of that, all of this will be counted as Ihtisab – anticipating the reward from Allah – this is due to the fact that Ihtisab is when a person performs a deed by which he desires the reward from Allah alone. Therefore whoever anticipates the reward for his favorite one from Allah, he will not be granted any other reward except Paradise.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did not put a condition as to the number of the ‘Asfiya (favorite ones) required but this is actualized even with one safiyy (favourite one). Thus a person who loses one safiyy (favorite one) will also join (in Paradise) with those who lose one or two or three sons – as was narrated in the Hadith in which the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) declared:

‘There is no woman from among you who presents (in the way of Allah) three of her children except that by it there will be a veil between her and the Fire. A woman asked: And two? He(saw) replied: And (with) two also.’ (Bukhari)

A question may be asked. Is mere faith (iman) with the addition of anticipating the reward from Allah sufficient for admittance into Paradise; is it not possible that a sinful believer also anticipates the reward of Allah (Paradise)?

To answer this question, it is of paramount importance that we, in searching for an answer in any issue, reconcile all the texts related to the subject matter and understand them in their totality . If we read one text and pay no attention to other texts then the answers and consequences will be strange and contradictory, to say the least.

Based on the above there are some answers to the aforementioned question that do not contradict each other:

  1. The hadith did not mention that he will enter Paradise immediately. It depends on the state of the believer who is anticipating the reward from Allah (al muhtasib). If he is righteous and fulfills his obligations and avoids the prohibitions he will enter Paradise immediately without punishment  or delay. However, if he is a sinful believer and is being tested with the death of a loved one and observes patience he will be admitted into Paradise, due to his iman (faith) and for being patient, but this will be after he is punished and cleansed from his  sins.
  2. The Hadith mentions a ‘believer’ which immediately is assumed that a believer is he who fulfills the commandments of Allah, the Most High, because the word believer in its technical sense includes belief (I’tiqad), al Qawl (utterance of the Shahadah), and actions (al ‘amal) according to the command of Allah(swt). No speech should be changed from its technical meaning to the linguistic meaning except with a supporting evidence, and there is no evidence which alters the meaning here but the evidence is – the reward that is mentioned in the hadith – which indicates to the meaning that it is the pious believer (who will enter Paradise immediately) not the sinful believer. Based on this the following are the conditions of entrance into Paradise:
  • Iman (faith)
  • Taqwa (God consciousness)
  • Sabr: Anticipating the reward from Allah

This reminds us of Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) statement:

‘’(I swear) by the Time, man is in a state of loss indeed, except those who believed and did righteous deeds, and exhorted each other to follow truth, and exhorted each other to observe patience’’. (103: 1-3)

               3. This and a similar hadith that mention that whoever does this will enter Paradise and whoever does that will enter the Hellfire do not indicate that the deed mentioned is the criterion (to enter Paradise) over the rest of the deeds. All of the deeds are criterion but they indicate that the mentioned action or deed will contribute to someone to be admitted into Paradise or Hell.

This is similar to the statement (The straw that broke the camel’s back). It is well known that straws alone does not break the back of the camel however if we burdened it with something heavy it will be able to endure it, and if we increased something light on his back he will also be able to endure it. Thus if we continue to increase the burden (until it can no longer tolerate anything else) and place a straw on it, it will break its back. Therefore the straw contributed in breaking the back of the camel but it did not break it on its own.

‘Allah will assuredly appoint, after difficulty; ease’ (65:7)

And Allah knows best.


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Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Sh. Abdullah Hasan holds an Imam Diploma, BA, and Ijaza Aliyah in Islamic Studies from a European seminary. Disciplines include fiqh, usul al-fiqh, Ifta, and other traditional subjects. He also has a diploma in Arabic from Zarqa Private University and studied at the college of fiqh wa usuluhu at the same university, receiving private training from renowned Scholars in Jordan and the Middle East. With a background in counselling and psychology, he has provided therapy for individuals, couples, and families for over a decade. He holds certificates and diplomas in person-centred psychotherapy, marriage and youth counselling, and SFBT psychotherapy. Sh. A. Hasan is currently pursuing a doctorate in applied psychology after completing a Master's degree in the same field, and also Masters Programme in Medical Psychology. His expertise also extends to Zakat and Islamic philanthropic studies. Having served as an Imam in various UK Muslim communities, Sh. A. Hasan is deeply committed to community and people development. He brings over 10 years of experience in management, leadership, and training within the third sector. Currently, he serves as a teacher of Islamic psychology and counselling, a Consultant Counselling Psychologist at Gift Foundation. Additionally, he provides Chaplaincy counselling from multiple mosques in London, UK. Sh. A. Hasan is the founder of significant initiatives such as Imams Against Domestic Abuse (IADA), the British Imams, Scholars Contributions and Achievements (BISCA Awards), and the British Institutes, Mosques, and Associations (BIMA Awards). He is a member of The Association of Islamic Mental-Health Specialists (AIMS) and actively contributes to numerous other community organisations and projects, nationally and globally.



  1. Razan

    May 29, 2013 at 2:29 PM

    A beautiful series and much appreciated! Jazakallahukhairan for your good writing.

  2. Abez

    May 29, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    This whole series has been a great reminder, jazakAllahuKheiran!

  3. Adnan

    April 22, 2018 at 8:35 AM

    JazakAllah u Khairan. A wonderful, wonderful article. Thank u sooooo much!

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