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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)

And:

‘’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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Sh. Abdullah Hasan graduated with an Imam Diploma, BA and Ijaza Aliyah in Islamic Studies [Theology & Islamic Law, taught completely in Arabic] from a European Islamic seminary. He holds a diploma in Arabic from Zarqa Private University (Jordan), studied at the faculty of fiqh wa usuluhu (Jurisprudence and its principles) at the same university while receiving training in various disciplines privately with some of the leading Scholars of Jordan and the Middle East. He studied Chaplaincy at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education (MIHE). He is a Licensed Islamic Professional Counsellor (LIPC), specialising in youth and marriage therapy. In addition, he is a specialist in Zakat and Islamic philanthropic studies.He served, as an Imam, several Muslim communities in the UK.Sh. Abdullah Hasan has enormous interest and passion in the field of community and people development. He has over 10 years of management, leadership and training experience within the third sector. He is the founder of British Imams and Scholars Contributions & Achievement Awards (BISCA), which is a national platform to celebrate, support & nurture positive leadership within the community. The Founder of British Institutes, Mosques & Association Awards (BIMA), which is national platform celebrating the achievements of mosques and Islamic institutions. He also founded Imams Against Domestic Abuse (IADA), an international coalition of leaders to end domestic abuse, and is a member of the National Council of Imams & Rabbis, UK.,

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Razan

    May 29, 2013 at 2:29 PM

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

  2. Abez

    Abez

    May 29, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    This whole series has been a great reminder, jazakAllahuKheiran!

  3. Avatar

    Adnan

    April 22, 2018 at 8:35 AM

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

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 17: Hajar and her Sa’i

Now that we have learnt about the best of you, let’s now talk about Hajar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) and her sa’i.

Question: Can anyone tell me the common steps we have to take when we perform the Umrah or Hajj in Mecca? 

Yes! We have to make tawaaf around the Ka’bah, and walk/jog between the hills of Marwa and Safa, drink zam zam, and then shave or cut our hair. 

Question: Do you know who we’re emulating when we walk/jog between Marwa and Safa?

Hajar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)was a noble woman, who was also the wife of Prophet Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and the mother of Prophet Isma’il 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). One day, Prophet Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was instructed by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to leave his wife and baby in the barren desert. There were no people there, no water, no animals; it was completely deserted. Hajar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) asked Prophet Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him): “Did Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) command you to do this?”

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Prophet Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) replied “Yes,” to which she said: “Then certainly, He will not abandon us.”

After a while, Hajar’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) milk started to run out and so did her food. Baby Ismai’l 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was crying and crying out of thirst and hunger. Out of desperation, Hajar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) then starts running between the hills of Marwa and Safa, climbing to the very top of each hill and looking to see if anyone is there to help her and her baby.

After Hajar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) runss between the two hills seven times, the angel Jibril  appears and strikes the ground where baby Ismai’l 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) is crying, and out gushes zam zam water that is still quenching the thirst of and healing Muslims until today! 

Question: Do you know the Arabic word for what Hajar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) was doing? 

It’s called sa’i (to pursue, endeavor, to strive). When we are putting in our utmost effort, sometimes, we won’t see the fruits of our labor directly. Hajar  raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) did not see the zam zam gush out on the hilltop. Rather, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) told Angel Jibril to strike the ground near Prophet Ismail’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) body. However, Hajar’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) effort is not lost with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). She had firm faith that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would not abandon them, and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) rewarded and protected them. They were now in charge of the zam zam water; birds soon came to drink from it, and people soon followed. This once barren desert is now where millions of people go to perform Hajj and Umrah every single year. 

Question: I want you all to think of what your sa’i for the sake of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) looks like. Do you feel like you are striving to please Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)? When we look back at our family’s sa’i, will we be proud of it? 

Sometimes, we find ourselves only focusing on getting the zam zam, but we don’t want to put in the hard work that it takes to get there. So, every time you are struggling with a new idea, or doing a chore you don’t really want to do, or getting into the habit of learning how to read Qur’an and pray those extra prayers, remember that this is all a part of your sa’i and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will actually thank you for it.  Can you believe it?

 

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 16: The Best of You

Now that we have learnt about fruit out of season, let’s now talk about the best of you.

I want you all to think about your closest friends and how you treat them. 

Question: Would anyone like to share how they try to treat their closest friends?

That’s wonderful! You try to be thoughtful and considerate of their feelings. You bring snacks to share with them, you may buy or make them a gift.

Question: Now, I want you to close your eyes and think of the way you treat your family members. Is it the same?

Question: Why do you think that there is a difference between the way we treat our friends and the way we may treat our siblings or parents?

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Yes, we do spend a lot of time together. We see each other when we’re cranky or frustrated. Sometimes we want our own space to think, or we don’t want someone interfering with our things. Those are all valid reasons. But, do you know that it is more beloved to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that you treat your family members better than you even treat your friends?

It’s true! In a hadith, Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: 

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ وَأَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِي وَإِذَا مَاتَ صَاحِبُكُمْ فَدَعُوهُ

“The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.” 

Question: What are some ways we can be the best to our family members? I’m going to share with you a hadith that may help you get some ideas: 

وعن أبى أمامه الباهلى رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ “أنا زعيم ببيت في ربض الجنة لمن ترك المراء، وإن كان محقاً، وببيت في وسط الجنة لمن ترك الكذب، وإن كان مازحاً، وببيت في أعلى الجنة لمن حسن خلقه” ‏(‏حديث صحيح رواه أبو داود بإسناد صحيح‏).‏

“I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.”

If we work on these three things: less arguing, no lying, and good manners, alongside all of your other suggestions, we will be rewarded with Jannah, inshaAllah

Question: Do you think we can all work hard to be the best to our family members?

 

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 15: Fruit Out of Season

Now that we have learnt about making our intentions big, let’s now talk about fruit out of season.

Who can tell me who Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) is

Yes, she was the mother of ‘Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), and also the best woman to ever live. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an that He chose her over all the women in the world.

Question: Do you know that she was also the niece to a Prophet? Does anyone know her uncle’s name? 

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His name is Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), good job! Do you know that Prophet Zakariya  'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)  was actually inspired by something he saw in Maryam’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) room? It’s unusual for adults to admit that they learn from younger people, but we actually do, all the time! 

One day, Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) went inside Maryam’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) room and he saw fruit that was out of season. 

Question: Can anyone tell me what fruit would be out of season in the spring, but we love to eat it in the summertime? Can we get that same fruit in the wintertime?

Well, Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) would get fruit that was supposed to only grow in the summer during the wintertime too! This was a gift that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would give her. Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was so amazed by this! He asked Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) how she came upon the fruit and she replied:

 هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

“It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without measure.” [Surat Ali ‘Imran; 37] 

Now, by this time, Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was very old. And when you get to be very old, it is very unusual to have any more children. Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and his wife never had any children at all. But, he was so inspired by what his niece said that he raised his hands in dua’ and asked Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for a child. Even though having a child seemed  impossible because it was “out of season” for Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) he asks anyway knowing that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can grant us anything- even if it is not “in season!”

Question: Can we get that same fruit in the wintertime?Did Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) answer Prophet Zakariya’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) dua’? 

Yes! Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was blessed with Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), who too became a Prophet and was the cousin of Prophet ‘Isa  'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)!

This shows us that it’s never too late or too early to ask for what our heart desires. Maybe Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will grant you something that is out of season too!

 

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