And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones. Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.  Holy Qur’an (2:155-157).

May the blessings and peace of Allah be upon the Holy Prophet of Muhammad, the one who was tried and tested in various ways and who was patient and persevered! And may Allah’s blessings be upon his household, the noble companions who also were also tested and tried, as well as upon the righteous predecessors and those who follow them in righteousness until the Day of Resurrection.

The Nature of Tests and Trials

It is clear that this life is filled with calamities, tests, and trials and that every believer will be subjected to many of these. Sometimes these trials are within himself, sometimes with his wealth and sometimes with his loved ones. These preordained trials and calamities, from the One who is All-Wise, will touch the believer in various ways and manners; if the believer does not have the correct view regarding the matter of testing, then he may err seriously, especially since some of the calamities are painful and profound.

Many people are negligent about the wisdom behind trials and testing; they may not understand that Allah, the Most High does not test human beings as a punishment, but rather as a mercy. The believer should look at the matter of testing and trials (ibtilaa’) through the textual proofs in the Qur’an and authentic traditions (Sunnah) of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) so that he can stand on a firm ground regarding these matters.

Yes, life is a test and a trial; we are tested every day in this life. Our wealth is a test; the spouse is a test; the children are tests; poverty and wealth are tests, and likewise health and illnesses are tests. We are tested in everything we possess and in that which we encounter in this life until we meet Allah, the Most High.

Everyone is going to taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good, and to Us you will be returned. Holy Qur’an, 21:35.

In addition, Allah, the Most High has stated in the Holy Qur’an:

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test. Holy Qur’an, 29:2-3.

Even the one who is healthy is tested, and also, the one who is ill is tested. The one who is healthy may not know this until he is touched by a trial, and the one who is ill may not feel that he is in a testing situation until he is cured. No one is safe from trials because of his or her prestige or status, as such things do not safeguard us from the tests as proven by the saying of the Prophet (PBUH):

“The people who receive the severest trial are the Prophets, then those most like them and then those most like them.” Tirmidhi, no. 2400 and ibn Majah, no. 4023; .19).

Response of the Believer to Tests and Trials

Amongst us, there is no one who possesses the ability to reject the tests, but there are those who are tested and succeed through good faith in Allah, patience and perseverance, and by anticipating Allah’s reward. Also, amongst us are those who are tested but fail because of weak faith and objection to Allah, Most High; we seek refuge in Allah from that. Fudayl ibn ‘Iyad says: “As long as people are in a state of good welfare, then once they are tested, they will return to their reality. The believer will go to his faith, and the hypocrite will go to his hypocrisy.”

Allah, the Most High preordained everything for us including our sustenance and our lifespan.

It is We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world. Holy Qur’an, 43:32.

Sustenance and livelihood are preordained in certain measures; illness is preordained, and one’s welfare is preordained; everything in this life is preordained. We should accept what Allah has preordained for us and should not hate, dislike, or show discomfort towards these pre0ordainments. Since this is the nature of the matter, we should submit our entire affairs to Allah and know that whatever befalls us will not miss us and whatever misses us will not befall us. It is as if the one who prefers this life to be monotonic wants the pre-decree of Allah to be in accordance with his desires, and this is wishful thinking. Irrespective of the pre-ordinance or test, it is a matter that is good for the believer; however, this is with the condition that one gives thanks to Allah for His favours and is absolutely patient, as the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has said:.

 “Amazing is the matter of the believer, his affair to him is all good, and this is for none except for the believer. If he is touched by something good and then he shows appreciation in gratitude, then this is good for him. And if he is touched by a calamity or hardship, then he is patient and this is good for him.” Muslim, no. 2999.

Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: It may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good. Holy Qur’an, 4:19.

Furthermore, Allah says:

And it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know. Holy Qur’an, 2:216.

We should know that the One who tests us is also the One who bestows favours upon us. Furthermore, we should know that not everything we dislike is to be disliked in reality and that not everything that we desire is really beneficial for us; Allah knows and we do not know.

Some of the early Muslim Scholars have strongly advised that if one is afflicted by a calamity, and he shows a great deal of patience, then his calamity is one; however, if he is impatient, then his calamity is double because of the loss of the reward as well as the beloved one, the Hereafter (i.e. Paradise). This is a direct reference to what Allah says in the Qur’an:

And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were, upon the very edge (i.e.in doubt); if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him, he turns back on his face. He loses both this world and the Hereafter. That is the evident loss. Holy Qur’an, 22:11.

Rewards Associated with Tests and Trials

Certainly, every test is a temporary situation in human life, which erases the sins. The sins will be removed as the leaves of a tree fall down, as the Holy Prophet (PBUH) says:

“No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” Bukhari no. 5641 & 5642 respectively]

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) “If Allah wants to do good for somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” Bukhari, no. 5645

In addition, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

“I visited the Prophet (PBUH) during his ailments, and he was suffering from a high fever. I said, ‘You have a high fever. Is it because you will have a double reward for it?’ He said, ‘Yes, for no Muslim is afflicted with any harm but that Allah will remove his sins as the leaves of a tree fall down.’ Bukhari, no. 5647.

The reward is affirmed regarding every kind of harm or hurt, tangible or intangible, if the believer is patiently persevering and anticipates the reward. It was reported by Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he heard the Prophet (PBUH) say:

“Allah said, ‘If I deprive my slave of his two beloved things (i.e. his eyes) and he remains patient, I will let him enter Paradise in compensation for them.’” Bukhari, no. 5653.  (To be continued next week)