How believers should respond to trials and tribulations

ALL human beings are subjected to trials in life. Many of us do not even realise that we are being tried.

By Abid Ishaq

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Published: Fri 9 Jun 2006, 10:39 AM

Last updated: Thu 12 Jan 2023, 12:05 PM

It's as if you sit the most important exam of your life without even realising that you are in the examination hall. Needless to say that preparation is required.

The best way Muslims can prepare and respond to trials is to examine ourselves, cool down the fire of these tribulations, remove their causes and reduce the effects to the bare minimum.

Allah says in the Holy Quran "And certainly We shall test you with something of fear; hunger; loss of wealth, lives and fruits (or crops), but give glad tidings to the patient ones." (Quran, 2:155). Another verse of the Allah says in the Holy Quran: "And surely, We shall try you till We know those of you who strive hard (for the Cause of Allah) and the patient ones; and We shall test your record (i.e. the one who is a liar; and the one who is truthful)" (Holy Quran, 47: 31).

When Muslims are tested one can distinguish between the faithful Muslims and the liars; between the sincere Muslims and the opportunists. We are all tested according to the level of our faith. The Prophet (peace be upon him) informed us: "The most severely tested of people are the Prophets and then the righteous ones." Allah has warned the Muslims in the Holy Quran with trials, if they turn away from the religion of their Lord and His laws. The word 'trial' here includes all kinds of punishments — rampant in all societies today — like killings, natural disasters, imposing of tyrant rulers and disease.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave us hope when it comes to difficulties by saying: "Verily, if Allah loves a people, He makes them go through trials (ordeals, suffering and difficulties). Whoever is satisfied, for him is contentment (happiness), and whoever is angry, upon him is wrath (anger)." It is part of our faith (Al-Iman) to be content with all that is decreed (written in our fate): all of what is good and bad.

So how should Muslims act at times of difficulty and stress? Muslims should seek remedy against the trials by holding fast onto the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet. Allah says: "Then, whoever follows My Guidance shall neither go astray, nor fall into distress (suffering) and misery (sadness)." (Quran, 20:123). Muslims should implement the commands of these two pure sources in every aspect of their lives.

Supplication (Du'a) is one of the means of facing trials for there is no power except with Allah. It is recommended for Muslims to supplicate longingly and extensively to their Lord during trials. Muslims should try to purify their hearts through good deeds. Our little acts of sincerity strengthen the hearts during trials.

Perseverance (persistence, determination) and piety (taqwa) are also good protection against the trials. One is saved from tribulations by turning to Allah sincerely and invoking Him truthfully. Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) was saved because of his sincerity and the people of the Cave were saved because of their truthfulness. So whoever is more perfect in faith (iman) and remembrance (dhikr) will have greater protection and defence from Allah and whoever has less faith and remembrance gets less defence and protection.

As Muslims, we pray and repent to Allah to remove the trials that are afflicting the Muslim Ummah (nation). We perform righteous deeds and continue to help and support our unfortunate brothers and sisters who are persecuted through numerous facades of oppression.

Allah revealed Islam to us to turn our world into paradise and a peaceful place. Although we seek the Paradise of the Hereafter, it should be obvious to Muslims that nobody should assume or claim a guarantee to enter Paradise. Entering Paradise is a gift from Allah, and in His Forgiveness and Generosity, we seek refuge. Allah says: "Do you think that you will enter paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you?

They met with adversity and affliction and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out "When will Allah's help come?" Then they were comforted with the good tidings, "Yes, Allah's help is near." (Holy Quran, 2:214)

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