“Do people think that they will be left to say ‘we believe’ and they will not be tested? But we have definitely tested those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will make evident the liars.” (Quran 29: 2-3)
Close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. Think of a time when you were in a situation or one that you’re currently in, where you feel a lack of control or loss of all control. Perhaps you are feeling scared, helpless, worried and anxious. Perhaps you feel there is no way out, that there is no one you can turn to for advice; or that the people you turn to for help don’t actually understand or advise you appropriately. Perhaps things have become so difficult that you wonder what the point of life really is.
These situations are a wakeup call for us, a wakeup call from the Almighty, to break our illusions, our heedlessness; and it is a means of humbling ourselves, and a reminder of how small/insignificant we are compared to Allah – a reminder of how dependant we are on Him. These are times when our level of iman is tested or becomes clear to ourselves. These situations reveal the truth about our declaration of faith and define whether we are from those who sincerely believe, or from those who do not…or are we somewhere in between? It’s times of hardship that can act as “both an indication and a cure for our broken relationship with Allah” (Mogahed, 2012).
What does Allah say about why we are tested? According to the Quran, everything in life is a test. Allah says in Surah Mulk
“It is He who created death and life in order to test you, which of you are best in deeds. And He is the Exalted in Might, Forever Forgiving. “( 67:2)
Therefore, we cannot avoid tests. However, do not to despair. Allah is extremely merciful that not only does he give many warnings throughout the Quran but he also provides us with the formula to successes these challenges.
*Formula for every challenge: SABR (patience) + TAQWA (God-consciousness)*
You need both sabr and taqwa to overcome these tests. Interestingly, life challenges actually help us to develop these qualities too.
Here are a few ways to help you during these challenges.
1. Seek help in Allah. It is Allah that has ultimate control and nothing is impossible for Allah to undo to change.
And if Allah touches you with harm, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is able to do all things (Quran, 6:12).
2. Remember Allah in abundance.
“Therefore remember me (by praying, glorifying me etc) and I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for my countless favours on you) and never be ungrateful to Me. (Quran 2:152)
3. Trust in Allah (that there are reasons behind your difficulties) and really really believe in Him.
Allah says “Say; Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Lord, Helper, Protector. And in Allah let the believers put their trust.” (9:51).
4. Seek forgiveness.
The prophet said “No fatigue, no disease, no sorrow, no sadness, no hurt, no distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the Prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for it.” (Al Bukhari)
Since tests help to purify us of our sins, the more we seek forgiveness then the more we will aid the process of purification. Tests may be a way of learning from our mistakes so that we can improve in this life, while we still have the chance.
On the other hand, hardships are also a blessing and sign of Allah’s love. The prophet Muhammad (SAW) said “whenever Allah wills good for a person, He subjects him to adversity. “ (Al Buhkari). On top of that, Allah says “So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily with hardship there is relief (16:97). Therefore one hardship will never overcome the two reliefs you get from it.
So, next time you’re in a challenging situation, instead of thinking “why is this happening to me….I didn’t do anything to deserve this…why am I being punished…this is extremely unfair” so on and so forth, perhaps you could alter the way you think and ask yourself these questions inside:
- How should I react during difficulties?
- How/what can I do to pass this test?
- What am I supposed to learn from this difficulty?
- How should or how can I see pass the illusions, the brick wall in front of me to the creator, who created this test?
- How can I use this test o fulfil the purpose for which it was created? (Mogahed, 2012).
- By actually addressing the problems or difficulties you face, you are in fact performing ibadah (worshiping Allah).
Allah reassures us about the tests and difficulties that we face:
But give glad tidings to those who patiently preserve, who say, when afflicted with a calamity “to Allah do we belong and to Him is our return.” They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah, and mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance (2:155-157).
The key message to take away is to know that tests are a tool to purify, strengthen and bring us closer to the Creator – the Creator of you, me and our enemies.
* This was one of the reminders given at the Qiyam-ul Lail on “Steadfastness (Istiqaamah) in Ramadhan and Life”. JazakiAllah khair to our sister for sharing the knowledge.