Allah is in Full Control of the Universe and Fully Aware of All Events
Nothing happens in this world except through the leave of Allah (swt). Therefore, a person who has been suffering from distress should know that Allah (swt) is fully aware of all that has happened or been happening to him. It is not a chaotic world where pain and suffering happens at random, nor is it a lawless universe without a ruler and watcher where the strong – be that a person or a nation – can do whatever it wishes to the weak without a consequence. The believer should know that Allah (swt) is aware of every little details of everything that happens, so much so that not even a leaf falls from a tree without Allah (swt) being aware of it:
He knoweth whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf doth fall but with His knowledge: there is not a grain in the darkness (or depths) of the earth nor anything fresh or dry (green or withered) but is (inscribed) in a Record Clear (to those who can read). (6:59)
No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence: that is truly easy for Allah: in order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by … (57:22-23)
Therefore, the believer should take relief and comfort from the fact that Allah (swt) is fully and intimately aware of his situations. Any harm or injustice that he has been subjected to by anyone, will not go without a consequence. Or if he is suffering from distress and difficulties, then his suffering is constantly being watched by One who is the Most Kind, the Most Merciful.
Goodness is From Allah, Evil is From OurselvesA believer must have firm conviction that any good that happens to us comes from Allah (swt) and any calamity that befalls us is the result of our own making:
Whatever misfortune happens to you is because of the things your hands have wrought and for many (of them) He grants forgiveness. (42:30)
No affliction great or small afflicts a man but for a sin, but there are more which Allah forgives. (Tirmidhi)
This does not mean that one will suffer, in the form of calamities in this world, the consequences of every sin or mistake he commits. As the Prophet (p) said, Allah (swt) forgives much more sins than the ones from which one suffers or will suffer in the Hereafter. But the important point to understand is that Allah (swt) does not cause injustice to anyone by putting him or her to undue suffering.
Our own experience and observations often point to this fact. When an individuals sits down and reflects upon his difficulties and makes an objective analysis of the events and actions leading to his situations, he will almost always identify some things he did that he should not have done or he did not that he should have done, which led to that situation. For example, for parents who suffer from their rebellious and disobedient teenaged child, it will be found, almost without exception, that they did not arrange his proper Islamic education and a good environment, and did not give it an enough priority to engage themselves with his upbringing. Indifference or inaction can be as serious as committing a sin or making a bad decision, which can lead to grave consequences. If a man, for another example, lives in an oppressive land where he suffers and cannot practice Islam, then he should be proactive and migrate from that place. Staying passive and continuing to suffer there will be considered acts of injustice that he commits against his own self, which can even lead him to Hell. Allah (swt) says about such persons:
When angels take the souls of those who die in sin against their souls they say: “In what (plight) were ye?” They reply: “Weak and oppressed were we in the earth.” They say: “Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to move yourselves away (from evil)?” Such men will find their abode in Hell - what an evil refuge! (4:97)
Now, a god-fearing and righteous believer who has been afflicted with a terrible calamity or injustice may wonder: “What have I done for which I have to suffer as such?” This is a question that probably comes to the minds of many believers afflicted with suffering and distress.
How many times, in our human condition, have we suffered an obstacle or calamity which turned out to be a blessing days, months, or years later? Perhaps we then find ourselves a bit ashamed in front of Allah (swt) for not being patient and thus loosing the opportunity of earning Allah’s good pleasure. Indeed, that is the test from Allah (swt), which some fail, some pass, and a few come out with superb success.
Even when a righteous believer finds no apparent reason for his calamity, self-scrutiny and objective analysis can point out some mistakes or some incorrect decisions made in the past leading to the situation. If, for example, a righteous and pious person with a very high moral character and conduct marries a person without looking for proper Islamic character and conduct in him or her, and subsequently suffers from a bad marriage and from the actions of that unrighteous spouse, than who else should be blamed other than that pious individual himself/herself? Life is a trust from Allah (swt) which must be utilized to the fullest possible use by every believer and cannot be wasted. Therefore, a righteous believer must be patient until he/she finds a righteous person to marry. Allah (swt) says in the Qur’an:
Corrupt women are for corrupt men, and corrupt men for corrupt women; good women are for good men, and good men for good women. (24:26)
It is the Righteous Believers Who are Tested With CalamitiesThough calamities may hit a believer as a surprise, the reality is that by virtue of being a believer one is supposed to suffer. If a believer understands the Islamic philosophy that this life is a testing ground, then he should realize that this philosophy will be implemented for him in practice while he lives in this testing ground, and not after he dies. Tests are not just limited to see whether one performs the rituals or not. His belief and commitments to Allah (swt), and his focus in the Hereafter will be fully and thoroughly tested with calamities and afflictions to gauge the depth of his faith in his heart. Achieving Paradise will not be easy. It will come only with unshakable faith and trust in Allah (swt). Allah, may He be glorified, says:
Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves. (3:186)
Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe” and that they will not be tested? (29:2)
Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil); but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. (2:155)
Ah! To how many believers hear these verses and their souls then speak out: “Yea, we are tested because we are righteous believers.”
To have that feeling of being a righteous believer is very comforting indeed. Do our eyes not always witness the fact that it is the righteous people who always suffer with pain, loss, and calamities one after another while the unrighteous always seem to prosper?
Trials are a Sign of Love By AllahOne individual once told another one who was going through tribulations that Allah (swt) was displeased with him, and hence his difficulties. This man lacked wisdom, for his comment was offensive to the person who was already distressed. More importantly, his understanding was incorrect from an Islamic perspective. The one who received the comment was a gentleman and also knowledgeable in Islam. Thus, it was not surprising that he decided to digest his remark and refrained from giving a response.
There are people who do maintain that incorrect understanding. Whenever they see a believer who is suffering from some calamity or disease, they think that this is a reflection of Allah (swt)’s wrath on him.
They should remember about the Companions of the Prophet (p) who were severely persecuted or even killed after becoming Muslim, an event that wipes out all past sins. Even the prophets of Allah, the best of all people who ever walked on the face of the earth, were persecuted by their community without exception. Was Joseph not thrown into a well, sold as a slave, and then thrown back into a prison? Did Job not face severest of trials one after another, and was eventually left out by all except his wife? In fact, the Qur’an tells us that many prophets were brutally killed by the unbelievers.
These examples should establish the fact that trials and tribulations are not a sign of Allah’s displeasure on someone. Quite the contrary, it is rather a sign of Allah’s love on someone. The Prophet (p) said:
When Allah who is Great and Glorious loves people He afflicts them [with trials]. (Tirmidhi)
Anyone for whom Allah intends good, He makes him suffer from some affliction. (Bukhari)
When Allah intends good for His slave, He punishes him in this world, but when He intends an evil for His slave, He does not hasten to take him to task but calls him to account on the Day of Resurrection. (Tirmidhi)
The punishment in the Hereafter is much severe – in fact unimaginable from our worldly perspective – than any affliction one can face in this world. Therefore, when Allah (swt) loves someone and intends for him or her to go to Paradise, He wipes out his sins and mistakes and rewards him highly by putting him to afflictions in this world.
Allah Never Gives a Trial That is Too Great to BearHuman beings are created weak (4:28). When a sudden calamity or distress befalls us, we easily become overwhelmed and often cry out, “O Allah! This is too much for me to bear!”
It never is. The believers should know it for fact that Allah (swt) never puts any burden on a soul that is beyond its ability to bear. Perhaps because we often lose sight of this fact that Allah (swt) mentions this in several places in the Qur’an:
On no soul doth Allah place a burden greater than it can bear. (2:286)(23:62)(6:152)(7:42)
Therefore, no matter how difficult one’s situation is or how sever his sufferings, he should have absolutely no doubt in his mind he has the ability to deal with the trial. Allah (swt) is Just, and every affliction that He tests his faithful servant with, there is always two viable outcome for him: passing the test with success and thus earning Allah’s good pleasure, or failing it.
The Stronger the Faith, the Harder the Test, and the Greater the RewardA believer afflicted with a severe calamity should take comfort from the fact that those who have strong faith are given the harder trials. This is established by the Prophet (p). When asked about who suffers the greatest afflictions, he replied:
The prophets, then those who come next to them, then those who come next to them. A man is afflicted in keeping his religion. If he is firm in his religion his trial is severe, but if there is weakness in his religion it is made light for him, and it continues like that till he walks on the earth having no sin. (Tirmidhi)
Why is it, one may ask, that people who are faithful and righteous should have to suffer?
To get an answer, we should ask ourselves: is there any achievement without an effort or any fruit without labor? The obvious pattern that we see in our human experience is that those who work hard and go through the process of struggle are rewarded with success in this materialistic world. The greatest reward of everything that one can imagine is Paradise. In fact, the bliss and happiness in Paradise is so great that one cannot even imagine it (32:17). How can then one expect that he will achieve this greatest success without him being thoroughly tested to see if he qualifies for it?
Believers Must Always Be Prepared to Face Trials
The above discussions should make it clear that believers will be tried with calamities, afflictions, and distress, and these trials will continue to occur during their lifetime until they meet their Lord.
That being the reality, a believer should remain mentally prepared to face any calamity or affliction, although he or she should never seek one. If he is not mentally prepared to face any difficulties in life and then suddenly is afflicted with one, then he may not be able to deal with it properly as he should. It is, therefore, wise that a believer solidify himself with knowledge from the Qur’an and the Sunnah regarding how to deal with trials and tribulations and then be prepared to face difficulties of life, but without seeking or hoping for any trial. This will help him remain calm and patient and pass the test when it comes, insha Allah.
Below, we discuss some of the common forms of trials and tribulations:
SicknessAll living creatures will die to pass the inheritance of this world to the next generations, and with the exception of a few cases, death will come through one sickness or another. This is a reality that all have to accept. No matter how virtuous one is, he is not exempted form sickens and disease. We know the examples of many Prophets who suffered from sickness, such as Prophet Job who suffered from severe skin disorder for years. Prophet Muhammad (p) himself suffered from sickness. 'Aisha, one of his wives, said: “I never saw anybody suffering so much from sickness as Allah's Apostle.”
For a believer, suffering from sickness is not just a reality but also a philosophy that comes with blessings. He knows that Allah (swt) in His mercy will expiate some of his sins if he remains patient through it. The Prophet (p) said:
No Muslim is afflicted with harm because of sickness or some other inconvenience, but that Allah will remove his sins for him as a tree sheds its leaves. (Bukhari)
When afflicted with illness and pain, the believer should remind himself, like Prophet Job did, of all the years when Allah (swt) blessed him with good health. He should remain patient and ask Allah (swt) for his Mercy, and that can earn him Paradise. One day, a woman who was suffering from epilepsy came to the Prophet and asked him to make supplication for her. The Prophet (p) replied, “Do you wish that you may endure it and be rewarded with Paradise, or do you wish that I shall make supplication to Allah to cure you?” She said, “I shall endure it.” This woman later became known as one from the people of Paradise.
In a hadith qudsi, Allah (swt) says:
When I affect my slave in his two dear things (i.e., his eyes), and he endures patiently, I shall compensate him for that with Paradise. (Bukhari)
When one suffers through a serious disease which brings prolonged physical pain and discomfort or even the prospect of death, only he (or she) can feel the full extent of the pain and distress. No one else can possibly come close to appreciating what he goes through physically and mentally. Yet, let him be reminded that it is perhaps through this sickness and suffering that Allah (swt) intends to bless him with Paradise. There cannot be any reward or success greater than that. So let his or her heart continue to beat with zikr (remembrance) of Allah through this suffering, and his face become radiant with His love. Let the visitors who come to see him be blazed with his unshakable faith and spirit. Let him teach others, even through his sickness, faith and trust in Allah!
Death of Beloved OnesIf one suffers death of someone whom he dearly loved, then he should remember that our children, spouses, parents, friends, and other family members are but trusts from Allah (swt). A wife is a trust to her husband while her husband is a trust to her. A child is a trust to his/her parents while the parents are a trust to the child. As these trusts provide us with comfort and support, Allah (swt) tests us to see how we deal with them and how we take care of these trusts. He reserves the right to take back these trusts, and He does so when the term He sets for a trust expires. The Prophet (p) consoled his daughter when her baby was sick as saying:
Whatever Allah takes away or gives, belongs to Him, and everything has a fixed term (in this world). (Bukhari and Muslim)
Therefore, one should not show despair or displeasure at Allah (swt) but remain calm and patient even at the death of his or her dearest one.
Loss of Wealth and PropertyIn many places in the Qur’an, Allah (swt) uses the phrase “out of what we have given” when He asks the believers to spend in the way of Allah, such as:
Those who rehearse the Book of Allah, establish regular Prayer and spend (in Charity) out of what We have provided for them secretly and openly hope for a Commerce that will never fail. (35:29)
Those … who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance. (42:38)
They spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them. (32:16)
As Allah (swt) asks the believers to pay zakat and charity, He reminds them that all the wealth and property that they have actually belongs to Allah (swt) anyway. All righteous believers are cognizant of this simple and obvious truth. For even if we set aside the fact that everything in this universe are created by and therefore belongs to Allah, there is no wealth or property that one can claim that it is the result of his own exclusive effort. In this context, we wrote:
If one thinks that his wealth and fortune is a result of his own labor and talent, then that reflects a serious lack of understanding and insight on his or her part. While there is no denial that one should put efforts towards achieving his goal as Islam requires and as the Prophet (p) himself did, but to think that utilization of one’s talent and exerting his labor alone earned him his wealth is to deny both facts as well as to betray common sense observation. There are many around us who with grater talents and more efforts fail to “succeed” in life and reach “financial security”. And there are those who within moments loose their vast fortunes, or suddenly become rich, due to market fluctuation, calamity, unforeseen business deals, or otherwise. And finally, there are always these basic questions to ask: Who is the One Who provided him with his talents and abilities? Who has provided him with that particular set of resources that he successfully utilized and which others were not provided with? Who controls the events that occur in our day to day life and Who provided those particular chances and deals that contributed to his fortune? Wise people know the answers to these questions and, consequently, humble themselves and thank Allah (swt) for His favor.
About such people who think that it is because of their talent or enterprise that they had become wealthy, Allah (swt) says:
… When We bestow a favor upon him as from Ourselves he says, “This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge (I have)!” Nay, this is but a trial. But most of them understand not. (39:49)
Righteous believers, therefore, are always conscious about this true ownership of wealth and property that is at their disposal. Therefore, when a calamity befalls that results in the loss of that property or wealth, they do not break down but remind themselves with this: “This property and wealth belonged to Allah and He has taken it back”.
Suffering Wrong and InjusticeFor a believer who has been a victim of wrong or injustice by others, the greatest comfort is that a day will come when he will receive full justice from Allah (swt). No matter how insignificant or how grievous the harm is, the offending parties will be called to account for their actions. No matter to whom an injustice was done, and no matter how long ago that aggression was committed, the matter will be kept on records until it is addressed. Even if everyone forgets the incident, Allah (swt) will not. For example, the infants who were buried alive during Jahiliyyah (Age of Darkness before Islam) will not be forgotten. Allah (swt) will ask them about what their crime was for which they were buried alive:
When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned: for what crime she was killed; when the Scrolls are laid open; when the World on High is unveiled: when the Blazing Fire is kindled to fierce heat; and when the Garden is brought near; (Then) shall each soul know what it has put forward. (81:8-14)
In Islam, injustice is not necessarily limited to physical and material harm. Violating a person’s honor and dignity is also an act of injustice. Therefore, a Muslim should not speak ill of another person or make any negative comment about any individual in his absence regardless of whether that person has done something wrong or not. This is called gibah, which Islam forbids except only in a few cases. A person who has done any injustice against another, be that even a negative comment made about him in his absence, will have to pay back to the victim in the Hereafter out of his own good deeds (unless the victim forgives him before he dies). If he runs out of his good deeds and still owes him, then he must take over equivalent amount of bad deeds from the victim. The Prophet (p) said:
He who has done a wrong affecting his brother’s honor or anything else, must ask his forgiveness for it today before the time (i.e., the Day of Judgment) when he will have neither a dinar nor a dirham. If he has done some good deeds, a portion equal to his wrong doings will be subtracted from them; but if he has no good deeds, he will be burdened with the evil deeds of the one he had wronged in the same proportion. (Bukhari)
This is so far as compensating the victim is concerned. He will still be liable to face punishment from Allah (swt) for committing the act of injustice and thus violating Allah’s commandments, unless both Allah (swt) and the victim forgive him.
Some Practical Guidelines in Dealing With TrialsThe above discussions will hopefully help one understand the Islamic philosophy behind trials and tribulations and prepare his or her heart for tests. Below, we describe some practical guidelines, drawn from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, about dealing with trials.
Seek Refuge From TrialsOne should not solicit trials from Allah (swt). No matter how pious one might be, he or she should not be proud of having unshakable faith but always remain humble and ask Allah (swt) to guide him and to keep him on the right path. Indeed, if it was not for the mercy and guidance of Allah (swt), he could not have remained a believer and a practicing Muslim. Therefore, he should often ask for forgiveness from Allah for sins and mistakes committed so that He does not take him to task for those mistakes. In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) teaches the believers to make the following supplication:
Our Lord! Take us not to task if we forget or commit mistakes. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden such as You laid on those gone before us. Our Lord! Lay not on us burdens which we do not have the power to bear. And overlook our faults, and forgive us, and have mercy upon us. (2:286)
The Prophet (p), the most pious and faithful of all believers, frequently used to make the following supplication:
O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from the punishment of the grave; I seek refuge in Thee from the trial of the Antichrist; I seek refuge in Thee from the trial of life and the trial of death; O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from sin and debt. (Muslim)
Giving sadaqa (charity) often can prevent calamity for a believer. The Prophet (p) said:
Give the sadaqa without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity. (Tirmidhi)
Be Ready For TrialsWhile a believer should seek refuge in Allah from trials, he should, at the same time, be always ready for trials. His supplications for forgiveness might save him from some trials, but there will still be trials that he will face for sure. Therefore, a believer should always be mentally prepared for afflictions and calamities so that he can pass the tests with success. See above for detailed discussions on this topic.
Always Have Focus on the HereafterIf one is afflicted with a calamity, he should remember that our life is short and our ultimate destination is the Hereafter. Therefore, he should remain patient, ask Allah (swt) for help, and remember that he will be meeting Him soon:
Who say when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah 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. (2:156-157)
The Prophet (p) said:
If any Muslim who suffers some calamity says that which Allah has commanded him: “ ‘We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return’: O Allah, reward me for my affliction and give me something better in exchange for it”, Allah will give him something better than it in exchange. (Muslim)
The Prophet (p) once grabbed Abdullah ibn ‘Umar by his shoulders and said:
Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a wayfarer. (Bukhari)
When a believer always keeps the Hereafter in focus, he remains calm and in control at whatever calamity he faces. For him, dunya (this world) is not the end of everything, and thus he does not breakdown but stays calm and deals with all crisis with faith and trust in Allah (swt).
Be Patient at the First StrokeThe mettle of a person is proven when he remains calm and in control even at a sudden and unforeseen calamity or difficulty. The Prophet (p) said:
Patience is only at the first (stroke) of grief. (Bukhari and Muslim)
When Calamity Befalls, Remember That It Is a Test.Any affliction that a believer suffers is a test from Allah (swt). If he does not recognize the test, then he may feel despair and thus fail the test. The believer should particularly keep in mind the following verses from the Qur’an that remind that every single believer will be tested:
We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and we shall try your reported (mettle). (47:31)
Ye shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves. (3:186)
Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe” and that they will not be tested? (29:2)
Ask Allah (swt) For ForgivenessWhen calamity strikes a believer, he should take all steps necessary to remedy the situation. Having faith and trust in Allah never means inaction or complacency with difficulties. This has been made quite clear in both the Qur’an and the examples of the Prophet (p).
From a spiritual perspective, the very first thing that the believer should do is turn to Allah (swt) for forgiveness. One of the most beautiful and effective supplications that he can make is the supplication made by Prophet Jonah (called Yunus in the Qur’an). When the people of Nineveh rejected the message of Jonah to worship Allah alone, Jonah left the city out of despair, expecting that Allah’s punishment on them was imminent. That was a mistake, for a Prophet can never forsake his mission and leave without the consent of Allah. This was only a mistake in judgment, and not a rebellious action. Nevertheless, for a Prophet or a man of piety, even a minor mistake comes out to be significant in contrast to the faith and piety that Allah has blessed him or her with. Jonah was soon consumed by a whale. It was a dark night, and he was in the dark stomach in the dark bottom of the sea. Stricken with this calamity, Jonah realized his mistake and immediately turned to Allah for forgiveness. He made a supplication that was simple and short. Nevertheless, its words carry so much significance that this small supplication is considered to be the “Mother of all supplications”. From the darkest chamber of the whale’s stomach, he cried out to Allah:
There is no God but You! Glory be to You! I have done wrong. (21:87)
This short supplication has three important components. First, Jonah recognized that there is no other authority or power worthy of worship except Allah. Besides Him, he can turn to no one for help – no king, no judge, and no personal attorney. If there is anyone who is capable of forgiveness and help, that is only Allah, the Supreme Authority of the entire universe. Second, he declared that Allah is above all blames and shortcomings. Allah (swt) is not to be blamed for his situations, for He never commits a wrong against anyone. He is above and beyond all faults and shortcomings. Lastly, he admitted that he has committed a mistake. This admittance and recognition of one’s own fault is perhaps the most important element in seeking forgiveness. For Jonah, this admission did not merely come out from his lips but also from the bottom of his heart. This short supplication was so heavy in weight that Allah (swt) turned to him in forgiveness and delivered him from these three layers of darkness.
Sincere admittance of mistakes and repentance, thus, is a necessary condition for supplications to be heard. Allah (swt) is indeed the Most Merciful and He is quick to forgive His slaves.
Ask for Help With Patience and SalatAfter faith and trust in Allah, the most import quality that a believer needs during calamity and affliction is patience. Patience is such a virtue that it is frequently mentioned both in the Qur’an and the hadith. Indeed, the Prophet (p) said that it is the best gift that one can receive from Allah:
No one is granted a gift better and more comprehensive than patience. (Bukhari and Muslim)
In many places in the Qur’an, Allah (swt) asks the believer to seek His help with patience and salat, such as:
O ye who believe! seek help with patient perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere. (2:153)
Seek (Allah's) help with patient perseverance and prayer. (2:45)
One of the best times to offer salat is late night before the time for fajr starts. Called the tahajjud prayer, there are many excellences for this prayer. The believer should try to make as much tahajjud prayer as possible and ask Allah (swt) for help and forgiveness, as this is one the best times to make prayers and supplications:
And for part of the night also praise Him, and at the retreat of the stars! (52:49)
And during part of the night (also) celebrate His praises and (so likewise) after the postures of adoration. (50:40)
And part of the night prostrate thyself to Him; and glorify Him a long night through. (76:26)
When people and all other creatures around are deep in sleep, it is only the believer who keeps awake and is immersed in worshipping Allah (swt). In that still silence of the dead of the night, it is, as if, only two are engaged in a private conversation: one who begs for help and mercy, and the Other Who listens to his prayers.
Avoid the Two Pitfalls
Truly man was created very impatient: fretful when evil touches him, and niggardly when good reaches him. (70:19-21)
There are two categories of people that a righteous believer should not slip into.
The first kinds are those who desperately seek Allah’s help and forgiveness when in calamity or peril. Then when Allah (swt) delivers them from their calamity, they forget Allah and go back to their usual life of indifference to Allah and the Hereafter. About these people, Allah (swt) says:
When trouble touches a man he cries unto Us (in all postures) lying down on his side or sitting or standing. But when We have solved his trouble he passes on his way as if he had never cried to Us for a trouble that touched him! Thus do the deeds of transgressors seem fair in their eyes! (10:12)
The second kinds are those who worship Allah and follow his commandments so long as they enjoy a comfortable or trouble-free life. Then when calamities strike them, they break down and become indifferent to Allah and his commandments out of anger and frustration. It is, as if, they deserve a comfortable life in return for their worshipping of Allah (swt). About them, says Allah (swt):
Among men is he who worships Allah, while remaining on the borderline; if any good befalls him, he is satisfied; but if a trial afflicts him, he utterly turns away. He will incur loss both of this world and the Hereafter. That indeed is a clear loss. (21:11)
Falling into one these two categories is an utter failure. A true believer is one who always worships Allah (swt) – whether in calamity or in good fortune. When in calamity, he remains patient and pleased with Allah, and when something good happens to him, he thanks Allah. Thus he always earns rewards and Allah’s good pleasure while he lives in this world. The Prophet (p) said:
How wonderful is the case of a believer! There is good for him in everything, and this is not the case with anyone except a believer. If prosperity attends him, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him; and if adversity befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him. (Muslim)
Keep in Mind the Eventual Success
Verily with every difficulty, there is relief. (94:6)
It is a source of great comfort for a believer to know that his or her afflictions will one day come to an end and there will be relief for him. Therefore, he should keep this eventuality in mind and go through his trial with patience, forbearance, and faith in Allah. There will be a day – whether in this world or the Next – when he will come out victorious and successful for passing the test. For a believer in affliction, that is the ultimate success that awaits him. Says Allah (swt):
Verily, the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present. (93:4)
Show Kindness to Those Who are AfflictedIf someone is afflicted with a calamity, other believers should often visit or call him or her and inquire about his (or her) welfare. One should never demoralize an afflicted believer by saying that Allah is displeased with him or that he has committed some sin for which he is being punished. Instead, believers should tell him good words that will uplift his spirit. They should tell him about the fact that Allah tests those whom He loves, and that it is the righteous believers who suffer the most in this life so that they can get Paradise in the Hereafter. The believers should sympathize with him and offer their help. The Prophet (p), out of his sympathy for the afflicted, said:
If you were to sell fruits to your brother and these are stricken with calamity, it is not permissible for you to get anything from him. (Muslim)
Remember Past Trials and Benefit From ThemA wise person always takes lessons from hardships and afflictions and tries to improve his or her situation. A believer who has come out of an affliction should be self-critical and objectively analyze the possible causes for his affliction, and make corrections accordingly. For example, if he has been involved in a serious road accident while driving and Allah (swt) spared his life, then he should be more careful in driving, follow all traffic laws, and drive defensively. Or if he became seriously sick due to unhealthy eating habits and he recovered, then he should control his diet and do regulars exercise to stay fit and healthy. Most important improvements of all are amending one’s character and conduct and turning to Allah (swt) in obedience.
There is also spiritual benefit in remembering the past trials as that will make the believer always remain conscious of the fact that life is short with all its vicissitudes and he will soon return to Allah (swt). The Prophet (p) said that remembering past trials can even earn him reward:
If any Muslim man or woman suffers a calamity and keeps it in his memory, even if it happened a long time ago, saying each time it is remembered, 'We belong to Allah and to Him do we return,' Allah, who is Blessed and Exalted will give a fresh reward each time it is said, equivalent to the reward when it happened. (Ahmad)