Allah tells us that we will be tested. He also makes it clear to us what is expected from us when we undergo these trials and what our reward will be if we are successful.
Allah says: "Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives and the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who, when misfortune strikes them, say: 'Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him is our return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord and it is those who are rightly guided." [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 155]
The Prophet (peace be upon him)said: "No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his sins by it." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
In another narration, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "No Muslim is afflicted by harm, whether it is but the prick of a thorn or something worse, without Allah expiating his evil deeds on account of it and his sins falling away from him like leaves off a tree.'" [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "When Allah desires good for someone, He tries him with hardships." [Sahîh al-Bukhârî]
The Muslim may be tested by all sorts of difficulties like sickness, lack of income, and disobedience from his children. In fact, the many afflictions that may beset a person are incalculable. This is the point that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was stressing when he mentioned: "fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness …even to the extent of a thorn pricking him".
All of these afflictions, if endured patiently by the believer, are a means of attaining Allah's forgiveness as well as His reward.
Every one of us is being tested by Allah. He tests us all in different ways. We should not assume that the difficulties that we face in life are punishments or are signs that Allah is displeased with us. Likewise, we should never construe the success and pleasures that others enjoy as signs that Allah is pleased with them or that they are privileged. Sometimes, quite the opposite is true.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "If Allah wants good for his servant, He hurries on His punishment in this world, and if He wills ill for a servant, he holds back punishing him for his sin so He can give it to him in full on the Day of Resurrection."
Allah makes it clear that everything in our lives – the good and the bad of it– is a trial for us. How will we cope in the situation that Allah has placed for us? Will we be grateful in prosperity and patient in affliction or will we be arrogant and disobedient?
Allah says: "Every soul shall taste of death. And We will test you with evil and with good by way of trial. And to Us is your return." [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ': 35].
Allah says: "Know that your wealth and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a mighty reward." [Sûrah al-Anfâl: 28]
Many people do not realize that they are tried just as severely with the good that they are given as they are by the misfortunes that befall them. Allah says: "And as for man, whenever his Lord tries him by honoring him and makes him lead an easy life, he says: 'My Lord honors me'. But when He tries him by straitening his means of subsistence, he says: 'My Lord has disgraced me'." [Sûrah al-Fajr: 15-16]
Some people are blessed to be born and raised in good Muslim families then turn their backs on Islam, while others are born and raised in non-Muslim countries to unbelieving parents and grow up to be among the best of Muslims.
We are tried with wealth as well as poverty. If we are wealthy, will we hoard our wealth or spend in charity? Will we use it for lawful purposes or squander it in vice? Will we trust in Allah in our investments, or will our avarice and fear of losing our wealth make us take recourse to unlawful means to preserve it and increase it?
If we are poor, will we be content and patient and seek lawful means to attain our sustenance or will we resort to unlawful means to meet our needs? Will we accept the fact that Allah gives more to some people than he does to others, or will we grow hateful and vindictive?
We are tested with health as well as sickness. A man with good eyesight is tested with regards to his use of it. Will he use the blessing of his sight to good purpose or to gaze at unlawful things? His good eyesight may be what takes him to Hell. A blind man is tested whether he will bear patiently with his disability. His patience in affliction may be what earns him his place in Paradise. Our goal is the Hereafter and we are all being tested.
Allah says: "It is He who created death and life that He may try you as to which of you is best in deeds." [Sûrah al-Mulk: 2]
We may also be tested through others. We know from experience that even a small child can experience suffering as well as a person who is mentally handicapped to such a degree that he cannot understand the concepts of Islam and is not legally accountable. Though it may not be that such a person is not undergoing tests of his own; however his plight may very well be a test for those his life affects. How will they treat him? Will they care for him, respect him, and give him his rights?
We may not be able to fathom the wisdom behind why Allah decrees what He does for us or for others of His creatures. However, we must know that Allah does everything in accordance with His wisdom and bear our trials patiently.
Ultimately, we must remember the words of Allah in the Qur'ân: "He cannot be questioned for what He does but they will be questioned." [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ': 23]
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