The Secret Beyond Matter

The exemplary attitudes of believers in times of difficulty

Before discussing the attitudes the people of faith assume in times of difficulty, we need to have a true understanding of the way they perceive difficulties. People of faith are those who truly grasp that this world is a place specially designed to put man to the test. They also truly know that the concept of "difficulty" is created to distinguish between "people who really believe" and "those in whose hearts is a disease". Times of difficulty and trouble are important moments for believers that enable them to prove their sincerity in faith. This being the case, contrary to its general meaning, "difficulty" is truly a "blessing" for a man of faith.

Owing to this perception, they put their trust in Allah when they meet with hardship. Meanwhile, they never forget to pray that Allah may not burden them with more than they have the capacity to bear:

Allah does not impose on any soul more than it can stand. It shall be requited for whatever good and whatever evil it has done. Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load burden like the one You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not charge us with more than we can bear! And pardon us; and forgive us our sins; and have mercy on us. You alone are our Protector, so help us against the disbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 286)

In the face of a difficulty, they understand that it is a trial "which they have the strength to bear" and thus try to show their submission to Allah and their trust in Him in the best way possible. They know that the attitudes they assume in times of ease and those they display in hardship are not the same in the sight of Allah. On this subject, Allah gives the following example:

Those believers who stay behind—other than those forced to by necessity—are not equal to those who strive for the cause of Allah, sacrificing their wealth and themselves. Allah has given those who strive with their wealth and themselves a higher rank than those who stay behind… (Surat an-Nisa', 95)

As the above verse also stresses, people who seek Allah's approval in times of hardship are superior to those who do not make any effort. Their holding fast to their religion in such hard times reveals the profoundness of their faith. It is difficult to judge the sincerity of a person who makes sacrifice in times of ease. Putting people to the test through hardship is a way by which Allah distinguishes between those who are truthful and those who are liars.

Allah's testing believers with difficulties serves another purpose. Having experienced a difficulty makes an individual appreciate the value of a blessing much better and this makes him feel more grateful. This is because, difficulty and pain matures the human spirit. Difficulties in this world enable man to make the comparison between the good and bad, abundance and scarcity, comfort and inconvenience. Only through these comparisons does a man appreciate the worth of the material and spiritual blessings he enjoys. More importantly, these difficulties enable him to truly understand how much he is in need of Allah and to comprehend his weakness before Him.

The kind of hardships through which a person can be put to the test in this world are specified as follows:

We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and crops. But give good news to the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara, 155)

A believer who bears this verse in mind prepares himself for difficulties even before he encounters them and promises Allah that he will show determination in patience and submission, and remain devoted, whatever the circumstances may be. In the face of fear, unbearable hunger, poverty, an injury or loss of a loved one, he remains committed to being contented with Allah and to assuming a grateful manner towards Him. He sees all such circumstances as a means to draw nearer to Allah and to attain paradise.

A believer who has reached this maturity of faith is aware that one cannot attain a great reward like paradise merely by only saying: "I believe":

Do people imagine that they will be left to say, "We believe," and will not be tested? We tested those who have gone before them, so that Allah would know the truthful and would know the liars. (Surat al-'Ankabut, 2-3)

A man who has faith knows that each and every untoward event he experiences is, without exception, a trial from Allah. The kind of adversity he is faced with may be hunger, loss of wealth or life as well as the trials he may encounter in daily life. Sometimes all kinds of adversity come one after another. One may lose a loved one at a quite unexpected time. At the same time, one may have financial problems. All this distress may be coupled with serious health problems. Seeing all these as an opportunity, the devil may meanwhile seek ways to tempt the afflicted person. In the midst of such distress, another believer may ask for his help. Under all conditions, a man of perfected faith responds with an attitude that best pleases Allah and never makes anyone who seeks assistance become conscious of the difficulties with which he grapples. The tone of his voice, the expression on his face or his manner conveys his willingness to help.

A man of faith displays all this patience and these fine moral virtues because of his devotion to, respect for and fear of Allah and his submission to Him.

The above example succinctly conveys the point that no matter how dire the circumstances may be, a man of faith never deviates from virtuous conduct and manners. Aware that all afflictions befall human beings at the will of Allah, he seeks relief and solutions from Allah alone. This world is but a temporary abode for him; he will remain here for a specified period of time and then depart; what really matters is to exercise patience under all conditions, to live by the values that please Allah and obtain His approval.

Everything in the life of this world is transitory. A man must principally keep in mind that he is being tested with these temporary events and, based on the results of this trial, an eternal abode awaits him in the hereafter. The real abode of man is the hereafter. Even if one experiences the severest pain, difficulty or distress in this world, all of these will ultimately abate or death will put an end to them. 

This also holds true for the contrary. None of the blessings the individual enjoys in this world belong to him. When death comes upon him, he will leave them all behind. It may well be that one who led an ostentatious life in this world will end up in the torment of hell. What we mean here is that, the favourable quality of the life a man enjoys in this world is by no means a criterion; such a life is but a trial. One who has undergone difficulties in this world may well be someone who is worthy of a blissful life in paradise. That is because in this world, he took Allah as a friend, and exercised patience in order to earn His approval. These people will say the following in the hereafter:

They will say, "Praise be to Allah who has taken away all sadness from us. Truly, our Lord is Ever-Forgiving and ever bountiful in his rewards. Through His grace He has admitted us to the Eternal Abode where we shall endure no toil, no weariness." (Surah Fatir, 34-35)
2010-03-12 14:03:49

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