Test and Trial in Life and How to Overcome It

Test and Trial in Life and How to Overcome It

Author: Ustadz Abu Ahmad Said Yai

{لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا وَإِنْ تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ}

“(Believers), you will certainly be put to test in regard to your properties and lives, and you will certainly hear many hurtful things from those who were granted the Book before you, and from those who have associated others with Allah in His Divinity. If you remain patient and God-fearing this indeed is a matter of great resolution.” (chapter Ali Imran:186) [1]

Concise Interpretation

Sheikh ‘Abdurrahman As-Sa’di said, “Allah the Exalted proclaimed and told the believers that they will be tested upon their wealth, by spending the obligatory and voluntary maintenances and by loosing it in Allah’s Cause (in worship/struggle). (They will also be tested) upon themselves with various major troubles that given to them by many people.

“and you will certainly hear many hurtful things from those who were granted the Book before you, and from those who have associated others with Allah in His Divinity, a lot of troubles that hurt you, of dishonors of yourselves, your religion, holy book, and messenger…Therefore Allah said,” If you remain patient and God-fearing,” it means that if you be patient over whatever you find in your wealth and yourselves, of test, trial, and trouble from the wrongdoer, and you fear Allah amidst that patience, intending to get to see His Face, and be closer to Him,

And you do not pass the limit of patience that the shari’a upholds, of which you are not allowed to just bear it with patience, but to repay what the enemies of Allah do.. “this indeed is a matter of great resolution”, it means that this is a matter of great resolution and people should race to seize it. None will be given guidance to do it except those with strong willpower and great spirit, as Allah the Exalted depicted in His decree, which can be translated as, “But none attains to this except those who are steadfast; none attains to this except those endowed with mighty good fortune.” [2], [3].

The Cause of Revelation of the Verse(Sababun Nuzul)

Some of the Qur’an verses has specific reason as to why it was revealed. This verse was revealed regarding an event happened at the residence of Al-Hârits bin Al-Khazraj (in Medina), before the battle of Badr.

At that time, the muslims were assembling with the polytheists and the jews. Then came the Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- at that place and he greeted them. At the very place was ‘Abdullâh bin Ubai bin Salûl, who said, “Do not pollute us!”

The Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- invited them to Islam and recited the Qur’an to them. But Abdullâh bin Ubai responded, “O man! What you’ve said is not a good thing. If it is true, then don’t bother us with it! Go back to your mount ! Whoever come to you, you could tell him of it!”.

These words severely hurt the muslims, thus a fight occurred at that place between the muslims and the disbelievers. Eventually, the Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- calmed them down. After they appeased, the Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- returned to his mount and went away. After that, Allah sent down this verse which contains an order to be patient over the disturbances created by disbelievers.[4]

Explanation and Tafseer of the Verse

Test and trial is among the sunnah that is bound to be happened to every muslim. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed,

{لَتُبْلَوُنَّ فِي أَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنْفُسِكُمْ}

“You will surely be tested of your wealth and yourselves.”

Test is the sunnah that is inevitable for every muslim. It is impossible for a muslim to avoid the test. Therefore, Allah gives two emphasis in this verse through His decree,

( لَتُبْلَوُنَّ ) “You will surely be tested

Al Mufassir (The Expert of Tafseer) Ibn Katsir said, “Allah’s decree, “You will surely be tested of your wealth and yourselves.” Is as His decree, “We shall certainly test you by afflicting you with fear, hunger, loss of properties and lives and fruits. Give glad tidings, then, to those who remain patient; those who when any affliction smites them, they say: “Verily, we belong to Allah, and it is to Him that we are destined to return.” [6] a believer is surely will be tested on his wealth, live, children, and family.” [7]

Allah the Glorified and Exalted also said,

{وَلَوْ يَشَاءُ اللَّهُ لانْتَصَرَ مِنْهُمْ وَلَكِنْ لِيَبْلُوَ بَعْضَكُمْ بِبَعْض}

“When you meet the unbelievers (in battle), smite their necks until you have crushed them, then bind your captives firmly; thereafter (you are entitled to) set them free, either by an act of grace, or against ransom, until the war ends. That is for you to do. If Allah had so willed,He would have Himself exacted retribution from them. (But He did not do so) that He may test some of you by means of others. As for those who are slain in the way of Allah, He shall never let their works go to waste.” (Chapter Muhammad:4)

The Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- also said,

( وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَا تَذْهَبُ الدُّنْيَا حَتَّى يَمُرَّ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى الْقَبْرِ فَيَتَمَرَّغُ عَلَيْهِ وَيَقُولُ: يَا لَيْتَنِي كُنْتُ مَكَانَ صَاحِبِ هَذَا الْقَبْرِ وَلَيْسَ بِهِ الدِّينُ إِلَّا الْبَلَاءُ ).

“ By He which my soul in Whose hand! The world will not be gone until after a person pass by a grave and ponder for a long time beside it, and say, ‘Had I been like this owner of the grave in the past, there’s nothing that into his religion but test.” [8]

The Strength of Faith and Degree of Test Always Proportional

The stronger the faith of a person, then Allah’s test for him will be greater. The Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- once was asked by Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqash –may Allah be pleased with him-

(يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَشَدُّ بَلاَءً قَالَ الأَنْبِيَاءُ ثُمَّ الأَمْثَلُ فَالأَمْثَلُ فَيُبْتَلَى الرَّجُلُ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَإِنْ كَانَ دِينُهُ صُلْبًا اشْتَدَّ بَلاَؤُهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِى دِينِهِ رِقَّةٌ ابْتُلِىَ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ )

“O Messenger of Allah! Who has the hardest test among men?”. He replied, “The prophets, then the likes, then the likes. A person will be tested according to the level of his religious strength. If it is strong, the test will be added. If it is weak, then he’ll be tested according to the level of his religious strength.”[9]

He –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- also said, :

إِنَّ عِظَمَ الْجَزَاءِ مَعَ عِظَمِ الْبَلَاءِ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ إِذَا أَحَبَّ قَوْمًا ابْتَلَاهُمْ فَمَنْ رَضِيَ فَلَهُ الرِّضَا وَمَنْ سَخِطَ فَلَهُ السَّخَطُ

“Indeed, the greatness of reward depends on the hardness of test. Indeed, if Allah loves certain people, He will test them. Whoever pleases with the test will obtain His please. Whoever detests it will obtain His detest.” [10]

Why does Allah tell us that the test is certain to happen?

There are several lessons that could be inferred from this revelation, among which are:

1. We’ll know that within the test, lies Allah the Exalted’s wisdom. By it, Allah will tell the muslim with true faith from the rest.
2. We’ll know that it is Allah Who preordains it all.
3. We’ll be prepared to face the test, and if we’re able to be patient and to feel at ease in facing it.[11]

The Test is not Limited to The Bad One

Allah will not just test a person with something bad. Rather, He will also test him with something good. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed,

(كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ وَنَبْلُوكُمْ بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ )

“Every living being shall taste death and We shall subject you to ill and good by way of trial, and to Us shall all of you be eventually sent back.” (Chapter Al Anbiyaa’:35)

Sometimes a muslim, when afflicted with calamity and hardship, is able to be patient to bear it. However, when he is tested with overwhelming pleasures, sometimes he is unable to pass the test. ‘Abdurrahman Ibn ‘Auf –may Allah be pleased with him- said,

(ابْتُلِينَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ بِالضَّرَّاءِ فَصَبَرْنَا ثُمَّ ابْتُلِينَا بِالسَّرَّاءِ بَعْدَهُ فَلَمْ نَصْبِرْ.)

“We were tested with hardships (when) we’re with the Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- and we were able to be patient. Then when we were tested with pleasures after his death, and we aren’t able to be patient., [12]

A test is Allah’s favor

A test that Allah gives is His favor to all human being, particularly for the muslims. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed,

{وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّى نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ مِنْكُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَ أَخْبَارَكُمْ }

“We shall certainly test you until We know those of you who truly strive and remain steadfast, and will ascertain about you.” (Chapter Muhammad:31)

By this test, those with true faith and those who with not could be seen, and this is the favor from Allah. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed,

{ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا }

“Do people think that they will be let go merely by saying: “We believe,” and that they will not be tested,” (Chapter Al Ankabuut/The Spider:2)

A Test that is harder than (test on) wealth and life

In fact, there’s a test that is harder than test on wealth and life. What is it? Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed,

{ وَلَتَسْمَعُنَّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ وَمِنَ الَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا أَذًى كَثِيرًا }

“And (also) you’ll truly be tested with hearing from people of Scriptures before you, and from the polytheists, harassment that upsetting the heart.”

From this part of verse, we could answer the question above. The test that is harder than wealth or life is the test on our religion. If we look closely to this verse, we’ll see that Allah has arranged the tests from the lightest to the harder and so on. Test on wealth is lighter than on life. Test on life is easier than test on religion. A person might have plenty of wealth and healthy body, but if he leaves Islam because of the insults from the disbelievers are unbearable for him, then this is a severe damage for him, both in this world and in the hereafter.

Disbelievers will never cease to disturb the muslims

Disturbance from disbelievers, of insults and physical harassment, is something that’ll always exist. Allah the Glorified and Exalted said,

{ وَدَّ كَثِيرٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ لَوْ يَرُدُّونَكُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِكُمْ كُفَّارًا حَسَدًا مِنْ عِنْدِ أَنْفُسِهِمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ مَا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُمُ الْحَقُّ }

“Out of sheer envy many People of the Book would be glad to turn you back into unbelievers after you have become believers even though the Truth has become clear to them. Nevertheless, forgive and be indulgent towards them until Allah brings forth His decision. Surely Allah is All-Powerful.” (Chapter Al Baqara/The Cow:109)

And He also decreed,

{ وَلَنْ تَرْضَى عَنْكَ الْيَهُودُ وَلَا النَّصَارَى حَتَّى تَتَّبِعَ مِلَّتَهُمْ قُلْ إِنَّ هُدَى اللَّهِ هُوَ الْهُدَى وَلَئِنِ اتَّبَعْتَ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ بَعْدَ الَّذِي جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ مَا لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِنْ وَلِيٍّ وَلَا نَصِيرٍ }

“Never will the Jews be pleased with you, (O Prophet), nor the Christians until you follow their way. Say: “Surely Allah’s guidance, is the true guidance.” Should you follow their desires disregarding the knowledge which has come to you, you shall have no protector or helper against Allah.”

The People of Scriptures is different from the polytheists

From the above verses, we could see that Allah The Exalted differentiated between the people of Scriptures (the jews and christians) and the polytheists. It shows that basically, people of scriptures and polytheists are different. But even though they are different, they still have similarity, that is, in their infidelity. Thus, their place to return in the hereafter is the hell –may Allah protect us from it-.

What Allah teaches us in facing all hardships

Allah doesn’t neglect His slaves. Therefore, He also teaches the muslims how to face the test. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed,

{وَإِنْ تَصْبِرُوا وَتَتَّقُوا فَإِنَّ ذَلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ}

“If you are patient and God-fearing, then it is something to be prioritized.”

Facing any kind of hardship shall be done with patience and god-fearing. The ruling of these elements in facing the test is not merely advisable, rather, it is something compulsory for every muslim to do.

The mention of patience together with god-fearing in the Qur’an

At least there are six places inside the Qur’an in which Allah combined between the word patience and god-fearing in a similar context, that is: in chapter Ali ‘Imran verse number 118, 125, and 186, chapter Yusuf (Joseph) in verse number 90, chapter An Nahl (The Bee) verse number 125 to 128, and chapter Thaa ha, verse number 132 [13]. It shows us that patience is closely related to god-fearing.

The Results of Being Patience

A person who managed to be patient in facing all of his tests will receive many praiseworthy things, among which are [14]:

1. He will receive reward as the reward of the people with resoluteness (ulul-‘azm).[15]

2. He will receive a perfect blessing, favor, and guidance from Allah. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed, which can be translated as, “Upon them will be the blessings and mercy of their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (Chapter Al Baqarah/The Cow:157)

3. He will obtain great fortunes. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed, which can be translated as, “But none attains to this except those who are steadfast; none attains to this except those endowed with mighty good fortune.” (Chapter Fussilat/They Are Expounded:35)

4. He will obtain unlimited reward. Allah the Glorified and Exalted decreed, which can be translated as, “Tell them (O Prophet): ” Verily those who persevere shall be granted their reward beyond all reckoning.” (Chapter Az Zumar/The Troops:10)

5. Allah the Exalted will forgive his sins. The Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,

(فَمَا يَبْرَحُ الْبَلَاءُ بِالْعَبْدِ حَتَّى يَتْرُكَهُ يَمْشِي عَلَى الْأَرْضِ وَمَا عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَطِيئَةٍ)

A slave will always be tested, until Allah lets him walk upon the earth without any sin.” [16]

Likewise, ad da’wa must be full with tests

The (who calls and enjoins people to Islam, -ed) are the successor of the Prophet –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him-. They are people who will be tested with hardest test. Therefore, they are supposed to have knowledge, perform righteous deed, and call people to Islam. They are not just tested with the lack of wealth, tiredness, etc, but also with insult, ridicule, and slander, from muslims themselves and from the disbelievers. Among those preachers, there are people who are able to be patient to face it and continue to enjoin among people, but there are also those who can’t be patient and thus seek for quiet place to avoid people. The preachers who are able to be patient in facing people’s disturbance is better than those who aren’t. The Messenger of Allah –peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,

(الْمُسْلِمُ إِذَا كَانَ مُخَالِطًا النَّاسَ وَيَصْبِرُ عَلَى أَذَاهُمْ خَيْرٌ مِنْ الْمُسْلِمِ الَّذِي لَا يُخَالِطُ النَّاسَ وَلَا يَصْبِرُ عَلَى أَذَاهُمْ)

“A muslim who mingles with mankind and is able to be patient over their annoyances is better than muslim who doesn’t mingle with them and unable to be patient with their annoyances.”

The conclusion and morals of the verses:

1. The test in wealth, life, and religion is sunnah that is bound to happen (Allah’s will that’ll certainly happen) to every muslim.
2. The disbelievers will always disturb the muslims, with their words or act.
3. Allah orders the muslims to be patient and fear Him in order to face all of those tests.

Completed, by Allah’s virtue and generosity. May this article benefits us all.
________________________________________
[1] See the interpretation of this verse and other verses cited in this article in The Qur’an and Its Interpretation’ published by Mujamma’ Al-Malik Fahd: Madinah Munawwarah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
[2] Chapter Fushshilat/They are Expounded : 35
[3] Taisîr Al-Karîm Ar-Rahmân fî Tafsîr Kalâm Al-Mannân, page. 160.
[4] The author summarized it freely from Shahîh Al-Bukhâri no. 4577 (Book of Tafsîr, Chapter Âli ‘Imrân)
[5] Sheikh Ibnu ‘Âsyûr said, “Allah emphasizes on this verb with lâm al-qasam (character of vowing) and nûn at-taukîd asy-syadîdah (character to highlight importance) in order to point out that the test will certainly happen. Because nûn at-taukîd asy-syadîdah is stronger from the perspective of argumentation compared to (nûn) at-taukîd alkhafîfah (character to highlight importance but in a lesser degree than the former).” (See: At-Tahrîr wa At-Tanwîr Jilid IV hal. 189)
[6] Chapter Al-Baqarah : 155-156.
[7] See: Tafseer Al-Qur’an Al-‘Adzîm by Ibnu Katsîr Book II page. 179
[8] Narrated by Muslim no. 7302
[9] Narrated by At-Tirmidhi No. 2398, An-Nasâi in As-Sunan Al-kubrâ no. 7482 and Ibn Mâja No. 4523 (It is classified as sound hadith by Sheikh Al Albani in Ash-Shahîhah no. 143 and Al-Misykah no. 1562).
[10] Narrated by At-Tirmidhi no. 2396 and Ibnu Mâja no. 4031 ((It is classified as sound hadith by Sheikh Al Albani in Ash-Shahîhah no. 146).
[11] See: Taisîr Al-Karîm Ar-Rahmân fî Tafsîr Kalâm Al-Mannân page160.
[12] Narrated by At-Tirmidhi no. 2464 (it is classified as good hadith by Sheikh Al Albani in Shahih wa Dha’îf Sunan At-Tirmidhi book V page 464.
[13] for four of the six points, the author got it from Daqâiq At-Tafsîr Al-Jâmi’ Li Tafsîr Ibni Taimiyah book II page 299-300, as for the rest, the author used the Software of Maktabah Syâmilah to find it.
[14] for the point no.2 to 4, the. Author took a lesson from Adhwâ’ Al-Bayân book I page. 187
[15] See: At-Tahrîr wa At-Tanwîr book IV page 190
[16] Narrated by At-Tirmidzi no.2398 , An-Nasâ’i in As-Sunan Al-kubrâ no. 7482 and Ibn Mâja no. 4523 (It is classified as sound hadith by Sheikh Al Albani in Ash-Shahîhah no. 143 and Al-Misykâh no. 1562).

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