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How often are we hit by a calamity or tribulation in life and then immediately ponder over whether it is a punishment from Allah or not?
In this segment, Mufti Zeeyad Ravat discusses how trials aren’t always a punishment.
It is important to remember that this life is temporary, compared to the eternal afterlife. This means that we will be tested. As Allah says in the Quran:
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?”
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.”
وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّىٰ نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَنَبْلُوَ أَخْبَارَكُمْ
“And We will surely test you until We make evident those who strive among you [for the cause of Allah] and the patient, and We will test your affairs.”
Allah tells us in the Quran that we will tested. Having faith means that God will test us to see how we will react to the trial, either by turning to Allah through patience and gratitude, or turning away and being ungrateful. In fact, it is in the moment of hardship that we show Allah how much our faith means to us.
It is also during trials that Allah purifies us. The Prophet (ﷺ) said
مَا يُصِيبُ الْمُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ وَلاَ وَصَبٍ وَلاَ هَمٍّ وَلاَ حُزْنٍ وَلاَ أَذًى وَلاَ غَمٍّ حَتَّى الشَّوْكَةِ يُشَاكُهَا، إِلاَّ كَفَّرَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِنْ خَطَايَاهُ
“No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.”
Mufti Zeeyad Ravat breaks down the concept of tribulations in Islam and gives us guidelines to decipher whether such tribulations are punishments from Allah or if they are rather tests designed to elevate your status.
Ideally, he breaks down the concept into two scenarios:
If the calamity sees you only grow in distance from Allah, then it is indeed a punishment.
However, if the calamity sees you only move closer towards Allah, then it is a test designed to elevate your status. As Allah states in the Quran:
وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَىٰ دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
“And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent.”
There are also indeed instances whereby an apparent good would befall us, yet if it only distances you from Allah, then that too would be considered a punishment.
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