Load shedding… water cuts… floods… riots and looting… protests and shutdowns… xenophobic attacks… economic recession…
These are some of the terms of doom and gloom that generally dominate the headlines, due to which people, by and large, have become overwhelmed by anxiety and worry. However, the question is, “What should a Muslim’s perspective be in the face of these various difficulties and hardships?”
In the Quraan Majeed, Allah Ta‘ala says, “And indeed We sent (messengers) to nations before you (O Muhammad [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam]), then We seized them with hardships and sufferings so that they may supplicate in humility.” (Surah An‘aam v42)
In this verse, Allah Ta‘ala explains the plight of the previous nations and the way that Allah Ta‘ala dealt with them. When the previous nations would reject their Ambiyaa (‘alaihimus salaam) and refuse to give up their evil and sinful ways, then Allah Ta‘ala would first send hardships and tests upon them as a ‘wake-up call’. The purpose for Allah Ta‘ala testing them with trials and tribulations is to make them turn to Allah Ta‘ala, become humble and repent for their wrongs.
However, despite the admonishments sent by Allah Ta‘ala in the form of difficulties and hardships, they remained immersed in their disbelief and evils. In regard to these people who did not heed the warnings, Allah Ta‘ala says, “Why then, did they not supplicate in humility when a calamity from Us came upon them? Instead, their hearts were hardened and Shaitaan made the (evil) actions which they were carrying out attractive to them.” (Surah An‘aam v43)
After the test of difficulties and hardships, when they did not pay heed, reform themselves and turn to Allah Ta‘ala in humility, then Allah Ta‘ala opened the floodgates of wealth upon them as a further trial to draw them towards their destruction. The more wealth they received, the more they drowned in the love of the material world and the more negligent they became in regard to fulfilling the injunctions of Allah Ta‘ala.
At this point, Allah Ta‘ala still gave them respite and the chance to make amends, but when they did not avail of this chance, then Allah Ta‘ala sent such a punishment upon them which left them on their knees in a state of utter despair. Allah Ta‘ala says, “Thereafter, when they forgot the advice (and warnings which) they were given, We opened for them doors of everything (i.e. the doors of wealth and prosperity), until when they became proud of what they were given, We seized them suddenly (with divine punishment) and they were left in despair.” (Surah An‘aam v44)
In these verses, Allah Ta‘ala explains to us the system which was adopted with the previous nations who went astray. At first, they would be subjected to calamities and hardships as a warning from Allah Ta‘ala. But when they failed to heed these warnings, then Allah Ta‘ala opened the floodgates of wealth to them, as a result of which they drowned themselves deeper in wealth, distanced themselves even further from Allah Ta‘ala and fell further into destruction.
Though these verses directly refer to the previous nations, however the Ummah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is being addressed and warned that they should not tread on the same path of destruction which the previous Ummats had treaded upon.
Sometimes, Allah Ta‘ala will test this Ummah with hardships and difficulties, and this will be a means for them to wake up from their slumber and negligence. At times, when the Ummah does not pay heed to the warning signals of Allah Ta‘ala, then Allah Ta‘ala can also open the floodgates of wealth for them, as a result of which they will distance themselves further from Allah Ta‘ala and drown further in affluence and wealth.
Therefore, from these verses of the Quraan Majeed, we learn two important lessons:
The first lesson is that the difficulties and hardships that we witness in the world are reminders and warnings from Allah Ta‘ala that should motivate us to repent, reform our lives and repair our relationship with Allah Ta‘ala.
The second lesson is that at times, everything of the world seems to be working out in a person’s favour. Day by day, a person’s wealth is increasing and he is enjoying more and more of the material. However, this should not beguile him into thinking that this is an indication that all is well and good and Allah Ta‘ala is pleased with him. Rather, it may be that Allah Ta‘ala is merely giving him a period of respite which he may either use to make amends, or he may use to plunge even deeper into sin and evil. Hence, the true gauge of whether Allah Ta‘ala is pleased with us is the state of our imaan and our actions and whether we are following the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) – NOT whether we are enjoying the wealth of the world.
In the blessed hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “When you see Allah Ta‘ala giving a servant that which he loves, despite him remaining upon his sins (and evils), then that is only ‘istidraaj’ (a period of respite to either repent or fall deeper into sin) for him from Allah Ta‘ala.” (Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaa-id #17745)
Therefore, in trying times such as these, when the challenges and difficulties are increasing day-by-day, the solution is for the Ummah to turn to Allah Ta‘ala in repentance and reform their lives.
A believer should refrain from sins at all times. However, for a person to continue committing sins and leading a life of evil in such crucial times is for him to invite the wrath and severe punishment of Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, Sayyiduna Nu’maan bin Basheer (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) once addressed the people of Hims saying, “Listen well! It is (a means of your) total destruction for you to carry out sins (especially) during times of hardships and difficulties!” (Musannaf Ibni Abi Shaibah #35869 and Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaa-id #17689)
There is no need to lose hope, as the doors of repentance are always open, and Allah Ta‘ala loves His servants. He will certainly forgive those who turn to Him in sincere taubah.
May Allah Ta‘ala forgive us all, assist us to reform our lives, and bless us with ‘aafiyah (ease and good conditions) in this life and the next, aameen.