Watching the events of the last few weeks unfolding has been very painful. Each day brings a new horror, an unimaginable atrocity.

What is happening today is not new. When we reflect on the sīrah, we find that our beloved Prophet ﷺ and the Companions (radiy Allāhu ʿanhum) also faced similar situations. However, in those difficult times, it was the Qur’ān that anchored them.

It is essential that in these critical times, we recite and reflect on the Qur’ān to understand how Allah (ʿazza wa jall) strengthened them through His words. We must prioritise our daily wird of the Qur’ān. Amidst the pain and hurt, there has never been a better time to contextualise, strengthen our īmān, and find solace and direction in the words of our Lord.

The Qur’ān is constant, perfect and timeless. Developing a Qur’ānic lens, and viewing everything around us from the perspective of revelation, will provide us with the answers and solutions to our problems.

One question which some people ask is: “Why is Allah allowing this to happen?” Others may ask, “Why can’t Allah just stop all of this?”

There is No Jannah Without Tests

The above questions often stem from a limited understanding of the meaning of life. ‘Why did Allah create us? What is my role here? What is your role here?’ — these are some of the most fundamental questions that need to be internalised before the question of ‘evil’ can be answered.

We are here in this world to worship Allah, to seek His pleasure and Paradise. This world is dar al-balā: the place of tests and trials. The next life is dar al-jazā: the place of recompense. This life is not Jannah. In this life you will be tested. And everybody’s test will be different. Allah will test those who He loves the most.

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says,

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِيْنَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَآءُ وَالضَّرَّآءُ وَزُلْزِلُوْا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُوْلُ وَالَّذِيْنَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللّٰہِ ۗ أَلَآ إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللّٰہِ قَرِيْبٌ

“Do you think you will be admitted into Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so (violently) shaken that (even) the Messenger and the believers with him cried out, “When will Allah’s help come?” Indeed, Allah’s help is near” (2:214).

Jannah is not cheap. Jannah has to be earned. Jannah requires ṣabr. Jannah requires sacrifice. In this āyah we see that believers before us were tested so severely that even the Messengers would cry out ‘When will Allah’s help arrive?’ This is the path of the Prophets and all great people: the path of difficulties, perseverance and courage for the sake of Allah.

Khabbāb b. al-Aratt (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “We complained to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ whilst he was resting his head on his cloak, in the shade of the Kaʿbah. We asked him: ‘Will you not seek help for us? Will you not supplicate to Allah for us?’

He ﷺ replied, ‘Among those who came before you, a man would be seized and held in a pit dug for him in the ground. Then a saw would be brought, and he would be sawed into two halves from his head. His flesh would be torn away from his bones with iron combs — none of this would turn him away from his religion.

By Allah, He will make this matter (i.e. Islam) prevail until the traveller will walk from Sanaʿa to Hadramaut fearing none except Allah, (nor will he fear) the wolf in regards to his sheep — but you are hasty (i.e. be patient)’” (Bukhārī).

In the above āyah Allah (ʿazza wa jall) mentions that they were “(violently) shaken.” This indicates that in order for victory to come, the tests before it will be very severe.

We should always view life and everything that happens around us from an ākhirah-centric lens. The ākhirah (hereafter) is eternal and infinite. This life is nothing in comparison to the hereafter. So when it feels like the world is collapsing on your shoulders and you can’t bear it anymore, think of the greater picture: this world is nothing. The ākhirah is everything.

Great Tests For Great People

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says,

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوْعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنْفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِيْنَ . الَّذِيْنَ إِذَآ أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيْبَةٌ قَالُوْٓا إِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْنَ . اُولٰٓئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَاتٌ مِّنْ رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ ۖ وَاُولٰٓئِكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُوْنَ

“We will surely test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives, and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient, those who, when afflicted by calamity, say, ‘Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we will return.’ They are the ones who will receive Allah’s blessings and mercy, and it is they who are rightly guided” (2:155-7).

When Allah (ʿazza wa jall) tests you, this does not mean that He doesn’t love you or that He has abandoned you. On the contrary, the more Allah loves you, the more He will test you. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Indeed with greater trials come greater rewards. Indeed, when Allah loves a people, He tests them: whoever is content will (attain Allah’s) pleasure, and whoever is angry will (attain Allah’s) wrath” (Tirmidhī).

This is why when the Prophet ﷺ was asked about who is tested the most, he ﷺ replied, “The Prophets, followed by those who resemble them the most, and then followed by those who resemble them the most. A person is tested according to his religious commitment. If he is strong in his religion, his test will be greater. And if his commitment to his religion is fragile, he will be tested accordingly. A person continues to be tested until he ends up walking on the earth without a single sin to his name” (Tirmidhī).

Unfailing Life Patterns

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says,

قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ سُنَنٌ فَسِيْرُوْا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوْا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِيْنَ

“Similar situations came to pass before you, so travel throughout the land and see what was the fate of those who denied the truth” (3:137).

The sunan of Allah are the universal established laws of Allah that govern the universe and are applicable to all times and places.

It is essential that we learn about these sunan so that we understand what Allah ﷻ requires from us, and how He wants us to perceive events unfolding around us.

If we understand these sunan, we won’t lose our faith. We will view the state of the Ummah from the lens that Allah requires us to do so. And we will learn how to live our lives and respond in the best way possible.

Amongst these sunan are that: there will always be a struggle between the truth and falsehood. This conflict is not new. Allah will always raise those who confront and resist evil. Sometimes the evil ones will gain ascendancy, other times the people of good will triumph — but at the end, the outcome will always be for the righteous.

Another sunnah is that Allah does not punish the evildoers immediately. He gives them respite, but their eventual outcome and punishment will be severe. Sometimes we may feel disheartened when we see the worst tyrants, and from the outset it appears that they died without being punished in the world. However, “Your Lord never forgets” (19:64), and the punishment of such people in their graves and in Hell-fire will be immensely severe.

The Hypocrites Are Exposed & The Believers Are Purified

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says,

إِنْ يَّمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ الْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِّثْلُهُ ، وَتِلْكَ الْأَيَّامُ نُدَاوِلُهَا بَيْنَ النَّاسِ، وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللّٰهُ الَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا وَيَتَّخِذَ مِنْكُمْ شُهَدَآءَ ، وَاللّٰهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الظَّالِمِيْنَ . وَلِيُمَحِّصَ اللّٰهُ الَّذِيْنَ اٰمَنُوْا وَيَمْحَقَ الْكَافِرِيْنَ

“If you have suffered injuries, they suffered similarly. We alternate these days (of victory and defeat) among people so that Allah may reveal the (true) believers, choose martyrs from among you —and Allah does not like the wrongdoers— and so that Allah may purify those who believe and destroy the disbelievers” (3:140-141).

Often we see a difficulty but we don’t see the wisdom behind it. These āyāt were revealed after a very painful time for the Muslims: the Battle of Uḥud. Allah (ʿazza wa jall) tells us about the wisdoms behind these tests. Tests are like a sieve: they make apparent who the true believer is and who the hypocrite is.

In another āyah, Allah (ʿazza wa jall) mentions, “So what you suffered on the day the two armies met was by the will of Allah, so that He might distinguish the believers, and expose the hypocrites…” (3:166-7).

In this war, the true colours of people have been revealed: how willing people are to speak the truth and where people’s allegiances lie.

Similarly Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says, “so that Allah may purify those who believe”. In other words, trials and difficulties purify the believers from their sins. Thus, these difficulties are actually blessings in disguise, especially as they cause many others to return back to Allah.

Allah is The Most Wise

Allah (ʿazza wa jall) says,

عَالِمُ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ ۚ وَهُوَ الْحَكِيْمُ الْخَبِيْرُ

“He knows the seen and the unseen. And He is the All-Wise, All-Aware” (6:73).

Allah is al-Ḥakīm and His wisdom is perfect. There are so many wisdoms that we can’t even perceive. These are just some of the many wisdoms which we have to come to know of:

  • The true colours of those who cry ‘freedom/liberalism/feminism/human rights’ are being exposed.
  • The crisis has brought about unity amongst the believers.
  • The imān of so many in the Ummah has been revived. So many people have repented and turned to Allah.
  • Allah ﷻ created us to worship Him, and show our humility to Him. One of the best ways to do this is to turn to Him and make duʿā’. The entire Ummah has turned to Allah in heartfelt duʿā’ over the past few weeks.
  • Many people have been inspired to serve the dīn of Allah.
  • Many non-Muslims are inspired by the courage and resilience of the Palestinians and want to know about the source of their faith; and some have also accepted Islam.

The next article will inshaAllah explore some more Qur’ānic āyat which will highlight how Allah protects His special servants.

Protection From All Evil
Allah Is With Them