"Rewards in trials" by Safiyyah Muhammad-Salisu
When Allah loves you more He tests you more, so the Prophets were tested most, than the righteous people, and so on.
What does it mean, to be tested by God? Why would God punish me like this when I had done nothing wrong? I was not perfect, that much I knew, but I worshipped Him steadfastly, avoided sins (mostly), and performed many good deeds?
What qualified as a trial from God? Or is it Shaytan (Satan), or someone else that was behind all this? I kept thinking of where to place the blame, as surely God loved me and would not want me to suffer so. I was scared, as I wondered if I would ever get out of this difficulty. How much I wished things would change for the better, as soon as possible!
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “when Allah loves a servant, He tests him, and if Allah intends good for someone, He inflicts him with trials.” As I remembered this, I felt ashamed. Why should I shortly after facing hardship almost forget all the good I had been bestowed with.
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I certainly was not complaining when things were running smoothly. In fact, at certain times, I took things for granted and forgot to be grateful for the blessings I had even when I did not ask for them. Life was not a bed of roses. How would I ever learn and grow if I never had to go through trying times.
Needing further reassurance, I decided to read the words of Allah in the Qur’an about trials. Chapter 2:214 said: "And do you think you will enter Paradise without so such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said ‘when (will come) the Help of Allah?’ yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!”
This showed that Allah was not testing me because He hated me, or had forsaken me, but because He loved me, and wanted to shower His blessings upon me.
Allah tests those He loves. All the prophets of Allah, who were sent to the rest of mankind to teach us Islam, and to be role models were tested. Every type of test you could imagine, they went through.
Take the life of Prophet Ayyub/Job (PBUH) as an example, he was blessed with children, a long life, health and prosperity. He remained humble, generous, and faithful. His life set an example of how a person could remain humble and modest, despite being blessed with great wealth and honour, and to remain steadfast no matter what fate befell you, as he was tested with the loss of his children, ill health and poverty for years. He never stopped glorifying His Lord, and never lost hope.
Qur’an 21:83-84 reads:“Remember Job when he called on His Lord saying ‘I have been afflicted with great distress: but You are the Most merciful of the merciful’. We heard his prayer and relieved his suffering, We restored to him his family, doubling their number as an act of grace, and as a reminder for the worshippers.”
Allah warned us that he will test us. "We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives and crops. Those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return, are the ones who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; it is they who are on the right path!” Qur’an 2:155-157. “Do people think they will be left alone because they say: ‘we believe”, and will not be tested?” Qur’an 29:2.
It was easy to claim to believe when there was nothing threatening my total submission to my Lord. The real test of faith came in the face of difficulty- would I remain steadfast upon my belief and worship of Allah? Did I really love Allah, with no conditions? It was as though I had the test questions to my life, and the answers as well.
And if I was scared of losing myself in this difficulty, of losing my way, He also said: “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear” Qur’an 2:286. What more did I need to remind me that it was my reaction in this situation that would matter? I would take any misfortune as a way to get closer my Lord. Something as small as an insect bite is used to expiate my sins. My Lord was the forgiving, Most Merciful, Who rewarded me for an action as simple as smiling.
As to placing blame on anyone else, Allah said: “And he Satan had no authority over them-except that we might test him who believes in the hereafter from him who is in doubt about it.” 34:21. No harm would ever befall me, except if it was decreed. A trial could come in form of a negative or positive thing. The loss of one’s means of sustenance is a trial, just as being blessed with abundant wealth is.
Tests were so rewarding that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “the people who were not tested in this world will wish their skins were cut up when they see the rewards for those who were tested.” When Allah loves you more He tests you more, so the Prophets were tested most, than the righteous people, and so on.
At that point, I remembered my favourite verse in the Qur’an. The one that always reassured me, no matter the circumstance; “So verily, with every difficulty, there is relief. Verily, with every difficulty, there is relief.” Qur’an 94: 5-6.
I smiled. I had shared my burden with my Lord and I felt very light and optimistic. I could face anything. I realised that this trial was also a way to bring me closer to Allah. There was no one else I could rely on for help, every time I needed it. I would weather this storm, and come out victorious, In sha Allah (if Allah willed)!
Safiyyah Muhammad-Salisu is a 4th year medical student at the Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja, Lagos.
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