| Next Lesson
Lesson - 25
"O you who believe, seek assistance through patience
and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient. And speak not of those
who are slain in Allahís way as dead. Nay, (they are) alive, but
you perceive not.
And We shall certainly try you with something of fear and hunger
and loss of property and lives and fruits. And give good news
to the patient,
Who, when a misfortune befalls them say: 'Surely we are Allahís
and to Him we shall return.'
Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord;
and those are the followers of the right course." Ch. 2:153-157
Quranic philosophy of trials and tribulations
I feel it is essential to discuss these verses which relate the
very important subject matter of trials and tribulations, and the
display of patience under such circumstances. The Holy Quran sheds
light on this subject, and mentions three ways in which such trials
are brought upon mankind.
At times it is difficult to differentiate between these three categories.
As a measure of precaution it is, therefore essential for those who
guard against evil (muttaqin) to reform themselves, along with
sincerely repenting (taubah), and seeking Divine protection
(istighfar). Even if the tribulation has not been brought
upon by oneís own action, one of the important reasons for its occurrence
is reformation, and spiritual development of mankind. A useful analogy
to remember in this regard is the purification of gold from dross,
by subjecting it to heat. In a similar manner spiritual purification
occurs in face of adversity.
- In the first instance this occurs with the advent of a prophet,
but now that prophet hood has ended, with the advent of a reformer
(mujaddid), or one appointed by God comes. Such a person,
and those who follow him, have to face severe opposition. Attempts
are even made upon their lives. Thus in some manner and form,
those who support the truth have to undergo frequent trials and
- In the second category are those difficulties which are ordained
by Allah for mankind as his taqdeer, meaning the Divine
law, with the objective of enhancing his growth and development.
Under this category fall the conditions which bring about a state
of fear, hunger and destruction of life and property.
- In the third group fall those tribulations which a man brings
upon himself as a consequence of his wrong doings, and misdeeds.
This is stated in the verse, "And whatever misfortune befalls
you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and He
pardons much"(42:30). The remedy for such difficulties, besides
patience, is repentance, asking for Divine protection from sin,
A spiritually depraved person considers adversity as an accidental
occurrence, and therefore exhibits impatience and restlessness.
He tries unsuccessfully to seek solace in alcohol, or some other
intoxicant, and at times even commits suicide. The Holy Quran, however,
" No calamity befalls, but by Allahís permission"
For this reason one should face such difficulties with patience,
and steadfastness, while being sincerely repentant, and seeking
Divine protection, lest the adversity be a result of his misdeeds.
Crying out for help is a natural human reaction, and since all afflictions
arise as a result of Divine command, and with His permission, it
is quite natural to ask Him for help. Let us now see how we can
solicit such assistance.
Prayers in Adversity strengthen Bond between
Man and God
The first category of trials and tribulations that I have mentioned
above, arise when one accepts an appointee of God and the truth
he stands for. Unfortunately, those who accept the truth are always
few and lack numerical strength. Their opponents are greater in
number, stronger, and bent upon their extirpation. It becomes necessary,
in fact, there is an intense need for the ones who stand for the
truth to ask for Divine assistance. Who is there besides Allah to
help them? That is the reason why in the first verse in this lesson,
Allah tells us to ask for His help, but show patience while doing
so. Facing adversities with patience in itself evokes Divine assistance.
It is part of human nature to ask for help, therefore Allah enjoins
us to ask for His assistance through prayer and supplication. Patience
is enjoined upon those who believe in the truth, so that the difficulties
they have to face to uphold the truth, result in firmly anchoring
the truth to their hearts. Truth becomes a part of their very essence,
provided they face adversity, and remain steadfast in their belief.
The reason such a person is permitted to ask for Divine help through
prayer, and supplication is that it strengthens the bond between
man and God. This bond becomes even more stronger with the prolongation
of adversity. This is the greatest benefit of having to face difficult
times. The purpose of truth is to establish a relationship between
man and God. When man prostrates and cries before his Lord, the
burden on his heart is lifted, and he eventually finds pleasure
and exhilaration in doing so. This is the greatest blessing of this
life, and the Hereafter.
If in spite of patience, and asking for Divine assistance, difficulties
do not resolve, one should not take this as an indication that Allah
is not with him, and that all his prayers were wasted. That is why
Divine words of solace are repeated, "Surely Allah is with
the patient." Therefore, one should keep up prayer, and remain
Patience a Divine Attribute
Patience and tolerance are both great attributes of the Divine
Being, and the Holy Quran and Hadith direct us to acquire Divine
attributes. It is a great honor for man that he is given the opportunity
to acquire Divine attributes. Who can be more tolerant than the
Divine Being? He observes a great portion of humanity denying His
very existence, as can be observed to a large extent in the communist
world today. In Europe and America, the idea evolved and was propagated
all over the world that either there was never a God (we seek the
protection of Allah from saying so), or if He was there at one time,
He is now dead. Those who are not guilty of such blatant disrespect,
associate with God by worshipping their own self created stone idols,
or an animal, or another creation of God, generally a human being
who has passed away. This also is a kind of insolence and disrespect.
The Divine Being also observes with patience, and tolerance all
kinds of evil deeds being committed in front of Him. If He had not
manifested His attribute of patience, the world would have long
ended, and man would not have had an opportunity to reform himself.
Patience is, therefore a magnificent attribute of Allah, and man
is given an opportunity to acquire this by facing adversity.
Some, amongst those who accept the truth lose their life. Are they
unsuccessful, or is their sacrifice in vain? Certainly this is not
so, Allah tells us:
"And speak not of those who are slain in Allahís
way as dead. Nay, (they are) alive, but you perceive not."
Such martyrs acquire a superior, and everlasting existence which
cannot be excelled upon. They were liberated from the pain, illness,
hunger and grief of this worldly existence, and immediately entered
into the garden of eternity. The achievement of such people is worthy
Adversity a means of spiritual development
The second category of adversities which man has to face are those
which are ordained by Allah for mankind as his taqdeer, meaning
the Divine law or the measure of his growth, and development, or
as a trial from Him. These occur in the form of fear, apprehension,
hunger, poverty, or a loss of life, property, and the fruits of
his effort. These trials are for the purpose of exposing the hidden
condition of manís soul, both its weaknesses and its strengths.
For example, if a person is involved in an adverse circumstance,
and he lies, bribes, steals, or breaks a promise to get out of it,
then this situation has made apparent for him the weaknesses that
were hidden in his character. This provides for him an opportunity
to reform himself before his life ends, and he has no other remedy
for his spiritual illness, but the fire of hell. On the other hand,
those who face these Divinely ordained measures of growth, and development
with patience, their character evolves such qualities which were
not there before, and their hidden potential is thus manifested.
A tree which sheds all its leaves, and faces the harsh winter, bears
flowers and fruits, in springtime. The good qualities which adorn
the character of man, like fruits and flowers are the same which
will form the pleasant fruits and flowers of the garden of eternity.
This is why it is stated:
"And give good news to the patient,"
i.e., those who face such trials with patience. As to what this
good news is will be discussed later, but before this we are informed
as to who the patient ones are. These, it is stated are the ones,
who when faced with a Divinely ordained trial say, "Surely
we are Allahís, and to Him we shall return." They admit that
they belong to Allah, and that He may do with them as He pleases.
The loss or damage, they may have suffered does not matter, for
they have to return to their Lord, and if He is pleased with them,
He will give them reward in the life Hereafter, which would be more
than the loss they suffered. All the worldly possessions are eventually
lost at the time of death. The Holy Quran then tells us that these
are the people who in this very life receive the protection (maghfirat),
and the blessings of Allah. What is this protection of Allah from?
It is from oneís misdeeds, weaknesses, negligence, and from their
adverse consequences. It is also from the repetition of these acts,
for there is always a danger of this. For example, if someone steals,
it becomes easier for him to steal again. A patient individual,
thus not only comes under the protection of Allah, but he is also
favored with spiritual blessings (rahmat) from Allah. Spiritual
blessings are the real blessings, for the worldly blessings either
finish during, or certainly at the end of oneís life. The spiritual
blessings will, however accompany the spirit into the eternal life
Hereafter, where the blessings will also assume an external palpable
form, as I have discussed in one of my previous lessons.
The Greatest blessing achieved by those who
Another blessing, which is the greatest of all is also mentioned
for those who are patient:
"and those are the followers of the right course."
In my commentary on the verse in Al-Fatihah, " guide
us on the right path," I have explained that this prayer is
in fact about finding closeness with God, which is the purpose of
manís life and creation. There is no greater blessing than this
which man can find. Those who are patient will, therefore, be guided
on the path which leads them to Allah in this very life like the
prophets, the truthful ones, and the righteous servants of Allah.
These are the ones who bear the greatest hardships in the way of
truth. Those who are not able to establish such a closeness with
Allah are, however on the right path and will eventually find this
treasure; therefore my friends do not despair of adversities, and
be patient so that you can find God.