Description: A brief look at what happens after conversion to Islam. How and why the initial excitement sometimes turns into a test of strength and character.
· To understand why after conversion to Islam it seems that many are tested with great trials and tribulations.
· Sahabah – the plural form of “Sahabi,” which translates to Companions. A sahabi, as the word is commonly used today, is someone who saw Prophet Muhammad, believed in him and died as a Muslim.
· Hadith – (plural – ahadith) is a piece of information or a story. In Islam it is a narrative record of the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad and his companions
Converting to Islam usually counts as one of the greatest days in a person’s life. Life takes on a rosy glow, you feel bigger, better, and stronger. You feel the tingle of extreme excitement. Many of us just want to shout out loud. Some are lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family, others convert in the privacy of their own home or even bedroom. Still others are lost, alone or homeless. But now you are a Muslim, part of a worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood; part of a family. For many it might be the first time they have felt a part of anything. For a fleeting moment or for a longer prelude to a new real life, everything is perfect. Sometime later, and it is different for each of us, reality sets in.
Along with the triumphs come the trials and tribulations. Of course it is a huge step, a monumental change, for not only the person accepting Islam but also his or her friends, family and colleagues. Sometimes it might feel as though everything is happening too quickly, at other times and for others, it may seem as though you cannot learn quickly enough and the trials and tribulations seem to be crushing your new found happiness. A person might well ask why Allah continues to test him when he has finally seen the reality of life and embraced Allah and Islam whole heartedly. In this situation it helps to understand just why a believer is afflicted with trials and tribulations, and why along with the overwhelming joy can come sadness and unexpected troubles.
Our existence here on earth is nothing more than a transient stop on the way to our eternal abode. When one truly understands and embraces all that this fact means, it shines a different light on our trials and tribulations. Imagine if you will, being in a large international airport, in transit anxiously waiting to return home. Sometimes the time passes quickly smoothly, but at other times there are delays, cancelled flights, grumpy service staff and terrible airport food. Whatever your experience, the time still passes and eventually you make it home. When you look back on that experience it seems like a small blip in an otherwise smooth journey but at that time it was huge hassle. Life on this earth is a little bit like that. Allah has clearly mentioned that this world that we long for is nothing but a place of trials and tests and not only that, in the great scheme of life it is for a very short duration.
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.” (Quran 2:155)
“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed (i.e. the eternal life that will never end), if they but knew.” (Quran 29:64)
There is wisdom behind the trials and tribulations Allah tests us with, and it is comforting to know that they are not random acts of a cruel unorganised universe. Our existence is part of a well ordered world, a world that Allah created for our enjoyment. However it is a place of more than just worldly pleasures. It is here that we fulfil our true purpose that is to worship Allah, through the good times and the bad. Thus it is important to understand that Allah does not decree for a believer anything but good. What a person perceives to be bad may in fact contain much good. Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “How wonderful are the affairs of the believer, for they are all good. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is also good for him.”
Allah tests us with the trials and tribulations of life, and if we bear these patiently we will attain a great reward. Through changing circumstances and trying times Allah tests our level of faith and ascertains our ability to be patient and wipes away some of our sins. Allah is all-loving and all-wise and knows us better than we know ourselves. We will not attain Paradise without His mercy and His mercy is manifest in the tests and trials of this life. Allah wants to reward us with life everlasting and if pain and suffering can help achieve Paradise, then trials and tribulations are a blessing. They are not unique to the newly converted, nor are they a gauge of Allah’s pleasure or displeasure. Allah knows what each person can bear and what each person needs in order to maximise their chances of a heavenly reward.
There are many ahadith that explain the reasons why we are afflicted with trials and tribulations. Prophet Muhammad said, “If God wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.” He also said, “A man will be tested according to the level of his religious commitment, and the trials will keep affecting a slave of God until he is left walking on the face of the earth with no burden of sin whatsoever.”
We must accept the trials and tribulations as a part of being alive, so too the joyful moments and triumphs. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, the human condition is a blessing from Allah designed uniquely for each individual person. In the following lesson we will take inspiration from the Prophets and the sahabah and learn how they reacted in the face of great trials and tribulations.