Description: A brief discussion of how the Prophets and Companions faced trials and tribulations with taqwa and patience.
· Learn how to emulate our righteous forbearers.
· Taqwa – Awe or fear of Allah, piety, God-consciousness. It describes a state of awareness of Allah in everything one does.
· 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.
· Shaytan – sometimes spelt Shaitan or Shaytaan. It is the word used in Islam and the Arabic language to denote the devil or Satan, the personification of evil.
· Sunnah –The word Sunnah has several meanings depending on the area of study however the meaning is generally accepted to be, whatever was reported that the Prophet said, did, or approved.
One of the truly comforting things about Islam is knowing that everything happens by the Decree of Allah. Not a leaf falls, or a bird sings, not a baby is born or a building erected without Allah’s knowledge and permission. Allah is the creator of the universe and the sustainer of all life; He is responsible for the good and the bad (as we perceive it), the times of difficulty and the times of ease. It is comforting to know with certainty that our existence is part of a well-ordered world and that life is unfolding as it should; it is a concept that brings serenity and peace.
“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)
The Prophets of Allah were righteous men, filled with taqwa, yet they too were faced with trials and tribulations. They faced their trials with patience and even gratitude and we are able to learn from their experiences. They were persecuted by their own communities and suffered. Prophet Noah called his people to Allah day after day, year after year for 950 years, and every day he bore their taunts and mockery until finally he could bear no more and Allah rescued Noah and the believers not only from the rising flood waters but also from the evil of the people. Prophet Joseph was abandoned by his brothers, thrown into a well, sold into slavery and spent many many years in prison. Like Noah he never let his faith in Allah waver. Their taqwa was their shield.
As human beings we suffer with trials and tribulations often in the form of sickness, illnesses and medical conditions but none more so than Prophet Job. In spite of all the losses he endured, loss of wealth, possessions, and family, he remained patient and continued to rely on Allah. Finally Job’s health was taken from him. He was stricken with a skin disease, was in severe pain night and day and was deserted by all who knew him except his wife, who from the mercy of Allah stayed with Job even when they were penniless. At no time did Job blame Allah, and his health, wealth and family were returned to him. A full account of Job’s story can be found here.
Worshipping Allah with full submission requires patience. It is easy to worship for a few days or a few weeks, but we must be consistent. Prayer at night requires patience, fasting requires patience, and living with tribulations and trials requires patience. That is why we often hear that so and so has “the patience of Job”. Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, himself suffered from sickness. His beloved wife Aisha said, “I never saw anybody suffering so much from sickness as Allah’s messenger”. For a believer, suffering can be a blessing. A believer knows that Allah, in His mercy, will expiate some of his sins if he remains patient. In the Sunnah we find that Prophet Muhammad said, “No Muslim is afflicted with harm because of sickness or some other inconvenience, but that Allah will remove his sins for him as a tree sheds it’s leaves”.
Amongst the Sahabah were many who were severely persecuted or even killed after becoming Muslim. The uncle of Uthman wrapped Uthman in a mat of palm leaves, and lit a fire under him. When Umm Mus‘ab heard about her son’s conversion to Islam, she refused to feed him and later expelled him from his home. Bilal was severely beaten by his master when the latter heard of his conversion to Islam. Sometimes a rope was put around his neck and street boys were made to drag him through the streets and up and down the hills surrounding Mecca. Sometimes he was subjected to starvation, at times was even bound and made to lie on the burning sand under the crushing burden of heavy stones. Bilal survived and has the honour of being the first person to call the Muslims to prayer; his story can also be read on here.
The problems and difficulties that sometimes arise after conversion to Islam are not a gauge of a person’s character or a gauge of Allah’s pleasure or displeasure. They are an extremely important part of the test that we call the life of this world. We must bear them with patience and with gratitude knowing full well that our real lives have not yet begun. Allah alone knows the complete wisdom behind why good things happen to bad people, or why bad things happen to good people. In general, whatever causes us to turn to Allah is good and we should bear it patiently and be grateful. In times of crisis, people draw closer to Allah for He is the source of all comfort and compassion. Allah wants to reward us with life everlasting and if pain and suffering can lead us to Paradise, then trials and tribulations are a blessing. Prophet Muhammad said, “If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials.”