The life of each one of us is a story of good times and difficult times. What is the purpose of difficulties in our lives ? As part of our Islamic faith, we believe that all matters are in the hands of Allah. However, for some of us our faith can get shaken during times of trials and hardships. It is during those times though that we should remind ourselves that difficulties are either there to elevate us or to punish us for some committed sin.
Allah created angels as the perfect entities. An entity that cannot commit any mistake under any circumstances. Then He decided to create something above the angels. An entity which could be awarded with pleasures of paradise for an infinite period. But to qualify for this high status, humans had to qualify some tests. As stated in Quran (47-31)
Without doubt We shall test you until We know those who struggle and are patient among you, and make clear your news.
Same message of Quran is given at lots of other places like (29-3), (8-17), (23-30), (8-28), (72-17) etc.A believer who qualifies the test , his position and rank is raised in front of Allah and that such a hardship may very well be a sign of Allah’s love for the believer. This can help us in maintaining and even strengthening our faith.
It was narrated from Anas ibn Malik that the Prophet (S) said:
“Great reward comes with great trials. When Allah loves a people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it attains His pleasure, whereas whoever shows discontent with it incurs His wrath.” Narrated and classed as hasan by at-Tirmidhi (2396); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Silsilah as-Saheehah, no. 146
Given that this life has its share of challenges and difficulties for all, Allah has provided an opportunity of high rewards for those who endure these challenges with patience rather than with complaints and ingratitude.
In this hadith, we find that the prophet (s) has provided a message of relief for those who endure difficulties with patience. He also associated greatness of difficulties and calamities with higher rewards. So, enduring through lighter problems and challenges has a smaller reward than enduring greater difficulties and challenges. Given that this life has its share of challenges and difficulties for all, Allah has provided an opportunity of high rewards for those who endure these challenges with patience rather than with complaints and ingratitude. And for those who show displeasure and discontent with Allah’s decree end up in a lose-lose situation because not only they have to live through their current suffering but also incur Allah’s wrath for their displeasure and discontent with His decree.
We should also realize that our patience when facing difficulties raises our status in front of Allah, and may lead to the forgiveness of our sins. He says in the Quran:
“Say: “O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is Allah’s earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!” (Surah Az-Zumar:10)”
The Prophet (S) said:
“Nothing befalls a believer, a (prick of a) thorn or more than that, but Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase a bad deed.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5641) and Muslim (2573).
The Messenger (S) said in a well known hadith the following:
“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. 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 good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).
We should also realize that when Allah puts His steadfast believers through trials and tribulations, that is a sign of His love for them. It was narrated that Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“If Allah wills good for His slave, He hastens his punishment in this world, and if He wills bad for His slave, He withholds from him (the punishment for) his sin, until He requites him for it on the Day of Resurrection.” Narrated and classed as hasan by at-Tirmidhi (2396); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi.
Al-Hasan al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Do not resent the calamities that come and the disasters that occur, for perhaps in something that you dislike will be your salvation, and perhaps in something that you prefer will be your doom.”
Al-Fadl ibn Sahl said: “There is a blessing in calamity that the wise man should not ignore, for it erases sins, gives one the opportunity to attain the reward for patience, dispels negligence, reminds one of blessings at the time of health, calls one to repent and encourages one to give charity.”