Why do bad things happen?

question mark with speech bubles, vector on the abstract backgroundAfter preparing for lunch and dinner, and cleaning up, I was fully tired.

I grabbed my eleven month old along with three years old and entered the room to find a messy sheet; a room with toys scattered everywhere. How exhausted I was!

I was thinking how to fold the huge pile of clothes lying in a corner.

Cell beeps…

It was a message saying that there was an earth quake all over Pakistan.

Fear shook me off; some sensations ran down my spine and my legs felt so weak.

I realized that I had postponed my Dhuhr prayer to complete the house chores.

In anguish and awe, I rushed to perform Wudu and prayed. The prayer was different from the ones before. As if the earthquake had shaken me away from my endorsed life full with materialism and worldly affairs.

One thing occupied my mind, what if I die under the rubble of my fallen house? What will I be taking with me to my grave? Have I prepared enough? Am I satisfied with standing in front of Allah (swt)?  The answers were surely not affirmative.

We believe that we are safe. It’s happening with the rest of our country, and in farfetched areas. It cannot touch us, nor can it harm us, neither can it leave us devastated.

Whenever I think of the Makkah crane crash, it leaves me perplexed and astonished. As in my perception, nothing bad can happen to good people- especially not in the holy place like Haram; and moreover, not when performing Tawaf or offering prayers. So why does it happen? Why it happened to them? Were they not pious? Why the blessings (Rehma) of Allah (swt) did not wrap them safe and sound?

When a calamity strikes, we often comment in the shade of our distorted belief. For instance- a lady dies of fatal illness with severe pain; we say it is because Allah (swt) is angry at her as she was horrible towards her mother. A kid fell off the stairs; we say because he did not listen to his father’s plead to finish his homework.

So why do bad things happen?

Allah’s (swt) Plan

It is Allah’s (swt) Plan to test the believers- to test the strength of their faith and belief.

And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

The soul detox

Allah (swt) wants to clean your bad side and detox your soul.

 And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much.” (Ash-Shura 42:30)

 A reminder

Hardship and adversity are also reminders for people who tend to take things for granted and forget all of Allah’s (swt) blessing- Humans are ungrateful by nature.

And when We show favour to man, he withdraws and turns away, but when evil touches him, then he has recourse to long supplications.” (Fussilat 41:51)

Wake-up call

We are overly absorbed in the worldly affairs and competing to excel in the worldly matters.

But when He delivered them, behold! They rebel (disobey Allah) in the earth wrongfully. O mankind! Your rebellion (disobedience to Allah) is only against your ownselves, – a brief enjoyment of this worldly life, then (in the end) unto Us is your return, and We shall inform you that which you used to do.” (Yunus 10:23)

Reliance is only on Allah (swt)

We often forget Allah’s (swt) authority; hence we turn to other resources and people for support and help. Nothing happens without His will. He says be and it is. We are powerless and submissive.

O mankind! it is you who stand in need of Allah, but Allah is Rich (Free of all wants and needs), Worthy of all praise.” (Fatir 35:15)

Things to remember when a calamity hits you down

  • Allah (swt) is not punishing you; its devil’s trick to discourage and distract you.
  • Be patient over what befalls you.
  • Give charity (Sadaqah) as much as you can.
  • [9:103] take from their money a ‘sadaqa’ (charity) to purify and sanctify them. And encourage them, for your encouragement reassures them. God is Hearer, Omniscient.
  • Al-Musibah is term to hit where it is supposed to be. There is no chain of cause and effect. All incidents are individual.
  • Be hopeful as it is said in Surah Baqarah, congratulate the patient ones (Sabireen). Reward is with Allah- Jannah!

 

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Trials as Blessings for the Believers

trials-and-tribulations“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test).” (Al-Ankabut 29:2-3)

It is certain from the following verses of the Quran that Allah (swt) will test those who believed in one way or the other- as He tested the believers before. These tests may be in the form of hunger, loss of a loved one or health, or wealth as stated in the Holy Quran: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).” (Al-Baqarah 2:155)

Why believers?

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “This world is prison for a believer and heaven for the disbeliever.”

But why these tests are specified only for those who believe? What is the wisdom behind it?
Firstly, it is to check the level of their Iman – to make sure, whether they are strong enough to bear a calamity with an unwavering Iman; and secondly, to wipe out their sins – to purify them for the Akhirah.

Abu Hurairah (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Trials will continue to befall the believing man or woman on himself, his child and his wealth until he meets Allah (swt) with no sin on him.” (Tirmidhi)

It was narrated by Anas (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “When Allah (swt) wills good for His slave, He hastens the punishment for him in this world; and when Allah (swt) wills ill for His slave, He withholds the punishment for his sins until he comes with all his sins on the Day of Resurrection.” (Tirmidhi)

Aisha (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “The believer is not harmed by a thorn or anything greater, but Allah (swt) will raise him in status thereby, or erase a sin thereby.” (Muslim)

The wisdom behind testing the believers through trials and tribulations is that they are made to remember Allah (swt) on account of these adversities. This makes them accustomed to remember Him and keep their thoughts busy with Him. It is natural for the believers to seek and turn to Allah (swt) for help in adversities; while in the times of comfort they forget and neglect it. A believer’s heart only gets content and rest while he remembers Allah (swt) as it is stated in the Holy Quran: “Those who believe, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Rad 13:28)

How to deal with trials and tribulations?

Allah (swt) has stated in the holy Quran that the most powerful methods to bear calamities and trials are being patient and seeking help from Him through prayer.

“And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashiun (i.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings (Hell, etc.)).” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)

Inspiration from the Prophets (as)

a) Prophet Adam (as)

Allah (swt) forbade Adam (as) to eat from the forbidden tree in paradise; but he got impatient and listened to Iblees. As a result, he gained Allah’s (swt) wrath and was sent down to earth. It took forty years of Dua and patience by Adam (as) to be forgiven.

b) Prophet Yusuf (as) and Yaqoob (as)

Prophet Yusuf (as) was sent to prison for the crime that he had not committed, but he remained patient and was released after several years; while, on the other hand, Yaqoob (as) met his son after the patience of thirty-four years.

c) Prophet Ayoob (as)

Prophet Ayoob’s (as) story is the most famous story of patience and forbearance. He remained patient during his illness, which lasted for eighteen years, and kept supplicating.

The reward for the patient ones

The trials and tribulations faced by the believers, who remain patient and rely on Allah (swt), never go un-rewarded. This is what Allah (swt) has promised in the Holy Quran:

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones.” (Al-Baqarah 2:155-157)

“And be patient; verily, Allah loses not the reward of the good-doers.” (Hud 11:115)

May Allah (swt) place us among the patient believers, to whom Allah (swt) has promised greater rewards. Ameen.