Extract from Trials and Tribulations: Wisdom & Benefit by Imam al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al Salam
We see many people who face trial and tribulation crying out, “My Lord! What sin have I done for You to do this to me!”
More than one person has said to me, “when I repent to Him and work righteous deeds, He restricts my provision and makes life difficult. When I return to sin and submit to my lusts, provision and ease come freely to me.”
I say to them, “this is a test from Allah so that He may see your truthfulness and patience. Are you truthful in turning to Him and going to Him, are you able to bear His trial with patience so that the end will be for you; or are you untruthful in your repentance?”
These false thoughts and statements are built upon two foundations:
The first: the servants thinking well of himself and his religious practice, his believing that he has fulfilled what is obligatory upon him to do and leave what is prohibited for him to do; all of this coupled with the belief that his enemy or opponent has not done this, believing that he himself is more deserving of Allah and His Messenger than he.
The second: his belief that Allah, Glorious is He, could quite possibly not aid the follower of the True Religion and not appoint for him any sort of success in this world, instead having him live a life of subjugation and oppression, this despite his establishing what Allah has commanded of him; inwardly and outwardly.
There is none worthy of worship besides Allah! How many ignorant servants, how many devout people with no insight, how many people claimed to be scholars yet possess no knowledge of the reality of this religion, have been corrupted by this deception!
It is well known that the servant, even if he believes in the Hereafter, by nature will require the necessities of this world, will require the promotion of good and the repression of harm. If such a person believes that following the True Religion, being firm upon Tawheed and the Sunnah, negates this natural instinct, that by following it he will be forced to undergo an unbearable amount of tribulation, and that he will lose out on any temporal benefit; for sure, his desire to follow this religion will weaken. He will move from being amongst the ranks of the Forerunners to being amongst the ranks of those who take a medium course, perhaps even to being among the ranks of those who oppress themselves or the ranks of the hypocrites! The Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, said:
Rush to doing good deeds [before you are overtaken] by tribulation which would be like part of the dark night. A man would awake as a Muslim, and go to sleep as a disbeliever, and he would go to sleep as a Muslim, and awake as a disbeliever; he would sell his faith for some worldly gain. [Narrated by Sayyidina Abu Huraira: Muslim, Hadith no. 186]
This is because if he starts to believe that by following this religion, his worldly life will be ruined, he will face adversity and harm that he cannot bear, and lose out on any chance of attaining what he requires to live, he will never allow himself to be placed in such a situation. Glory be to Allah, far removed is He from any imperfection! How many are the people who have been deceived by this false notion into not implementing this religion fully! This notion arises from being ignorant of the reality of this religion and being ignorant about the reality of blessings and bliss, and gives birth to the person turning away the reality of the religion and turning away from seeking true bliss.
It is well known that the servant only becomes happy and fulfilled when he actually knows the bliss which he desires, loves to attain that bliss, knows those actions that lead to it and has the firm resolve to enact those deeds. Knowing what one desires is not enough to attain that desire if unaccompanied with action, having a firm resolve to do something does not bring that thing into being if unaccompanied by sabr. Allah, Exalted is He says:
“By time, truly man is in loss – except for those who have faith do righteous deeds and urge each other to truth and urge each other to steadfastness.” [Qur’an 103:1-3]
The point of discussion here is that the two foundations that lead to this false notion are built upon ignorance of the Command of Allah, His religion, His promise and His threat.
When a person comes to believe that he is completely fulfilling the obligations upon him and avoiding the prohibitions, inwardly and outwardly, such a person is ignorant of the True Religion, the great right that Allah has over him and what is required of him. Therefore he is ignorant of the right of Allah upon him and what he himself possesses of religiosity. If he believes that subjugation and oppression lies in store for the believers, and victory for the disbelievers and hypocrites, he is also ignorant of the Promise of Allah and His threat.
Allah is the Helper of the Believers
“Never will Allah give the disbelievers over the believers a way [to overcome them].” [Qur’an 4:141]
Some people understand this verse to refer to the Hereafter and others understand it to be a reference to proof and clarity of truth. The correct position is that it is to be understood in the same light as the previously quoted verses; that the true and complete believer will never be overcome by the disbelievers, but if there is a weakness in faith, the disbelievers will find ways against them in accordance to that lack of faith.
The believer is noble, victorious, aided, sufficed and defended wherever he may be, even if the whole of mankind were to gather against him, provided that he has fulfilled the reality of faith both in speech and deed. Allah, Exalted is He, has said to the believers:
“So do not become disheartened and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.” [Qur’an 3:139]
“Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, while you are superior: for Allah is with you, and will never deprive you of [the reward of] your deeds.” [Qur’an 47:35]
This guarantee is conditional upon their faith and deeds, deeds which are in reality an army from the armies of Allah.
With regards the second issue, the issue of promise and threat, many people think that the lot of the believers in this world is humiliation and subjugation and as such they do not fully believe in Allah’s promise to aid His religion and His servants. Such a person believes that such promises are tied to a particular group of people or a particular time, an understanding arising from lack of trust in the promise of Allah and poor comprehension of His Book.
Allah, Glorious is He, has made clear in His Book that He will aid the believers in this world and the next:
“We will, without doubt, help our messengers and those who believe, both in the life of this world and on the Day when the Witnesses will stand forth.” [Qur’an 40:51]
“As to those who turn in friendship to Allah, His Messenger and the believers; it is the party of Allah that will certainly be victorious.” [Qur’an 5:56]