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The Praiseworthy Trial

By Shaykh ’Ali Hasan al-Halabi

Source: al-Asalah magazine Issue No. 8

Many Muslims mistakenly think that when trials, misfortunes, and calamities strike them, then it is a proof for their high level of îmân (faith), or due to their elevated status, or due to the correctness of their manhaj (methodology). And this is not necessarily the case - as will not be hidden. Rather, these trials and calamities may be a form of punishment due to an error, or as a result of idle speech - and we seek Allâh’s refuge.  However, what is required for the Muslim, in all his affairs, is to seek refuge in Allâh and to think good of Him - the Most Perfect - and to devote oneself in asking Him for forgiveness and for well-being, whilst at the same time accusing oneself and blaming ones own soul.

So the reason for trials and misfortunes may sometimes stem from deficiencies in outlook, deviations in manhaj or being distanced from that which is correct. And all of this - in their fruits - are counted as being from sins and acts of disobedience - whose evil consequences are not known, except by the Lord of the Worlds.

Results of Sin

Imâm Ibn al-Qayyim (d.756H) - rahimahullâh - said:

“So from that which one must know, is that sins and acts of disobedience cause harm.  And their harmful effects upon the heart is certainly like the harmful effects of poison upon the body - although the effects vary in levels of intensities.  And is there in this world or the Hereafter any evil or harm except that it is due to sins and acts of disobedience?

So what was it that took the two parents out of Paradise - the home of delight, bliss, splendor and joy - to the home of pain, sorrow and misfortune?

And what was it that removed Iblîs from the realms of the Heavens, causing him to be rejected and cursed; and transforming him inwardly and outwardly - so that his form became ugly and hideous - and his inward form is more hideous than his outward form; causing nearness to be changed to farness; mercy changed to being cursed; from being beautiful to being ugly; from being in Paradise to being in the Fire; from îmân to kufr (disbelief); from having the friendship and patronage of the praiseworthy guardian to being the greatest enemy and opponent; from glorifying Allâh and praising Him to doing acts of kufr, shirk, lies and deceptive speech; and from being adorned with îmân to being clothed with the garment of kufr, wickedness and disobedience, causing him to reach the deepest depths of despicability, and falling in the sight of Allâh - the Most High - to be upon him; making him an outcast - despised and humiliated - such that he became a leader for every sinner and criminal and becoming pleased with leadership for himself - all this happening after having reached the station of nobility and worship?!  So, O Allâh, we seek refuge in You from opposing Your commands and falling into that which You have forbidden.

And what was it that caused all the people of the earth to drown, to the point that the water even rose over the mountain tops?

And what was it that caused the violent winds to overcome the people of ‘Âd, such that it flung them down dead upon the face of the earth, as if they were lopped-off palm trunks, and it destroyed whatever of their dwellings and crops it came across - thus making them an example for the nations until the Day of Resurrection?

And what was it that caused the clamorous shout to be set loose upon Thaműd, such that their hearts were severed within their bodies and all of them died?

And what was it that caused the town of the homosexuals to be raised-up and turned upside down, such that they were all destroyed, and then stones from the sky pelted down upon them after that, so they suffered a combined punishment - the like of which was not given to any other nation? And for their brothers will be its like, and it is not far from the transgressors.

And what was it that caused the clouds of punishment to overcome the people of Shu’ayb, such that when these clouds were above their heads it rained scorching fire upon them?

And what was it that caused Fir’awn and his people to be drowned in the ocean; and caused their souls to be transported to Jahannum, so their bodies were drowned and their souls burned?

And what was it that caused the sinking down into the earth of Qârűn, and also of his dwelling, wealth and family?

And what was it that caused the destruction of those generations after Nűh, and how they were afflicted with various punishments that caused their annihilation?

And what was it that caused the destruction of the companion of Yâ Sîn, with the clamorous shout, which destroyed them?

And what was it that caused there to be sent against the Children of Isrâ’îl enemies of great strength and might, who plundered their homes, killed their men, enslaved their women, burnt their dwellings, seized their wealth and then returned again a second time - destroying what was rebuilt after the first onslaught?

And what was it that caused the various types of punishments to be set loose upon the Children of Isrâ’îl – killing them, enslaving them, destroying their land, sometimes causing them to be oppressed by kings, and at another time causing them to be transformed into apes and swines.  And finally the Lord took an oath that: “He would certainly keep on sending against them (the Children of Isrâ’îl), until the Day of Resurrection, those who will inflict them with a humiliating torment.” [2]” [3]

I say: Indeed the cause of all this is deviation from the Sharî’ah (the Prescribed Law) of Allâh, acting in opposition to the Dîn of Allâh, and deviating from the guidance of the Messenger of Allâh sallallâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam.  Indeed, it is authentically related from the Messenger of Allâh, sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam, that he said: “When acts of disobedience become manifest in my Ummah, Allah will cover them all with humiliation from Himself.”  Umm Salamah said: Will there be no righteous people amongst them on that day?  He said: “Yes, indeed!”  She said: I said: Then what will be done with them?  He said: “They will be afflicted with that which afflicts the people, then they will move on to forgiveness from Allâh and His good pleasure.” [4]

So the whole matter, from start to finish, is just as Allâh - the Majestic - said:

“And whatever of misfortunes and calamities befall you, it is because of what your hands have earned.” [5]

Therefore, the righteous servant, when struck by a misfortune and calamity, is faced either with [i] a praiseworthy trial - which will elevate him and his status in the sight of Allâh, or [ii] a blameworthy trial - a form of punishment for him and a just reward for his evil actions. 

Trials and Tribulations

The like of this was indicated by Imâm adh-Dhahabî (d.748H) in Siyar A’lâmun-Nubalâ (8/72-73) when speaking about the trial of Imâm Mâlik (d.197H), what he suffered in it and how he was severely lashed: “and his arm was wrenched until it became dislocated from its socket; and a great sin had been perpetrated against him. And it was said: By Allâh! Mâlik never ceased to be held in high esteem.”

Imâm adh-Dhahabî commented upon this, saying:

“I say: This is the result of a praiseworthy trial, and it elevates the status of the servant.  And whatever the case, then it is what our own hands have earned, and Allâh pardons a very great deal.  “Whosoever Allâh intends to do good to, He brings misfortune and calamity upon him.” [6]  The Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam also said: “Everything decreed for the Believer is good for him.” [7]

And Allâh – the Most High – said:

“And We shall test you until We know those of you who strive hard in the path of Allâh and those of you who patiently persevere.” [8]

And he revealed, with regards to the battle of Uhud: “When a single disaster struck you, whereas you struck them with a disaster twice as great, do you then ask: From where did this come?  Say: It is from your own selves.” [9]

And Allâh says:

“And whatever misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your own hands have earned.  And Allâh pardons and forgives much.” [10]

So the Believer - when he is tried - patiently perseveres, takes admonition, seeks Allâh’s forgiveness and does not preoccupy himself with blaming the one who has ill-treated him, since Allâh is just in His judgement.  So he praises Allâh that his Dîn has remained secure, knowing that the punishment suffered in this world is lighter and better for him.” [11]

Therefore, the Believer should not be hasty in rejoicing and becoming elated, merely because they are being made to suffer a misfortune or trial.  Since this trial may be a punishment for some evil, or for some harm caused, and therefore it is not from the praiseworthy trial – about whom the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “The righteous may receive harsh treatment ... ” [12]

Indeed, the Believer hopes for the mercy of Allâh, corrects his actions and seeks to steer his soul towards right guidance.  And perhaps he will be one of those about whom the Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said: “The people who receive the severest trials are the Prophets, then those most like them, then those most like them.” [13] 

And only Allâh guides to the path that is Straight.




1. Taken from al-Asâlah magazine Issue No. 8 (Jumâdiul-Âkhar 1414H).

2. Sűrah A’râf 7:167

3. Ad-Dâ’wad-Dawâ’ (p.44) of Ibn al-Qayyim.

4. Related by Ahmad (6/304) with a Hasan isnâd.  See Majma’az Zawâ’id (7/268).

5. Sűrah Shűrâ 42:30

6. Related by al-Bukhârî (no.5645).

7. Related by Muslim (no.2999) from Suhayb radiallâhu ‘anhu.

8. Sűrah Muhammad 47:31

9. Sűrah Âl-‘Imrân 3:165

10. Sűrah Shűrâ 42:30

11. Siyar A’lâmun-Nubalâ (8/73).

12. Related by Ahmad (6/159), Ibn Hibbân (no.2919) and also al-Hâkim (4/319), with a Sahîh isnâd, from ‘Âishah radiallâhu ‘anhâ.

13. Related by at-Tirmidhî (no.2398), Ahmad (1/185) and Ibn Mâjah (no.4023), with a Hasan isnâd, from S’ad. 

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