Trials, tribulations, and triumphs: Lessons from Prophets

Sabiha Ashraf Chaudhry, Canada
joshua fuller Ws3Yl69vHPo unsplash
Joshua Fuller | Unsplash

Allah says in the Holy Quran:

وَلَنَبۡلُوَنَّکُمۡ بِشَيۡءٍ مِّنَ الۡخَوۡفِ وَالۡجُوۡعِ وَنَقۡصٍ مِّنَ الۡاَمۡوَالِ وَالۡاَنۡفُسِ وَالثَّمَرٰتِ ؕ وَبَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِيۡنَ الَّذِيۡنَ اِذَاۤ اَصَابَتۡہُمۡ مُّصِيۡبَةٌ ۙ قَالُوۡۤا اِنَّا لِلّٰہِ وَاِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡہِ رٰجِعُوۡنَ

“And We will try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives, and fruits; but give glad tidings to the patient, Who, when a misfortune overtakes them, say, ‘Surely, to Allah we belong and to Him shall we return.’” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.156-157)

Consider this: In Arabia, at a time when everyone was involved in wrongdoing, there was a Prophet born – the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. He was a man who lost his father a few months before his birth and lost his mother at a young age. He buried almost all of his close relatives, from his wife to his children. He had the entire Arabian community against him. Yet, despite his challenges in life, despite being an orphan and losing his loved ones, never did he ever claim: “Why me?”

I have often found myself asking, “Why me?” In June 2023, I lost my beloved grandmother. During her last days in the ICU, she endured immense pain. My family and I held onto hope that she would recover, knowing her strength. But I overlooked the inevitable truth that when it’s someone’s time to depart this temporary abode, nothing can forestall it. Her passing left a deep ache, and I questioned why it had to happen to us. Yet, despite our understanding that this world is fleeting, the departure of a loved one tests our patience. This life is transient, where material possessions remain behind, but our deeds, prayers, patience, and virtues accompany us. Embracing faith in Allah, we may face trials, yet ultimately, we’re promised blessings beyond measure.

Let’s revisit the time of the Holy Prophetsa. During the famous incident in Taif, stones were hurled at him. Despite this trial, it didn’t faze him.

Later, people, witnessing the Prophet’ssa resilience, offered him luxuries, sovereignty, and rulership on the condition that he wouldn’t speak against their idol worship. Just as the Prophetsa remained steadfast during the tribulations in Taif, he declined the offers of wealth and power. The Holy Prophetsa serves as our Perfect Guide, unswayed by material temptations and unwavering in his duty.

As righteous followers of Islam, Muslims are bound to face trials, but they are followed by mercy from God. People of God attain lofty ranks after enduring trials and tribulations with patience. If you study the Holy Quran, you will see that the pleasure of God cannot be attained by a person unless they go through trials, as exemplified by the stories of the Prophets. These trials include Noah’sas struggle with disbelievers, including his son; Abraham’sas test of being commanded by God to sacrifice his son; Pharaoh’s trials against Musaas and his people; and the example of Jonahas when he was swallowed by a whale.

What were the results of these trials? God saved Noahas and the believing people. Abraham’sas son was replaced with another animal because he was obedient to Allah’s command. God split the sea for Mosesas and drowned Pharaoh and his people. Lastly, Allah heard Jonahas, and he emerged alive from the whale.

Are not Prophets closer to God? Are they not divine messengers sent by God Himself? If they hold the highest rank yet still have to undergo trials and tribulations with patience to attain such elevated status, then we as human beings must also endure with patience. It is indeed very challenging to maintain patience when it feels like the world is crumbling around us, but it is during these times that Allah observes whether man turns towards Him or succumbs to despair and turns away.

In every trial you face, turn to Allah in prostration. Sajdah is where one can offer prayers in their own language, and He listens attentively. While He may not immediately answer the prayer, when the time comes for blessings, the pain endured fades away. Today, I sense that my grandmother resides in a better realm – a place devoid of pain, where she is surrounded by her deeds and the presence of Allah. This world is transient; our actions here will be judged in the hereafter.

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