Before beginning my article I would like to express my condolences to all Muslims on account of the terrible earthquake that resulted in the deaths of more than 50,000 Pakistani Muslim brothers and sisters, and in some 70,000 more being injured. May my Most Generous Lord have mercy on all those who lost their lives. May the injured soon be healed, and may those left receive strength.
In the verse “Did you suppose that We created you for amusement and that you would not return to Us?” (Surat al-Muminun, 115), Allah has revealed that all human beings are created for a specific purpose. As is revealed in the verse “I only created jinn and man to worship Me” (Surat adh-Dhariyat, 56), the aim of human creation is to serve Allah.
A human being created to serve Allah has before him an average lifespan of 60-70 years. Each individual will remain on Earth for the period allotted to him, the knowledge of which is hidden in the sight of Allah. As is revealed in the verse “…the life of this world, compared to the Hereafter, is only fleeting enjoyment” (Surat ar-Ra’d, 26), the life of this world is very brief in comparison to the endless life of the Hereafter.
A person is tested in the face of the events of this world through his attitudes, moral values and intentions, and it is very definitely not enough for him simply to say, “I believe.” Faith must manifest itself in behavior. That is because everything, open or secret, will be revealed on the Day of Judgment, and a most detailed account will be given. People will not be wronged in that account, not even “… by so much as the smallest speck” (Surat an-Nisa’, 49). Those who have done good deeds will be welcomed to the eternal abode of Paradise with infinite beauties, whereas those who have followed in the path of wickedness and cruelty will find their recompense in the eternal suffering of Hell. That is because Allah has created this brief life to distinguish the good and righteous from others by testing them. This is revealed in Surat al-Mulk thus:
He Who created death and life to test which of you is best in action… (Surat al-Mulk, 2)
People Are Tested with Good and Evil
It is revealed in the Qur’an that people will be tested with evil as well as with good:
We did not give any human being before you immortality. And if you die, will they then be immortal? Every self will taste death. We test you with both good and evil as a trial. And you will be returned to Us. (Surat al-Anbiya’, 34-35)
While enjoying abundance, wealth and great blessings, people must display the moral values that are pleasing to Allah, turn to Him in all they do, and exhibit the greatest care with regard to His commandments and advice. That is because abundance may be a source of trial, a test, a cause of forgetfulness, for someone who becomes caught up in the transient baubles of this world. Yet someone with faith will never be ungrateful to Allah, no matter what great blessings he may enjoy.
In addition, a person may be tested with catastrophes, sickness, oppression of all kinds from unbelievers, slander, snares, mockery or cruelty. Yet a Muslim knows that this is all part of the test, and never forgets that patience in the face of these opens the way to beautiful things. That is because Muslims have auspiciously exchanged the life of this world for that of the Hereafter. Since they know that their selves, their property and all they own belong to Allah, any loss or increase in these never affects their moral values, thought structure or devotion to Allah.
A person may encounter all kinds of difficulty in this world because this is an immutable law, revealed by Allah in the Qur’an. Moreover, these times of difficulty and trouble may arise at the most unexpected moments, and continue, or seem to continue, for very long times. For example, one may lose everything and everyone in a disaster, become poor when once he was rich, encounter unexpected failure in a field in which he had previously been successful, fall ill, or be crippled… Yet all these things are a test, and Allah has given those of His servants who endure such tests with patience the glad tidings of great beauty:
Every self will taste death. You will be paid your wages in full on the Day of Resurrection. Anyone who is distanced from the Fire and admitted to the Garden has triumphed. The life of this world is just the enjoyment of delusion. You will be tested in your wealth and in yourselves and you will hear many abusive words from those given the Book before you and from those who are idolaters. But if you are steadfast and guard against evil, that is the most resolute course to take. (Surah Al ‘Imran, 185-186)
The superior moral values, courage and steadiness the faithful display in the face of these troubles increase their recompense and degree in the Hereafter. The areas in which believers may be tested in this world and the proper behavior they exhibit during the course of these are described in Surat al-Baqara:
We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, “We belong to Allah and to Him we will return.” Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided. (Surat al-Baqara, 155-157)
One of the things that manifest the depth of faith and superior moral values of a Muslim is the behavior he displays at such times. As described in the Qur’an these times of difficulty are when believers are subjected to severe tests, when they are surrounded by intense vicissitudes, as revealed in the verse “when they came at you from above you and below you, when your eyes rolled and your hearts rose to your throats…” (Surat al-Ahzab, 10). These times, described in the Qur’an as when “hearts rise to throats” are periods when all the troubles, sicknesses and catastrophes one can imagine follow one after the other. Examples of such times encountered by messengers and true believers throughout history are given in the Qur’an, and these tests are described as “sufferings and adversities” (Surat al-Baqara, 214). True Muslims are servants who respond to such troubles and all difficulties in the words “We belong to Allah and to Him we will return” (Surat al-Baqara, 156), who put their trust in Allah under all circumstances and situations, and turn to Him with full submission.
Submission to Destiny
A Muslim knows that Allah has created all things in line with a destiny, and that whatever befalls him does so only because Allah so wishes. Therefore, he displays patience in the face of all that befalls him, with enthusiasm and joy. It is Allah Who creates all details of people’s lives. In Surat al-An’am, it is stated that all events, great or small, take place because Allah so wishes:
The keys of the Unseen are in His possession. No one knows them but Him. He knows everything in the land and sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it. There is no seed in the darkness of the earth, and nothing moist or dry which is not in a Clear Book. (Surat al-An’am, 59)
Human beings live within the sphere of time and can only judge events by looking at them from the time in which they live. Since they cannot know the future, they may not always see the long-term wisdom, beauty and auspicious nature of what befalls them. Allah, however, Who created time and Who is unbound by it, sees and knows the lives of all entities who are dependent upon time, from “outside time.” It is at this point that the fact of destiny appears before us. Destiny is Allah’s knowledge of all events, past and future, as one single instant. In other words, events whose ends are unknown are actually mysteries only to us. Allah knows all those things that we cannot.
This “knowledge of destiny” is one of which deniers cannot be aware. It is this knowledge by means of which Muslims demonstrate the proper fortitude in the face of all troubles and difficulties in the life of this world. Since the faithful know that “no misfortune occurs except by Allah’s permission. Whoever believes in Allah –” He will guide his heart. Allah has knowledge of all things” (Surat at-Taghabun, 11), they enjoy the peace and comfort of knowing that everything that happens to them does so within a destiny.
A Muslim who is aware of the fact of destiny and comprehends this secret of testing, regards every woe, hunger or poverty, as something beautiful and takes pleasure from it. That is because he knows that the proper moral values he displays in the face of these tests is most valuable in the sight of Allah. This is a pleasure unique to believers. Muslims never experience feelings such as despair, stress, suffering, panic or fear in the face of such difficulties because they know that Allah will translate all things that appear good or bad in Muslims’ favor. However, there is one point here which must not be misunderstood: Believers may experience all kinds of trouble and difficulty in this world, may lose all they own, become physically weak, fall ill, be injured, die or be killed. However, none of these things are “evil” for Muslims. Allah tests His faithful servants by means of them, and rewards them many times over, in this world and the next, for the patience they display. After this short period of testing, Muslims are rewarded with the eternal life of Paradise. Muslims who are aware of this important reality thus gain in enthusiasm when they encounter difficulties. Their words at moments of difficulty reveal their submission and trust in Allah. The attitude of believers in the face of troubles is revealed thus in one verse of the Qur’an:
Say: “Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust.” (Surat at-Tawba, 51)
There Is Ease in Every Difficulty
In the verses of the Qur’an, our Lord has imparted the glad tidings that in addition to all their troubles and sufferings, He will also give believers beauty and ease. Allah reveals in many verses that He imparts such ease to true believers:
For truly with hardship comes ease; truly with hardship comes ease. (Surat al-Inshirah, 5-6)
As can be seen from the verses, Allah facilitates the affairs of believers who encounter trouble and difficulty, and also supports them with help from His sight. It is revealed in verses that Allah sent help to believers by means of angels, and that He did this only so that it might be good news for them (Surah Al ‘Imran, 123-127). In addition to His support by means of angels, Allah also sent down a feeling of peace and serenity upon believers (Surat at-Tawba, 40).
Muslims’ acting together in unity, knowing that everything is a test, and being aware that they are in preparation for the eternal life of the Hereafter is actually a great form of ease given to them in the face of these difficulties. In addition, Allah gives them tidings of a great beauty also in this world.
As we know, the hadith of our Prophet (saas) contains detailed information and signs regarding the end times that will take place close to the Last Day. According to this information, a number of significant events will follow one another in the end times. It is stated in the hadith that in the first part of the end times there will be great chaos, moral degeneration, war, terror, hunger and conflict. The increasing prevalence of earthquakes is one of the signs of the Last Day imparted by Prophet Muhammad (saas):
The Hour (Last Day) will not be established until … earthquakes will be very frequent. (Bukhari)
Allah will turn societies that have departed from proper moral values, suffered degeneration, chaos, conflict and natural disasters back to the true path by means of a servant of His, endowed with superior moral values, the bearer of the title “Mahdi” or “he who guides to the truth.” The Mahdi will resolve all the chaos, societal problems and social difficulties in which mankind finds itself in the first part of the end times, and will be the means whereby peace, justice, security, happiness and proper moral values prevail all over the world. This blessed time, described as the Golden Age by our Prophet (saas), will be an environment of plenty and abundance, when all forms of comfort and peace will be bestowed on mankind, and is a superior reward for all devout Muslims in the life of this world. The Golden Age will be a blessed era when the moral values of the Qur’an, justice, altruism and benevolence are widely experienced.
The fact that the signs of the end times are taking place one after the other shows us that this blessed age is approaching. The glad tidings of this great age are without doubt a great honor for all Muslims.