Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blessings & Test

Blessings = Tests, Tests = Blessings

As I lay across my bed with my eyes closed, an earlier conversation with my dear friend came flooding back.

Stress overwhelmed me, and I found myself needing someone to expel all the feelings which I had bottled up for so long.

"You don't sound your usual self. Is everything OK?" my friend asked.
Feelings of regret, anger, and pain poured out from my heart and mind almost as though I had anticipated the question.

"I am wondering why I meet people who hurt me in my life," I said quite disturbed. Before I continued, my friend interrupted, "Don't ever say that!"

She added, "Remember, everything and every person that enters your life, whether good or bad, serves a purpose. For example, you might wonder why you married someone you did not want to, but what came from the relationship was your son! Your son was destined to come into this world. Your marriage served that purpose."

"Now you are talking about someone who has humiliated you, but the humiliation and subsequent oppression are a part of what has made you a writer. So please don't ever think why you met such and such a person or why that happened. Everything happens for a reason," my friend wisely concluded.

Suddenly I realized how true my friend's words were. I opened my eyes and got up from my bed in search of a pen to capture this newfound knowledge on paper. I didn't want to forget those words, and I hoped to share with them with others.

As I started writing, I looked around and saw my son playing. Subhan Allah! What a great blessing in my life! Then I realized how ungrateful I had been for so many blessings in life.

We sleep and wake up in our homes and find ourselves untouched by harm, having enjoyed a peaceful night's sleep, but there are so many people who have lost everything in life and are homeless without even the most basic requirements for themselves. How much time do we spend thinking about all that we are blessed with in our lives?

Do we consider that if Allah Most High gives us everything, we are one of His most loved ones? Whenever we see someone with wealth, health, beauty, and knowledge, we immediately tend to think that Allah Most High has blessed that person with everything in life; but the moment we see an afflicted person, we think that person is undergoing a great test. What we fail to recognize is that there are two sides to every coin, and whether something is a blessing or a test, we need to look at every aspect of both sides of our lives.

We may consider something to be a great blessing in this life, but actually Allah Most High tests us through our blessings. Likewise, a hardship or a difficulty is a great blessing from Allah Most High.

The Test
The Qur'an narrates stories of the prophets as examples on which we reflect by which we amend. The stories of Prophet Sulayman and Prophet Yunus (peace be upon them) contain great lessons to be learned.

Prophet Sulayman was blessed with all the riches in the world. One day he was so engrossed in inspecting his fine horses that he completely forgot to recite his `Asr Prayer before sunset. Upon remembering the forgotten prayer, he repented, realizing that the blessing was nothing but a test. Sometimes we tend to indulge in blessings, forgetting that they are tests.

When Prophet Yunus departed full of wrath because his people would not believe, he neither sought Allah's permission nor did he fulfill his mission. He traveled by ship, but the ship was fully loaded and met with foul weather. The passengers decided to draw lots to see who would jump into the water. When Yunus drew the short lot, the other passengers stopped him and they drew lots again. The lot fell on Yunus. For the third time they drew lots, and it fell again on Yunus.

[So We responded to him and delivered him from the grief, and thus do We deliver the believers.] (Al-Anbiyaa' 21:88)

Prophet Yunus recognized his test as a blessing and was thankful that Allah Most High had blessed him with such a unique place — the belly of the whale — to worship Him.

These stories in the Qur'an are lessons for us to reflect upon and learn from. In spite of Allah's giving us the Qur'an as a mercy and a guide, we are more often than not most ungrateful. Through our lack of appreciation, we allow Shaytan to make us into ungrateful servants.

[Then I will certainly come to them from before them and from behind them, and from their right-hand side and from their left-hand side; and Thou shalt not find most of them thankful.] (Al-A`raf 7:17)

Allah Most High has showered His mercy upon us with guidance from the Qur'an, warning us of Shaytan, but despite these warnings, we remain unmindful of the words of the Almighty:

[And when your Lord made it known: if you are grateful, I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe.] (Ibrahim 14:7)

We are all children of Adam, who forgot and did not realize that Allah Most High had blessed him with everything, only asking him to refrain from partaking from a single tree. Likewise, we also fail to recognize the blessings of Allah Most High in our own lives.

[And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honor and makes him lead an easy life, he says: My Lord honors me.] (Al-Fajr 89:15)

Whether Allah Most High gives us everything or takes something away, it is a trial. Every hardship is a blessing, and we should look at everything from both sides. We should not ignore the other side when we are faced with an adversity or given a blessing, or we will miss an opportunity for appreciation and remembrance of Allah Most High.

[And among mankind is he who serves Allah (standing) on the verge, so that if good befalls him he I satisfied therewith, but if a trial afflicts him he turns back headlong; he loses this world as well as the hereafter; that is a manifest loss.] (Al-Hajj 22:11)

Blessings and tests are therefore both reminders that everything is from Allah Most High.

[Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, and be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.] (Al-Baqarah 2:152)

© Amatullah Abdullah


Anonymous said...

I like to think of tests and blessings as a mobius loop. One flows into the other and we do not know where one starts and the other ends. On certain stretches it is more like a blessing, on certain others it is more like a test and in some places we're left wondering which one it is.


Artemis said...

Assalamualaikum :)

I read your article on Tawakkul on islamonline and followed the link to your blog. I loved both articles I read. Jazakillahu khair for sharing these messages, I found them very beneficial.

I hope you write more inshaAllah, and I plan to return to your blog :)

your sister, Artemis

mirza z said...

It was a simple down-to-earth style of writing but cery effective. I not only enjoyed the article but am better informed now. Keep up the god work. Jazakalla. brother mirza z

Anonymous said...

i'm now well informed about tests as i'm going through different tests I'll try to more greatful to my Creater.