Understanding Islam, a solution to:
THE TRIALS OF LIFE
Sheikh Saalih ibn Fawzan al-Fawzan
Translated by Abdulilah Lahmami
Obstacles in Life
There are obstacles which befall a person that may expel him out of Islam if he is a Muslim. These obstacles may also weaken the faith in his heart or may even obstruct a person from entering into Islam if he is not a Muslim.
There are great trials which a person faces, so it is obligatory for him to have knowledge of them so that he is able to stay clear of them and overcome them if he is trialed.
From here, the honourable Companion Hudayfah ibn al-Yaman t said:
كان الناس يسألون رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن الخير وكنت أسأله عن الشر مخافة أن يدركني
“the people used to ask the Messenger r about good things and I used to ask him about evil things fearing that I may face them.” 1
One must first have knowledge and insight of Islam, its rules and regulations. One must know those things which turn us away from Islam and the barriers which obstruct the servant of Allaah from worshipping Him. One must know these things that affect their faith such as sins in order to keep away from the harmful things and reap the benefits (of being steadfast). If a person does not know those affairs that can harm and misguide him, they may destroy him. Allaah ordered us to hold fast to this religion until we die. He said:
And do not die except in a state of Islam.2
Opposing the Messenger I
There is no doubt that a person’s remaining upon Islam is in the hands of Allaah. We are not fully in control as to whether or not we remain upon Islam until we die. However, we should bring about the causes that help us stay upon Islam, until we die. Those practical, protective reasons, so if we adopt these reasons, Allaah enlightens us with His bounty and completes His blessings upon us. Thus, He will cause us to die upon Islam because we have brought about those reasons and striven in the path of gaining salvation for indeed Allaah is kind and generous. If He sees that His servant has a concern and a desire to do good deeds and a hatred for the evil things and likewise fears falling into the evil things, then He, the Most High, will strengthen, protect, guard and make his religion safe and complete with all that is good.
As for if Allaah sees that His servant turns away without desire to do good, not having hatred for the evil things, He leaves him in the path he has chosen as a punishment out of His justice as He says:
And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messengerafter the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows a way other than the way of the believers, We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell – what an evil destination!3
So the cause came from the servant as he opposed the Messenger r and followed a path other than the way of the believers, showing that he initiated the cause and thereafter the punishment from Allaah followed.
We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and land him in Hell – what an evil destination.4
Can fitan (trials) be like the punishment of Allaah?
The word fitan (trials and tribulations) is the plural of fitnah which means being tested and trialed, such that the truth or hypocrisy of one’s faith is made apparent. Allaah said:
There are amongst mankind who say: “We believe in Allaah,” but if they are trialed in the cause of Allaah, they consider the trial of mankind similar to the punishment of Allaah; 5
So this type of person is not patient upon the afflictions that befall him which would have made him firm upon the truth. Rather, he runs away from his religion and follows those things that turn him away from his religion. He does this, thinking that he is going to be saved. However, he leaves one evil only to fall into another greater evil; like the one who tries to take refuge from scorching sand (he lifts up one foot from the ground only to place the other on it). He considers the trials of the people like the punishment of Allaah, but can the trials of the people be like the punishment of Allaah?
If he were to leave his religion and agree to remain with those that lead him astray, he will head towards the punishment of Allaah. Yet if he were to be patient upon the harms of the people and, in turn, hold fast to his religion this pain that afflicts him would only be temporary. A way out would be close and the end result would be good. However, this person followed the opposite course. He was not patient upon the harms of the people and their trials, but rather he followed them in disobedience to Allaah. He followed them in what they called him to, in terms of disbelief in Allaah, so he went towards the grievous punishment of Allaah.
Fitnah means a trial and a test. The truthful and faithful one once tested will be made apparent from those who are unstable and not firm. The truthful and faithful one who has a good understanding of his religion is firm upon his belief as opposed to the one who is shaken by the first trial that befalls him.
1Saheeh al-Bukhaaree no.3606, Kitab al-Manaaqib (Virtues) –The signs of Prophethood in Islam. Saheeh Muslim no.4761 Kitaab al-Imara (leadership) – The command to hold onto the Jamaa’ah when trials appear and warning from the callers to disbelief.
2Soorah al-Imran: 102.
3Soorah an-Nisaa: 115.
4Soorah an-Nisaa: 115.
5Soorah al-Ankabout: 10.