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  • The Dealings And Practices Of God (Khuda Ki Sunan):(1) Tests And Trials (Ibtila)

    Posted by Umer on August 11, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    God has created this world for trial and test. Every single person on this earth faces these trials and as such His practice of putting mankind through trials is a universal phenomenon. Whatever is ingrained in human nature comes to surface because of these trials; the secrets of the inner personality of a person are revealed through these very trials and the levels attained by a person in his ideologies and in his deeds are ascertained through these very trials. The Quran says that life and death have been created for the very purpose of judging that who among mankind adopts a rebellious attitude towards his Creator and who leads a life according to the liking of his Creator. No doubt, the Almighty has knowledge of everything; however, He has set the practice for Himself that He does not merely reward and punish people on the basis of His knowledge; on the contrary, He does so on the basis of their deeds. For this very purpose, He has implemented the system of trial on this earth:

    الَّذِيْ خَلَقَ المْـَوْتَ وَالْحَيَاةَ لِيَبْلُوَكُمْ أَيـُّكُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلاً، وَهُوَ الْعَزِيْزُ الْغَفُوْرُ (٦٧: ٢)

    [He] Who created death and life that He might test you as to which of you is best regarding deeds. And He is also Mighty and Forgiving. (67:2)

    The circumstances of sorrow and happiness, poverty and affluence, grief and joy which befall a person in this world are governed by this very practice of God. Through such circumstances, the Almighty tests His servants and differentiates the good among them from the evil. When He blesses someone with affluence and status, He tests whether such people will remain grateful to Him or not and when He afflicts someone with poverty and hardships, He tests whether such people will remain patient or not:

    وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ (٣٥:٢١)

    We are inflicting you with sorrow and happiness to test To Us shall you return. (21:35)

    Writes Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

    … He gives wealth and status to some people to see if they become grateful, humble and obedient on this favour or end up proud and arrogant, pompous and conceited and ill-treat the poor and do not spend on others from what God has blessed them with. Similarly, He deprives some people of wealth to see if they remain patient in such circumstances, are thankful for what they have, are satisfied with their fate and remain honourable in their hardships or in frustration and disappointment end up in despair and dejection, show discontent on their fate, become angry with God and live a life of misery as a result.[1]

    All these facilities and provisions with which this earth is endowed with are meant to test man. These provisions, in other words, are not provided to him for his indulgence and pleasure; they are a means to try him. By providing them to man, the Almighty is judging whether a person seeks the comprehension of His Creator and in this way attains success in the Hereafter or loses his way by indulging in them:

    إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا مَا عَلَى الْأَرْضِ زِينَةً لَّهَا لِنَبْلُوَهُمْ أَيُّهُمْ أَحْسَنُ عَمَلًا (٧:١٨)

    We have decked the earth with whatever is in it so We can test them that who is the best regarding his deeds. (18:7)

    Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

    This world is a place of trial and test. In it, God is testing that who while using his intellect and brains seeks the Hereafter and who while following his desires ends up seeking this world. For the purpose of test, God has adorned the face of this earth with make-up that is deceptively pleasing to the eye. There is great lure and attraction in wealth and children, in orchards and gardens, in fields and crops, in cars and houses, in buildings and castles, in positions of high social and political status of this world. All its pleasures are at hand and easy to attain while its pangs are hidden. On the other hand, all the successes of the Hereafter are as yet concealed from the eyes and those who seek them are immediately faced with a lot of hardships in this world. Indeed this is a severe trial. Not every slave to his passions can come through it. Only those will sail through it who are perspicacious enough not to be mislead from these worldly lures which may attempt to deceive them in one guise or another and are never prepared to lose the favours of the Hereafter by getting caught in the lures and attractions of this world.[2]

    These are the details of the law of trial and test that is generally faced by human beings. A specific form of this law comes into play in the times of the rusul (Messengers) of God. At the behest of the Almighty, their propagation culminates in the worldly Judgement of their addressees and those who claim to profess faith in these messengers are, during the course of this propagation, put through certain trials and tests which are generally not faced by others. Consequently, the Quran says:

    أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ (٢٩: ٢-٣)

    Do people think that once they say: “We believe [in the rasul]”, they will be left alone and not be tried even though We [similarly] tried those who lived before them. So God will surely set apart the truthful, and He will also surely set apart the liars. (29:2-3)

    Once the Messengers of God communicate the truth to their addressees to the extent that they are left with no excuse to deny it, this test manifests itself to isolate and discriminate the believers and the disbelievers before the latter are punished. The words of the above quoted verses: فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ (29: 3) (So God will surely set apart the truthful, and He will also surely set apart the liars) refer to this very reality. The implication is that before the judgement is delivered it is clearly known where each person stands. At certain other places in the Quran too, this law and practice of God is mentioned with similar emphasis:

    وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الأَمَوَالِ وَالأنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ (٢: ١٥٥-١٥٦)

    We shall test you with some fear and some famine and some loss of property and life and some loss in produce [from the fields]. And [O Prophet!] give glad tidings [of success in this world and in that to come] to those who persevere [in this cause]. [Those] who when afflicted with some calamity say: “We belong to God, and to Him [one day] we shall return.” (2:155-156)

    (Javed Ahmed Ghamidi)

    (Translated by Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


    [1] Amin Ahsan Islahi, Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 3, 60.

    [2] Ibid., vol. 4 558.

    Umer replied 2 years, 4 months ago 1 Member · 4 Replies
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