Almighty Allah of course knows that all the prophets He created were pure believers possessed of lofty moral values; it is He Who created them with a true depth and pure faith. Yet despite being our Lord’s chosen, superior and honored servants, the prophets were still subjected to difficult tests all through their lives. Difficulties are a great means whereby people could witness their honesty and adopt their moral values as role models, for the prophets to improve their closeness to and love of Allah, and for their goodness to increase many times over in the Hereafter.
This climate of testing is described by means of the stories related in the Qur’an. When he came to the sea, pursued by Pharaoh’s army, the Prophet Moses (as) saw no apparent way of escape. Those who failed to properly appreciate the infinite might of Allah said, “We are trapped,” but as revealed in verses the Prophet Moses (as) said "Never! My Lord is with me and He will guide me.” (Surat ash-Shuara’, 62)
Throughout that difficult time when he was imprisoned in the belly of the fish, the Prophet Jonah (as) constantly turned to Allah and, as revealed in a verse, “...called out (to the Lord) in absolute despair.” (Surat al-Qalam, 47) The Prophet Jonah (as), who sincerely turned to Allah during this difficult test, was rescued from the belly of the fish through our Lord’s mercy and compassion, and was then sent to a community as their prophet. This difficult test of the Prophet Jonah is described as follows in the Qur’an:
Jonah too was one of the Messengers.
When he ran away to the fully laden ship
and cast lots and lost.
Then the fish devoured him and he was to blame.
Had it not been that he was a man who glorified Allah,
he would have remained inside its belly until the Day they are raised again.
So We cast him up onto the beach and he was sick;
and We caused a gourd tree to grow over him.
We sent him to a hundred thousand or even more.
They believed and so We gave them enjoyment for a time.
(Surat as-Saffat, 139-148)
When our holy Prophet (saas) was attacked by the pagans on two sides together with his community there appeared to be no escape. This was the day of a most difficult test. At the same time, it was a very special test in which true believers with a genuine faith in Allah, Who trusted in Allah’s help with all their hearts, and who trusted in and embraced Him, could remain strong and expect His help. As ordained by Allah, those who were unable to properly appreciate Him and the hypocrites lost hope of His mercy and began dreaming up false ideas of their own. Our All-Mighty Lord described this difficult climate in another verse:
When they came at you from above you and below you, when your eyes rolled and your hearts rose to your throats, and you thought unworthy thoughts about Allah, at that point the believers were tested and severely shaken.
When hypocrites and people with sickness in their hearts said, ‘What Allah and His Messenger promised us was mere delusion.’ and a group of them said, ‘People of Yathrib, Your position is untenable so return!’ some of them asked the Prophet to excuse them, saying, ‘Our houses are exposed,’ when they were not exposed; it was merely that they wanted to run away. (Surat al-Ahzab, 10-13)
In this difficult climate, our Prophet (saas) and the pure believers with him hoped for Allah’s help and support and placed their trust in Him, saw that this had been promised by our Almighty Lord and gave thanks. Almighty Allah reveals in a verse:
When the believers saw the Confederates they said: ‘This is what Allah and His Messenger promised us. Allah and His Messenger told us the truth.’ It only increased them in faith and in submission. (Surat al-Ahzab, 22)
As our Lord reveals in a later verse; “Allah made it unnecessary for the believers to fight. Allah is Most Strong, Almighty.” (Surat al-Ahzab, 25)
The Prophet Yusuf (as) also underwent many great tests and hardships in his life. The way he was falsely accused and left in a dungeon for years are of course very difficult tests. But there is no doubt that one of the greatest tests he faced, and bore bravely and happily for Allah’s approval, is the way he was thrown into a well by his brothers at an early age and waited in the darkness to be rescued. If a caravan had not passed by during his time in the well, if the people in it had not decided to draw water from the well, then he would have gone through a martyrdom lasting several days. There is no doubt that everything happens by Allah’s Will, however. Allah created Prophet Yusuf (as) as a worthy, superior and holy prophet and also ordained his salvation in the finest manner in destiny.
The Prophet Lot (as) also struggled against the pressure from a heretical people, the Prophet Job (as) displayed fortitude in the face of sickness and physical difficulties, the Prophet Aaron (as) sought to win over a pagan people who rejected him, the Prophet John (as) was martyred by the deniers of his time and the Prophet Jesus (as) strove against the snares of the hypocrites. These holy prophets were all subjected to great tests. The Muslims who followed the prophets also confronted similar difficulties. People who came to believe after seeing the proofs that Allah bestowed on the Prophet Moses (as) did so even in the knowledge that Pharaoh would cut off their opposite hands and feet and then kill them. The companions of our Prophet (saas) strove against the deniers who forced them from their lands, inflicted unbelievable tortures on them and even chose to martyr them. Believers have been faced by severe tests when cast into the flames by a society of non-believers. Almighty Allah describes the situation of believers cast into the flames as follows in verses:
Cursed be the Companions of the Pit –
The fire well stocked with fuel –
When they were seated right beside it
Witnessing what they did to the believers.
The only reason they punished them was because they believed in Allah, the Almighty, the All-Praiseworthy –
Him to whom the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth belongs. Allah is Witness of all things.
Those who persecute men and women of the believers, and then do not repent, will have the punishment of Hell, will have the punishment of the Burning. (Surat al-Buruj, 4-10)
Of course Almighty Allah is He who creates, with a special creation, prophets and believers and those believers who warn their communities, who turn to Him, who love Him above all and live for Him alone. He has created them for paradise. But they are nevertheless tested in the life of this world. There is a secret behind this. The test and the difficulties involved in it are a sign of superiority, love, self-sacrifice and a genuine and sincere love of Allah. The prophets add to their own beauty with the fortitude, honesty, self-sacrifice, loyalty, devotion and moral virtue they display. These moral virtues, which make them one of the most valuable elements of paradise, are a superior and worthy fortitude in the face of difficulty and submission to Allah. Almighty Allah has prepared this difficult environment of the test in order for us and even them to witness their devotion and love to Him. There is no doubt that Almighty Allah always supports and protects believers and is always by their side. That is why it is so valuable for believers to know this and display fortitude in difficult environments. The prophets and those believers who follow them will certainly enjoy eternal life in the hereafter and the finest reward for this excellent fortitude. Almighty Allah reveals in verses:
Such people will be repaid for their steadfastness with the Highest Paradise, where they will meet with welcome and with ‘Peace’. They will remain in it timelessly, for ever. What an excellent lodging and abode! (Surat al-Furqan, 75-76)
The Existence of the Test Is a Great Blessing for Sincere Muslims
The existence of Allah is obvious. Whoever denies the existence of Allah is lying and deceiving. The evidence for the sublime existence of Allah is everywhere. It is impossible for anyone, confronted by this manifest evidence, not to see the sublime and dazzling Sublime Existence of Almighty Allah, the Existence and Might of Whom are so clear.
Human beings, the cell, light, the atom, the Earth, the planets and even a single match are all proof of this glorious and stunning Creation. This cannot be denied. The reason why some people are in a state of heedlessness with regard to Allah is not their failure to see His manifest existence. What makes it hard for these people to turn to and submit to Allah is their inability to comprehend the existence of the test and the secret behind it. The existence of the test intimidates them, and its difficult nature prevents them being a servant whom Allah will approve of. Otherwise, everyone is well aware that they have to live for Allah. In one verse Almighty Allah says:
And they repudiated them wrongly and haughtily, in spite of their own certainty about them. See the final fate of the corrupters. (Surat an-Naml, 14)
All people know in their consciences the existence of Allah and that they should live for Him. But some of them are confused and doubtful in the face of the test. The reason why the people who set out together with the Prophet Moses (as) told him “You and your Lord go and fight. We will stay sitting here.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 24) in the face of difficulties, is that they preferred their own earthly desires to undergoing hardship for Allah’s sake.
The fact is that the proper behavior demonstrated by true Muslims in the face of communities of deniers who combined to attack the Qur’an is revealed as follows:
Those to whom people said, ‘The people have gathered against you, so fear them.’ But that merely increased their faith and they said, ‘Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians.’ (Surah Al ‘Imran, 173)
Muslims who sincerely submits to Allah in the face of a difficult test are described as; "Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘We belong to Allah and to Him we will return’.” (Surat al-Baqara, 156)
Almighty Allah reveals in another verse that attaining goodness and truth is possible by discharging the responsibilities required by the test, and to demonstrate such moral virtues as loyalty, fortitude and self-sacrifice:
It is not devoutness to turn your faces to the East or to the West. Rather, those with true devoutness are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets, and who, despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travelers and beggars and to set slaves free, and who establish prayer and pay alms; those who honor their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true. They are the people who fear [and respect Allah]. (Surat al-Baqaara, 177)
Hardships have been visited on heedless communities with a particular wisdom and for a particular reason. Some people have a tendency to concentrate on their own affairs and worldly matters and to forget Allah while they enjoy plenty, abundance and prosperity. These people imagine that once they have means and prosperity at their disposal nothing bad will happen to them, and imagine they have an independent power of their own. Our Lord has tested communities that fall into heedlessness because of plenty and well-being, despite being warned, that regard themselves as invincible and strong, that harbor an unjustified pride and arrogance in the face of Allah and that have even had the effrontery to deny Allah, with difficulties in order for them to find the true path, remember their mistakes and recall that all power belongs to Allah alone. Allah reveals this fact in a verse:
We sent Messengers to nations before you, and afflicted those nations with hardship and distress so that hopefully they would humble themselves. (Surat al-An’am, 42)
Testing through difficulties is of course a great and powerful reminder for these heedless communities. Almighty Allah reveals the situation of a heedless community that remain in a boat surrounded by waves all around as follows in another verse:
It is He Who conveys you on both land and sea so that when some of you are on a boat, running before a fair wind, rejoicing at it, and then a violent squall comes upon them and the waves come at them from every side and they realize there is no way of escape, they call on Allah, making their religion sincerely His: ‘If You rescue us from this, we will truly be among the thankful.’ (Surah Yunus, 22)
The secret of the test lies here. These people, who become aware of the transitory nature of the life of this world, remember that all power lies with Allah alone and have no doubt of the need to turn to our Lord only when surrounded by waves, return to their former state of unawareness once the difficulties they face have been removed. Allah reveals this in a verse:
But then, when He does rescue them, they become rebellious in the earth without any right to do so. Mankind, your rebelliousness is only against yourselves. There is the enjoyment of the life of this world and then you will return to Us and We will inform you about what you did. (Surah Yunus, 23)
All people know in their conscience what they should do. Everyone is aware he should be a good servant of Allah and do all he can to earn His approval. The reason why some people seek not to comprehend the might of Allah in this world and to forget this spiritual responsibility comes from a wish to live by their earthly desires. But the fact is that people can seek to feign ignorance about the climate of testing all they like, yet they will still be tested. Living by their earthly desires will never, ever give them the satisfaction and pleasure they seek so long as they fail to heed their consciences. They will never find the false happiness they seek in this world. These people fail to appreciate that it is Allah Who bestows pleasure, happiness and joy. It is of course impossible to have a clear conscience and live a peaceful and happy life if one forgets Allah and refuses to live for Him. People who ignore the existence of the test fail to appreciate this reality.
What Would Happen in a World with No Testing?
All the beauties that make human beings human would suddenly vanish in a climate of no testing. The values imparted by moral virtue, such as self-sacrifice, loyalty, fortitude, love, compassion, respect, solidarity and friendship would immediately lose all meaning. Competing to do good and putting others’ desires before one’s own would be regarded as unnecessary. And there would be no meaning to the life of someone for whom nothing is of any value or importance.
The sole reason for responding to the testing in this world with submission and fortitude is a deep love of Allah. Everything would be flat without testing and the love of Allah. Because man will be deprived of all moral values to take delight in, one would turn into a very strange creature with no other aims and expectations from life other than eating, drinking and sleeping. Such a person can take pleasure neither from anything he does nor the life he leads. Such a life is the false conception of life that Darwinists have been trying to impose people for so many years. In a world with no testing, and therefore with no moral or ethical virtues, with no purpose to life, a person will turn into an organism no different to the animals, just as Darwinists maintain, and his life will resemble that of any animal. When the effort made for Allah in this world comes to an end, all that remains will be that organism’s struggle for survival.
It will here be of use to recall the following point: Even animals have a conception of affection, love, loyalty, self-sacrifice and solidarity inspired in them by Allah. Therefore, in a climate with no testing, people who have no purpose and who have lost all these virtues will actually become lower than animals. Almighty Allah has revealed that deniers who deify their own earthly desires will be lower than animals:
Do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? They are just like cattle. Indeed they are even more astray! (Surat al-Furqan, 44)
What some people fail to understand is this: the existence of testing gives people worth. We love someone in the Hereafter because we know he had displayed fortitude for Allah. The value of the prophets increased many times over because they responded to difficulties in the way Allah wanted. Someone who suffers for Allah is beautified. One loves someone who displays moral virtues for the sake of Allah, no matter what the circumstances, and their abodes in the Hereafter are even lovelier. One loves and admires people who, even though human nature has been created with a tendency toward selfish passions and jealousy, exhibit no selfishness out of a fear of Allah, who are not prone to envy, who regard Muslims as above themselves and who are aware of their own helplessness before Allah. With such traits, such people will always be remembered in the Hereafter.
Our Lord regards a person as superior because of the lofty fortitude, patience and will he demonstrates in the course of the test. Since a person uses this will for Allah, despite all the hardships, severe illnesses and selfish desires in this world, since he responds to each with fortitude and virtue and never abandons hope in Allah, he is of great value in the eyes of our Lord.
This fortitude and will be a fine adornment of Paradise. Because Paradise can only be attained with fortitude shown in testing for Allah’s approval and with effort made for the love of Allah. Almighty Allah reveals in another verse:
Or did you imagine that you were going to enter the Garden without Allah knowing those among you who had struggled and knowing the steadfast? (Surah Al ‘Imran, 142)
The following important truth must not be forgotten; Almighty Allah Who creates difficult tests deliberately for people has also, of course, created fortitude and ways of overcoming them. One of the secrets that our Lord imparts to believers in the Qur’an is that nobody will be given a burden greater than he can bear:
Allah does not impose on any self any more than it can stand. For it is what it has earned; against it, what it has merited. Our Lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! Our Lord, do not place on us a load like the one You placed on those before us! Our Lord, do not place on us a load we have not the strength to bear! And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy on us. You are our Master, so help us against the people of the unbelievers. (Surat al-Baqara, 286)
A Muslim who turns to Allah under all circumstances is a loyal and excellent servant of Allah. No matter what hardships he undergoes as a result of the test, they will never be greater than he can bear. Hardships are given in order to improve devout believers, draw them closer to Allah, protect them against heedlessness and so they can earn the eternal delights and blessings of Paradise.
Someone undergoing such difficulties is also capable of properly appreciating Paradise, with its eternal blessings. A person tested by want and poverty in this world will give even greater thanks to Allah and be even closer and more devoted to Him when he sees how he can have whatever he wants in Paradise, at the moment he wants it and with no natural causes being involved, and will properly appreciate the blessings of Paradise. Someone who exhibits fortitude in the face of grave illness will doubtless feel an extraordinarily increased joy, gratitude and love for Allah when he sees there are no such weaknesses or sicknesses in Paradise. Everyone unjustly oppressed in this world will be improved many times over in the infinitely peaceful and delightful climate of Paradise, when he enjoys peace and security in the presence of our Lord, free from all deficiency, flaws and ugliness, in Paradise. For example, a believer who is lame in this world will be able to run around freely in Paradise, and even to fly and live just as he wishes; a believer who is blind in this world will have an incomparably greater power of sight in Paradise compared to that in this world, and will look on immaculate beauties with an infinite satisfaction and delight. A believer with severe defects in the face or body in this world will be created with a stunning beauty in Paradise. This new creation is of great value to a believer who is aware of his former state and was patient in the face of it.
Comparing the difficult environment in this world with the eternal life of Paradise is of course a great blessing for believers. The life of this world is a very brief test, a transitory benefit. Those who display fortitude in this test for the sake of Almighty Allah, who live for Allah and who turn to Him in all their thoughts and deeds, will of course be those who rejoice in the Hereafter.
As for those who believed and did right actions, they will be made joyful in a verdant meadow. (Surat ar-Rum, 15)