For Believers, There Is Good In All Thıngs
Everyone experiences difficult times in his or her life. These difficulties frustrate, distress or irritate the majority of people who are far removed from the morality prescribed in the Qur'an. Therefore, they easily become anxious, tense and irritable. Not having faith in the perfection inherent in the destiny ordained by God, they do not seek the blessings, or the good in that which they experience. In fact, because they are without faith, every moment they spend only turns out to seem against them. In this manner, encumbered by trouble and distress, they proceed with the rest of their lives.
Believers, however, know that difficulties are brought about by God to test man. They are aware that these difficulties serve to distinguish the true believers from "those having a disease in their hearts", those who are not sincere in their beliefs. That is because, in the Qur'an, God makes it plain that He will test believers to reveal who it is that are truthful:
Or did you imagine that you were going to enter the Garden without God knowing those among you who had struggled and knowing the steadfast? (Surah Al 'Imran: 142)
God would not leave the believers in that [state] you are in [presently] until He separates the evil from the good... (Surah Al 'Imran: 179)
In further regard to this issue, God provides the following example, which took place during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saas):
What assailed you on the day the two armies met was by God's permission, so that He would know the [true] believers, and so that He would know the hypocrites... (Surah Al 'Imran: 166-167)
The verse above is self-explanatory. In the time of the Prophet (saas), Muslims faced hardships, and suffered trying conditions. Yet, as the above verse also indicates, what the Muslims endured was by God's Will, and served to reveal those who were the hypocrites, who tried to cause harm to believers. That is, everything ultimately turned out in favour of the believers. Muslims, who aware of the lessons stated in these verses, consider an incident that seems to be evil, or a moment of difficulty, as an opportunity by which their sincerity, loyalty to their Lord, and faith, is put to the test. Never do they forget that difficulties or blessings are to test them. On the contrary, for their nobleness and submission to Him, God changes what seems evil to the advantage of His true servants. In the following pages, we will talk about difficulties believers are likely to encounter and of the trials peculiar to this world. Our purpose is to remind believers of the hidden blessings and rewards that being patient brings to them, both in this world and hereafter.
God Tests Man With Loss of Wealth
The goal of the majority of people in life is to accumulate as much wealth as possible. To this end, they resort to whatever means, even illegitimate or illicit. The value that humans attach to possessions is described in the Qur'an as "love" for "the embellishment of the life of this world."
To mankind the love of worldly appetites is painted in glowing colours: women and children, and heaped-up mounds of gold and silver, and horses with fine markings, and livestock and fertile farmland. All that is merely the enjoyment of the life of this world. The best homecoming is in the presence of God. (Surah Al 'Imran: 14)
Wealth and sons are the embellishment of the life of this world. But, in your Lord's sight, right actions which are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope. (Surat al-Kahf: 46)
In another verse, God addresses such people with the words; "And you have an insatiable love of wealth."(Surat al-Fajr: 20) As we are to understand from this verse, the ignorant crave wealth. Because, wealth is one of the primary measures of status in societies whose values are not based on religion. In these errant societies, people revere, honour and esteem the well-off. Attaining to such wealth makes its possessors wrongly suppose that they hold great power. Therefore, in these cases, the attainment of wealth becomes the main goal in life.
This excessive desire for wealth also leads to a life-time of fearing for its loss. Those who possess such an outlook usually despair when they lose their wealth, and then become rebellious towards their Lord. Being completely ignorant that is merely for a trial, they become completely overwhelmed by their loss of wealth.
However, God commands man "not to grieve about the things that pass him by or exult about the things that come to him" (Surat al-Hadid: 23). He commands man to conduct himself moderately and to adopt good morals. Despairing over the loss of wealth, but exulting in times of affluence, is a mark of ingratitude towards God.
Under the influence of such a base outlook, the members of ignorant societies consider it perfectly acceptable to feel disappointment over the loss of their property. For instance, the economic security enjoyed from wealth acquired after much effort may vanish instantly through a natural disaster. Or, a fire may, in just moments, reduce to ruin a beautiful house having been purchased after years of savings. Essentially, a person unconscious of the nature of this life feels confused when he experiences such a loss; becoming overwrought with pessimism and rebelliousness.
Those far removed from the morality of the Qur'an fail ever to recognize that a loss of wealth could be for a good or beneficial aspect. Indeed, due to their outlook and failure to put their trust in God, upheavals they experience in their economic situation become emotionally burdensome.
However, this is not the case for those who seek to consider the good in things. For them, the loss of wealth is for a purpose, even if they are not able to immediately discern it. It may be that it is as a reminder from God to His servants who have exulted in their wealth, and were overcome by the temporary worldly pleasures. Any decrease only serves the purpose of reminding us of the infinite might of God, and urges us to turn all our attention to Him. Or, it may be that God has something better in store for His servants who have shown patience through dire straits, and put their trust in Him. Instead of the temporary enjoyments of the life of this world, He grants the numberless and eternal blessings of paradise; clearly, the infinite blessings of paradise are incomparably more advantageous than worldly blessings.
However, these changes in livelihood may also serve a more immediate purpose. For instance, there may be some good in being involved in an accident with one's new car, for it may have been that God was protecting the driver from a more serious accident that would have caused him more harm. A conscientious person recognizes this accident as a reminder, and a warning, and asks for forgiveness and accepts the destiny predestined for him by God.
"It May Be That You Love Something When It Is Bad For You ..."
As we said earlier, God informs us in Surat al-Baqara, verse 216, that certain circumstances which may appear to us to be evil may turn out to be good. Similarly, as the same verse indicates, God also states that that which people love may be evil for them. In the Qur'an, God gives the example of wealthy disbelievers who are reluctant to spend of their wealth. The disbelievers' consideration that their thriftiness is "clever", and their supposition that hoarding the wealth they are unwilling to spend for the cause of God is to be of some benefit for them, is purely ignorant. In the Qur'an, God informs us that such wealth is evil and will only bring torment in hell:
Those who are tight-fisted with the bounty God has given them should not suppose that that is better for them. No indeed, it is worse for them! What they were tight-fisted with will be hung around their necks on the Day of Rising. God is the inheritor of the heavens and the earth and God is aware of what you do. (Surah Al 'Imran: 180)
In Surat al-Qasas, God relates the story of Qarun. God bestowed great fortune upon Qarun but he became vain due to extent of his wealth, and grew insolent towards his Lord. The case of Qarun, who was destroyed because he remained inattentive to the warnings, is a lesson for people. Qarun's story is related in the Qur'an as follows:
Qarun was one of the people of Musa but he lorded it over them. We gave him treasures, the keys alone to which were a heavy weight for a party of strong men. When his people said to him, "Do not gloat. God does not love people who gloat. Seek the abode of the hereafter with what God has given you, without forgetting your portion of the world. And do good as God has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. God does not love corrupters" he said, "I have only been given it because of knowledge I have." Did he not know that before him God had destroyed generations with far greater strength than his and far more possessions? The evildoers will not be questioned about their sins. (Surat al-Qasas: 76-78)
As the above-quoted verses suggest, Qarun believed that his treasures would bring him good. Thus, he exulted and grew arrogant. But, ultimately, he only suffered great disappointment.
How believers regard their wealth, on the other hand, differs considerably from his flawed understanding. For a believer, who adheres to the Qur'an, possessions are of no great significance. A believer conducts himself nobly; he never allows himself to make it his goal or ambition to possess more, for it is a base pursuit founded in ignorance. A believer devotes all his life only to earning God's consent. Therefore, he spends all of his wealth for the cause of God, and never allows himself to be seized by the selfish desires of his lower-self; he aspires to the eternal rewards of the Hereafter, not the worldly benefits of this world. God renders believers with this mindset superior in His sight, and promises them paradise: :
God has bought from the believers their selves and their wealth in return for the Garden. They fight in the Way of God and they kill and are killed. It is a promise binding on Him in the Torah, the Injil and the Qur'an and who is truer to his contract than God? Rejoice then in the bargain you have made. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba: 111)
Aware of this fact, prophets, messengers and true believers, considered what they possessed as a blessing from their Lord, while knowing deep in their hearts that all they possessed belonged ultimately to God. Thus, they spent their wealth and possessions for the cause of God. This superior morality and compassion among the believers is described in the verse as follows:
[Those with true devoutness are those who] despite their love for it, give away their wealth to their relatives and to orphans and the very poor, and to travellers and beggars ... (Surat al-Baqara: 177)
Furthermore, believers do not spend for ostentation. Their sincere intention in spending their wealth is related as follows:
...those who spend their wealth, desiring the pleasure of God and firmness for themselves ... (Surat al-Baqara: 265)
Consequently, when they lose some of their possessions, they react very differently than do the ignorant. Essentially, they know that it is all a trial from God. They show patience and seek what good there may be in the loss. The noble outlook of the believers is related in the following verse:
Say, "O God! Master of the Kingdom! You give sovereignty to whoever You will You take sovereignty from whoever You will. You exalt whoever You will You abase whoever You will. All good is in Your hands. You have power over all things." (Surah Al 'Imran: 26)
Consequently, believers know very well that the wealth possessed by the disbelievers in this world will only bring them torment rather than good. This is the promise of God:
Do not let their wealth and children impress you. God merely wants to punish them by them during their life in this world and for them to expire while they are disbelievers. (Surat at-Tawba: 55)
Divine Wisdom Behind Diseases
People who live in the societies of ignorance continually make plans for the future and hope these plans proceed as they desire. This being the case, an unexpected disease or some accident throws their life into complete disarray, since such incidents were not incorporated into their future plans. While they are enjoying good health, many of them never think that such incidents-even though it happens to thousands of others every day-could happen to them.
That is why, when confronted with such unexpected incidents, the ignorant people immediately become insolent towards their Creator. They contradict the fact of destiny and say, "Why has this happened to me?" for people who are far from possessing the morality commanded in the Qur'an, tend not to put their trust in God at times of sickness or accident, or to seek the good in what befalls them.
Such people, who do not grasp the reality of destiny, assume that it is merely the viruses or microbes that cause a sickness. Similarly, when they are involved in a traffic accident, they assume it is the driver of the other car that caused the accident. However, the truth is otherwise. Each disease-producing agent, such as a microbe or bacteria, or anything that causes harm to man, are, in actuality, creatures created by God as a cause. None of them are "haphazard" causes; they all act under the control of God. Man is vulnerable to microbes because God wills it so. If a man becomes seriously ill due to a virus, it happens because this is within the knowledge of God. If a car hits a person, leaving him disabled, this is also an event that has come into being by God's Will. No matter how one strives to avoid them, he can never alter the course of these happenings; not even a single one of them. He cannot remove a single moment from his destiny, because, fate is created as a whole. For a person who submits himself to the All-Mighty God, and who trusts in His infinite wisdom and mercy, an accident, disease or another adversity, is a temporary trial that leads to ultimate bliss.
It is the good moral qualities that a person adheres to in such circumstances that is important. Diseases and accidents are the incidents in the face of which believers have the opportunity to show forth their patience and good morals, and through which they can draw nearer to God. In the Qur'an, God discusses diseases while relating the importance of patience through such times:
... Those with true righteousness are those who believe in God 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 travellers and beggars and to set slaves free, and who attend to their prayers and give alms; those who honour their contracts when they make them, and are steadfast in poverty and illness and in battle. Those are the people who are true believers. Those are the people who go in fear of God. (Surat al-Baqara: 177)
As we said earlier, the fact that in this verse diseases are also counted among adversities is due some consideration. A person confronted with a physical dilemma must keep in mind that it is a trial for him, and that it is only God Who brings about diseases and their cures. This is the reasoning necessary for maintaining a proper moral attitude. A person benefits from thinking about the good and divine purpose in the disease he suffers, or an accident he might be involved in, even though he may not be able to grasp them immediately. It may be that he must go through a temporary difficulty, but that, in the hereafter, as a servant who has wholeheartedly submitted himself to his Lord, he will be rewarded with infinite bliss.
We all need to keep in mind, however, that it is essential to recognize this fact deep in our hearts and to maintain high morals immediately after being confronted with a similar incident. For this end, we need to know that all diseases are created for a purpose. If God were to will it, a person would never become sick or feel pain. But, if a person is afflicted with such a trial, then he must be aware that it is for a purpose, helping him to grasp the transience of this world and the infinite might of God.
Diseases remind man that he is weak and in need of God
In times of sickness, the body, which had until then been robust, is defeated by viruses and bacteria. As is well known, many diseases cause pain and leave the body weak. In some cases, a person may even feel too weak to get out of bed or engage himself in his everyday tasks. Such a person, because he is unable to combat a virus that is invisible, gains a much better understanding of his weakness and how he is in need of God. Now, in declining health, a person, who otherwise dares to show arrogance towards his Creator, or boasts of his wealth and possessions, becomes conscious of this fact. He can better appreciate the infinite might of God, the Creator of all things.
Diseases make one better understand that health is a blessing and favour of God
Another issue we usually fail to consider through the daily rush of our lives is how great a blessing it is to be healthy. A person who has not been sick for long, and thus, has not suffered any pain, easily adjusts to the situation. Yet, when faced with a sudden onset of sickness, he recognises that health is a favour from God. That is because, being deprived of something or losing it makes one better appreciate its value. As Said Nursi, also known as Bediuzzaman (the Wonder of the Age), puts it: "The people of reality even say that 'Things are known through their opposites.' For example, if there was no darkness, light would not be known and would contain no pleasure. If there was no cold, heat could not be comprehended. If there was no hunger, food would afford no pleasure. If there was no thirst of the stomach, there would be no pleasure in drinking water. If there was no sickness, no pleasure would be had from good health."(The Twenty-Fifth Flash, Seventh Remedy)
A serious disease makes one consider seriously the transience of this world, death and the hereafter
Most people would consider being seized by a fatal disease or the loss of an organ as an adversity. Yet, this may be regarded not as an adversity but as a means for salvation in the hereafter or for turning towards God alone. Because, a person afflicted with a serious disease naturally becomes more alert. His suffering helps him to recognize the lack of attention that disabled his conscience, and urges him to contemplate the reality of the hereafter. Such a person truly grasps the meaninglessness of attachment to this world and the nearness of death. Instead of living his life irresponsibly, the sudden onslaught of disease may make him grasp the importance of earning God's consent and of the life of the hereafter, and thereby attain salvation.
Diseases add to one's prayers and draw him nearer to God
As the symptoms of a disease become more severe, a person begins to think of death, a thought he had until then deliberately avoided. With all his sincerity, he asks God for a recovery. Even a person who has never prayed before may suddenly feel the need to implore God once afflicted by an incurable disease. He offers the most sincere prayers to his Lord; this may be a reason to draw him nearer to God. If he does not show ingratitude after his recovery but continues to pray sincerely, his disease becomes a good and the beginning of a life of faith.
God mentions the people who turn to Him in times of such adversity as follows:
When We grant blessing to a man, he turns away and draws aside but when any evil touches him, he is full of endless prayers! (Surah Fussilat: 51)
When harm touches man, he calls on Us, lying on his side or sitting down or standing up. Then when We remove the harm from him he carries on as if he had never called on Us when the harm first touched him. In that way We make what they have done appear good to the profligate. (Surah Yunus: 12)
When harm touches people they call on their Lord, turning in repentence to Him. But then, when He gives them a taste of mercy from Him, a group of them immediately associate others with their Lord. (Surat ar-Rum: 33)
As the foregoing verses suggest, man must not only pray at times of difficulty; a person must also take refuge in God after he has been relieved. It may then be that that very disease or trial allows the person to acknowledge his weakness before God and repent, and thereby, lead to life-time submission in God.
In return for the patience shown in disease, Godmay reward the sufferer with an eternal life in paradise
As we said earlier, another purpose of suffering from a disease is testing the patience and trust of a person in God. When afflicted by a disease, Muslims are clearly distinguished from the people of ignorance with the patience and trust they put in God and their loyalty to Him. That is because, aware that the proper outlook they uphold during difficult times is deserving of God's consent, it is the great rewards of the hereafter they hope to earn. A person who failed to submit himself to God prior to his disease may acquire these noble qualities during the course of his suffering, and may attain the infinite blessings of the life of paradise in return of the temporary troubles in this world.
The Prophet Ibrahim's sincere prayer when faced with illness is a good example for all believers:
And when I am ill, it is He who heals me. He who will cause my death, then give me life. (Surat ash-Shu'ara': 80-81)
The attitude and superior morality assumed by the Prophet Ayyub (as) is another good example for believers. As the Qur'an informs us, Ayyub (as) suffered from a serious illness; but his disease enhanced his loyalty and trust in God, a trait that made him one of the prophets praised in the Qur'an.
From the Qur'an, we also know that, in addition to the disease he suffered, Ayyub (as) was also exposed to the wicked afflictions of Satan. Thinking to seize on this moment of weakness, Satan tried to deter him from putting his trust in God. Because in such times it is difficult for a sick person to focus his attention, he may become vulnerable to the temptations of Satan; but, being a prophet wholeheartedly devoted to God, Ayyub (as) escaped Satan's trap. He prayed sincerely to God, asked help from Him. In the Qur'an, the exemplary prayer of Ayyub (as) is quoted as follows:
And Ayyub when he called out to his Lord, "Great harm has afflicted me and You are the Most Merciful of the merciful,' We responded to him and removed from him the harm which was afflicting him... (Surat l-Anbiya': 83-84)
In response to his sincere prayer, God said the following to the Prophet Ayyub: Remember Our slave Ayyub when he called on his Lord: "Satan has afflicted me with exhaustion and suffering." [So he was told], "Stamp your foot! Here is a cool bath and water to drink." We gave him back his family and the same again with them as a mercy from Us and a reminder for people of intellect. "Take a bundle of rushes in your hand and strike with that but do not break your oath." We found him steadfast. What an excellent slave! He truly turned to his Lord. (Surah Sad: 41-44)
The Prophet Ayyub truly received the rewards of the trust he put in God, his devoutness to Him and his superior qualities. He also became a good example for all Muslims to follow.
The Mistakes of Believers Also Turn out in Their Favour
One of the matters the people of societies founded on ignorance most dread is making a mistake. When a person makes a mistake he is usually humiliated and becomes an object of mockery. Or, a mistake may cause him to miss certain opportunities he may deem important.
From the point of the Qur'an, however, such situations must be regarded totally otherwise. A believer does not base his judgments about people on the mistakes they make; aware of the fact that human beings are fallible, he rather feels compassion and mercy for them.
When a believer himself makes a mistake, he thinks conscientiously about it and examines his faults; his fear of God and conscience alert him immediately. He strives to correct his mistakes. He prays to God, the Merciful, and asks for repentance.
In fact, the regret a believer feels after making a mistake, only turns out to be a good for him in the end. That is because his is not the type of a self-pitying regret felt by unbelievers but a resolution not to repeat the same mistake again. The submission evinced by a believer, his trust in God, and acting with the consciousness that all events are part of his destiny, are all important factors for the thought of the believer. They draw him nearer to his Lord.
"Every Self Will Taste Death..."
According to the ignorant, the worst thing that can happen to a person is death. That which is most feared among them is nearing death or losing a loved one. Even the mere mention of death is a topic to be avoided. Although an ignorant person may recognize the good in certain occurrences, for him, death can never be a good thing.
The outlook of disbelieving societies on death is consistently the same; they are never able to look at it differently. Death is complete annihilation, while the hereafter is a matter of mere speculation.
For people far from the truth of the religion, the life of this world is the only life. With death, this single chance is expired. This being the case, they grieve over the loss of a loved-one. Still worse, a sudden death of a loved-one at an early age is cause for the ignorant to become angered at God and fate.
However, these people forget some important facts: First of all, no one on earth comes into existence of his own will. Everyone's life belongs to God; everyone is born at a time predetermined by God and according to His Will. This being the case, God, to whom belongs everything in the heavens, earth and all between them, can take back the soul of whom He wills, at any time He wills. No one can put off his appointed time. This is stated in the Qur'an as follows:
No self can die except with God's permission, at a predetermined time. If anyone desires the reward of this world, We will give him some of it. If anyone desires the reward of the hereafter, We will give him some of it. We will recompense the thankful. (Surah Al 'Imran: 145)
No matter what measures one adopts or how secure the place he may choose, he cannot avoid death. As stated in one of the sayings of the Prophet (saas), "When God decrees that a person is to die in a certain land, He creates a need for him to go there." (Tirmidhi) A person may depart this world at any time. Similarly, no matter how one strives not to lose a loved-one-even if he puts all the resources available on earth to the purpose-he cannot prevent death. That man may face death wherever he may be is related in the following verse as follows:
Wherever you are, death will catch up with you, even if you are in impregnable fortresses. (Surat an-Nisa': 78)
Therefore, the solution is not to try and avoiding from death, but in being prepared for the life of the Hereafter.
Death Is A Beginning, Not An End
People of poor faith, or those having no faith at all in the Hereafter, have a distorted perception of death and the life that comes after it. That is why, as we said earlier, they consider death a calamity rather than as a blessing. They believe that when they lose someone to death they lose them for ever; therefore, according to them, in the ground he is reduced to nothingness.
The fact is, however, that death is not eternal extinguishment; on the contrary, it is a transition to the life of the hereafter, our resting place. It is a moment we are all drawing near to, to the day we will have to give account of all that we engaged in the life of this world, that is, the Day of Judgment. Every human being, without exception, will meet the moment of death and pass to his eternal resting place. This may happen at an early age as well as later in life. Ultimately then, everyone will one day depart from this world; every day brings that predetermined date nearer. As such, to strive to escape death, or avoiding the very thought of it, or considering it as a calamity, is completely irrational.
Some among those who have faith in the truth of the hereafter, on the other hand, still find it entirely acceptable to grieve over someone's death. But God is the All-Just. That person who dies will give an account of his deeds in this world and, based on His judgment, be rewarded or punished. For this reason, for everyone who has faith in God and the existence of the hereafter, and thus lived a life devoted to his Lord, death is a gate through which to pass to blissful eternity. But, from the point of view of the ignorant, who deny the hereafter and disregard the Day of Judgment, death is a gate to eternal torment. For this reason, to them, it is difficult to regard death as a good. For Muslims, however, it is the beginning of total salvation.
The believer's reaction to the death of another believer differs clearly from that of the type of morality or attitude of the ignorant. Because, death, perceived to be the worst thing that could happen to anyone, is, in truth, a good for believers. The attitude of the believers' towards death is clearly described in the following verse:
If you are killed in the Way of God or if you die, forgiveness and mercy from God are better than anything you can acquire. (Surah Al 'Imran: 157)
As it is with their lives, the death of the believers also brings good. In the sight of God, special degrees await those believers who meet death while striving for His cause, for martyrdom is an honour and blessing that greatly increases a believer's reward in the Hereafter. The death of a believer, who makes his sole aim to attain the hereafter, and thus lives to earn God's consent, is, thus, a glorious event. Aware of these glad tidings given in the Qur'an, believers never grieve over the death of another believer who loses his life in God's way. On the contrary, seeing the good and blessings of his death, they are joyful. Truly, the greatest reward is in gaining the pleasure of God and His paradise.
A believer who had led a long life spent in the service of God is prized in God's sight. The Prophet Nuh (as), who was granted long life by God, is such an example. Because this noble man struggled every minute of his life to attain the pleasure of God, His mercy and His Paradise, his efforts improved his reward in the Hereafter.
On the contrary, there is a delusion here into which disbelieving societies tend to fall; they consider a long life a gift. The verse below exposes this falsehood:
Those who disbelieve should not imagine that the extra time We grant to them is good for them. We only allow them more time so they will increase in evildoing. They will have a humiliating punishment. (Surah Al 'Imran: 178)
Those who belong to the societies of the ignorant, who make the pursuit of the temporary pleasures of this world the sole pursuit of their lives, consider a long life as further opportunity to enjoy these worldly goods. Thus, these, who forget God and the Day of Judgement, fail to grasp the value of the time they recklessly waste. However, as mentioned in the verse above, this time granted to them, in actuality, works against them.
A person who contemplates these issues may attain a deeper understanding of how we are to determine what is "good" and what is "bad", according to the statement of God that "it may be that one hates something when it is good for him and it may be that one loves something when it is bad for him."