The Traits of Trials

Difficulties and hardships are an integral part of our lives. We are constantly reminded by God the Most Gracious, Most Merciful how we must expect trials.

[blockquote] {Do people reckon that they will be left alone just because they say, “We believe,” and they will not be tested?}[/blockquote][blockquote]{Or did you reckon you will enter Heaven having not experienced that which those before you did? Suffering and hardship assailed them and they were shook up until the Messenger and those who believed with him said, “When comes God’s help?” Verily the help of God is near}.[/blockquote]

But just as we need to understand that trials are normal, so it is that we should understand the traits of trials:

[list type=”small-star”]

[li] 1. Trials are always cushioned in ease. In surah al Inshirah we read, {So verily with hardship there is ease, verily with hardship there is ease} and so it has been commented that no difficulty sandwiched between two words of ease can overwhelm. Think about the difficulties you have faced; was there a new closeness to your Lord that you experienced? Was there a friend that stood by you? Were there certain circumstances that made it more bearable? Ease comes in the form of people, instances and feelings that help you handle the difficulty and allow you to be grateful. Umar bin al Khattab used thank Allah thrice for each difficulty he experienced, and he would explain, “Alhamdulilah that it wasn’t worse, Alhamdulilah that I get reward for bearing it and Alhamdulilah that the calamity did not touch my faith.”


[li] 2. Trials bring out your hidden talents and gifts. My grandmother went through the repercussions of World War Two. She learned to make do with little and not to waste when there was plenty. When my mother bought a blue swiss-dot fabric and had a dress made, all that was left of the fabric were scraps. My grandmother made a dress for tall nine-year-old-me of those scraps. Inside out the dress looked like a jigsaw puzzle, but on the outside it was beautiful. So much of what we see as scraps could be patiently turned into something lovely and useful. Hardship pressures you into learning new skills, discovering new talents and trying new ways. Sometimes the only way to discover a certain knack you have for something is when you are under great duress. Sometimes the only way to polish the gem that is you is by allowing it to tumble in the abrasive bed of the rushing stream of trials.


[li]3. Trials are designed to prune and weed out your bad characteristics and what is wrong with you. So much of what is selfish and superficial about your personality is shed during hardship. Sometimes trials are the only cure for arrogance and vanity, sometimes they are medicine that softens cruel eyes and allows harsh hardened hearts to acquire empathy and tenderness. As a painfully shy person I never dreamed I would ever voluntarily address total strangers much less speak in public, but the hardship of being the only Muslim in many of my university classes and having to listen to fabrications and misunderstandings concerning Islam forced me to overcome this handicap. My neighbor, who was from Spain, had a spic and span house from the earliest hours of the morning. When I commented, she said that she was a lazy person by nature but that living for two years with a mother in law who would come in at 8 am to open up and check her drawers, cured her. Another person I knew was so incredibly organized at home and at work. In class she had the materials she would use stacked in the order she would need them, at home she had her whole week planned out in terms of meals to be cooked and bills to be paid. She actually had note books dating years back with every piece of information having to do with the running of her house from maintenance to receipts to anything bought. When a bewildered me expressed wonder, she flatly explained, “No, you see I am a very forgetful person and if I didn’t organize things just so, there’s no telling what I would leave out.” Beset with such a trial, she compensated by drawing into reserves within her that made her a model, one wished to copy.


[li]4. Trials are often the result of your own sins and misdeeds {Any disaster that happens to you is of what your own hands have earned. And He overlooks a great deal} when they are so, they act as a quick wake up call, a warning and a means to prevent you from going farther in wrong. Train yourself to make connections, to read into the hardships you encounter. Sometimes a close encounter with death can help you reevaluate your life and change your goals. Sometimes a grave illness of a loved one can help you realize the importance of spending time with family and relatives. And yet there are times when what happens is so serious and overwhelming that they you cannot but accept it as qadar. It is beyond connecting it to any action or misdeed. Yet, ironically it is this type of calamity that always comes with a built in mechanism which triggers patience and forbearance and even peace, eventually in you.


[li]5. Trials are messages from Allah. They prod you, warn you, fix you, purify you and develop you. They force you to question your stand, to examine yourself to reevaluate your priorities in life, but as they do all that was mentioned, they turn you toward your Lord with greater intensity. And that perhaps is the very best outcome of any hardship. The memory of such closeness and sincere focus will tantalize you for life and become the goal toward which you strive.


[li]6. Trials intensify your appreciation for the blessings you may have taken for granted. Prophet Muhammad SAW says, “Two blessings many people are cheated of appreciating are health and free time.” May we realize Allah’s gifts through their constancy not through their departure.


Finally, in order to safely course through adversity, one must practice the following:

[dropcap style=”4″]1[/dropcap]

Reflection: look at your life, study your intentions and behavior, seek the message and find the ease.

[dropcap style=”4″]2[/dropcap]

Connection: continuously speak to your Lord and entreat His help. Speak little or not at all of your trial to others.

[dropcap style=”4″]3[/dropcap]

Action: put forth great effort in dua, sadaqa, istighfar and good deeds…


In the next installment, we’ll go back to how to see blessings.  And so, this post on trials will fall between the two on blessings…and such is always the case for trials, sandwiched between blessings and ease…

Blessings 1:  The Characteristics of Blessings

Blessings 2:  Becoming More Aware of Our Blessings


One response to “The Traits of Trials”

  1. qurat

    “In the next installment, we’ll go back to how to see blessings. And so, this post on trials will fall between the two on blessings…and such is always the case for trials, sandwiched between blessings and ease… ”

    These words at the end, and their perfect integration into the message of mercy, are so poetic and perfect. These words are a blessing, they bring forth ease, and we look ahead with eager eyes to the next installment.

    May Allah grant us the ability to seek meaning, find the message, gain the wisdom, and recognize the ease, ameen.

Leave a Reply