Dealing with Tribulations
Among the most beautiful and soothing ayaat of the Qur’an for many of us are the ones in Surah Ash-Sharh:
For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. [Qur’an: Chapter 94, Verses 5–6]
Many people love to recite those verses, but few capture the wisdom in them.
Allah tells us in Surah Fussilat:
We will show them Our signs in the horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. [Qur’an: Chapter 41, Verse 53]
What we need to realize is that Allah will in fact show us His signs in the universe and within ourselves. This is part of our life experience that helps us grow and develop as human beings. He will have us live and experience the notion that with hardship, there will be ease, In sha Allah.
If you think about it, many of us are going through some sort of hardship or another. It could be a manifested struggle or a hidden one. It could be an abusive parent or spouse who does not allow you to practice your faith, it could be an illness, a financial hardship, or even an emotional burden.
Some people react to hardships destructively, but others really explore the beauty and mercy that arise from those experiences.
I remember reading a book in which a wise man says: “Never give up hope when you face a difficulty because it might in fact be your road to Allah and your window to His Mercy.”
In this article, In sha Allah, we will reflect on a few healthy ways to perceive and deal with tribulations productively.
Blessings And Tribulations Are Both Tests
When facing hardships, we need to realise that all human beings will be tested. Our faith or iman will be tested. Our sincerity will be tested. Each of us will get our share of tests according to our capacities.
On this note, I want to reflect specifically on the beautiful and powerful verses in Surah Al-Fajr:
And as for man, when his Lord tries him and [thus] is generous to him and favours him, he says, “My Lord has honoured me.” But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says, “My Lord has humiliated me” [Qur’an: Chapter 89, Verses 15–16]
Subhan Allah, those verses could not have been truer.
Think about it. When Allah blesses us with His favours, we might get deluded and think we are so good or that we deserve all the blessings. But when Allah puts us in a difficulty, we rush to think that Allah is punishing us or that He is humiliating us.
What those verses are teaching us, however, is that both blessings and tribulations are tests from Allah . He says in Surah Al-Mulk:
[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed — and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving – [Qur’an: Chapter 67, Verse 2].
The difficulty you are going through, in and of itself, is not the problem. The problem is how you deal with it.
I remember a friend of mine who once received a great favour from Allah. It was also something that I myself wanted. I recall back then thinking: “Allah has blessed her so much. I wish I had received what she received.” Later, my friend was faced with a major calamity, one that I could never have borne. I realized then that Allah is indeed The Just. He bestows blessings and charges people with tribulations according to their individual capacities.
We should never think because of some outward blessing that Allah is favouring someone, or because of some outward hardship that He is punishing someone.
We are all being tested; we are all being taught our individual lessons.
Allah said in a Hadith Qudsi, “I am as My servant thinks of me.”
On the authority of Abu Harayrah , who said that the Prophet said: Allah the Almighty said: I am as My servant thinks I am. I am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of him in an assemble better than it. And if he draws near to Me an arm’s length, I draw near to him a fathom’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed. Another possible rendering of the Arabic is: “I am as My servant expects Me to be“. [Related by al-Buhkari]
So think well of Allah . Know that He puts you in this situation to bring you closer to Him.
When life gets tough or when those who are close to you are not kind enough, perhaps they lead you to seek and rely evermore on Allah alone, to trust Him and strengthen your faith in Him, In sha Allah.
I will never forget the first time that Allah opened my heart to Him, His Book and His Messenger after going through a set of hardships. They led me to a search… and I found Him. There is a wise saying: “If you found Allah, what have you lost? But if you lose Allah, what have you gained?”
The point here is not to panic and grieve excessively.
Let your heart rest and know that the tribulation could be a means to teach you, reconnect you with Allah and develop the way you perceive and handle life.
Power of Patience And Prayer
So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me. O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient. [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verses 152-153]
How beautiful and hopeful those verses are!
Remember Allah will help you. He will take care of you, fix your heart and mend your affairs. As Prophet Muhammad said:
How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him. [Sahih Muslim]
One of the best things to do when you dealing with a hardship is to pray sincerely to Allah . It will be a different kind of prayer. When you say, “It is You we worship and You we ask for help” as in Surah Al-Fatihah, you will really mean those words. You will be able to explore a new feeling and a bond between you and Allah .
All difficulties ultimately end and everything in this life is temporary. But there is nothing as beautiful and everlasting as the bond you form with Allah .
I was once working on a very important research for my university. After finishing nearly three-quarters of the work, one of the sources in the research refused to finish his task. This meant I had to do the work all over to adjust the paper accordingly and the deadline was approaching. I was about to lose the work I had spent months doing, as well as my grade. Subhan Allah, however, because that person’s reaction appeared harsh to me, I remembered Allah .
I spent the whole night thinking about Allah , ar-Rahman ar-Raheem (The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful).
I remembered Allah is more merciful to us than we are to one another. This feeling overwhelmed me and after a while, I felt like this research is not the end of the world. I recalled the verses, “give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verses 155–157]
This made me happy. The thought that we are going back to Allah gave me a sense of relief. I then prayed two raka’ahs and slept well.
When I woke up, I realized the source had responded to my question and his responses were so generous and brilliant that it upgraded the level of my entire research. Subhan Allah. To me, this is a research paper which, after being graded or published, will have been forgotten and relegated to a filing drawer somewhere.
But what I will never forget, is the bond I formed with Allah that night — that was the true blessing of the whole research experience.
So, the point here is to be patient and to sincerely seek help from Allah . In sha Allah, you will overcome your difficulty and quite possibly, receive something even more blessed than you first hoped for or imagined.
If Allah put you through it, then you can definitely handle it. Allah tells us in Surah Al-Baqarah:
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 286]
Know and trust that you can handle it. Put yourself in a reassured state of mind believing that it is Allah , The Most Knowing, who has put you through this. He Knows that you have the ability to get through it for He Knows Best.
So do not give in to the feeling of helplessness or despair. All you need to do is seek Allah’s help, and start taking steps towards solving whatever the problem is, knowing that Allah , Creator of the Heavens and the Earth, will create a way out for you.
Explore the Power Of Dua
With dua, everything becomes easy. When you are sad, tired, confused or overwhelmed, make dua — it is the all-round weapon of the believer.
Prostrate, drop all your burdens and speak to Him. Ask for all that you need, utter whatever is in your chest. He already knows what you conceal or hold hidden. But He wants you to have faith in Him, to ask Him.
Know that your helplessness before Allah and your poverty to Him will be met with His Absolute Richness… Is not Allah Al-Ghany, Al-Moghny (The Rich One, The Enricher)?
So make dua and know that Allah certainly Listens and Responds:
And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me — indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided. [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 186]
Remember: Your Status Is Elevated
Prophet Muhammad said:
Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri and Abu Huraira : The Prophet said: “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Remember that the calamity you are faced with may, in fact, be a means of purification and an elevation of your status with Allah . He is so generous He does not let a tribulation befall a person except that he or she gets a reward out of it.
Now it is your time to have faith, take a deep breath and trust that Allah can change our conditions to the better. That was for those of us who are currently experiencing a tribulation.
For the rest, the advice is to be sensitive and smart enough to notice when someone in your circle is going through a hardship. Give them the necessary support. Be merciful to them, console them and be there for them.
The Prophet said:
The example of the believers in their affection, mercy and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever. [Sahih Muslim]
So recognise the hardship of your brothers and sisters and seek out all the means to help them in their time of difficulty.
It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: The Prophet said: Whoever relieves a Muslim of some worldly distress, Allah will relieve him of some of the distress of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever conceals (the faults of) a Muslim, Allah will conceal him (his faults) in this world and the Day of Resurrection. And whoever relieves the burden from a destitute person, Allah will relieve him in this world and the next. Allah will help His slave so long as His slave helps his brother. [Ibn Majah]
We should be able to embrace one another. In hardships, sickness and tribulations, our hearts soften. We become more humble and can experience and relate to the pain of others.
Those moments of difficulty are in fact a blessing from Allah . It is in those moments that people can truly feel the need for one another and the need for compassion, unity and all the beautiful traits of humanity.
Those are the moments of remembrance and reflection upon life. So, be not sad and do not grieve.
Allah is with you, He sees you, hears you and He will mend your affairs. I know that some things are easier said than done. But I also know that with the help of Allah , there is nothing that is impossible.
“Our Lord, pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims [in submission to You].” [Qur’an: Chapter 7, Verse 126]
May Allah give us the power to perceive and deal with tribulations productively. May Allah make those experiences a means to bring us closer to Him and elevate our status with Him in this life and the next. Ameen.
And always remember, my brothers and sisters that “… indeed with hardship there will be ease; indeed with hardship there will be ease.”
I hope you find solace in these divinely effective ways when dealing with the inevitable trying moments that life throws at us. We would love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, experiences and views in the comments section below.
About the Author:
Dina Mohamed Basiony is a writer based in Egypt. She has an MA in Journalism and Mass Communication from the American University in Cairo.