The murder of a family member causes great unrest in one’s heart. And indeed the death of a small animal is sufficient for an individual to remember the return to their Lord. Upon the idea of the creation of mankind, the Angels were disturbed because of the potential level of injustice and the spilling of blood that we would cause. Yet Allah, with His infinite wisdom created mankind, and informed them of their role as custodians of truth and justice in this world. With this in mind, we reflect on the current situation of the world, and the escalating legitimised removal of wealth, freedom and life.
The greatest crimes on a global scale are arguably those committed against Muslims and many find entertaining the regular action-packed news of the ‘progress’ being made to maintain safety and security. But the same ‘progress’ is at the expense of the freedom and lives of many Muslims who are often unable to fulfill their basic human necessities. Chilling is the image of another Muslim being killed and even more so, the mass murder that we witness regularly. Allah informs us that “the believers are nothing else than brothers,”and His Messenger (peace be upon him) said that “the Muslim nation is like one body…if a single part hurts then the rest feels the suffering with fever, and cannot sleep.”3]
Throughout history trials and tribulations have faced those nations that affirmed the truth of Allah’s sovereignty and unity of worship. However, this nation, as in those who follow Muhammad (peace be upon him), has been given a special status coupled with a complete and comprehensive source of guidance to last till the Day of Resurrection.
“Thus We have made you the best nation, so that you be witnesses over mankind, and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you.”
The Muslims must therefore appreciate and understand the position that they hold and turn to the guidance that they have been bestowed with.
Some individuals feel secure from such trials, and find themselves busy in their own affairs. Yet Allah warns us,
“Do people think they will be left alone because they say we believe, and will not be tested. And indeed We tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make known (the falsehood of) those who are liars.”
All of mankind will therefore be tested and in addition, the same tests will affect both the sinners and pious among mankind due to their vastness. In another verse we are warned,
“And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial, etc.) which does not affect only those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people), and know that Allah is Severe in punishment.”6]
Also, the Messenger (peace be upon him) advised his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) and the believers to seek refuge from the evil, bad affects and misguidance in all kinds of tribulations.
Usamah ibn Zayd reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said “Do you see what I can see? I see the places of tribulation amidst your homes just like the positions of raindrops as they fall (on the earth)”. Imam An-Nawawi said that the analogy of raindrops is due to the tribulations being in large amounts and widespread. This is an indication of long-standing wars such as the incident of the Camel, Siffin, and al-Harrah, the killing of ‘Uthman and the killing of Al-Husayn (may Allah be pleased with them both), as well as other incidents.
Tribulations and whatever else the Prophet (peace be upon him) informed us must surely take place. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Muslims to observe patience, prepare, and be cautious of them. In fact, we must take extra caution in our current times because we have drawn closer to the final hour. The nature of tribulations is that they spiral out of control and often confuse people so that one would assume something prohibited to be permissible or vice versa.The 9/11 and 7/7 events are pertinent examples and the perpetrators are unable to control the plethora of consequences that result.
Due to the complexity of tribulations and their potential implications, many respond incorrectly and often go to extremes, despite knowing the Qur’an has been revealed to guide us in all of our affairs. If a Muslim responds to a situation in accordance with the Qur’an then they will be elevated in status and rewarded, while if they do otherwise they will be lowered and face the consequences. Thus, we find guidance through correctly contemplating the verses and in particular stories of the Qur’an, and contrasting them with our own situations. Allah says,
“(This is) a Book which We have sent down to you full of blessings, so that they may ponder over its verses, and so that men of understanding may remember.”
Many of the stories in the Qur’an provide exemplary responses which can be correlated to situations that we witness today. Stories of true leaders, who acquired great strength in their belief, were steadfast upon the truth, and endured physical, mental and emotional tests. Every Muslim who is granted wisdom must contemplate over the path that Allah chose for the best of the believers.
The great grandson of Ibrahim, Yusuf (may peace be upon them both) was thrown into a well by his own brothers due to their envy for him. He was purchased as a slave for a small price. He was enticed to fornicate by his master’s wife, thrown in prison for refusing, where he remained without trial. Yet he had hope in Allah and was patient through these trials until he was saved by Allah after which he supplicated,
“My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me sovereignty, and taught me the interpretation of dreams; (You are) The Creator of the heavens and the earth! You are my Protector and Helper in this world and the Hereafter, cause me to die as a Muslim, and join me with the righteous.”
Allah favoured us with a full chapter of the Qur’an to take lessons from this story.
The people of Musa (may peace be upon him) were subjugated, violated and enslaved. The tyrannical ruler at the time had their sons killed and left their daughters to live. A distraught mother threw her son into the river Nile so not to witness his cruel murder. Yet, by the mercy of Allah, he grew up in the fortress of the same oppressing ruler until he was exiled, with no food, shelter or any companion. After years had passed, he returned to Egypt, and was commanded by Allah to be a guide for mankind. He was rejected by people even after they witnessed so many miracles. He then rescued his people, even though they were unwilling, and was chased by an army until they reached the edge of the sea. His people blamed him and despaired that they would be overtaken, yet with firm conviction in his Lord, his faith did not waver. He said “No way! With me is my Lord, and He will surely guide me.”
Allah divided the sea to let Musa (peace be upon him) and his people pass through safely, and drowned his pursuers in utter humiliation. This story is described in over twenty chapters of the Qur’an.
Before the birth of Muhammad (peace be upon him) there lived another oppressing ruler who used magic to overpower his people. He had a young intelligent boy trained as a skilled magician to replace his ageing counterpart. The boy met a monk who taught him about Allah, and soon the boy’s belief was exposed to his people. He witnessed men sawed into two for refusing to renounce their faith, and arrangements were made for his own murder, but he supplicated to Allah and the plots were foiled. The king was unable to kill the boy until he fired an arrow taking the name of Allah. As the people watched the young martyr fall, their belief was established and could never be shaken. A ditch was dug and a fuelled fire was set ablaze into which the believers were thrown along with their children for refusing to renounce their faith.Allah informs us,
“They had nothing against them, except that they believed in Allah, the All-Mighty, Worthy of all Praise, and to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth! And Allah is Witness over everything. Verily, those who torture the believing men and believing women, and then do not turn in repentance, will have the torment of Hell, and punishment of the burning Fire. Verily, those who believe and do righteous good deeds, for them will be gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise). That is the great success.”
Thus Muslims will always be tortured and killed for the fact that they believe. If they remain firm in their faith and deeds, they will soon be rewarded, while the perpetrators will receive their punishment, and this is how people are divided.
Allah says regarding the believers who persevered their tribulations,
“Indeed in their stories there is a lesson for men of understanding. It (the Qur’an) is not a forged statement but a confirmation of the Allah’s existing Books and a detailed explanation of everything, and a guide and a Mercy for the people who believe.”
Patience and firmness upon the religion of Allah, while seeking the reward in the next life, is perhaps the most common lesson that can be taken from the stories in the Qur’an. The knowledge and wisdom in these stories is abundant and a fundamental source of insight into these stories is authentic exegesis. The Qur’an is the source of guidance, honour, and strength for the Muslims. We must all build a relationship with the Qur’an, study its meaning and understanding, contemplate its verses, and remember Allah through them. Allah says,
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”