In Surah Al-Anbiyaa, Allah says:
Translation: Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned. (Surah Al-Anbiya, verse 35)
In this verse, Allah uses the word “nablukum” (نبلوكم). This is a present-tense (mudaari’) form of the word “balaa.” From the grammar itself, scholars note, this means that Allah says that he will test you again and again and again, continuously.
Not only that, Allah also mentions good (khayr) and evil (sharr) are both tests. It won’t be always bad things in sequence like illness, loss of job, etc. but it will also be a test with goodness to see if we are thankful.
Who does Allah test the most? Rasulullah says:
قَالَ قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَىُّ النَّاسِ أَشَدُّ بَلاَءً قَالَ “ الأَنْبِيَاءُ ثُمَّ الأَمْثَلُ فَالأَمْثَلُ يُبْتَلَى الْعَبْدُ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ صُلْبًا اشْتَدَّ بَلاَؤُهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي دِينِهِ رِقَّةٌ ابْتُلِيَ عَلَى حَسَبِ دِينِهِ فَمَا يَبْرَحُ الْبَلاَءُ بِالْعَبْدِ حَتَّى يَتْرُكَهُ يَمْشِي عَلَى الأَرْضِ وَمَا عَلَيْهِ مِنْ خَطِيئَةٍ.”
Sa`d bin Abu Waqqas, said: “I said: “O Messenger of Allah, which people are most severely tested?” He said: “The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A person is tested according to his religious commitment.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Later in Surah Baqarah, Allah mentions about Prophet Ibrahim (alayhi salaam):
Translation: And [mention, O Muhammad], when Abraham was tried by his Lord with commands and he fulfilled them. (Surah Baqarah, verse 124)
In this ayah, Allah mentions that he ibtilaa Ibrahim (alayhi salaam). Ibtilaa is an even more difficult, intense form of balaa. Allah also says, “fa atamma hunn.” This means that Ibrahim (alayhi salaam) aced all his tests and scored 100%. He showed the perfect responses and did exactly what he needed to do. This makes him an ideal model to learn from and emulate.
As many parents can testify, among the most difficult test to bear is the loss of a child. Not only did Prophet Ibrahim (alayhi salaam) receive a child late in his life when he reached a very old age, but Allah asked him to leave his wife and child alone, in the middle of a barren desert, without a word to them. No food, no water, no lodging, no supplies, nothing. This appeared outwardly as certain death for the two of them.
What did he say as he walked away from them?
Translation: Alhamdulillah (Praise to Allah), who has granted to me in old age Ishmael and Isaac. Indeed, my Lord is the Hearer of supplication. (Surah Ibrahim, verse 39)
In this du’a, we find the key which allowed Ibrahim (alayhi salaam) to succeed in his tests: shukr (thankfulness). Despite this trial, he said “alhamdulillah” and he praised Allah, and thanked him for the blessings he gave.
We can extract and apply this lesson to our own lives: when Allah tests us with hardship, whatever difficulty we experience, we should always be thankful and focus on the good of what Allah gave us. Like Prophet Ibrahim (alayhi salaam), this enables us to pass difficult tests much more easily.
And finally, the best part of all this: don’t forget that Allah says that whoever thanks him, gets more:
Translation: And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” (Surat Ibrahim, verse 7)
May Allah give us the tawfique to learn real life lessons from these stories and implement them in our lives, ameen ya rabb!
Source: Khutbah delivered by shaykh Aarij Anwer at Al-Huda Institute Canada on August 30th, 2013