الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد
Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said regarding the saying of Allaah, The Most High:
وَجَعَلْنَا بَعْضَكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ فِتْنَةً أَتَصْبِرُونَ
((And We have made some of you as a trial for others; will you have patience?)) (Al-Furqaan: 20)
This is universal in regard to all of the creation; some of them are put to trial by others.
So the Messengers are put to trial by way of those they are sent to and of their call to the truth and exercising patience over their harms, as well as bearing the hardships in propagating to them the messages of their Lord.
Likewise those they are sent to are put to trial by way of the Messengers, as to whether they obey them and aid them and attest to their truthfulness or whether they will disbelieve in them and oppose them and fight against them.
Likewise the scholars are put to trial by way of the ignorant folk, as to whether they will teach them and advise them and be patient upon teaching and advising them and of guiding them aright – as well as the prerequisites of that.
Likewise the ignorant folk are put to trial by way of the scholars, as to whether they will obey them and be directed to the right way by way of them.
Likewise the kings are put to trial by way of their subjects; and the subjects by way of the kings.
Likewise the rich are put to trial by way of the poor; and the poor by way of the rich.
Likewise the weak are put to trial by way of the strong ones; and the strong ones by way of the weak.
Likewise the chieftains by way of the followers, and the followers by way of the chieftains.
Likewise the slave-master is put to trial by way of his slave; and his slave by way of him.
Likewise a man is put to trial by way of his wife; and his wife by way of him.
Likewise men are put to trial by way of the women; and the women by way of the men.
Likewise the believers by way of the disbelievers; and the disbelievers by way of the believers.
Likewise those that enjoin the good are put to trial by way of those they enjoin upon; and those who are enjoined upon by way of them.
Likewise due to that; the poor from amongst the believers and their weak folk from the followers of the Messengers are a trial for their affluent ones as well as for their prominent heads. They declined having eemaan (belief) after their having understood the truthfulness of the Messengers, and they said:
لَوْ كَانَ خَيْرًا مَّا سَبَقُونَا إِلَيْهِ
((If it had been good, they [such men] would not have preceded us to it.)) (Al-Ahqaaf: 11)
– These (poor) ones.
They said likewise to Nooh (‘alaihis salaam):
أَنُؤْمِنُ لَكَ وَاتَّبَعَكَ الْأَرْذَلُونَ
((Shall we believe in you, while you are followed by the lowest [of the people].)) (Ash-Shu’araa: 111)
He, The Most High, said:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ فَتَنَّا بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لِّيَقُولُوا أَهَٰؤُلَاءِ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِم مِّن بَيْنِنَا
((And thus, We have tried some of them with others, that they may say: “Is it these whom Allaah has favoured among us?”)) (Al-An’aam: 53)
So if the prominent leader saw that the lowly pauper had preceded him in having eemaan (belief) and to following the Messenger; he would keep away and haughtily abstain from submitting (to the religion) and as such – be like him, and would say: “Shall I submit (to the religion) and as such; me and this lowly one should be equal?”
Az-Zujaaj said: “perhaps a notable man desired Islaam, yet declined from it so that it should not be said: ‘there was one who was of lesser status than him who embraced.’ Thus he persists upon his disbelief – so that the Muslim should not have any precedence over him in virtue.”
From the accounts that some of the people are a trial for others; is that the pauper will say: “Why am I not like the affluent?”
Whilst the weak one will say: “Why am I not like the strong one?”
Whilst the afflicted one will say: “Why am I not like the healthy one?”
I say: Allaah, The Glorified, has connected trial with patience – here (in this aayah) – as well as in His saying:
ثُمَّ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لِلَّذِينَ هَاجَرُوا مِن بَعْدِ مَا فُتِنُوا ثُمَّ جَاهَدُوا وَصَبَرُوا
((Then indeed; your Lord – to those who had emigrated after they had been put to trials, thereafter fought and were patient…)) (An-Nahl: 110)
So for the one who is tested with a trial; there is no remedy the like of patience, for indeed; if he is patient, then the trial is a means of purification for him as well as a refinement from sins, just as the bellows refine gold and silver from impurities. So trials are the bellows of the hearts, and a test of eemaan, and by way of them the truthful one becomes manifest from the liar. He, The Most High, said:
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ
((And We indeed tried those who were before them, and Allaah will certainly make known those who are truthful, and He will certainly make known the liars.)) (Al-‘Ankaboot: 3)
So trials classify the people; into the truthful one and the liar, and the believer and the hypocrite, and the good and the vile, so whoever exercises patience upon it; then it becomes a mercy in his right, and is saved – due to his patience from a trial much greater than it. Yet whosoever does not exercise patience upon it; then he falls into a trial severer than it.
(Taken from: Badaa’i at-Tafseer vol 2 p.256-258, see also: Ighaathatul Lahfaan vol 2 p.160-162)
 The aayah in full: ((Then indeed; your Lord – to those who had emigrated after they had been put to trials, thereafter fought and were patient, indeed your Lord after that, is Oft-Forgiving, Bestower of Mercy.))