Times of Trial and Tribulation – How the Believer is to Encounter Them and Conduct Himself Toward Them

الحمد لله رب العالمين، والصلاة والسلام على أشرف الأنبياء والمرسلين، نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين أما بعد


As is known; the tests in the life of this world which Allaah, The Most High, tries His servants with can be in the form of evil and calamities and tribulations on occasions, and in the form of good and favours and blessings on other occasions. He, The Most High, said:

وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ

((And We test you with evil and with good as a trial; and to Us you will be returned)) (Al-Anbiyaa: 35)


Al-Haafidh Ibn Katheer (rahimahullaah) said: “Meaning: We shall test them with calamities on occasions and with favours on other occasions, so that We may see who is grateful and who is ungrateful, and who is patient and who despairs. As ‘Ali bin Abee Talhah said from Ibn ‘Abbaas:

بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً

((with evil and with good as a trial))


Meaning with hardship and ease, and sound health and sickness, and affluence and poverty, and the halal (permissible) and haraam (forbidden), and obedience and sin, and guidance and misguidance.”[1]

That which the world is witnessing in this time from widespread pandemic and its effects upon nations and societies and the profound changes in day to day routines and lifestyles which most of mankind have been made to adapt to is a great lesson and a reason to reflect upon that which is taking place. Therefore one is to recognize that this is something that warrants turning to Allaah, The Most High, The Creator and Sustainer of the heavens and earth, The One True Lord Who alone has the Power to eradicate and remove it, and so the believer is to implore his Lord and ask for His Favour and Mercy, and carry out acts of obedience and avoid all that is forbidden and displeasing to His Lord. Whilst remaining patient and steadfast and hoping in the reward.

Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) stated: “Indeed Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic, by way of His profound wisdom and His definitive proof and His Knowledge that encompasses all things, tests His servants with prosperities and adversities and hardship and ease and with favours and punishments, in order to examine  their patience and their gratitude. So whoever is patient at times of tribulation and is grateful at times of ease and implores Allaah, The Glorified, in humbleness at the time of the occurrence of calamities, and expresses discontent to Him of his sins and his shortcomings and asks Him for His Mercy and Pardon, then he succeeds with every success and is triumphant with a commendable outcome.”[2]


The Tests and Trials that Occur in Life


Allaah, The Most High, informs us of the fact that He will test His servants with hardships and tribulations, to manifest their patience and expectation of reward, and to test their acceptance of that which He decreed for them. He, The Glorified and Most High, said:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ 

((And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, and give glad tidings to the patient ones.)) (Al-Baqarah: 155)


He, The Most High, said likewise:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ حَتَّىٰ نَعْلَمَ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ مِنكُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ

((And surely, We will test you until We know those who strive among you and the patient ones.)) (Muhammad: 31)


Therefore tests and trials are a part of life which every believer knows he must encounter, and therefore he accepts them when they descend and engages them in the way in which he has been commanded. Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned: “Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said to me on an occasion: ‘Impediments and trials are like the heat and cold, so if the servant knows that both must necessarily come to be; then he does not become angered at their advent, and he does not become grieved due to that or become saddened.’”[3]

Ibn al-Qayyim explained this in further detail under his discussion of the saying of Allaah, The Most High:

لِّكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَىٰ مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلَا تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ

((In order that you may not be saddened over what passes you by, nor rejoice because of that which has been given to you.)) (Al-Hadeed: 23)


He said: “Since the calamity comprises the loss of someone beloved or fear of their loss or an occurrence of something unpleasant or fear of its occurrence, one has been cautioned with sorrowfulness of the passing due to a departure of someone beloved one after its occurrence as well as upon its loss where it has not yet occurred.  One has likewise been cautioned with not rejoicing with it if it is to be found – upon accustoming the soul on account of its departure – before its occurrence and upon having patience upon its bitterness after having taken place.

These are the types of calamities, therefore if the servant becomes certain that they are written, preordained, and that that which befalls him was not going to pass him by, and that which passed him by was not going to befall him, then it is made easier upon him and its burden is lightened, and so he designates it to the status of heat and cold.”[4]

Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said: “The calamities that afflict the servants; they have been commanded with having patience with regard to them, for indeed it is this that benefits them. As for their blame of the one who was a cause in it; then there is no benefit in that for them. Likewise that which has passed them by from the affairs that benefit them, they have been commanded with looking to the pre-decree in that, as for sorrowfulness and sadness, then there is no benefit in it.”[5]


Those that Benefit and Take Heed From the Signs of Their Lord


Allaah, The Most High, said:

وَتَرَكْنَا فِيهَا آيَةً لِّلَّذِينَ يَخَافُونَ الْعَذَابَ الْأَلِيمَ

((And We left therein a sign for those who fear the painful punishment.)) (Ad-Dhaariyaat: 37)


Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said: “In it is a proof of the fact that the signs of Allaah, The Glorified, as well as His wonders which He does in this world and causes their remnants to remain that are indicative of Him and of the truthfulness of His Messengers. The only ones who benefit by them is he who believes in the Hereafter, and fears the punishment of Allaah, The Most High. Just as Allaah, The Most High, said in another place:

إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّمَنْ خَافَ عَذَابَ الْآخِرَةِ ۚ

((Indeed in that is a sure sign for those who fear the punishment of the Hereafter.)) (Hud: 103)”[6]


In his discussion of the benefits of trials and tribulations, Ibn Rajab (rahimahullaah) listed a number of important benefits, he stated:

“From it is: an expiation of wrongdoings on account of them, as well as reward for having patience upon it.

From it is: a reminder to the servant of his sins, perchance he may repent and turn back from them to Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic.

From it is: the cessation of the hardness of the hearts; and the emergence of their tenderness.

From it is: the brokenness of the servant to Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic, and his humble lowliness to Him, and that is more beloved to Allaah than many of the acts of obedience of the obedient ones.

From it is: that it necessitates for the servant to make recourse with his heart to Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic, and of standing at His door and having humility to Him as well as humbleness, and that is from the greatest benefits of tribulation, Allaah has dispraised whoever did not humble himself to Him at the time of calamities. Allaah, The Most High, said:

وَلَقَدْ أَخَذْنَاهُم بِالْعَذَابِ فَمَا اسْتَكَانُوا لِرَبِّهِمْ وَمَا يَتَضَرَّعُونَ

((And indeed We seized them with punishment, but they did not humble themselves to their Lord, nor did they invoke [Allaah] with submission.)) (Al-Mu’minoon: 76)


And He said:

وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمَمٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُم بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ

((Verily, We sent [Messengers] to the nations before you. Then We seized them with poverty and calamities perhaps they might humble themselves.)) (Al-An’aam: 42)


From it is: that the tribulation conveys to his heart the rapture of patience over it and of being pleased with it, and that is a very great station.

From it is: that the tribulation cuts off the heart of the believer from attention to the creation and necessitates for him the advancement to The Creator alone. Allaah has indeed given account concerning the polytheists of the sincerity of their supplication to Him at the times of tribulation; so how then with regard to the believer?!

Therefore the tribulation necessitates for the servant to actualize Tawheed with his heart, and that is the highest of the stations and the most noble of levels.”[7]


Recourse to Allaah and Turning to Him in Supplication – The Characteristic of the Believer When Calamities Befall


Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) said: “The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and other than him from the believers would have recourse to Allaah, The Most High, at times of calamities. A Bedouin came to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) whilst his companions were with him and he had hung his sword up on a tree, so the Bedouin (took it) then unsheathed it and said: ‘who will protect you from me?’ so he said:

اللهُ يَمْنَعُنِي منك

((Allaah will protect me from you))[8]


He did not say: my companions. This is the actualization of Tawheed of Lordship (Ar-Ruboobiyyah), because Allaah – He is The One Who possesses benefit and harm as well as the creation and the regulation and the right of disposal in the dominion, since; there is no partner for Him in that which is exclusive to Him by way of Ar-Ruboobiyyah (The Unity and Uniqueness of Allaah with respect to His Lordship)  and Al-Uloohiyyah (singling Allaah with respect to worship) and  Al-Asmaa wa Sifaat – (the Names and Attributes of Allaah, The Most High, which He has affirmed for Himself; and which were affirmed for Him by His Messenger).”[9]

Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) mentioned: “So from the completion of the favour of Allaah upon His believing servants is that He sends down upon them hardship and adversity and that which causes them to have recourse to His Tawheed. So they call upon Him sincerely in the religion, and they hope in Him – they hope in no one besides Him, and their hearts are attached to Him – not to other than Him. So there transpires for them by way of Tawakkul (reliance) upon Him and turning repentantly to Him as well as the sweetness of Eemaan and a taste of it and being free from shirk – that which is a greater favour upon them than the cessation of the sickness and fear.”[10]

The importance of supplication to Allaah in times of trials and tribulations and its effects has been discussed extensively by the people of knowledge, from them is Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajr (rahimahullaah) who said: “The remedy of the sicknesses in their entirety is indeed through supplication as well as seeking recourse to Allaah, which is more wholesome in effect and more beneficial than remedy through medicaments (drugs), and the effect of that and the body’s being influenced by it is greater than the effect of bodily medications.

However; one can only gain wholesome effect through two affairs: one of them is on the part of the sick person, and it is in having truthful sincerity of intent, and the other is on the part of the health practitioner, and it is the potency of his attention and the strength of his heart by way of Taqwa (piety and dutifulness) and Tawakkul (reliance and trust upon Allaah). And Allaah Knows best.”[11]

Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) explained: “Supplication is a reason that repels tribulation. So if it is stronger than it; then it repels it, yet if the reason for the tribulation is stronger then it does not repel it, however it lessens it and weakens it, and it is due to this that one has been commanded at the times of the eclipse and the (other) signs with: prayer and supplication and seeking forgiveness and giving charity and emancipation (of slaves), and Allaah Knows best.”[12]

Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said: “Supplication is from the most beneficial remedies, and it is the enemy of affliction, it repels it and remedies it and prevents its descent and eliminates it or lightens it if it descends, and it is the weapon of the believer.[13]


Other Deeds and Actions That are to be Undertaken When Calamities Befall


Ibn Hajr (rahimahullaah) said: “From that which befits every individual to undertake is: to restore and so reimburse acts of injustice, and to cease liabilities associated with injurious treatment and to repent from reverting back to anything from sinfulness to Allaah, as well as being regretful over that which has passed from that and the instruction (of that) without there occurring any wrong or injustice in that.

This is a requirement at all times, and yet it is especially emphasized at the prevalence of sicknesses generally – and to whosoever it comes to afflict specifically.”[14]

Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said: “No doubt; these calamities and other than them necessitate upon the servants to make haste in repentance to Allaah, The Glorified, from all that He made forbidden upon them, as well as to make haste in obedience to Him and of judging with His legislation and engaging in mutual co-operation upon righteousness and Taqwa and to enjoin one another with the truth and being patient upon it.

So whenever the servants repent to their Lord and invoke Him with submission and hasten to that which pleases Him and co-operate upon righteousness and Taqwa and enjoin the good and forbid evil; then Allaah will rectify their circumstances and protect them from the evil of their enemies and grant them authority in the land and grant them victory over their enemies and amply bestow upon them His Favours and avert from them His punishments.”[15]


Patience and Awaiting Relief from Difficulties 


Allaah, The Most High, said:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ * الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوا إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُونَ

((And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, and give glad tidings to the patient ones, those who, when they are afflicted with calamity, they say: “Indeed we belong to Allaah, and indeed to Him we shall return.”)) (Al-Baqarah: 155-156)


He, The Mighty and Majestic likewise said:

وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ

((And [those who] are patient in poverty and ailment)) (Al-Baqarah: 177)


Patience upon difficulties and trials is something that those who came before us enjoined on one another, as Allaah, The Most High, informs concerning Luqman, that he said to his son:

يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا أَصَابَكَ

((O my son! Establish the prayer, enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong, and bear with patience what befalls you.)) (Luqman: 17)


Shaikh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan as-Sa’dee said: “And from the benevolence of Allaah towards His servant is: that He tests him with some of the calamities, so He grants him the ability to rise up with the task of exercising patience in them, thus He causes him to attain elevated levels that he would otherwise not have reached with his actions. The tribulation may be intensified upon him with that; as was done with Ayyoob (‘alaihis-salaam), and there is to be found in his heart the sweetness of the essence of hope and expectation of mercy and removal of harm, and so his pain is reduced and his soul is invigorated. Due to this; it is from the benevolence of Allaah towards the believers that he placed in their hearts the anticipation of reward, so that their calamities are lightened, and that which they encounter from hardships is made easier in attainment of His pleasure.”[16]

Ibn Rajab (rahimahullaah) said: “Awaiting relief by way of exercising patience is worship, for indeed the tribulation is not of permanence.”[17]

Shaikh ‘Abdur-Rahmaan as-Sa’dee (rahimahullaah) mentioned in his description of the believer when faced with hardship or ease: “If he is granted prosperity, then he is among the vanguard of the grateful ones, and if there passes him some adversity then he is from the patient ones, he knows that he has no Lord other than Allaah that he should seek and supplicate to, and that he has no deity for him that he has expectation in and hopes in. He has no divergence or abstention from the door of his Patron Lord, likewise there is no inclination for his heart to other than Him and no attachment and no turning away.

Prosperity and favours do not make him proceed to tyranny and an arrogant ingratitude, and he is not impatient when touched with adversity, being displeased with the preordainment and pre-decree, he remains in accordance with the pre-decrees – the pleasant and the sad with calmness and tranquility, and Allaah guides his heart to it, due to his knowledge that it is a decree of The One Who says to something: ‘Be’ and it is. So this servant is granted ability, he has profited by virtue of His Lord and stood with servitude to Him through all the fluctuations, and he attains both prosperities: peace of mind and distinction of state and consequence and has acquired good things.

مَا أَصَابَ مِن مُّصِيبَةٍ إِلَّا بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ ۗ وَمَن يُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ يَهْدِ قَلْبَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

((No calamity befalls except by permission of Allaah, and whoever believes in Allaah, He guides his heart. And Allaah is Knowing of all things.))” (At-Taghaabun: 11)[18]


Sicknesses and Calamities are an Expatiation of One’s Sins


The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said:

مَا مِنْ مُسْلِمٍ يُصِيبُهُ أَذًى مِنْ مَرَضٍ فَمَا سِوَاهُ ، إِلَّا حَطَّ اللَّهُ بِهِ سَيِّئَاتِهِ ، كَمَا تَحُطُّ الشَّجَرَةُ وَرَقَهَا

((There is no Muslim who is afflicted with harm by way of sickness or anything other than it, except that Allaah casts off his sins due to it, just as a tree casts off its leaves.))[19]


The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said also:

مَا يُصِيبُ الْمُسْلِمَ مِنْ نَصَبٍ وَلاَ وَصَبٍ وَلاَ هَمٍّ وَلاَ حَزَن وَلاَ أَذًى وَلاَ غمٍّ، حتَّى الشَّوْكَةُ يُشَاكُها إِلاَّ كفَّر اللَّه بهَا مِنْ خطَايَاه

((The Muslim is not befallen by fatigue, or illness, or sorrow, or sadness, or harm, or grief, even if it were the thorn-prick that he is pricked by, except that by way of it Allaah expiates some of his sins.))[20]


Al-Qurtubee (rahimahullaah) said: “Indeed the sicknesses and sadnesses – even if they are crushing, as well as the calamities – even if they are scant; the believer is rewarded upon all of them, and there is expiated for him his wrongdoings due to that, such that he walks upon the earth and he has no wrongdoing.”[21]

Ibn Rajab (rahimahullaah) said: “Indeed the texts have come in continuous frequency from the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) regarding the expiation of sins by way of sicknesses and diseases, and they are a great many, their mention would become prolonged.”[22]



To Conclude;  the believer values the time that he has been given in the life of this world, and seeks to utilize it in a way which is of greatest benefit, whether he is faced with periods of adversity or is granted prosperity. The life of this world is temporal, and although we are all certain that each of us shall one day pass away, we do not know of its appointed time. Yet all around us are the signs and significations that we should make the most of our lives in drawing close to Allaah, and of preparing for the meeting with Him.

Ibn Battaal (rahimahullaah) said: “Good befits to be hastened with, since the epidemics commence forth, and the inhibitors impede, and death cannot be safeguarded from, and postponement isn’t praiseworthy.”[23]

So the believer constantly turns to his Lord, in times of prosperity he is grateful and obedient to his Lord, and in times of adversity he asks Him for relief from distresses and asks for His Mercy and Bounty, in order to worship Him and live in a way that is pleasing to Him, whilst being certain in the knowledge that:

وَإِن يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلَا كَاشِفَ لَهُ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ وَإِن يَمْسَسْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

((And if Allaah touches you with adversity, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is Able to do all things.)) (Al-An’aam: 17)


وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين






[1] Tafseer Al-Qur’aan Al-‘Adheem vol 9 p.403

[2] Majmu’ Fataawa vol 2 p.126

[3] Madaarij as-Saalikeen vol 3 p.389

[4] Badaa-i at-Tafseer vol 3 p.132, for the original reference refer to Shifaa al-‘Aleel p.194

[5] Majmu’ Fataawa vol 10 p.505

[6] Badaa-i at-Tafseer vol 3 p.49, for the original reference refer to Ar-Risaalah at-Tabukiyyah p.83-84

[7] Abridged from Majmu’ al-Rasaa-il vol 2 p.106-107

[8] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.4139) and Muslim (no.1946) and the wording above is that of Muslim

[9] Al-Qawl al-Mufeed ‘alaa Kitaab at-Tawheed vol 1 p.55

[10] Majmu’ Fataawa vol 10 p.333

[11] Fathul Baaree vol 10 p.143

[12] Majmu’ Fataawa vol 8 p.196

[13] Al-Jawaab al-Kaafi p.11

[14] Badhal al-Maa’oon fee Fadl at-Taa’oon p.315

[15] Majmu’ Fataawa vol 2 p.130

[16] Al-Mawaahib ar-Rabbaaniyyah p.151

[17] Majmu’ al-Rasaa-il vol 2 p.86

[18] Majmu’ Mu-allafaat Ash-Shaikh vol 23 p.170

[19] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.5660) and Muslim (no.6504) and the wording above is that of Muslim.

[20] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.5318) and Muslim (no.2572)

[21] Al-Mufhim vol 6 p.546

[22] Majmu’ al-Rasaa-il vol 2 p.374

[23] Fathul Baaree vol 3 p.351

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