The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement
presenting Islam as peaceful, tolerant, rational, inspiring
Home
1. Islam

Articles and booklets

Lessons in the Quran

Lesson 25

2. Publications
3. Activities
4. Ahmadiyya Movement
5. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad
6. Non-English material

Utilities:
Discussion forums
Site Statistics
Contact us
Search the website

 

Previous Lesson | Next Lesson

Lesson - 25

Al-Baqara

"O you who believe, seek assistance through patience and prayer; surely Allah is with the patient. And speak not of those who are slain in Allahís way as dead. Nay, (they are) alive, but you perceive not.

And We shall certainly try you with something of fear and hunger and loss of property and lives and fruits. And give good news to the patient,

Who, when a misfortune befalls them say: 'Surely we are Allahís and to Him we shall return.'

Those are they on whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord; and those are the followers of the right course." Ch. 2:153-157

Quranic philosophy of trials and tribulations

I feel it is essential to discuss these verses which relate the very important subject matter of trials and tribulations, and the display of patience under such circumstances. The Holy Quran sheds light on this subject, and mentions three ways in which such trials are brought upon mankind.

  1. In the first instance this occurs with the advent of a prophet, but now that prophet hood has ended, with the advent of a reformer (mujaddid), or one appointed by God comes. Such a person, and those who follow him, have to face severe opposition. Attempts are even made upon their lives. Thus in some manner and form, those who support the truth have to undergo frequent trials and tribulations.
  2. In the second category are those difficulties which are ordained by Allah for mankind as his taqdeer, meaning the Divine law, with the objective of enhancing his growth and development. Under this category fall the conditions which bring about a state of fear, hunger and destruction of life and property.
  3. In the third group fall those tribulations which a man brings upon himself as a consequence of his wrong doings, and misdeeds. This is stated in the verse, "And whatever misfortune befalls you, it is on account of what your hands have wrought, and He pardons much"(42:30). The remedy for such difficulties, besides patience, is repentance, asking for Divine protection from sin, and self-reformation.
At times it is difficult to differentiate between these three categories. As a measure of precaution it is, therefore essential for those who guard against evil (muttaqin) to reform themselves, along with sincerely repenting (taubah), and seeking Divine protection (istighfar). Even if the tribulation has not been brought upon by oneís own action, one of the important reasons for its occurrence is reformation, and spiritual development of mankind. A useful analogy to remember in this regard is the purification of gold from dross, by subjecting it to heat. In a similar manner spiritual purification occurs in face of adversity.

A spiritually depraved person considers adversity as an accidental occurrence, and therefore exhibits impatience and restlessness. He tries unsuccessfully to seek solace in alcohol, or some other intoxicant, and at times even commits suicide. The Holy Quran, however, tells us:

" No calamity befalls, but by Allahís permission" (64:11).

For this reason one should face such difficulties with patience, and steadfastness, while being sincerely repentant, and seeking Divine protection, lest the adversity be a result of his misdeeds. Crying out for help is a natural human reaction, and since all afflictions arise as a result of Divine command, and with His permission, it is quite natural to ask Him for help. Let us now see how we can solicit such assistance.

Prayers in Adversity strengthen Bond between Man and God

The first category of trials and tribulations that I have mentioned above, arise when one accepts an appointee of God and the truth he stands for. Unfortunately, those who accept the truth are always few and lack numerical strength. Their opponents are greater in number, stronger, and bent upon their extirpation. It becomes necessary, in fact, there is an intense need for the ones who stand for the truth to ask for Divine assistance. Who is there besides Allah to help them? That is the reason why in the first verse in this lesson, Allah tells us to ask for His help, but show patience while doing so. Facing adversities with patience in itself evokes Divine assistance. It is part of human nature to ask for help, therefore Allah enjoins us to ask for His assistance through prayer and supplication. Patience is enjoined upon those who believe in the truth, so that the difficulties they have to face to uphold the truth, result in firmly anchoring the truth to their hearts. Truth becomes a part of their very essence, provided they face adversity, and remain steadfast in their belief. The reason such a person is permitted to ask for Divine help through prayer, and supplication is that it strengthens the bond between man and God. This bond becomes even more stronger with the prolongation of adversity. This is the greatest benefit of having to face difficult times. The purpose of truth is to establish a relationship between man and God. When man prostrates and cries before his Lord, the burden on his heart is lifted, and he eventually finds pleasure and exhilaration in doing so. This is the greatest blessing of this life, and the Hereafter.

If in spite of patience, and asking for Divine assistance, difficulties do not resolve, one should not take this as an indication that Allah is not with him, and that all his prayers were wasted. That is why Divine words of solace are repeated, "Surely Allah is with the patient." Therefore, one should keep up prayer, and remain patient thereafter.

Patience a Divine Attribute

Patience and tolerance are both great attributes of the Divine Being, and the Holy Quran and Hadith direct us to acquire Divine attributes. It is a great honor for man that he is given the opportunity to acquire Divine attributes. Who can be more tolerant than the Divine Being? He observes a great portion of humanity denying His very existence, as can be observed to a large extent in the communist world today. In Europe and America, the idea evolved and was propagated all over the world that either there was never a God (we seek the protection of Allah from saying so), or if He was there at one time, He is now dead. Those who are not guilty of such blatant disrespect, associate with God by worshipping their own self created stone idols, or an animal, or another creation of God, generally a human being who has passed away. This also is a kind of insolence and disrespect. The Divine Being also observes with patience, and tolerance all kinds of evil deeds being committed in front of Him. If He had not manifested His attribute of patience, the world would have long ended, and man would not have had an opportunity to reform himself. Patience is, therefore a magnificent attribute of Allah, and man is given an opportunity to acquire this by facing adversity.

Some, amongst those who accept the truth lose their life. Are they unsuccessful, or is their sacrifice in vain? Certainly this is not so, Allah tells us:

"And speak not of those who are slain in Allahís way as dead. Nay, (they are) alive, but you perceive not."

Such martyrs acquire a superior, and everlasting existence which cannot be excelled upon. They were liberated from the pain, illness, hunger and grief of this worldly existence, and immediately entered into the garden of eternity. The achievement of such people is worthy of emulation.

Adversity a means of spiritual development

The second category of adversities which man has to face are those which are ordained by Allah for mankind as his taqdeer, meaning the Divine law or the measure of his growth, and development, or as a trial from Him. These occur in the form of fear, apprehension, hunger, poverty, or a loss of life, property, and the fruits of his effort. These trials are for the purpose of exposing the hidden condition of manís soul, both its weaknesses and its strengths. For example, if a person is involved in an adverse circumstance, and he lies, bribes, steals, or breaks a promise to get out of it, then this situation has made apparent for him the weaknesses that were hidden in his character. This provides for him an opportunity to reform himself before his life ends, and he has no other remedy for his spiritual illness, but the fire of hell. On the other hand, those who face these Divinely ordained measures of growth, and development with patience, their character evolves such qualities which were not there before, and their hidden potential is thus manifested. A tree which sheds all its leaves, and faces the harsh winter, bears flowers and fruits, in springtime. The good qualities which adorn the character of man, like fruits and flowers are the same which will form the pleasant fruits and flowers of the garden of eternity.

This is why it is stated:

"And give good news to the patient,"
i.e., those who face such trials with patience. As to what this good news is will be discussed later, but before this we are informed as to who the patient ones are. These, it is stated are the ones, who when faced with a Divinely ordained trial say, "Surely we are Allahís, and to Him we shall return." They admit that they belong to Allah, and that He may do with them as He pleases. The loss or damage, they may have suffered does not matter, for they have to return to their Lord, and if He is pleased with them, He will give them reward in the life Hereafter, which would be more than the loss they suffered. All the worldly possessions are eventually lost at the time of death. The Holy Quran then tells us that these are the people who in this very life receive the protection (maghfirat), and the blessings of Allah. What is this protection of Allah from? It is from oneís misdeeds, weaknesses, negligence, and from their adverse consequences. It is also from the repetition of these acts, for there is always a danger of this. For example, if someone steals, it becomes easier for him to steal again. A patient individual, thus not only comes under the protection of Allah, but he is also favored with spiritual blessings (rahmat) from Allah. Spiritual blessings are the real blessings, for the worldly blessings either finish during, or certainly at the end of oneís life. The spiritual blessings will, however accompany the spirit into the eternal life Hereafter, where the blessings will also assume an external palpable form, as I have discussed in one of my previous lessons.

The Greatest blessing achieved by those who are patient

Another blessing, which is the greatest of all is also mentioned for those who are patient:

"and those are the followers of the right course."
In my commentary on the verse in Al-Fatihah, " guide us on the right path," I have explained that this prayer is in fact about finding closeness with God, which is the purpose of manís life and creation. There is no greater blessing than this which man can find. Those who are patient will, therefore, be guided on the path which leads them to Allah in this very life like the prophets, the truthful ones, and the righteous servants of Allah. These are the ones who bear the greatest hardships in the way of truth. Those who are not able to establish such a closeness with Allah are, however on the right path and will eventually find this treasure; therefore my friends do not despair of adversities, and be patient so that you can find God.


 
Top
Previous Lesson | Next Lesson
Website created and published by: Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha`at Islam Lahore Inc. U.S.A.
Contact us.