Trials Faced by the Believers

The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whenever Allaah intends to do
 good to a servant, He hastens to punish him in this world. And whenever Allaah intends evil for
a servant, He postpones the punishment until the Day of Judgement.” [26]

His saying, “Whenever Allaah intends to do good to a servant, He hastens to punish him in this world.”
 means: that he is punished by being inflicted with afflictions and difficulties due to the sins he has committed,
 due to which he is cleansed from them all, and in the Hereafter he has no sins to account for.
Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “The occurrence of afflictions are actually a form of blessing,
since they are an expiation for sins committed and they call for a person to have sabr - for which he
 is duly rewarded. Likewise they cause the person to turn to Allaah in repentance, being humble and
submissive before Him, whilst at the same time turning away from hoping in any of the creation.
There are - besides these - other great advantages.

Thus, those afflictions which befall a person are actually the cause of Allaah wiping away his sins,
and this is one of the greatest blessings. So the occurrence of afflictions are a source of mercy
and bounty, providing such a person does not enter into that which is a cause for even greater
disobedience than before. For this affliction will then become a cause of great evil to the person’s Religion.
Indeed, there are people who - when afflicted with a trial or a affliction; such as poverty, illness or starvation -
 causes hypocrisy to sprout in them, or causes their hearts to become diseased, or it causes them to
fall into ingratitude and disbelief, or to abandon certain obligations or commit certain prohibited acts -
all of which is extremely harmful to one’s Religion. So to remain safe from, and to be protected against
such afflictions and trials, is better for a person, since the afflictions and trials - rather than being a
source of blessings - becomes a source of great injury. However, if the person had sabr and
remained obedient, then such an affliction would have been the cause of mercy and blessings
from Allaah - the Mighty and Majestic -which necessitates praising Him.

So whosoever is afflicted with a calamity and is provided with sabr, then this sabr is a blessing
for the person and a mercy for him, since his sins are expiated due to it. Likewise his Lord bestows
upon him praises and prayers, as Allaah - the Majestic – says,
“They are those on whom are the blessings and praises from their Lord and His mercy.
They are the ones who are guided.” [27]
Such a person is also forgiven by his Lord for his sins, and is raised to higher ranks - all of
this is due to the one who has sabr.” [28]
The saying of the Prophet, “Whenever Allaah intends evil for a servant, He postpones the
punishment until the Day of Judgement,” means: such a person’s punishment is delayed
until the Hereafter, where he will receive severe punishment.

Al-’Azeezee (d.1070H) said, “Such a person is not punished in this world, so that in the Hereafter
he can be punished for his sins in a way that he fully deserved.” [29]
In the above hadeeth is a lesson and a reminder that one must have good expectations in Allaah
 and a good opinion about Him with regard to what He has decreed for a person, as Allaah -
the Most High – says,
“It is possible that you hate a thing and it is good for you, and love a thing and it is evil for you.
 Allâh knows and you do not know.” [30]
Rewards are Proportional to Afflictions:
The Prophet sallallâhu ’alayhi wa sallam said, “Reward is directly proportional to the affliction.
If Allaah loves a people, He inflicts them with a calamity. Whoever accepts it, Allaah is pleased
with them, and whoever resents it, Allaah is displeased with them.” [31]
Likewise, the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whenever Allaah loves a people,
 He sends affliction upon them. So whoever is patient, is one of the patient-ones, and whoever
 resents it, is one of the resenters.” [32]
The meaning of the first hadeeth is: the greater the affliction, the greater the reward. And it is said:
Indeed, afflictions bring about a reward as well as expiating sins. This was the preferred saying
of Ibnul-Qayyim that the one afflicted with a calamity is not only rewarded for it, but his sins are
expiated as well. However, if this affliction was the cause of him doing certain righteous actions -
 such as having sabr, contentment with the Decree of Allaah, repenting to Allaah or asking for
His forgiveness - then the person will be rewarded for such actions as well. Because of this it
is said that the meaning of the hadeeth is: Indeed, the reward is proportional to the affliction,
providing there is sabr and expectation of reward.

Similarly, in the hadeeth of Sa’d, ‘The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) was asked, ‘Who
from mankind suffers the greatest afflictions?’ He replied, ‘The Prophets, then those most like them,
then those most like them. A person is afflicted with calamities in comparisons to his Religion, so if he
 is firm in his Religion, then his afflictions are strong and if he is weak in his Religion, then his afflictions
 are lighter. A person is afflicted with calamities until he is left walking upon the face of this earth
 without any sins.” [33]

This hadeeth and its like are from the proofs for Tawheed. Since if a person knew that the Prophets
and the awliyaa‘ (the friends of Allaah) are themselves afflicted with calamities and that none can remove
 these afflictions from them except Allaah, then it will be known that they can bring neither benefit nor ward
of harm to themselves - so how can they ward off harm for others! Thus rather than turning to the Prophets
 and righteous people for the removal of harm, or relief from worries and grief, one should turn directly to
Allaah alone - the One who is able to accomplish this.

And ar-Ridaa (the pleasure of Allaah) - which occurs in the saying of the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi
wa sallam), “So whosoever is pleased, then Allaah is pleased with him.” - is one of the Attributes that
Allaah has described Himself with in various places in His Book, such as His saying,
“Their rewards are Gardens of Adan, beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. Allaah is
well pleased with them, as they are with Him.” [34]

The way of the Salaf (the Pious Predecessors) and those who follow them from Ahlus-Sunnah
(the followers of the Sunnah) is to affirm those attributes which Allaah has affirmed for Himself,
or which have been affirmed by His Messenger (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) - in a way which
 befits His Majesty and Greatness - without tamtheel (likening Allaah to any of His creation), and
without ta’teel (divesting Allaah of His Attributes). So when Allaah - the Most High - is pleased with
any one, then such a person has acquired all good and excellence and is safe from all evils.

Ar-Ridaa is: a servant’s surrendering his affairs to Allaah, whilst having a good opinion about Him
and expecting His reward. Such a person will then experience tranquility and joy, love of Allaah and
reliance upon Him.
Ibn Mas’ood – (radiyallaahu ’anhu) – said, “Indeed Allaah - from His Justice and Fairness - made
delight and tranquility the fits of yaqeen (certainty) and ridaa (pleasure). And He made grief, anxiety
 and worry the result of doubt and resentment.” [35]

The meaning of resentment being: “A dislike for something, with the absence of pleasure.” [36]
Thus, whosoever resents what Allaah has decreed, then Allaah will resent that person; and this
 is sufficient as a punishment from Allaah. Also, from the above hadeeth, some Scholars have
 deduced that ridaa (contentment and pleasure) with the Decree of Allaah is obligatory - this being
 the view of Ibn ’Aqeel. However, al-Qaadee Aboo Ya’laa did not consider it to be obligatory
 [but rather preferable], and this was the preferred view of Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah
and Ibnul-Qayyim. [37]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Just as there is a specific command attached to having
 sabr (patience), there is, however, no such command for having ridaa (contentment and pleasure).
 Rather, there is a praise and an excellence for those who have ridaa with the Decree of Allaah.”
He further said, “The narration: ‘Whosoever does not have sabr with My afflictions, nor have ridaa
with My Decree, has taken a Lord other than Me.’ [38] This narration is one of the Israa‘eeliyyaat and
is not authentically related from the Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam).” [39]

Shaykhul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah also said, “Indeed, there is a station higher than [both sabr and] ridaa,
and that is to show shukr (gratitude) to Allaah for the affliction, since this is the cause of receiving
excellence and bounties.” [40]

[26] Saheeh: Related by at-Tirmidhee (no. 2398) and al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak (1/340), from
Anas (radiyallaahu ’anhu). It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no. 1220).
[27] Sooratul-Baqarah [2:155-157]
[28] Abridged from Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (10/48) of Ibn Taymiyyah.
[29] as-Siraajul-Muneer (l/88) of al-’Azeezee
[30] Sooratul-Baqarah [2:216]
[31] Hasan: Related by at-Tirmidhee (no. 2398) and Ibn Maajah (no. 4021), from Anas
(radiyallaahu ’anhu). It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no. 146).
[32] Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (5/427), from Mahmood Ibn Lubayd (radiyallaahu ’anhu).
It was authenticated by al-Mundharee in at-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (4/283), al-Haythamee
Majma’uz-Zawaa‘id (2/291) and Ibn Hajar in Fathul-Baaree (10/108).
[33] Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (l/172), at-Tirmidhee (no. 2398) and Ibn Maajah (no. 4023).
It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.143).
[34] Sooratul-Bayyinah [98:8]
[35] Related by Ibn Abee Dunyaa in Kitaabur-Ridaa (no. 94) and also al-Bayhaqee in
 Shu’abul-Eemaan (no. 205).
[36] an-Nihaayah fee Ghareebil-Hadeeth (2/350) of Ibn al-Atheer
[37] Madaarijus-Saalikeen (2/171,184) of Ibnul-Qayyim.
[38] Da’eef Jiddan: Related by at-Tabaraanee in al-Kabeer (22/320), Ibn Hibbaan in
al-Majrooheen (1/324) and al-Khateeb in at-Talkhees (39/2) all by way of Sa’eed Ibn Ziyaad.
Al-Haythamee said in al-Majma’ (7/207), “In it is Sa’eed Ibn Ziyaad who is matrook (abandoned).”
 And al-Haafidh al-’Iraaqee said in Takhreejul-Ihyaa‘ (3/296), “Its isnaad is weak.”
And al-Manaawee said, “Da’eef Jiddan (very weak)” as occurs in ad-Da’eefah (no. 505).
[39] Ibnul-Qayyim related this in Madaarijus-Saalikeen (2/171).
[40] Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (11/260) of Ibn Taymiyyah