Trials from Allah: Two Reasons Why Allah Tests Mankind

The sole reason why humans were sent to this world was because Allah could test their sincerity towards their Lord. Then depending on their deeds, He will judge and admit them either in paradise or hell.

A bit of a background before we get into the subject. The Quran states,
Indeed we offered obligatory duties to the heavens, the earth, the mountains, but they declined to bear it and feared (Allah's torment). But man undertook it. Indeed he was unjust (to himself) and ignorant (of its results). ~ Quran 33:72 

Here's a narrative to the above Quranic verse

After Allah created the universe, He offered Al-Amanah (trust/ obedience/ obligatory duties of His religion) to the heavens, the earth, and the mountains on the grounds that if they fulfilled them, He would reward them; and if they failed, He would punish them. Due to the challenges and high risk involved they felt they won't be able to fulfill that responsibility. As a result the three declined Allah's offer.
For some it might be difficult to comprehend how can inanimate objects have life. If so, please know everything that is created prostrates and submits to Allah. Please read here.

Then Allah turned to Adam (a.s) and said to him: "I have offered the Al-Amanah to the heavens and the earth and the mountains, and they could not bear it. Will you take it on?" Adam said, "O Lord, what does it involve?" Allah said, "If you do good, you will be rewarded, and if you do evil, you will be punished." So Adam took the Al-Amanah and bore it. So when Adam (a.s) was sent down to this world he was commanded by Allah to worship none but Him, follow Islamic fundamentals and spread the message of Tawhid (oneness of God) to his children too.

The Quran states,
Do people think that they will be left alone because they say "We Believe" and they will not be tested? ~ Quran 29:2

With that background, let us try and come back to the topic "Why trials from Allah". According to the Quran and Sunnah there are two direct causes for our afflictions & calamities; in addition to the wisdom of Allah in what He wills and decrees... The two main reasons are explained below.

Why trials? Reason #1 : We asked for it

One of the reasons for the trials, affliction and calamities in this world is due to our sins and acts of disobedience we have committed — whether they constitute kufr (disbelieving in Allah) or are major or minors sins. For instance abandoning Salah (prayer) can inflict trials from Allah.

Read the following verse from The Quran:

And let those who oppose The Messenger's command (i.e. his Sunnah legal ways) beware; lest some Fitnah (trials, afflictions, calamity) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them. ~ Quran 24:63

Here's another verse from The Quran
...but whatever of evil befalls you, is from yourself (because of your sins). ~ Quran 4:79
And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much. ~ Quran 42:30

Allah also states in the Quran,
(He) Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. ~ Quran 67:2 

Allah tests the one who committed sins with trials or calamity so as to examine the sincerity of His slave, and if the person falls in line. The trial also serves as the means of requital and immediate punishment in this world, so that Allah forgives His slaves on the day of resurrection. So do not despair if you are tried by Allah.

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
This people of mine is one to which mercy is shown. It will have no punishment in the next world, but its punishment in this world will be trials, earthquakes and being killed. ~ Abu Dawud 37/39

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
If Allah sends punishment upon a nation then it befalls upon the whole population indiscriminately and then they will be resurrected (and judged) according to their deeds. ~ Bukhari 92/55

The Quran says:
We shall certainly test you, until We ascertain those of you who (sincerely) strive and those who are steadfast (in Allah’s Deen); and We shall test your affairs (to distinguish the liars from the truthful) ~ Quran 47:31

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
If Allah wills good for His slave, He hastens his punishment in this world, and if He wills bad for His slave, He withholds from him (the punishment for) his sin, until He requites him for it on the Day of Resurrection." ~ Tirmidhi 2396 

The hastening of punishment in this world expiates the sin and the believer may not have to pay for it in the Hereafter when he is resurrected.  In the same chain it is reported that The Prophet (pbuh) said:
Great reward comes with great trials. When Allah loves a people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it attains His pleasure, whereas whoever shows discontent with it incurs His wrath. ~ Tirmidhi 2396

With that lets try to understand the second reason why trials and afflictions do appear and why one should patiently endure.

Why trials? Reason #2 : Allah wishes to do good to a believer

The other reason for the trials, affliction and calamities in this world is that Allah wants to raise the status of a patient believer. If the believer bears it with acceptance and patience, then he will be recorded in the books with Allah as one of the victorious.

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
If Allah wants to do good to someone, He afflicts him with trials. ~ Bukhari 75/5

Doing good to a believer means raising the believer in the rank in the hereafter. The Prophet (pbuh) also said:
A man will be tested according to his level of religious commitment. If his religious commitment is solid, his test will be more severe, but if there is any weakness in his religious commitment, he will be tested according to his level of religious commitment. And calamity will continue to befall a person until he walks on the earth with no sin on him. ~ Tirmidhi 2398

Calamities befell the Prophets and the righteous persistently. The Messengers and Prophets such as Adam (a.s), Ibrahim (a.s), Yunus (a.s) and others, including Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were tested to the extreme. Allah tested Adam (a.s) with expulsion from Paradise, and He tested Yunus  (a.s) with being swallowed into the belly of the fish. Ibrahim (a.s) had to undergo four great tests by Allah. But by means of these tests, Allah raised them in status because of their patience and seeking reward with Him.

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
If a certain status has previously been decreed by Allah for a person, and he does not attain it by his deeds, Allah afflicts him in his body or wealth or children. ~ Abu Dawud 3090

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
Nothing befalls a believer, a (prick of a) thorn or more than that, but Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase a bad deed. ~ Bukhari 5641 | Muslim 2573

The Quran says:
Or do you think that you shall enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, "When will the help of Allah come?" ~ Quran 2:214

The Quran says:
During trials or affliction Allah advises His slaves, "... and be patient over what befalls you." ~ Quran 31:17

The Quran says:
Most certainly you will face tests in your wealth and in your persons. You will definitely hear much painful abuse from those who have been given The Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if you are patient and fear Allah, then that will be the determining factor in all affairs. ~ Quran 3:186

The Prophet (pbuh) said,
On the Day of Judgement, when the people who were tried (in this world) are given their rewards, the people who were pardoned (in life), will wish that their skins had been cut off with scissors while they were in the world. ~ Tirmidhi 36/100

The Quran says:
And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward. ~ Quran 8:28

Conclusion : Everything happens for the best. Allah knows what you don't know. 

Various references from the Quran and Hadith highlighted above proves that requital in this world is not separate from the requital in the Hereafter. Nevertheless, there could be reasons other than the two mentioned above that necessitates trial from Allah and can be looked at by understanding the circumstances of the calamity.

For instance:
  1. If the one who is affected is a Kafir (a Non-Muslim), then his calamity cannot raise him in status. Because the one who did not believe in Allah in this world will have no weight before The Lord of The Worlds on the Day of Resurrection. In fact via trials Allah may want to indicate this kafir slave who the true Lord is — many have reverted to Islam because of this; and through trials some have gone astray. 
  2. If the one who is affected is a Muslim who commits sin openly or is a blatant evildoer, then it is most likely that he is being requited and punished with the trial. Because expiation of sins comes before raising in status, and the sinner is in greater need of expiation for his sins than of being raised in status. 
  3. If the Muslim is a devoted worshipper, obedient and righteous, and there is nothing between him and Allah but true servitude, gratitude, praise, repentance and submission to Allah, then it is most likely that the trial is a kind of honour and raising in status (recall our note above on the trials for The Prophets).
  4. If the one who is tried by Allah shows displeasure and cribs along, then his trial may not raise him in status, because a believer who is not patient is not a true believer in the eyes of Allah. So in this case it is most likely that the trial is a requital and punishment. 
  5. Thus in summary if someone lacks patience, panics and complains then the sign can be considered as punishment and requital. And if someone is patient, does not complain, continues to fulfill the commands of Allah and is engaged in worship, then the sign is erasing of sin and getting raised in the status in the eyes of Allah..
So during the times of trials and suffering one should always think positively of Allah, in all the situations, for whatever comes from Allah is for your good and He is The Protector of the pious and Oft-Forgiving and The Most Merciful. It is said, "Nothing happens except by the will of Allah."

And for the good news...

The Prophet (pbuh) said, "Five are regarded as martyrs: Those who die of the plague, drowning, being crushed, the martyr in the cause of Allah and stomach illness." ~ Bukhari 56/45 | Tirmidhi 10/99 ...

One example: Lets say there's an earthquake, which is one of the kinds of calamity from Allah. A believer gets crushed under the building and dies as a result. He will be consider as a martyr. Just like an organisation or an army unit has hierarchy, similarly in Islam the status of a Muslim is dependent on his deeds. So the rank of a martyr is very high indeed, and comes after the Prophets and Siddiqs in status.

And here's the best part.

There will be special category of people who will be admired by the martyrs and the Prophets. They are those who loved each other in this world just for the sake of Allah. Subhan Allah. This is based on the following saying by The Prophet (pbuh),
"Those who love each other for the sake of My Majesty shall be upon podiums of light, and they will be admired by the Prophets and the martyrs." ~ Tirmidhi 2390

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