Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Test Could Take Many Forms.

The Test Could Take Many Forms.
 Sayyid Qutb

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent

Alif. Lam. Mim.

Do people think that once they say: “We are the believers”, they would be left alone and not be put to a test?

We certainly tested those who lived before them; and so most certainly God knows those who speak the truth and most certainly He knows those who are liars.

[The Spider, Al-Ankaboot: 29:1-3]

These verses at the beginning of the surah speak of the test that God put before people who accept His faith and declare their readiness to implement His message. Going through a test is an important part of a believer’s life. To attain the status of a believer is not a mere declaration that a person is convinced of the central idea of faith; it is a commitment that imposes duties and responsibilities. A believer must prove that he or she is equal to the task. We also mentioned that the test could take many forms, and we cited the examples of physical harm caused by opponents of the divine message to the believer himself or to his family; the pressures brought to bear on a believer by his loved ones not to expose himself or them to such hardship, the attainment of high position, power and wealth by other people while a believer languishes in poverty and hardship.

Yet another form is to feel oneself alone in a strange environment. A believer looks around and finds everything and everyone swimming with the sweeping tide that runs contrary to the truth he knows, while he stands alone without support.

We see nowadays a different type of test in the form of communities and states where vice is widespread, yet they reflect a progressive society and civilized style of life. In such communities, people find good standards of care and protection. Moreover, despite their turning away from God’s path, such people are both strong and affluent.

There is, however, one test that is harder than all the rest. This comes from within, where the lure of desire, enjoyment and pleasure becomes very strong, or at least comfort and security appear too tempting. This makes following the line of faith difficult and the difficulty may be compounded by other obstacles that a believer may have to contend with in his community.

If time marches on under such conditions and God’s support seems slow in coming, the test becomes even more difficult and harder to endure. Only those strengthened by God will remain steadfast. These are the ones who prove the truth of faith and can be given the great trust that God in heaven wants to place on earth.

What we have to understand is that God has no desire to put believers to such hard tests or cause them much suffering. It is all part of their preparation to take up the trust and fulfill its requirements. They must go through special preparations that can only be achieved through enduring real difficulties, withstanding pain and overcoming desires while being truly certain of God’s support or His reward, long as the hardship may continue and severe as the suffering may be.

The human soul is tested with difficulties and hardships. It is thus purged of any vile influence. All its latent powers are thus mobilized and it acquires further strength and solidity. This is the effect of hardship on communities. Only the strongest remain steadfast. These are the ones who maintain the closest relation with God, and remain absolutely confident that the path of faith will inevitably lead them to one of the two goodly eventualities: Victory or reward. To these the banner is eventually entrusted, and they are certainly worthy of it.

The trust they receive is very dear to them, particularly because of the high price they have had to give for it, enduring pain and suffering, and sacrificing much in its service. A person who gives much of himself and his comforts, who endures hardship and adversity will definitely hold dear the trust for which he has withstood so much. He will not abandon it easily.

As for the eventual triumph of faith and truth, this is something God has promised. No believer entertains any doubt that what God promises will certainly come true. If it is felt to be slow in coming, this must be for a particular purpose that will most certainly benefit faith and the faithful. No one is keener than God to protect His faith and the people who adopt it sincerely. Those believers who endure hardship should always bear in mind that it is sufficient for them to be the ones God has chosen to be entrusted with the truth. Indeed, God confirms that they have strong faith, for He has chosen them to be tested.

An authentic Hadith states: “The most severely tested are prophets, then the most pious people, then the ones closest to these, one degree after another. A man will be tested in accordance with his strength of faith. If he proves himself strong, the severity of his test is increased.”

[ Via  Arab News]

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