Short Answer: Allah intends ease for us, not hardship. But the life of this world was never intended to be an existence of incessant ease and comfort. It is only a transition. Our perception of ease and hardship is not the same as that of Allah. This perception varies greatly across mankind i.e. our personal definition of ease might not be the same as that for everyone else in this world. Rather, for each one of us, ease has different implications, and hardship has different interpretations.
Thank you, Amanda, for sending in your question to Ask About Islam
To start with, yes, you are right.
Allah does mention in the Quran that He intends ease for us, and not hardship, in the verses regarding the command for Muslims to fast during the entire month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong˺. So whoever is present this month, let them fast. But whoever is ill or on a journey, then ˹let them fast˺ an equal number of days ˹after Ramadan˺. Allah intends ease for you, not hardship, so that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, and perhaps you will be grateful. [Quran 2:185]
Furthermore, in Surah Al-Sharh, Allah says:
“And, behold, with every hardship comes ease. Verily, with every hardship comes ease!” [Quran 94:5-6]
This verse is actually very poignant because it emphasizes the fact that there is no difficulty or hardship (al `Usr), but that it has ease (al Yusr) attached to it.
This Life is a Temporary Trip
Elsewhere in the Quran, Allah mentions another fact:
“Verily, We have created man into [a life of] pain, toil and trial.” [Quran 90:4]
As you can see, the life of this world was never intended to be an existence of incessant ease and comfort.
Allah always intended it to be a temporary place and time period that would be peppered with hardships with interim phases of ease occurring in between.
However, the basic principle is that each and every hardship that comes our way has ease already attached to it.
All Hardships Contain Ease
What this means is that even if the hardship becomes unbearable and very difficult, there are subtle and sometimes imperceptible forms of ease that it brings.
Not all human beings are able to detect these forms of ease, however. It’s only possible for those who are wise, humble, grateful, and close to Allah.
Many wise people can see that the endurance of pain and hardship brings many advantages and benefits, such as self-actualization. Bearing difficult times with patience reaps many rewards.
The Blessings in Hardship
That being said, you are right that most of mankind desires to have as much ease as they can in their lives.
They fear and avoid hardships and difficulties.
People usually choose the easier option in any matter, if it is available.
We desire comforts, luxuries, and ease in this world, even if — rather dichotomously — we have to endure much toil, pain, and hard work to acquire as well as maintain them.
The clearest example of this is our love for a lavish, large, and luxurious house. Most people, when they become adults, pursue this apparent symbol of material “ease” and luxury.
We assume that having every blessing available at the touch of a hand would make us happy. Yet, it is a fact that most wealthy people are also the most depressed.
So, is what we perceive to be “ease”, really “ease” for us?
True Ease vs. True Hardship
Therefore, in the end, I would like to point out 2 important points: firstly, our perception of ease and hardship is not the same as that of Allah.
Secondly, this perception varies greatly across mankind i.e. our personal definition of ease might not be the same as that for everyone else in this world.
Rather, for each one of us, ease has different implications, and hardship has different interpretations. What could be perceived as a hardship by one person could be a form of great ease for another.
For example, a billionaire could perceive living in a small apartment instead of a mansion as hardship; whereas, a laborer would jump for joy at being able to live in the same dwelling. For the latter, owning that same home would embody ease and luxury.
However, even though bearing hardships with patience brings great rewards from Allah, we should not desire nor pray for a difficult life. Rather, we should always ask Allah for ease and should bear any difficulties that still come our way, with patience and pleasure with Allah’s decree.
I hope that this answers your questions.
Salam. Please stay in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)