If it Wasn’t for Suffering, We Wouldn’t Appreciate Blessings!

25 September, 2020
Q Salam Dear Brother. My question is why do disasters happen? Does this mean that God is angry with us. People all over the world are suffering so much. Can't God interfere and stop their suffering? Why doesn't He continuously shower us with His blessings?

Answer

Short Answer:

  • Some of the most beautiful realities emerge from some of the most excruciatingly painful moments.
  • The message is: if it wasn’t for illness, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated our health, if it wasn’t for the moments of sadness, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated contentment, if it wasn’t for the darkness, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated the light.
  • Sometimes, those moments of suffering allow us to truly appreciate the countless blessings that we’ve been taking for granted.
  • That’s why tribulations and suffering happen: to test and teach, show true faith of the believers, and also warn and alarm those who are oblivious or heedless.

 ………….

Salam Dear Reader,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Struggle Breeds Greatness

Some of the most beautiful realities emerge from some of the most excruciatingly painful moments.

Imagine if the child-birth experience happened by simply clicking on a button and popping the baby out of his mother’s womb in seconds… would that have any meaning, significance, or notable value?

We call it a miracle. Despite all the pain and suffering, we call this experience a miracle.

With some patience and humility, greater messages and gifts could be attained.

Let us remember, also, that some of the greatest figures we know have attained to their esteemed statuses by overcoming hardships and suffering.

The message is: if it wasn’t for illness, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated our health, if it wasn’t for the moments of sadness, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated contentment, if it wasn’t for the darkness, we wouldn’t have truly appreciated the light.

Sometimes, those moments of suffering allow us to truly appreciate the countless blessings that we’ve been taking for granted.

That’s why tribulations and suffering happen: to test and teach, show true faith of the believers, and also warn and alarm those who are oblivious or heedless.

A quick look at the Islamic perspective

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) was asked which people are the most severely tested. He replied:

The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A person is tested according to his religious commitment. If he is steadfast in his religious commitment, he will be tested more severely, and if he is frail in his religious commitment, his test will be according to his commitment. Trials will continue to afflict a person until they leave him walking on the earth with no sin on him. [Sunan Ibn Majah]

So, the strongest believers sometimes are the ones who’re given the biggest tests.

Think about this example: if you have friends who only stick by your side when things are going well, but they abandon you when the going gets tough, are they real friends?

Aren’t those friends who stick by you in the most difficult times—no matter how long it takes—prove to be the most committed and real friends?

This is what happens when we commit to God through what we think is a difficulty or a hardship. It is a manifestation of true faith and commitment.

God Teaches Us

God gave us an ability to learn and He will continue to teach us until our last breath. When God created our father Adam, the Quran tells us that, 

He taught Adam the names-all of them... [Quran 2:31]

This is not a fleeting moment in history. This a reality of life: God teaches us.

The word ‘Rabb’ (Lord) in Arabic comes from the word ‘tarbiyaa’ (education). God is the Supreme Educator. We will learn from everything that happens in our lives, good and bad. We just need our hearts and minds to be attentive and reflect.

What is love?

We understand also from the Quran and prophetic narrations that God essentially wants us to deeply know Him, fall in love with Him, and develop a strong, meaningful relationship with Him. This relationship will be carried with us when we live near Him for eternity in an eternal Paradise.

In Surat Ad-Dhariyat verse 56, God says that He created mankind to worship Him.

In Surat Al Ma’ida Verse 54, God says that if we turn our back or walk away from Him, He will bring other people that “He will love, and who will love Him.”

So, the core of our relationship with God is to love Him.

When someone is in a loving relationship with someone else, doesn’t he/she promise to hold on to the other for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health?

Now think about this: if we maintain our loving relationship with God only when things are going well, is this true commitment or a sincere test of faith?

And of the people is he who worships God on an edge. If he is touched by good, he is reassured by it; but if he is struck by trial, he turns on his face [to the other direction].” [Quran 22:11]

Moreover, is being in a test or a trial an indication that God is humiliating this person? The answer is no.

Develop Resilience

God doesn’t charge a soul more than it can handle, and He knows they have the capacity to get through this situation even better with reflection, understanding, experience, and knowledge that not only illuminate their hearts, but the hearts and minds of many others around them.

The blessing is not a matter of instant gratification; It is an educational process that elevates the human being emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

The gift of education is not about giving all students a report sheet of straights A’s all the time with no effort on their end. Rather it is a blessing and a gift for those who were patient and struggled to achieve and earn their success.

The toughest warriors are the ones who are given the most challenging battles. Those who are suffering are not necessarily humiliated. Rather, it is sometimes a recognition of their ability to handle bigger tests.

Trust in Allah’s Plan

Some take a defensive position with God because they can’t seem to understand why certain things are happening.

But some people will not do that. They will remain humble, patient and committed until they realize the deeper meanings, wisdom and blessings that come out of their difficulties.

They’re the people who realize that if there was no darkness, we wouldn’t have appreciated the light, if there was no difficulty, we wouldn’t have appreciated ease, and if there was no evil, we wouldn’t have yearned for all that is good.

These are all experiences that should remind us of our meaning and purpose in life, encourage us to better ourselves, strengthen us and deepen our relationship with our Creator, not take us away from Him…And the promise of God is ever true…

For indeed with the hardship [will be] ease. Indeed with the hardship [will be] ease.” (Quran 94:5-6)

To sum up, why does a disaster happen?

It is a sign of The Power of the Creator, a reminder for us to reevaluate our lives and our purpose, and a test of true faith for the sincere believers.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Walaikum Asalam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

https://aboutislam.net/spirituality/hardships-are-blessings-how/

Why Does Allah Decree Suffering and Hardship?

Life Difficulties Are Rewarding (15 Hadiths)

The Cost of Arrogance

https://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/5-reasons-allah-tests-us-hardship/