Ads by Muslim Ad Network

Why Choose Difficulty Over God-Given Ease?

There are times when I often find myself overwhelmed with gratitude towards Allah for decreeing for me to live during an era in which ease, swiftness, and convenience are the norm, in almost every aspect of life.

Whilst performing my ritual chores and tasks that are routine for many a homemaker, wife and mother, for example, I sometimes pause to stand in front of the section of the kitchen cupboard that serves as our modestly stocked pantry, overwhelmed.

As I stare at the jars, bottles, and tins of food and other edibles, I feel so grateful to Allah. Grateful for providing us with so many ready-to-eat goodies, raw materials, and food ingredients sitting within arm’s reach.

Whether it is canned tomato paste that adds body to a hearty dish of pasta with mince, or a jar of ‘cooking paste’ comprising of crushed garlic, ginger and tomatoes that can be easily spooned out and added to sautéed onions to make a quick Indian curry, or the many kinds of sauces that act as condiments to our main course meals, or tins of out-of-season fruits, I find myself often marveling with gratefulness at how the age we are living in lets us enjoy a myriad of foods so easily within our reach!

Tins of succulent pineapple slices, jars of glossy hazelnut spread/peanut butter, canisters full of flour, oil, spices, rice, pulses, grains, and pasta; freezer boxes packed with chopped frozen meats of four or five different types of animals (land, sky and sea).

Ads by Muslim Ad Network

All of these provisions of Allah are so easily within our reach at nearby markets, stores and shops, which we can eat whenever we want, or use as ingredients to whip up delicious food for our empty tummies in less than an hour.

So Many Blessings

How many blessings has Allah provided us with in this age, which people in bygone eras couldn’t acquire without first undertaking considerable hardship and toil?

Besides food, we also have so many other ready-to-use blessings at our disposal, literally available at our fingertips. Such as electricity at the flip of a switch/button, letting us have unlimited light at night without needing to light any fires or coals like peoples of bygone eras used to.

Fast locomotives and aircrafts that have reduced our time and troubles involved in traveling to far off places. Tools of instant communication allow us to see and hear loved ones who are thousands of miles away within seconds. We have machines to do so much of our work instantly, such as washing our clothes or printing our written words.

We should ask ourselves: Just because we have life easy in innumerable ways during this era, are we still mindful of being even more grateful to Allah for each and every ease, quickness, and convenience that He has granted to us?

That is, do we thank Allah for just the blessings that we have been given (such as food, clothing, automobiles)? Or are we also conscious of actually remembering to thank Him for letting us acquire, enjoy, and consume these blessings very quickly and easily, without as much requiring toil or hard work as our forefathers?

Thousands of Years Ago…

An effective way of understanding this, is to study the behavior of Bani Isra’il. How did the nation of Prophet Moses act after they started getting readymade eatables from Allah?

All of Allah’s messengers were sent to mankind with guidance, and some of them were blessed with special, miraculous blessings or favors from Allah, which were especially relevant and useful for the people dwelling in that particular era in which they were sent.

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was sent as a messenger to the Bani Isra’il, thousands of years ago. During his life, the people of Egypt were specialists in performing magic that deceived the eyes, in addition to other unique skills, such as constructing monuments and other humungous structures from huge stones without any machinery, some of which stand till today, such as the Sphinx and pyramids of Giza.

Bani Isra’il, the nation to which Prophet Moses was sent as a savior, was politically and economically subjugated. They were immensely weak at that time. They were employed as oppressed slaves of the powerful Pharaoh dynasty, one of whom called himself the god of his people.

Bani Isra’il were freed from the tyranny of Pharaoh and rid of his oppression forever, through the deliverance of Moses. They were finally free to worship Allah according to Islam. That was when Allah started to send down to them readymade, nutritious, wholesome and delicious food from the skies, known as manna (a sweet substance), and salwa (a bird).

Ungrateful Request

However, they became ungrateful of this special food, and wanted more variety. For this they demanded from Prophet Moses to be allowed to grow regular vegetables and grains like other people did:

{“And remember you said: “O Moses! We cannot endure one kind of food (always); so beseech your Lord for us to produce for us of what the earth grows,– its pot-herbs, and cucumbers, Its garlic, lentils, and onions.”

He said: “Will you exchange the better for the worse? Go you down to any town, and you shall find what you want!”

They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. This because they went on rejecting the Signs of Allah and slaying His Messengers without just cause. This because they rebelled and went on transgressing.} (2:61)

Ingratitude for Easily Attained Blessings

Prophet Moses responded to their ungrateful request by clearly saying that the mann and salwa that they were getting, was way better than the regular food that other people ate on earth, for which they tilled hard on their lands first. Manna and salwa were also readymade i.e. wholesome and nutritious, yet not requiring any cooking or reheating.

Al-Hasan Al-Basri said about the Children of Israel:

“They were bored and impatient with the type of food they were provided. They also remembered the life they used to live, when their diet consisted of lentils, onions, garlic and herbs.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

Their request of receiving lower quality foods, such as lentils and onions, was denied by Prophet Moses. It was based on blatant ingratitude and rejection of a special benevolence from Allah. Prophet Moses told them to instead go down to ‘any town’ themselves, get what they wanted in place of Allah’s special edible treats, implying indirectly that what they were asking for was something easily available everywhere else and not hard to find like the manna and salwa.

Conclusion: Utilize and Appreciate Modern-day Convenient Blessings

If the people of today have available to them special, unique, never-before-invented gadgets, vehicles, homes, clothing, foods, appliances and other blessings, which are not only high in quality and value, but also easily available to them, at the tap or swipe of a finger on a digital screen, for example, then they should not deliberately deny these blessings and instead seek to acquire lower-quality things that will make their lives harder.

Because then, like the Bani Isra’il, this action of theirs would also be a way of showing ingratitude to Allah and denying His special favors upon them.

As an example, stitched clothing of every size, style and variety is more widely available now, and at reasonable prices, than it was ever before, when tailors’ services would be privately acquired to get personal garments stitched for families, after first tediously scouring marketplaces for cloth, buttons, linings, and laces.

Automated machines and factory assembly lines have made our lives so much easier – in so many ways! And this is actually a manifestation of Allah’s special favor and blessing upon this portion of mankind, which came into existence after the world-transforming industrial and Internet revolutions.

How would one then perceive someone in this new age who, for example, still stubbornly insists on weaving their own cloth, knitting their own sweaters, walking everywhere on foot or on horseback, tilling their own edible produce; churning butter and grinding flour themselves; using only a fireplace for indoor heating, and only candles/lanterns for lighting at night?

Would you consider them to be admirably, old-school-style, self-reliant and entrepreneurial, or making life difficult for themselves by denying Allah’s special favors on the people who dwell in the current age?

Allah knows best.

(From Discovering Islam archive)