Calamity Leads to Humility
In the previous ayaat, we studied a refutation of shirk [associating partners with Allah] and kufr [disbelief] and an affirmation of tawheed [Oneness of Allah]. The idolators were asked who they would call upon if they were afflicted by a trial. Through past incidents it has been ascertained that when the idolators or disbelievers go through a suffering they call upon Allah, so wouldn’t it be wise if they believed in Him and called upon Him during good times as well.
In ayaat 31 and 32, we learnt that they will have regrets in the Hereafter for their disbelief. However, the remorse will creep in after witnessing the torment of the Hereafter. Therefore, in the coming ayaat Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala talks about punishment in the worldly life as well. He doesn’t wait for the Hereafter to give us a jolt but through small trials and tribulations He keeps giving people a wakeup call.
Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala says,
And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with hardship and affliction that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us].
Messages and messengers were sent to almost every nation. Some nations directly received a messenger such as the people of Makkah but the Prophet sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam also took the message to other places such as Taif and Madina. Therefore, the message was sent to all the people.
The word bil-basai [بِالْبَأْسَآءِ] is from the root letters ba-hamza-seen and it means “extreme poverty, physical hurt or physical hardship”. It does not necessarily mean that a person may be suffering from a loss but it is when a person is suffering from hardship.
The word wal-darai [وَالضَّرَّآءِ] is from the root letters dad-ra-ra and it means “everything that a person suffers from in his nafs, in his body or in his heart”. It is a mental, physical and emotional pain. The wa in the beginning is prefixed conjunction translated as “and”.
When the people opposed the messengers, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala made them go through difficulties and suffering such as loss of wealth, diminished provisions, illnesses, diseases and various types of other pains. This was done so that people could humble themselves before Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala, call and supplicate to Him without a speck of arrogance.
For example, the Pharaoh denied the message of Allah despite witnessing several miracles. His nation was afflicted with famine, poverty, an increase in locust and frogs. Each time they suffered people would go to Musa `alayhi salaam that pray to your Lord to remove this affliction. However, when the hardship was removed they returned to their previous condition.
The word yatadarra’una [يَتَضَرَّعُونَ] is from the root letters dad-ra-ayn and it means, “to show humility, express one’s helplessness, lower one’s self or submit”. It is when a person quietly and privately cries before someone to get their help. They become emotional so that mercy is shown to them.
Crying before Allah is showing our weakness that “O Allah! I don’t know what’s good for me. I can’t help myself. You know what state I am in and what’s best for me.” This shows he needs help. It takes a lot to break a man’s ego. People don’t acknowledge their weakness. Tadarra’un is when one is completely crushed.
Surah al-Anaam was revealed one year before the migration to Madina therefore it contains severe warning for the people of Makkah. They have been shown miracles, gone through sufferings, given warnings and if they still don’t wake up the consequences are going to be grave.
– Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala sends messengers to show people the right path and to warn them of Allah’s punishment. If they believe their provision will be increased. When they disbelieve minor punishments are sent so that they turn to Allah. When a person is constantly enjoying his life he doesn’t realize he needs Allah.
For example us, when we are fine we don’t even bother to make du’a. But the moment we are hurt we immediately turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. This again is a mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala that through minor calamities He provides us respite to change our behavior.
– Receiving messengers, message or guidance is a blessing from Allah. If we look at our lives after gaining correct knowledge of Deen aren’t we better now? We may not be doing financially good but spiritually, mentally and emotionally we are much stronger and content than we were previously.
– Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala tests people through basa [بَأْسَآ] and darai [ضَّرَّآءِ] i.e. adversity, hardship, poverty, mental and emotion pain so that people remember Allah and seek help from Him. It is not to harm or torture us. Some people object to trials and ask where Allah’s mercy is; He is Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem, how come I am being afflicted? This is actually a mercy of Allah so that we turn to Him. It is a wakeup call before the final punishment.
– A person is afflicted by calamity because of his own sins. If he seeks forgiveness and stays patient Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala will remove the sins and raise his status.
– We learn about the importance of turning to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala. He sends hardship and affliction so that we turn to Him. Therefore, when someone is going through a suffering or when a natural disaster strikes instead of complaining or whining to people they should let go of their ego, humble themselves and turn to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala.
Prophet Yaqoob `alayhi salaam, when he was separated from his beloved son Yusuf `alayhi salaam said, “I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah…” [Qur’an 12:86]
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