In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Tafseer Al-Baqarah Ayah 214
In the previous ayaat we studied the command to hold fast to the instructions of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and to become sincere Muslims. We learned that in the past all human beings were on the same religion then due to their personal opinions and likes and dislikes, differences emerged. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala then sent the messengers to guide people back to the Straight Path. Some people followed the messengers and accepted the guidance and others denied the messengers and not only rejected the guidance but also persecuted those who submitted to the Message.
In the present ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives comfort to His believing servants that no success is possible without trials and suffering. Tests do not indicate Allah’s punishment because in the past messengers and their nations have also faced trials.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
Allah’s trials can be in many forms such as illnesses, pain, disasters and hardships.
The word al-basau [الْبَأْسَاءُ] is from the root ba-hamza-seen and it means distress, misfortune or calamity. Here in the ayah it means poverty. The word al-darau [الضَّرَّاءُ] is from the root daad-ra-ra and it means loss, tribulation or hardship. Zulzilu means being shaken by the fear of the enemy. All of these trials represent tremendous calamity.
An authentic hadeeth narrated that Khabbab bin Al-Aratt said: We said, “O Messenger of Allah! Why do you not invoke Allah to support us? Why do you not supplicate to Allah for us?” He said:
إِنَّ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ كَانَ أَحَدُهُمْ يُوضَعُ الْمِنْشَارُ عَلى مَفْرَقِ رَأْسِهِ فَيَخْلُصُ إِلى قَدَمَيْهِ لَا يَصْرِفُهُ ذَلِكَ عَنْ دِينِهِ، وَيُمْشَطُ بِأَمْشَاطِ الْحَدِيدِ مَا بَيْنَ لَحْمِهِ وَعَظْمِهِ، لَا يَصْرِفُهُ ذلِكَ عَنْ دِينِه
“The saw would be placed on the middle of the head of one of those who were before you (believers) and he would be sawn until his feet, and he would be combed with iron combs between his skin and bones, yet that would not make him change his religion.”
He then said:
وَاللهِ لَيُتِمَّنَّ اللهُ هَذَا الْأَمْرَ حَتَّى يَسِيرَ الرَّاكِبُ مِنْ صَنْعَاءَ إلى حَضْرَمَوْتَ، لَا يَخَافُ إِلَّا اللهَ وَالذِّئْبَ عَلى غَنَمِهِ، وَلَكِنَّــكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَسْتَعْجِلُون
“By Allah! This matter (religion) will spread (or expand) by Allah until the traveler leaves San’a’ to Hadramawt (both in Yemen, but at a great distance from each other) fearing only Allah and then the wolf for the sake of his sheep. You are just a hasty people.”
The Companions experienced tremendous trials during the battle of Al-Ahzab (the Confederates). Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said:
“(Remember) when they came at you from above you and from below you, and when eyes shifted (in fear), and hearts reached the throats and you assumed about Allah (various) assumptions. There the believers were tested and shaken with a severe shaking. And (remember) when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is disease said, ‘Allah and His Messenger did not promise us except delusion,’” [al-Ahzab 33: 10-12]
When Heraclius asked Abu Sufyan, “Did you fight him (Prophet Muhammad)?” He said, “Yes.” Heraclius said, “What was the outcome of warfare between you?” Abu Sufyan said, “Sometimes we lose and sometimes he loses.” He said, “Such is the case with prophets, they are tested, but the final victory is theirs.”
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says that the previous nations were so shaken up that the people eventually asked their messengers to call for the help of Allah. They pleaded to Allah for victory against their enemies and invoked Him for help and deliverance from their hardships and trials. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala comforts the believers by saying, “Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” In Surah Ash-Sharh, He says, “For indeed, with hardship (will be) ease. Indeed, with hardship (will be) ease.” (94: 5-6). So just as there is hardship, its equal of relief will soon arrive.
– Trials though displeasing are the only way to help us recognize ourselves. Those who complain to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala about His tests are people of weak faith. On the other hand, those who still do shukr and are pleased with the decree of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala are the people of strong faith. We should remember that the prophets ‘alayhim salaam, their Companions and many of the righteous people of the past were also tested. Instead of complaining to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala we should look at our emaan [faith] and actions. Do we live a life pleasing to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Have we committed an error or a sin?
– We should also remember that trials are a wake-up call for us. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala wants us to get out of the life of mediocrity and do something worth doing. A motivational speaker says, “Do not say: I wish it was easy. Say: I wish I was better.” We all want an easy life but one cannot reach the heights in the Hereafter without enduring hardships of this world.
– Bilal radhiAllahu ‘anhu was asked why he endured pain when he was persecuted, he replied: When you buy a clay bowl from the market, you knock it to check its durability. Will my Lord not shake me to check my strength?
– Know that if you have chosen the path of Deen then you will be tested. Now it is up to you that you give up in the middle of the journey or remain steadfast till the end. A person is tested according to his faith – the higher one’s emaan the more he will be tested. Whenever we are tested and feel like giving up we should recall the stories of the Anbiya and their Companions.
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