Tafseer Surah Aal-Imran Ayaat 137 – 143
In these beautiful ayaat, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala teaches us how to handle tests and trials in our lives.
When we are tested in our life, we should look at those who are going through severe trials. Tests and trials are a part of life. They are not here to stay forever rather they are there to teach us a lesson which we do not pay attention to when we are enjoying the blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reminds the Sahabah radhiAllahu ‘anhum that the Muslims are not the first ones to be tested. The nations before them, who followed their prophets ‘alayhim salaam, suffered losses too. However, the good end was theirs and the ultimate defeat was for the disbelievers.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala encourages us to travel through the earth and not make this a trip for pleasure but for learning. It means learn from the mistakes of others. Why did Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala decide to perish these civilizations, some of which were strong and well-educated?
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
هَٰذَا بَيَانٌ لِّلنَّاسِ وَهُدًى وَمَوْعِظَةٌ لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ
“This [Qur’an] is a clear statement to [all] the people and a guidance and instruction for those conscious of Allah.”
It means the Qur’an explains the true reality of things and narrates how the previous nations suffered by the hands of their enemies. It is a guidance and instruction for it contains the news of the past and lessons for the souls. But who will take benefit from it? Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala tells us, “those conscious of Allah,” meaning the Muttaqeen. They are those who hasten to do what Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala likes and stay away from what He has prohibited. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala make us of them, ameen.
Then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
وَلَا تَهِنُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَنتُمُ الْأَعْلَوْنَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ –
“So do not weaken and do not grieve, and you will be superior if you are [true] believers.”
It teaches us that one single incident in our lives should not make us give up living. When we are deprived of something, we should reflect on our past and think about the many blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that we have enjoyed. Alhumdulillah!
He mentions a key ingredient for our success, “sincerity.” If we live as true believers then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will surely help us. If today we have suffered a loss, tomorrow we can be the successful ones if we keep doing what He commands us to do with devotion and sincerity.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala instructs us to look at the sufferings of others,
إِن يَمْسَسْكُمْ قَرْحٌ فَقَدْ مَسَّ الْقَوْمَ قَرْحٌ مِّثْلُهُ ۚ
If a wound should touch you – there has already touched the [opposing] people a wound similar to it.”
People are killed in wars and suffer injuries. It is not only one party getting hurt but the enemy forces also face loss of lives and material possessions. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala alternates winning and losing between two parties to separate the true believers from the wrongdoers, and those who will gladly give up their lives for the cause of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. These trials are not to punish us but to “purify” us from the filth of our sins.
[Hadeeth Commentary: Punishment in this World is Expiation for Sins]
When a person is blessed, there are only a few fortunate ones, who remember Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Sometimes, we are enjoying our blessings so much that we start missing our five obligatory prayers. We love food so much that we can fast voluntarily. We love our wealth so much that we become stingy when it’s time to give Zakat. We go for foreign vacations but are not as enthusiastic about Hajj or ‘Umrah. Then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala sends a trial our way to wake us up.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا مِنكُمْ وَيَعْلَمَ الصَّابِرِينَ –
“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while Allah has not yet made evident those of you who fight in His cause and made evident those who are steadfast?”
Do we think we will enter Paradise without being tested with warfare and hardships?
This question appears repeatedly in the Qur’an. In Surah Al-Baqarah, we read:
أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا
“Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken…” (2:214)
In Surah Al-Ankabooth, He asks,
أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, ‘We believe’ and they will not be tried?” (29:2)
All these ayaat mean that we cannot enter Paradise until we have been tested. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala knows who among us are the ones who struggle and fight in His cause and are patient in the face of the enemy.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,
وَلَقَدْ كُنتُمْ تَمَنَّوْنَ الْمَوْتَ مِن قَبْلِ أَن تَلْقَوْهُ فَقَدْ رَأَيْتُمُوهُ وَأَنتُمْ تَنظُرُونَ
“And you had certainly wished for martyrdom before you encountered it, and you have [now] seen it [before you] while you were looking on.”
Ibn Katheer writes the ayah proclaims, O believers! Before today, you wished that you could meet the enemy and were eager to fight them. What you wished has occurred so fight them and be patient.
In the Two Saheehs, it is recorded that the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,
لَا تَتَمَنَّوْا لِقَاءَ الْعَدُوِّ، وَسَلُوا اللهَ الْعَافِيَةَ، فَإِذَا لَقِيتُمُوهُمْ فَاصْبِرُوا، وَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّ الْجَنَّـةَ تَحْتَ ظِلَالِ السُّيُوف
“Do not wish to encounter the enemy, and ask Allah for your well-being. However, if you do encounter them, then observe patience and know that Paradise is under the shade of swords.”
This is why Allah said here, “and you have [now] seen it,” meaning death. You saw it when the swords appeared, the blades were sharpened, the spears crisscrossed and men stood in lines for battle. This part of the Ayah contains a figure of speech that mentions imagining what can be felt but not seen.
We learn that grief, sadness, laziness, weakness and depression is not liked by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. A setback happens, take the lesson from it, do istighfar and move on. People who live in their past do not progress.
One failure does not define us. We have failed on one test it is not the end of the world. We can retry and do our best.
We learn that in the end, only the true believers will be successful. Instead of complaining to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala about your failure, work on your emaan and think about the life after death.
We also learn that tests and trials are part of our worldly life. We must learn to accept them. We should sit with the learned people and see how they face their challenges.
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