بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Many years ago, one of my dear friends decided to start wearing the hijab, alhamdulillah. But she confided to me that she began to face all sorts of difficulties after wearing it.
“I’m trying to be a good servant of Allah, so why is Allah making my life difficult?”
I think many of us might think this way at some point. We wonder: “How come I still face hardships after hardships, when Allah knows I’m trying my best to be a good Muslim?” Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala has actually addressed this in the Qur’an, saying:
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe’, and will not be tested?”
[Surah Al-Ankabut 29: 2]
Imam Ibn Kathir rahimahullah wrote: “Allah will inevitably test His believing servants according to their level of faith, as recorded in the authentic hadith. The people most severely tested are the Prophets, then the righteous, then the next best, and the next best. A man will be tested in accordance with the degree of his religious commitment; the stronger his religious commitment, the stronger his test (will be).”
To illustrate this further, ponder over the story of a man named Juraij as recorded in Sahih Muslim 2550 — he was truly a pious man, and yet he was tested immensely.
🌸 Even the pious are tested
The hadith introduced us about Juraij by first mentioning that he had a place of solitude, where he would often spend his time worshipping Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. That was the level of his devotion to Allah, and Juraij’s extraordinary piety was well known among his people.
One day, his mother decided to visit him at his place of worship, so she called out to him from outside. But Juraij was in the midst of praying his voluntary prayer. When he heard his mother’s call, he said: “My Rabb, my mother (is calling me while I am engaged in) my prayer (meaning, do I end my prayer and respond to my mother, or do I continue praying)?”
Juraij thought it was best to keep praying. So he did not answer her, and the mother left. She came to visit Juraij two more times in the subsequent days, and each time Juraij was praying his voluntary prayer. Each time he decided not to respond to her.
On her third visit however, Juraij’s mother made a du’a to Allah before she left. She said: “My Rabb, do not let him die until he sees the faces of prostitutes first.”
(My teacher pointed out that his mother didn’t supplicate for Allah to destroy Juraij’s modesty, rather the wordings of “the faces” imply that she wanted him to learn a lesson for refusing to see the face of his mother.)
And indeed, one day, an attractive prostitute came to his people. She said: “If you wish, I can allure him to evil (meaning, I can take down this pious Juraij whom you all so admire).” So this woman beautified and presented herself to Juraij. But because Allah granted him an amazing level of piety and taqwa, Juraij gave her absolutely zero attention.
One would think that after passing such an extraordinarily massive test, Allah will immediately reward Juraij with ease and blessings, right?
After his rejection, the woman decided to go to a shepherd who lived nearby, and they committed adultery. As a result, she got pregnant, and when she gave birth, she announced to the people: “This is from Juraij!”. The people ended up believing in her.
So they all headed towards his place of worship, then physically hit and beat him up, and destroyed his building. The people said: “You have committed fornication with this prostitute, and she has given birth to your child!” Juraij must have been so shaken and confused from all the chaos and accusation!
If we were in his shoes, what would our reaction be? Would we be frustrated, disappointed, and angry with Allah? Would we be thinking: “Ya Allah, I worship you day in and day out, and this is what I get?”
But observe what Juraij did next: He asked to allow him some time alone to pray to Allah.
Juraij went immediately for salaah. He didn’t despair of Allah’s Mercy. Instead of being angry at Allah, he handed his grief and troubled heart to Al-Mujeeb, the One Who responds to His servants’ supplications.
When Juraij finished praying, he asked the baby: “Who is your father?” And from the Mercy of Allah, He subhanahu wa ta'ala made the baby capable of answering Juraij’s question, saying: “He is such-and-such, the shepherd.”
Upon seeing this miracle, his people became extremely remorseful. They wanted to rebuild his house of worship with gold, but Juraij simply said to just rebuild it with mud, as it had been.
This was the story of Juraij, a humble and a very pious man from Bani Israel, and yet he was greatly tested mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Indeed, it was a mistake to not answer his mother’s call, but perhaps Juraij was unaware that what he did was wrong. Scholars said that the best thing to do was to stop the voluntary prayer, so that one could immediately answer his parents. However, in the case of obligatory prayers, it is best to hasten one’s salaah until completion, after which one should dutifully answer his parents. In Sahih Muslim, this hadith is written under the chapter of “Being Dutiful To One's Parents Takes Precedence Over Voluntary Prayer”.
🌸 Why Allah tests us
Our iman is not some sort of a magical shield we wield to deflect tests and trials in life. Allah says that even the most pious — even His beloved Prophets ‘alayhumus-salaam were tested. No one can escape from being tested in this dunya.
But why does Allah test us? Consider the following hadith where Rasulullah ﷺ said:
“The believer is not harmed by a thorn or anything greater than that, but Allah will *raise* him in status thereby, or *erase* a sin thereby.” [Sahih Muslim 2572b]
When Allah tests us, it is not necessarily to punish us, but it can be:
(1) a means to expiate our sins, for we are all imperfect, and we often make mistakes. Allah wishes to remove these sins so that we will meet Him on the Day of Judgement with a clear record, or
(2) a means for us to be rewarded immensely on the Day of Judgement due to our patience in facing such trials.
This is why Rasulullah ﷺ said: “Indeed, greater reward comes with greater trial. And indeed, when Allah loves a people, He subjects them to trials.” [At-Tirmidhi 2396 | Graded Hasan by Darussalam]
The point of the matter is, whatever the reason may be — whether it is to expiate our sins, or to raise our status in His Sight so that we may earn a higher level of Jannah — the purpose why we are tested, and why trials continue to befall onto a believer is always khayr. We need to trust Allah, that He subhanahu wa ta'ala only wants what is good for our dunya and akhirah.
Alhamdulillah, my dear friend continues to wear the hijab until today. And after several years, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala opened for her the way, and facilitated her to perform Hajj with her husband. May Allah grant them Hajj mabroor.
“And those who strive in Our (Cause), We will certainly guide them to Our Paths; and verily, Allah is with the Muhsinun (i.e. people of ihsan).”
[Surah Al-Ankabut 29: 69]
Your sister in Deen,