By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
ِAll praises are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, companions and those who follow him well until Judgement Day.
Dear brothers and sisters, know that, Allah Almighty always helps and provides us with a way out from every hardships and difficulties that we face. Hardships and disasters have been hitting different people at different levels in different parts of the world throughout the human history. People have different views and opinions for disasters, difficulties and hardships; some people take them as events and accidents taking place by chance, while many others take them as torments and trials from Allah. When a misfortune comes to them they say:
“We are from Allah and we shall certainly return to him.” [Qur’an, 2:156]
Respected servants of Allah, now let me see the depth of hardships and disasters and how to overcome such hardships and disasters, according to the teachings of Islam.
Firstly we must agree that natural disasters are warning for those who are sinners. This fact has been mentioned in the noble Qur’an:
“Even in this world we shall make them taste (one or the other) lesser torment before that greater torment; maybe they desist (from their rebellion attitude).” [Qur’an, 32:21]
Allah Almighty showed his signs to Fir’aun (Pharaoh) in the form of natural disaster and calamities before final punishment so that he may reform himself. This fact has been revealed in the noble Qur’an:
“We afflicted the people of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) with hard times and with poor harvest that they may heed.” [Qur’an, 7:130]
Many a time hardships and disasters are punishment for disbelievers and transgressors and warnings for sinners but sometimes they do come to test the believers and pious people. This fact has been mentioned in the noble Qur’an:
“We will surely put you to trial by involving you in fear and hunger and by causing loss of property, life and earnings. And give good tidings to those who remain steadfast in these trials.” [Qur’an, 2:155]
And His saying:
“Do people think they will be left alone? Because they say we believe and will not be tested? Indeed Allah will test those who were before them, and will certainly make it for those who are true.” [Qur’an]
Therefore, the believer shall be tested, in his leaders, in his wealth, himself, and his offsprings and family. The believer shall be tested accordingly to the degree of his faith, the stronger is the faith, and the larger is the test.
People who are either disbelievers or cross his limits are punished by Allah. In the noble Qur’an Allah has mentioned that hardships and disasters are the result of his disobedience:
“And whatever strikes you of hardship and disaster it is for what your hands have earned.“ [Qur’an, 42:30]
One should note that here the cause of all human afflictions is not being stated but addressing directly to the people who were at that time committing disbelief and disobedience at Makkah. They are being told: Had Allah seized you for all your sins and crimes, He would not have even allowed you to live. But the calamities that have descended on you are only a warning so that you may take heed and examine your actions and deeds to see as to what attitude and conduct you have adopted against your Lord. And you can try to understand how helpless you actually are against Almighty. It is necessary to state as regard to the sincere believer, Allah’s law for him is different. All the disasters, hardships that befall him go on becoming atonement for his sins, errors and deficiencies. It is mentioned in an authentic Hadith that:
“Whatever sorrows and suffering, distress and grief and afflictions and worry that a Muslim experiences, even if it be a thorn prick, it is made an atonement by Allah for one or the other of his error.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
As for the hardships that results from disasters a believer faces in the way of raising Allah’s word (Da’awah), they do not merely become atonement for his deficiencies but also a means of the exaltations of ranks with Allah.
Sometimes, natural disasters are intense and crush even the innocent people surrounding by. These innocent people will get reward of Allah on the day of judgement for the affliction they faced. Allah has warned in the noble Qur’an about such trials and tribulations which don’t hit specifically disobedient people. Allah Almighty says:
“And guard against the mischief that will not only bring punishment to the wrong doers among you. Know well that Allah is severe in punishment.” [Qur’an, 8:25]
Allah has clearly mentioned to those widespread social evils whose baneful effects are limited only to those addicted to them, but which affect even those who, although they might not be addicted to those sins. For example If filth is found at a few places in a locality it will possibly affect only those who have not kept themselves or their houses clean. However, if it becomes widespread and no one is concerned with removing uncleanliness and maintaining hygienic conditions, then everything, including water and soil will become contaminated. As a result, if epidemics breakout, they will not only afflict those who were responsible for spreading filth and themselves lived in unhygienic conditions but virtually all the residents of that locality.
The message of Allah has been sent to all previous generations through various Prophets. Whenever the transgression of a generations exceeded, Allah destroyed them all because of their iniquities except a few whom he pleased. Allah sent Prophets after Prophets but there were always a large number of people who ridiculed the signs of Allah. Allah tells us in the Qur’an to reflect upon the stories of the old and to learn a lesson from their fate. The final result of their constant transgression was destruction. When punishment came to these sinners their only last utterance was:
“Indeed we did wrong.” [Qur’an, 7:5]
In the end they did cry for mercy but it was no longer time for being saved [Qur’an, 38:3].
Allah has also narrated the incidents of different tribes and people who were hit by natural disasters, difficulties and hardships. Some of these incidents are discussed below:
- The people of Prophet Nuh (Peace be upon him): The people of Prophet Nuh practised polytheism and did not heed his message. As a result, they had to face flood as punishment.
- The people of Aad: The people of Aad also practised polytheism and rejected their Messenger Hud (Peace be upon him). They used to claim that they were the superpower and say:
“Who is mightier than us in strength?”
They were punished by Allah by a windstorm.
- The people of Samud: The people of Samud indulged in homosexuality. Prophet Lut (Peace be upon him ) invited them to the right path but they did not refrain from their bad habit as a result Allah rained them down with a rain of stones.
- The people of Prophet Musa (AS): Fir’aun (Pharaoh) was disobedient to Allah Almighty and denied the clear signs brought to him by Prophet Musa (AS), as a result he was finally caught by Allah and drowned.
- Wealthy people’s destruction: Qarun was a wealthy person unwilling to admit that his wealth was given to him by Allah. He thought it was the result of his effort and denied the blessings and right of Allah Almighty on his wealth. Allah Almighty caused the earth to swallow him, his wealth and his dwelling place.
At this point we need to understand and ask ourselves that today, are we too facing such torment in our lives in some or the other way??? There is a need to rectify our connection with our creator, Allah Almighty. Narrated Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) she said:
“I never saw Allah’s messenger laughing loudly enough to enable me to see his uvula, but he used to smile only. And whenever he saw clouds or winds, signs of deep concern would appear on his face. I said, “O Allah’s Messenger, when people see clouds they feel happy, hoping that it would rain, while I see that when you see clouds, signs of dissatisfaction appear on your face. He said, “O Aisha, what is guarantee for me that there will be no punishment in it, since some people were punished with a wind. Verily some people saw the punishment, but they said, “This cloud will give us rain.” [Bukhari]
Dear brothers and sisters, due to hardships and disasters the Iman (faith) of a believer can be shaken off, it is difficult to return to Allah with the same level of Iman which was before the hardship and disaster. Shaitan (Satan) finds every possible trick to lower the faith of a believer. Thankful moments to Allah become ungrateful with loads of anger, displeasure, complains, dissatisfaction and discomfort. It is the peak time to understand how one is being tested by Allah and act wisely on that which befalls. Patience is an attribute to which Islam attaches great importance. Being patient during hardship, difficulty and disaster is the best attitude towards faith in Allah. As mentioned in noble Qur’an:
“Nothing will befall us except what Allah has decreed for us: he is our protector.” [Qur’an, 9:51]
The noble Qur’an is beautiful in all, provides solutions to those who are in patience, and directly affects the heart and soothes it in the hours of trial and difficulty. Most of these verses are directly or indirectly related to the virtue of patience. Patience is to restraint from anxiety and remain calm in hardship. It is a virtue which enables us to proceed towards worthy goals and remain unaffected by difficult situations. And wallahi, every believer who believes in Allah will be tested. Such test can come in the form of having poor leadership, having corrupt civil servants in our systems, high taxes, unemployment, insecurity, high cost of living, inflation, fear, poverty, hunger, diseases, illness and loss in goods or lives. No one can have a completely blissful life without trials and hardships. But Allah does not burden a soul greater than it can bear. Whenever He afflicts us with some difficulty, He gives us hope too. We are not left alone with trials and hardships. So, the fact is:
“Along with hardship there is also ease.” [Qur’an, 94:05]
Allah Almighty always helps and provides us with a way out from every difficulty that we face. Our hardships, burdens, troubles and difficulties can be removed through prayers, patience, having complete faith in Allah and by being optimistic for whatever befalls. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“Strange is the affair of a believer, verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks Allah and it becomes better for him.”
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) encouraged us to thank Allah when we hear a pleasant news as well as when we witness a bad news. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)’s personality was a fountain of optimism. Despite his own trying financial situation and the verbal insults hurdled at him throughout the period of Makkah of his Prophethood he remained extremely positive. He was constantly looking for ways to bring relief. During the trials, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) responded to his companion with calmness and optimism as mentioned in noble Qur’an:
“Don’t worry, verily Allah is with us.”
If we see the lives of great Companions of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) they replete with examples of positive attitude and focus on bigger aspects. From Khadijah’s profound words of comfort to Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) when he was overwhelmed by the first revelation to Aisha’s incredible act of generosity to the poor despite experiencing hunger.
Our thoughts have a powerful ability to determine our feelings and emotional states and ultimately affect how we behave, for better or worse. Islam teaches us to direct the act of reflection or deep thoughts towards the signs of Allah, to his blessings and wonders, to hope in the hereafter, and to be optimistic. We can increase the effectiveness of our prayers and worship when hardship and disaster strikes and relieve ourselves from the anger, depression and anxieties that worldly thoughts induce us. Thinking about the blessings of Allah is itself an act of worship that leads to gratitude, contentment and happiness. It takes no significant effort from us and yet it produces great results in our lives. When a hardship, disaster or calamity befall, make supplications, we should affirm it in our hearts and minds that Allah has without a doubt already heard and answered us. Sometime the answer does not come the way we would expect. But as long as we pray for good and expect good, the answer has already been fulfilled ever if we do not know how? As long as we continue praying and supplicating, the answer is sure to come even if it is stored for the next life. In contrast, we are in danger of having our prayers unanswered if we get frustrated or stop praying. When someone becomes pious, Allah resolves his problems and open doors of blessings to him and when someone repents Allah takes away their torment. The act of being patience is beneficial for all those being tested by Allah. If they face a hardship, calamity or a disaster with patience then they will get reward for this.
May Allah save all of us from hardships, disasters and his wrath through which He punishes transgressors, and give us vision so that we can reform ourselves and help those who are under trial. The rewards of being patience are immense. As such, being patient is one of the best ways to seek Allah’s mercy. Patience is not just a matter of will power instead it is Allah’s gift for us.
“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every hardship and difficulty). And He will provide for him from sources he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.” [Qur’an, 65:2-3]
Respected brothers and sisters, wallahi this is one of my favourite verses of the Qur’an. Allah can make a way out for you from every hardship and difficulty. And He can provide from sources you never could have imagined.
Know that Allah is Al-Qadir, the Able. He is Al-Muqtadir, the All-Powerful. He can do what we cannot imagine. He is Al-Fattah, the Opener. He can open doors we could never imagine being opened for us. He is Al-Wahhab, the Giver of Gifts. He can give us things we could not even have imagined.
Please, dear brothers and sisters, do not limit Allah’s Power by your imagination. Ask Him with your hands open towards the sky. Ask Him for the big and the small, the possible and the impossible. When you see no way out from the hardships and difficulties you are in, fear Him, keep your duty to Him and ask Him to make a way out for you. And you will see doors opening and provisions coming that perhaps you could never have imagined yourself. Have trust in Him. He will make a way out for you, He will get you out of your hardships and troubles and He will grant you things you never knew you could ask for.
Prophet Musa’s mother did as she was commanded and Allah not only reunited her with her baby, but the circumstances were turned in her favour in a way that instead of living in fear for the life of her baby, she was paid to take care of her own son. It couldn’t have gotten any better than this. Allah gave her more than He promised her. She was reunited with her son and she had both physical and financial security.
• Things Islam Recommends For A Believer In Times Of Hardships And Difficulties
Dear brothers and sisters, are you going through hardships and difficulties, and you think there is no way out? This is what Islam wants you to do. When a man/woman goes through a difficulty or faces a hardship, he/she sometimes loses hope, complains or blames those around him, especially his/her leaders etc. Some may feel sad and powerless when they find themselves in a certain situation, but as a Muslim, a believer, a conscious one, you are not expected to lose hope in the mercy and blessing of your Lord, regardless of the situation you find yourself. Allah Almighty says:
“So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily with every difficulty there is relief. Therefore, when you are free (from your immediate task), still labour hard. And to your Lord turn (all) your attention.” [Qur’an, 94:5-7]
So, instead of lamenting and surrendering oneself to hardship, Islam recommends something to do, and from the above verse, it is clear that the worship of Allah is very important no matter what we are going through:
Muslims are expected to perform the five times prayers daily. In fact, no hardship should make anyone ignore this duty because it is one of the recommended means to ease oneself out of a difficulty or hardship.
- Read the noble Qu’ran
Reading the Qur’an is so beautiful that no matter what difficulties you face you’ll find solace in it. Its recitation will grant you the needed rest of mind and restore your hope in the mercy of Allah.
- Make Du’a/Pray/Supplicate
For anyone going through any form of hardship, Islam recommends some prayer points to make while you sit to remember Allah. Here is one of such prayers:
“O Allah, I take refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men.
- Give Sadaqah/Charity
Giving charity is a very good and highly rewarding act of worship in Islam and one of its benefits is that it helps push away hardships and difficulties. But if you can’t give money, even kind words or physical sadaqah can do (i.e. helping people physically or emotionally).
- Wake up early and perform Qiyamul-Lail/Tahajjud/Night Prayer
He who seeks the face of Allah should not close his eyes throughout the night. Wake up early, pray, read the Qur’an, do plenty Azkar (remembrance of Allah). The hours before dawn is one of the recommended time to pray to Allah. So you don’t have to sleep all night. Wake and pray, your Lord has asked you to call on him and he shall answer you when you do.
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Muharram 22, 1442 AH (September 11, 2020).