“We have certainly created man into hardship.” (Al-Balad:4)
This world – unlike paradise – is a world where it is required for us to struggle. It is where we taste joy but also sadness, relief but also pain, ease but also hardship.
As described in the Qu’ran,
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” (Al-Baqarah:155)
This verse demonstrates that it is life’s reality to endure some form of test, and we cannot escape it. When enduring a test, we may feel desperate to get out of it. We want to return back to our life of happiness – with our health regained or the loved one that we lost returned – but by not having what we want, we inevitably feel trapped in the situation. Situations that are in the form of trials – trials that bury us deep into helplessness.
Helplessness can lead us to see nothing but darkness; we may feel that the inside of us may break from grief and despair. In that instance, we are just like seeds that are buried beneath the ground and unable to see the light. A seed that is put under so much pressure that it ultimately cracks in preparation to sprout.
A trial’s reality
We are like seeds when enduring life’s trials, but we do not realise that – just like seeds – our trials are there for us to grow. They are there to prepare us to bloom – being put into pressure and darkness has a purpose and reason. The reason is demonstrated in the aforementioned verse from the Qur’an, that if tests are endured with patience, there will be reward. Trials are therefore a means for us to internally cultivate ourselves through patience so that we may grow in faith and be showered with reward – they are a means to distinguish us as believers and those that are true in faith, through patience.
“A believer is like a stalk. The wind constantly shakes it; the believer is constantly struck by misfortunes. A hypocrite is like a cedar tree (seeming to stand firm) but once it is shaken it is rooted out (not to rise again.)” (Muslim)
As described in the above hadith, those that are true in faith will remain steadfast, in spite of the winds. Their faith will be strong and deep-rooted enough for them to ultimately blossom and bloom.
Cracked seed to bloomed flower
There comes the question as to how to act when facing trials – how trials in life are like seeds preparing us to bloom.
Seeds need to sprout above ground in order to absorb sunlight and continue to grow. Believers, similarly, may find themselves in darkness when buried in life’s trials. In order to cope they must absorb Allah’s light – His guidance. Believers could turn to Him and rely on Him instead of feeling helpless or alone. Allah (SWT)’s guidance could bring comfort and light even in the darkest of days. We would be more able to cope with life’s trials by allowing ourselves to absorb His Mercy. Our focus, for this reason, should not be on getting out of the test but rather on turning to Allah (SWT) with patience – to rely and trust Allah (SWT) to help us get out of the test according to the timings He sees fit. Seeds, after all, ultimately do sprout from darkness into light but that is after a period of time through cultivation, after the absorption of minerals and water. Water and minerals for believers in times of trials are the teachings of Islam.
To gain Islamic knowledge is to better understand the purpose of trials. We must learn how Islamic figures of the past coped with trials – especially the Prophets. We would be able to further cultivate ourselves when we water ourselves with knowledge from the Qu’ran and Sunnah. We would be able to attain patience through knowledge, even more so after seeing how those in the past went through trials that were far worse than ours and how they were later showered with a victorious reward.
We inadvertently cultivate ourselves into growing internally by seeking Allah (SWT)’s Light and by learning from our trials. My life with physical ‘disabilities’*, at one point, put me in a total state of darkness where I could not see any hope or point to my trial. I was so focused on getting out of the test that I would feel trapped after not being able to do so. I was going nowhere and drowning in misery. This attitude prevented me from learning from the trial or grow as I always found myself in a state of feeling caged in total darkness. This, however, slowly changed in spite of still facing life with disabilities.
I was still bound to my trial but I found myself seeking Allah’s Mercy instead of feeling trapped with the trial. I started to believe that whatever I was going through was decreed for a reason, and this belief poured in rays of hope. I was then able to focus on what I can learn from the trial and how to grow.
I stumbled across books on the Prophets and saw how their trials were a lot more severe. I learnt that whatever we are going through is temporary, and we should still strive to reach our maximum potential in spite of life’s winds. This shift in attitude towards life’s trials helped me see light in times of darkness. It gave way for me to absorb and accept my trial and later learn to grow.
I was just like a seed that was sprouting from darkness into light. I was not focused on why I was put in the trial – like a seed beneath the ground – but on how I should accept it with patience and strive to grow and reach my maximum potential.
Like seeds, we are bound to this earth where we cannot escape the reality of this life. We can either focus on why life’s trials cracked us open or we can let Allah (SWT)’s light seep within our lives so that we may grow. So that we may learn, understand and nourish ourselves with His remembrance until we find ourselves transformed as believers – believers of this earth that have managed to blossom and bloom with patience.
Sa’diyya Nesar lives a life with physical ‘disabilities’ where she writes articles, prose and poetry in the hope to uplift souls into living a better tomorrow by helping them focus on their abilities. Read more from Sa’diyya on her blog and like her Facebook page for more writing updates: www.sadiyyanesar.tumblr.com
*A person is considered disabled due to dependency, but we are all in essence dependent on Allah (SWT), with different ranges of abilities and inabilities. There is no clear cut categorisation, which gives a sense of ambiguity as to what determined one to be ‘disabled.’