Lessons from Sura Ankabut Lesson 2: Recognize the test

blog quran & spirituality Jul 18, 2014


In the last post, we looked at the meaning of tests and trials for believers and asked the question “why does Allah test us?” In this post, inshallah we will look at the ways that He tests us.
How does He test?
a. Both blessings and life challenges are tests:
Human beings tend to become very complacent when things are going well. We become distracted through, and engrossed in, our blessings. We forget Him who gave us these blessings.
Allah swt reminds us in the Quran that both blessings and challenges are tests.

إِنَّا خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن نُّطْفَةٍ أَمْشَاجٍ نَّبْتَلِيهِ فَجَعَلْنَاهُ سَمِيعًا بَصِيرًا
[76:2] Surely We have created man from a small life-germ uniting (itself): We mean to try him, so We have made him hearing, seeing.

فَأَمَّا الْإِنسَانُ إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ رَبُّهُ فَأَكْرَمَهُ وَنَعَّمَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَكْرَمَنِ
[89:15] And as for man, when his Lord tries him, then treats him with honor and makes him lead an easy life, he says: My Lord honors me.

وَأَمَّا إِذَا مَا ابْتَلَاهُ فَقَدَرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقَهُ فَيَقُولُ رَبِّي أَهَانَنِ
[89:16] But when He tries him (differently), then straitens to him his means of subsistence, he says: My Lord has disgraced me.

While the test of a life challenge may be clear, it is more difficult to recognize that in fact, even blessings that we have been given are a trial and a test to see how much we remember Him and our ultimate destiny when we are in comfort and ease and are distracted by ease.

He reminds us again of this in the following verse which suggests that power and influence is another kind of trial. When we are in a position of authority, it is difficult to remember that the authority itself is a trial regarding how we will behave with the trust of authority given to us.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلاَئِفَ الأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
[6:165] And He it is Who has made you successors in the land and raised some of you above others by (various) grades, that He might try you by what He has given you; surely your Lord is quick to requite (evil), and He is most surely the Forgiving, the Merciful.

In the following ayat, once again He reminds us that blessings and misfortunes are trials to see if we will remain connected with Him regardless of our state, of constriction or expansion and plenty.

وَقَطَّعْنَاهُمْ فِي الأَرْضِ أُمَمًا مِّنْهُمُ الصَّالِحُونَ وَمِنْهُمْ دُونَ ذَلِكَ وَبَلَوْنَاهُمْ بِالْحَسَنَاتِ وَالسَّيِّئَاتِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
[7:168] And We cut them up on the earth into parties, (some) of them being righteous and (others) of them falling short of that, and We tried them with blessings and misfortunes that they might turn.
"There is no qabd (extension) and bast (contraction) except that in it there is for God a purpose, a decree, and a trial. Imam Sadiq (as)
In other words, every gift, expansion and obstruction, and every command, prohibition and duty is for the sake of trial.
It is said that this world is a farm, a place to gather provisions for the hereafter. These provisions are gathered in the way we interact with our life circumstances, the way we respond to our lot in life.
The way to succeed in the test of life is to remain connected to Him in gratitude and obedience, in situations of ease and plenty as well as constriction and challenge.
Our individual test is what we make of our situation. Two people given different baskets of groceries cannot be judged in relation to each other in the dish that they have produced. If one basket has only potatoes and celery whereas the other has a long list of gourmet ingredients, it would not be just to judge between them on an objective level. The biggest consideration is what was achieved, given the set ingredients.
And so it is with our life. We only need to live up to our potential considering the hand we were dealt.


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