Islamic Date

09 Shawwal

English Date

31 May

Leaves from an Autumn Tree

Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: "No Muslim is afflicted with any harm but for that Allah will cause his sins to be shed as the leaves of a tree fall down." [Sahih Bukhari]

According to Islamic faith, Allah in His wisdom prescribed suffering for essential purposes. For the unjust, suffering is a punishment. This is a fact that has long been proved in scriptures when the fate of the people of Lut, the Pharaoh and his army, the people of Nuh, etc, is told.

As for those who believe, even if they are sinners, suffering carries a different message. It could be a test through which Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) wants to elevate His pious servants to higher ranks in the hereafter. It could be a means to wash away the believer's sins and bring him or her back to his or her earlier purity.

In this context, Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "If Allah wants to do good to somebody, He afflicts him with trials." [Sahih Bukhari] This is the reason all of Allah's messengers were tried in this life: Think of Eesa (alaihis salam) when he was betrayed and driven to the threat of the cross, before he was rescued by Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). Think of Muhammad (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) who lost five of his six children, including the only male child, during his life as a father. Think of Ayyub (alaihis salaam) and his long suffering with sickness. Think of all the rest: None of them led a normal, cozy life. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) made them suffer because He loved them, He wanted them to return to Him absolutely pure, and He wished to grant them such high stations in reward as could not be achieved by their efforts.

Two reactions are expected from believers when they are exposed to any suffering. The first is to show patience, and the second is to show gratitude to Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) for sending them this test. Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) says: "...those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure..." [Al-Quran 39:10]

Patience and gratitude are not easy reactions. In fact, they need a lot of training till they become an inherent behavior. It is useful for suffering people to understand that showing intolerance or feeling annoyance or displeasure in relation to what Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) destines for them, may deprive them of the fruitful reward of their suffering. This fact should help them to discipline themselves to these nobler feelings of acceptance and contentment and overcome the natural human reactions of shock and panic.