إِذَا أَحَبَّ اللهُ عَبْداً ابْتَلاهُ لِيَسْمَعَ تَضَرُّعَهُ
“When Allāh loves one of His slaves, He tests him to hear his supplication.”
Commentary & Reflections
“When Allāh loves one of His slaves,” meaning, He wants good for His slave and desires that he will be successful. “He tests him,” and the test may come through various means. It may come through one being afflicted with an illness, a major event in one’s life that causes him grief, or one may be tested through experiencing financial difficulty. And while some of these are similar, not every one of Allāh’s slaves will experience the test in the exact same way. Sometimes one might experience one of these, and sometimes one might experience them all at once.
To clarify by way of example, an illness in a family may be a difficulty for the one who is sick. As well, it may cause immense grief for the family members who support their loved one during it. And then, if the illness is serious and treatment is needed, the medical bills that the family ends up paying can accumulate into very substantial amounts.
In another example, if one loses his job, he may experience subsequent financial difficulty. This can also result in immense stress and grief, both from the one who lost his job, and as well, from those who are financially dependent on him.
These tests that Allāh gives us come while we live as individuals, as married couples, as parents with children, as children with parents, and as households. If a man is tested by job lose, that may also be a test for his wife, children, and other dependents. If a family member is tested by illness, that may also be a test for the family around who love him.
This ḥadīth mentions that these tests come because Allāh wants to hear our prayers. The Prophet Muḥammad (upon him be peace) said: “To hear his supplication.” Verily, Allāh wants His slave to submit to Him and surrender. Allāh wants His slave to earnestly pray to Him, so that He may bestow righteous qualities upon him. While beseeching Allāh, one will ask Him to endow him with things such as noble character and benevolence. Allāh wants us to pray for His forgiveness and mercy. Allāh wants us to ask Him for His divine assistance. Allāh wants us to pray for nearness to Him. Verily, these are asked for when the servant prays, and they may be bestowed when his Lord answers.
When the worshiper supplicates, the Angels acknowledge him by identifying his voice. Jibrīl asks: “O my Lord! Shall You fulfill his need.” Then, Allāh says: “Leave him. Verily, I want to hear his supplication.”
Imām Ghazālī said: “For this reason, we see that many saints and Allāh’s chosen servants are afflicted by difficulties. From among all the worshipers, these individuals are the most honored.”
When one sees the world becoming difficult and finds trials and tribulations in his life, he should know that with his Lord he is beloved. One in this situation is treading the path of the righteous and may be very close to Him. Verily, Allāh is well acquainted with all our affairs.
Have we not heard, studied, and pondered over this verse? In Q 52:48, Allāh says:
وَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ فَإِنَّكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا
“Have patience with your Lord’s judgement. Verily, you are under Our watch.”
Certainly, one must acknowledge the abundant favors and grace that his Lord has given. Through one’s prayers and piety, Allāh will shower him in reward. One’s station will become elevated. He will be from the righteous, those who are near to Him.
Imām ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī explained that being tested through tribulations is a spiritual station. One may be tested to punish him for misdeeds. One may be tested as an expiation for his sins. And one may be tested to raise his rank and spiritual station. Furthermore, each one of these has a sign.
(1) If one is impatient and anxiety ridden, and they exhibit that by complaining to others, then it is the first.
(2) If one is patient, does not complain, and finds that acts of obedience are easy to perform, then it is the second.
(3) If one finds contentment, calmness, and his heart remains at ease along with good deeds being easy both inwardly and outwardly, then it is the third.
It may be good for us to do some self-reflection and see how we are handling our current situation. Have our lives erupted into the frantic uproar of pandemonium? Or have we found solace with our hands raised in prayer on the prayer mats in our homes and with our tongues engaged in tilāwah from the maṣāḥif on our bookshelves? Are we content with our Lord’s decree?
Every invocation and supplication that we make is significant. In Q 40:60, Allāh says:
ادْعُونِي أَسْتَجِبْ لَكُمْ
“Pray to Me, I will answer you.”
And the Prophet Muḥammad (upon him be peace) said:
«دُعَاءُ الْمُسْلِمِ بَيْنَ إِحْدَى ثَلَاثٍ: إِمَّا أَنْ يُعْطَى مَسْأَلَتَهُ الَّتِي سَأَلَ، أَوْ يُرْفَعَ بِهَا دَرَجَةً، أَوْ يُحَطُّ بِهَا عَنْهُ خَطِيئَةً»
“A Muslim’s supplication is between one of the following three: (1) he is either given what he prayed for, (2) his station is raised, or (3) one of his sins is expiated.”
(Fayḍ al-Qadīr, 1:245; Sharḥ al-Zurqānī, 2:57; Tamhīd, 5:346)
By Mln. Yaqub Abdurrahman