Just a few thoughts I had while contemplating the lives of the Prophets and Messengers (may Allah have Mercy on them all)…
Many of us spend a lot of our time complaining about how difficult our lives are, how our duas still aren’t being answered, and so on. Often, we are reminded to think of the millions of people around the world that have it worse than us, be it because of their countries being in ruins from attacks or natural disasters, to being unable to get the necessities of life because their circumstances leave them homeless, without food or any prospects for work. This is something the Prophet (SAW) told us to think about when we find ourselves struggling in accepting the conditions of our own lives.
“Look at the people beneath you (in wealth and worldly affairs) and do not gaze the ones above you (in this matter). By this, you will not underestimate the bounty of Allah bestowed upon you.” (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)
Now, let’s take a moment to reflect on why we go through the difficulties we go through. Are they really necessary? Why can’t Allah just make things easier for us and remove our difficulties because we believe in Him, the Prophet (SAW), and the Last Day?
Let’s consider the best of creation and mankind: the Prophets and Messengers of Allah (may Allah have mercy on them all). Allah could have made things easy for them. He could have removed their difficulties and made the Message accepted by all with ease. But, struggles and difficulty were still imposed upon the Prophets and Messengers. They were tests of faith, and opportunities to become stronger in their conviction in the Message of Allah.
Let’s consider some examples:
- Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was tested when his people were completely against him and tried to throw him into a pit of fire for trying to lead them away from their old ways of worship.
“Allah said, “O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham.” And they intended for him harm, but We made them the greatest losers.” – Quran (21:69-70)
- Right after having the son he prayed for, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) was commanded by Allah in a dream to sacrifice his son, Ismail (AS) for the sake of Allah. They were both tested greatly in this matter, but both agreed that if this was a command from Allah, He would provide them ease through the process. And that, He did.
And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, “O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. a ram).” – Quran (37:102-107)
- Prophet Nuh (AS) tried to teach the Message of Allah to his people for 950 years, with still resulting in only a few accepting it. Imagine the tests of patience he endured!
“And We certainly sent Noah to his people, and he remained among them a thousand years minus fifty years, and the flood seized them while they were wrongdoers.” – Quran (29:14)
- Prophet Musa (AS) was brought to test after all the people that accepted the Message of Allah followed him to freedom. As they reached the waterfront, no revelation or guidance came from Allah for quite a while. The people began to become impatient and fearful, and asked Musa (AS) why Allah wasn’t helping them. He said, “I believe not in what is seen, but I believe in the Unseen.” Allah tested their patience until Firawn (Pharoah) was within their sight, and at that point, sent the command to Musa (AS) to split the body of water by striking his staff on the ground.
- Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was ridiculed, insulted, had attempts made at his life, and more, yet he continued with patience. Even when things became unbearable, he sought protection and guidance from Allah. For a reference to the examples of this, read the Quran, and you’ll see them throughout the beautiful Divine Revelation.
There are so many more examples. This just scratches the surface. But what can be learned here is that difficulties were necessary for the Prophets and Messengers as well. Allah put them through these challenges to not only strengthen them in faith, but to have them act as examples for us to learn from and be humbled by. We must remember that they too were human. They were put through these struggles for a purpose.
If we face a difficulty, we must learn to be optimistic. Islam is one that is filled with reminders of reasons for hope, faith, and optimism. We are given the tools we need to accomplish this mindset and lifestyle. We simply need to do live up to the names we give ourselves: Muslims (defined as those who submit to Allah completely).