Have you heard of the term “placebo effect”? In simple medical terms, placebo effect refers to taking a non-medicine (for eg: a sugar pill) believing that it will cure you and it does.
In case of a placebo effect, the recovery of the patient is due to the belief and positive attitude that he has taken an effective medicine that will cure him. Research is being done to study how the mind has the power to heal the body. Your attitude towards external and internal stress determines the outcomes of these stresses. If you lack a positive attitude towards stresses on your mind and body, diseases, anxiety and unproductivity will engulf you from every side.
Trial or bliss, a believer is always in a win-win situation. Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him”. (Sahih Muslim)
This is the hadith I wish to explain as we go further as to how there can be goodness derived from trials. In Surah Kahf Ch 18, v60-82, in order to demonstrate the limited knowledge a human has of the future and the wisdom behind adverse events in life, Allah narrates us the story of Musa (A.S) and Khizr (A.S). Khizr (A.S) was blessed with special knowledge from Allah (SWT) and Musa (A.S) was curious to know about it. So he seeks permission to accompany Khizr (A.S). Throughout their journey, Allah mentions 3 significant events, which I would like to share with a different perspective:
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Trial in trade and livelihood:
(Refer to Quran Ch 18, v71): On their way, Musa and Khizr (A.S) take a boat ride to cross the sea. Upon dismounting the boat, Khizr (A.S) makes a defect in the boat. Shocked, Musa (A.S) questions Khizr (A.S) as to why he had caused harm to the only source of livelihood the boat owner had. Towards the end of their journey, Khizr (A.S) explains that he defected the boat in order to protect it from the soldiers of the tyrant king who was seizing all boats by force.
This story teaches us that certain setbacks in trade and career occur in life for our own good. A close acquaintance of mine had lost her job. Depression engulfed her but she gathered up her herself to look for another job, which thankfully she couldn’t find. I am expressing gratitude over here because of what happened next. Since the economic situation of the country wasn’t giving her an opportunity, she decided to create an opportunity for herself. She had been a superb teacher for her peers throughout her academic life. She decided to coach students for competitive exams and Voila! It turned out to be a success. Not only did she end up earning more than her previous job, but she also benefitted the students in making their career decisions.
Just as Ibn Al Qayyim (RA) said:
“Allah does not close a door to his slave, out of his wisdom, except that he opens two others to him.” [Ibn Al Qayyim]
A little setback in her career caused her to explore new horizons for growth and development. So, never despair of the setbacks in your career or any loss of livelihood and always remember that Allah has better plans for you if you keep working hard with a positive attitude.
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Trial of loss of a loved one
(Refer to Quran Ch18, v74): As the two Prophets (A.S) proceed further on their journey, Khidr (A.S) kills a young child. Musa (A.S) gets horrified at the sight and questions the reason for this dreadful act. Khidr (A.S) explains to him that this child would grow up to be a trial for his parents. He would cause them pain through his rebellion and disbelief. So Allah planned to replace this child with a righteous one, who would be a comfort for his parents’ eyes.
Throughout our lives, we may experience the loss of our loved ones. If Allah has taken away your child, then know that there is goodness in it, which is beyond our knowledge to comprehend. Your lost child could become your gateway to Jannah as Allah has promised. If a closed one is suffering from a critical illness, then know that he is shedding off his sins with pain as little as a thorn prick in this temporary life and getting closer to Jannah. At other times, Allah takes away the soul of a believer to ease him of the pain he may be suffering in this life.
Allah has established a beautiful method to pay respect to the deceased loved ones in a manner that benefits the deceased, the bereaved, and the society. It is known as “Sadaqah Jariyah”. Your tears, sleepless nights, starving days may be a phase of recovery for you, but cause the least benefit to anyone. Instead, one should use his emotions to physically empower him/her to do lots of Sadaqah Jariyah such as building a mosque, building a well, sponsoring an orphan, feeding the poor, etc. Sincere prayers coming from the hearts of those in need can ease the pathway to Jannah for the deceased and the bereaved.
A woman was 4 months pregnant when she found that her baby had severe defects and would not survive till delivery. She was advised abortion, however the couple decided against abortion and wanted to leave the decision up to God. The next 5 months were spent praying to Allah to do the best for them. It was time and contrary to the doctors’ expectations, the baby was born alive but with serious defects. The doctors again remarked that the baby would not survive except for a few days. She survived for 6 months! The battle of these parents throughout the brief life and the death of their child softened their hearts, strengthened their Iman and brought them much closer to Allah. This child brought them closer to Jannah in this world and insha’Allah, would do the same in the Hereafter. Ibn Qayyum (RA) said,
“Whatever Allah has decreed for His believing slave is a blessing even if that is in the form of withholding, it is a favor even if that is in the form of a trial and the calamity decreed by Him is fair, even if it is painful”.
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Trial in the suffering of innocent souls:
(Refer to Quran Ch18, v77): In the last event about Musa and Khizr (A.S) that Allah mentions, they had travelled to a new town and were hungry. The people of the town refused them food. Later Khidr (A.S) found a wall that was about to collapse and he repaired it. Musa (A.S) exclaims that he could have taken wages from the selfish people for his work. Upon this, Khizr (A.S) explains that there was a treasure buried beneath the wall that belonged to two orphans. Had the wall collapsed, the treasure would be revealed. So he repaired the wall in order that it be discovered by the orphans when they grow up, as was destined by Allah (SWT).
A lot of Muslims, as well as non-Muslims repeatedly pose the question, why does Allah test the innocent souls: the poor, the children, the disabled? Aren’t bad people supposed to be inflicted with trials? As I mentioned earlier, human knowledge is very limited to comprehend the wisdom behind a trial. In the story of orphans mentioned in Surah Kahf, what appeared to people as a hard trial upon the orphans, Allah had been protecting their property until their adulthood to bless them abundantly.
When a person is inflicted with a disability, it may be that Allah wants to grant him good through his disability. Famous examples from history include Helen Keller, inflicted with blindness and deafness because of a disease in childhood, grew up to be an author, a political activist and a lecturer. Another example is the living legend, Stephen Hawkings, inflicted with paralysis at the age of 21, he is a well-known physicist with extensive contribution in the study of the universe. He has been confined to his wheelchair for the past 40 years. These legendary people pushed past their disabilities and achieved more than a normal individual.
Mohammed Tahir, a 5 year old blind Burmese boy, made it to the headlines by memorizing the Qur’an just by listening to it on the radio. While Allah took away his sight, Allah granted him a high IQ enabling him to memorize Qur’an that would elevate his ranks in Jannah for every verse memorized. Furthermore, his matter would be dealt with mercy and compassion in the Hereafter. As Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said:
“If I deprive my slave of his two beloved things (i.e his eyes) and he remains patient, I will let him enter Paradise in compensation for them” (Sahih Al Bukhari)
These were just 3 out of the many beautiful lessons that we can derive from the story of Musa and Khizr (A.S). Always remember that besides having patience and a good hope of Allah, try to discover the hidden benefit in your trial. Use your trials to your advantage. The Prophets of Allah were inflicted with the most trials and thus, turned out to be the best men to walk on the face of this earth. Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said,
“Whoever Allah wants good for him, he puts them to test. He puts them through difficulties. Like a diamond or some metal that has to be burnt and then that which is bad from it is removed so that you have that which is the pure diamond or the pure gold or whatever. Put them to tests, trials and difficulties.” [Bukhari and Muslim]