We previously discussed how adversity helps us build our love for Allah on solid foundations, and that one of these foundations is the contemplation of Allah’s Names and Attributes, as adversity helps you better understand Allah’s Names and Attributes.

We will first talk about the Attribute of Wisdom, Allah Almighty’s Wisdom in adversity. It is astonishing how adversity makes some people question Allah’s Wisdom while the believers become more certain of Allah’s Wisdom during times of hardship.

Ibn Ata Allah al-Iskandari said:

“When Allah Almighty opens the door for you to understand [the wisdom] in deprivation, the deprivation becomes, in essence, a blessing. For when Allah gives you, He’s demonstrating His Graciousness; and when He deprives you, He’s demonstrating His Dominance. And in all this, He is making you acquainted with His Attributes and approaching you with His Kindness.  Thus, deprivation only hurts you when it doesn’t make you better acquainted with Allah’s Attributes.”

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Hence, you may be deprived of a blessing, but if Allah enables you to reflect upon His Wisdom in depriving you, then this reflection will be a much greater gift than what you were deprived of! You will see that Allah Almighty, through this adversity, is acquainting you with His Names and Attributes. On the other hand, if you view adversity as pure evil, your misfortune lies in your lack of reflection and understanding of Allah’s Wisdom.

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“And if the servant were to do his Lord justice —and how could he possibly do that?— he would know that Allah’s Grace towards him in what He has deprived him of (from this worldly life and its pleasures) is far better than what He has given him of this life (through His Grace); for Allah did not deprive him except to give him.” [Al-Fawa’id (The Benefits)]

The key to contemplation and understanding is to have certainty that Allah Has Wisdom in everything. Overcome any doubts you may have concerning Allah’s Wisdom. Have conviction in His Wisdom and then reflect on how this Wisdom is manifested. At that point, great treasures will be revealed to you.

The other key is to be convinced of your ignorance in comparison to Allah’s Wisdom:

“…Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows, and you do not know.” [Qur’an Translated Meaning 2:216]

I suffered the tribulation of losing my freedom (imprisonment). At every stage of my adversity, I wished that it would end and that I could return to my everyday life. At every stage, I thought that the best thing for me was for the adversity to end immediately. However, after every stage, I discovered that the continuation of the adversity was much more beneficial to me than its ending!

Indeed, if you ask me now:  do you wish this imprisonment had never happened? My answer would be: “By Allah, no! I am very happy that Allah Almighty did NOT grant me what I wished for; that He did not answer my prayers to return to my normal life. Instead, He chose what was better for me, better than what I would have chosen for myself. And I thank Allah that the BLESSING of ADVERSITY continued for as long as it did, as it allowed me to reap Allah’s Great Gifts.”

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

“Among the common hidden pitfalls is for the servant to be in a state of blessing that Allah has bestowed upon him and chosen for him, then the servant becomes jaded with it and asks to move from that blessing to what he thinks —in his ignorance— is better for him. But his Lord, in His mercy, does not remove him from the blessing and forgives his ignorance and poor choice for himself.”

Then he said:

“So if Allah wants goodness and guidance for His servant, He makes him realize that he is in a state of blessing from Allah, makes him content with this blessing, and guides him to thank Allah for it.” [Al-Fawa’id]

All praise to Allah! I reached this stage towards the end of my adversity. It was no longer just a matter of patience but gratitude to my Lord for the BLESSING of the adversity I was in.

Before my experience, I used to wonder about the wisdom of Allah’s Decree of imprisonment for scholars and preachers who benefit people with their Da’wah (call to Allah) when they are free, such as Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim, Sayyid Qutb, and others. I understood some of the wisdom theoretically but wished my heart could be more reassured. In experiencing adversity, I was able to understand it practically.

If you are tested, and Allah blesses you with the understanding of the Wisdom behind the test, you will see that, for anyone who works for the sake of Allah, there is a missing piece in his personality that can only be attained through sacrifice, i.e., after he pays the price for his Da’wah.

You will see how Allah grants those imprisoned in His cause an enlightenment they would never have imagined outside prison. You will understand every word of this great passage by Sayyid Qutb, may Allah have Mercy on him:

“Souls must be educated by adversity, and the resolve to fight for truth must be tested by fear, hardship, poverty, famine, and loss of life: And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.’ [Qur’an translated meaning 2:155]

This tribulation is necessary so that the believers can pay the price for their faith. The higher the price they pay for their faith, the dearer it becomes to them. Faith without sacrifice has no chance of survival and evaporates at the very first serious test. The more believers suffer for their faith, the more they appreciate it, and the more they are willing to sacrifice to protect it. These sacrifices elevate the value of faith in the hearts of the believers and in the hearts of those who witness their sacrifices.
In addition, others would not appreciate the value of faith until they see the sacrifices and patience of the faithful.  Trials and tribulation bring out the best in people, renew their energy, strengthen their resolve, and reveal paths of enlightenment in their hearts that they never knew about.

Adversity refines perception and improves judgment. It dissolves the hardness of the heart and removes the cloudiness from the eyes. Underlying all this is the fact that, when all other support systems collapse and the believer has no one to turn to but Allah… at that moment, all delusions disappear, insight is sharpened, and horizons expand. There is no one but Allah, no power nor strength save in Allah, no refuge except in Allah, and what He wills be done.

Indeed, Allah decreed adversity and trials to reveal and distinguish the Mujahidin (those who struggle in the path of Allah) and make them known, remove all confusion in the ranks, and leave no place for hypocrites or cowards to hide.”

This is the end of the excerpt from Sayyid Qutb’s book: In the Shadows of the Qur’an, in his interpretation of Surah Al-Baqarah.

So this is part of Allah’s Wisdom in testing Du’at (those who call to His religion). It is true that —had they remained free— they might have had more interactions with people, read more references, and written more books. But Allah Almighty wanted to purify their intentions and bring their words to life! As they say: Actions speak louder than words!

This does not mean that you will always understand Allah’s Wisdom in adversity or that you should not think well of Allah until you understand His Wisdom. The meaning of what Allah says can be translated as:

“…and you ˹O humanity˺ have been given but little knowledge.” [Qur’an translated meaning 17:85]

You may only understand some of Allah’s Wisdom, as the Almighty —in His Mercy— reveals some of His Wisdom to reassure your heart.

Summary of this section

Trust in Allah’s Wisdom when He tests you, and He will reveal great treasures to you.

Prof. Eyad Qunaibi

Dr. Eyad Qunaibi is a Professor of Pharmacology with a PhD from the University of Houston, USA. He has two patents in the field of wound healing, and his scientific publications have been cited over 700 times. He authored the book PharMedTerm, and is one of three academic reviewers of the most widely circulated pharmacology textbook in the world. Professor Qunaibi has also authored many books on strengthening the Islamic faith. He has two popular YouTube channels: an Arabic channel and a global one with his videos translated to several languages. His most popular playlists include: "The Journey of Certainty," which aims to strengthen faith through an evidence-based approach, and "Women in Depth," to help Muslim women develop a strong and confident personality in harmony with their faith.

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