We continue our discussion on the Wisdom of Allah Almighty in times of adversity. In this section, we will discuss a new element: Allah’s Wisdom in choosing the duration of adversity.

Now and then, in the midst of adversity, I would think to myself: “Up to this point, this experience has greatly benefited my faith. However, I fear that if the adversity is prolonged, it will have the opposite effect!”

Then I tell myself: “How is this your concern? You are a mere slave! Leave this matter to Allah  Almighty; Al-Hakeem (the All-Wise), Al-Khabeer (the All-Aware), Al-‘Aleem (the All-Knowing). He knows best the duration, intensity, timing, and type of adversity. The Almighty chooses what He wills, and He is All-Wise in His choice.”

To better understand this concept, let us reflect on the story of the Battle of the Allies (the Battle of the Trench):

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The adversity occurred at the right time and was alleviated at the right time. The hardship continued until there was a complete distinction between the hypocrites: those with corrupted hearts, and the believers. It continued until people’s true mettle and character were exposed.

It is out of Allah’s Wisdom and Mercy that the adversity continued until these benefits were achieved. This allowed the believers to become wary of the hypocrites and immune to the words and poison they spewed out so cunningly. It is also from Allah’s Wisdom and Mercy that the adversity did not continue longer or become more intense, as that may have caused some believers to veer off the straight path and lose their faith and certainty.

“And when the believers saw the allies, they said, ‘This is what Allah and His messenger have promised us, and Allah and His messenger have told the truth.’ And it only increased them in faith and submission.” [Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:22]

Thus, when the believers saw the enemy allies, they were steadfast and patient:

“Patience comes with the first shock.” [Al-Bukhari]

Allah Almighty saved the believers and protected their faith. He guided them to utter words that upheld their faith. The Qur’an interpreters tell us that when the believers said, what can be translated as:

“…This is what Allah and His messenger have promised us…” [Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:22]

They were referring to the verse in Surat Al-Baqarah:

“Do you think you will be admitted into Paradise without being tested like those before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so ˹violently˺ shaken until the Messenger and the believers with him cried out, ‘When will Allah’s help come?’ Indeed, Allah’s help is ˹always˺ near.” [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:214]

According to Ibn Ashur, this verse was revealed a year before the Battle of the Allies.

But didn’t the adversity continue and intensify? After all, the siege lasted a whole month of hunger, cold, and fear; during which the polytheists continued to attack the Muslims at the weak points along the trench. Things hit rock bottom when the Muslims learned that the Jews of Bani Quraizah had broken their covenant with the Muslims and allied themselves with the polytheist enemies. This meant that, at any moment, the Jews of Bani Quraizah could open their gates for the polytheists to enter Madinah and wreak havoc: killing, torturing, and violating the honor of Muslims.

The meaning of the relevant Qur’anic verses can be translated as:

“[Remember] when they came at you from above you and from below you; your eyes rolled [with fear], your hearts rose into your throats, and you thought [ill] thoughts of Allah. There the believers were sorely tested and deeply shaken.” [Surah Al-Ahzab, 33:10-11]

It was at this precise moment that Allah saved the believers. He sent a strong wind that uprooted the polytheists’ tents, overturned their pots, and dispersed their army, and they withdrew in defeat. Glory be to Allah! What great timing!

Let us consider the following questions:

What would have happened had it taken longer to defeat the polytheists?

And what would have happened if victory had come earlier?

Had it taken longer for the Muslims to win, some believers might have done or said exactly what the hypocrites did and said:

“Muhammad promised us the conquest of Persia and Rome, yet here we are: surrounded by the enemies; we can’t even go relieve ourselves. Allah and His Messenger have promised us nothing but delusion!” [Al-Tabari]

Had it taken longer, doubts could have formed in the believers’ hearts; distressing them, sabotaging their past, and consuming their good deeds. However, Allah Almighty protected their faith through His Wisdom and Mercy. Thus, victory was not delayed any longer than necessary, for Allah tests each believer according to the strength of his faith.

Now to the other question:

Why didn’t they achieve victory sooner? Why wasn’t the battle resolved by sending the wind the next day of the siege? Or the first week of the siege? Or even the second week of the siege?

Why did the siege have to last an entire month?

Allah decreed this specific duration with Wisdom. One reason could be that —and Allah the Almighty Knows His Wisdom best— He wanted to make the believers stronger; the harder the trial, the stronger they will emerge from it, and the higher —in rank— they will rise.

Another reason could be that this tribulation humbled them before Allah and made them feel —in their state of weakness— their absolute need for Allah’s Mercy, Glory be to Him. This prevented them from taking credit for their patience and steadfastness and feeling arrogant. Instead, they attributed all credit to Allah Almighty, Who saved them at the critical moment.

So, victory was not delayed to the extent that it would affect the hearts of the believers, destroying their faith, nor did it come at an earlier stage before the adversity intensified; before the believers strengthened their faith, humbled themselves in front of Allah, and realized that they had no one but Allah, The AlMighty and The Sublime. The adversity lasted the exact time needed for the believers to become distinct from the hypocrites and for the truth about the hypocrites to be exposed.

Thus, contemplate Allah’s Wisdom, Glory to Him, in determining the duration of adversity. Glory be to the All-Wise, the All-Knowing; He doesn’t allow the faith and deeds of His servants to be undermined even while He nurtures and disciplines them through adversity.

Summary of this section

Have certainty in Allah’s Wisdom in choosing the optimum duration of adversity.

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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