Trials: Part 3 – What is a Test?

Every person’s test is different, tailored to them and what Allah ﷻ knows they can handle. But what exactly is a test? To understand this, it’s essential to first understand the purpose behind a trial; to bring about consciousness of God. As such, whilst we commonly associate tests with difficulties we face, they are only one form of trial God directs towards us. The more common trial – and in many ways the more difficult one – is that of the blessings we receive.

Allah states in the Quran: “Your wealth and your children are but a trial, and Allah has with Him a great reward.” (64:15). The trial of blessings is to measure the gratitude we show Allah ﷻ, calling upon us to remember and thank Him for what we have been given. On hearing this, it’s easy to assume such a trial would be easy, yet interestingly Allah ﷻ states “few of My servants are grateful.” (34:13) – something not said about patience in difficulties. The indication from this is that many of us indeed fail in this trial, lacking gratitude for the gifts Allah has shown us; a worrying thought indeed! But how so?

Here a few thoughts to reflect on:

Negativity Bias
Human beings have a habit of focussing on the negatives. Bad news sells, both on newspapers and in our lives. Allah states “If you tried to count God’s blessings, you could never take them all in: He is truly most forgiving and most merciful.” (16:18).

The verse points out a number of important considerations:

  • “If you tried” suggests many of us never even consider counting the number of blessings we have. We often worry about the difficulties looming over us, but how often do we sit to think about all the gifts you have been given
  • Moreover, the statement both suggests and encourages us to attempt to count our blessings, almost as a response to someone saying “My life is so difficult”. The verse indicates that many of us so focussed on and consumed by the negatives in our lives that we forget to look at the blessings
  • The source of our blessings is from God, not ourselves. Many of us attribute our successes to our own hard work and struggles, but the reality is all of it comes from Him
  • The statement is universal. Every single person has been given an endless number of blessings they cannot encompass – including those in severe hardship.
  • The impossible nature of the task shows not only the number of blessings you have, but the inadequacy of ever truly thanking Him for what He has given you. How can you thank him for things you never knew you had?
  • There is an indication in the verse that counting and thanking Allah for blessings will bring more blessings, i.e. “if you counted all you blessings, you can take them all in”. This is supported in other verses in the Quran which we will explore later.
  • Allah ends the verse with “most forgiving” and “most merciful”, showing us how Allah is aware of our shortcomings and prepared to forgive them.

A lot more to come on this! The discussion is just beginning 😊

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