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Practising Patience in adversity

Q: Search for the purpose of life and death remains incomplete unless we tend to ponder over divine revelations. Why has Allah Almighty created both death and life? Life is full of ups and downs where people are sometimes either happy or unhappy. Despite that life is so beloved to them that they hardly want to think of death. Since death is definite, it strikes everyone with no exception in a manner unknown to him. But why are life and death so and so? Is there any certain purpose behind death and life?

Answered by Ghulam Ghaus

A: The holy Qur’an makes it very clear saying: “He Who has created death and life (so that) He may test you as to which of you is best in conduct. And He is Almighty, Most Forgiving” (67:2)
It is now clear from the above that Allah Almighty has created both life and death merely to test the believers as to which of them is best in conduct. Life is a test according to the Qur’an and after death we will get the result of whatever we have done in our life. The so-far experiences of life have made us realize that this kind of test is not nonchalance. A test cannot be imagined without problems. To attain the position of being best in conduct we have to stand up to the test that we observe includes problems, grief, anxiety, starvation, destruction, oppression, corruption, fear, loss of wealth and lives etc.
In all kinds of problem, glad tidings are given only to those who observe patience. On the contrary, those who get ready to commit all possible evil acts like killing innocent lives, bombing, destructing, stealing, oppressing the weak etc so as to fulfill the selfish desires are the ones failing in the test.
How those who are given glad tidings observe patience is mentioned in the following two successive divine verses:
“(They are the ones) who, when afflicted with some distress, say: ‘Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return” (2:156)
“It is they upon whom are bestowed successive blessings and mercy from their Lord. And it is they who are the guided ones” (2:157)
We also know from the above that those who do not observe patience when afflicted with distress and do evil acts will not be given blessings, mercy from their lord after death. It is they who are the misguided ones.
Two Kinds of Consequences
During the probationary period of life one can either succeed or fail. Allah Almighty has mentioned both kinds of consequences well in the holy Qur’an: “Indeed, We have created man in the best constitution (equipoised in the finest proportion) (95:4) “Then We returned him to the lowest state of the low (95:5)” “Except for those who believe and do good works. For them is an unending (i.e., everlasting) reward (95:6).
First Allah Almighty has created all human beings in the best constitution (Ahsan-e-Taqweem). After that He gave their self (Nafs) insight into vice and virtue as mentioned in the holy Qur’an, “Then He inspired it with (discrimination between) vice and virtue” (91:8). Subsequently, if someone believes in Allah Almighty, his commands, his prophets, his books, his angels, and does righteous deeds according to Qur’an and Hadith, he will remain in natural virtue and succeed in the test. And if someone goes against all these virtues, he will destruct his natural position by unrighteous behaviour and fall down from the pedestal of humanity. Thus it is he whom Allah Almighty has returned from the best constitution (Ahsan e Taqweem) to the lowest state of the low (Asfal e Saafelin).
Allah Almighty also says,
“Indeed, the one who purifies his (ill-commanding) self (from all vain and vicious desires and cultivates in it virtue and piousness) succeeds” (91:9) “But the one who corrupts himself (in sins and suppresses virtue) is doomed indeed” (91:10)
Having understood the purpose of death and life, we should always struggle for getting good marks in the test of life. Thus, we should be best believers, best in conduct, observe patience, tolerance, remain in our natural virtue (Ahsan e Taqweem), treating others with love, justice, compassion, sympathy and not doing anything against commands of Allah Almighty, thinking that we belong to Allah and will return to none but Him.
(Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar). He has completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic).