The phenomenon of testing and trial can be twisted and exploited as a measure to define the social status of the members of a certain community: good or bad; honored or humiliated, according to a purely materialistic approach. Listen to their argument as Quran traced it, faced it, and erased it:
“And as for man, when his Lord tries him and is generous to him and favors him, he says: My Lord has honored me. But when He tries him and restricts his provision, he says: My Lord has humiliated me.” [89:15-16]
Some people believe that if they are tested with bounties and favors this means they are good and honored; and if they are challenged with restriction this means they are bad and humiliated. Quran vehemently and adamantly rejects both arguments. Quran uses the term “kalla” “كَلّأ” which means: “Never” or “by no means.” In other words, Quran is asking us to unlearn this type of argument and to purge it from our discourse and our mentality. Quran is saying: this is not the proper way to explain and fight poverty, disease, and other calamities.
The problem of social disparity between those who have and those who don’t; between those who have medical insurance and access to health care and those who don’t; between those who are in the eye of the disaster and experiencing disease and those who are watching from the sides is that: we are not honoring the orphans and spending generously to alleviate their difficulties; we do not encourage one another to feed the poor; we are not keeping our promise to fight poverty and disease; and we are separating ourselves from those who need our help and support.
“No! But you do not honor the orphan, and you do not encourage one another to feed the poor, and you consume inheritance, devouring it altogether, and you love wealth with immense love.” [89:17-20]
The solution to social disparity starts by recognizing it, rejecting it, denouncing it, and actively tackling it in every possible way, individually and collectively. It is interesting to see how Quran moved very quickly from the individualistic approach to the collective approach. Trial and challenge do not determine the status of the citizens or their community, but the quality and the degree of their response determine the quality of their souls and their ability to earn the honor of Allah. “The most honored of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.” [49:13]
In view of this discussion, we should not wonder that Prophet Mohammad said: “Prophets are the most to be tested, followed by those who are like them.”
Who is more sensitive and committed to the social problems and issues than the Prophets and their dedicated followers?
Who would rush to empathize and patiently assist those who need help more than the Prophets and their dedicated followers?
It takes a soul of such caliber and integrity to be showered by prayers and mercy from Allah. “Those are the ones on who are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are rightly guided.” [2:157]
By Dr. Walid Khayr