Four Brutal Facts About This World

“We test you with evil and with good as trial, and to Us you will be returned.”

Surah Al-Anbiya 21:35

Life is a test, and life hard. There is a trend online to trick people into thinking that life can be whatever you want it to be. They claim that you get what you attract into your life, and that anyone can become wealthy, famous, or successful (in a worldly sense). These online personalities are disconnected from reality and sell people a false vision. The reality is that life is a test, and we are not guaranteed any worldly success. The primary goal of our lives is to earn Allah’s Pleasure and enter into Paradise. Worldly success is secondary and not guaranteed. A good life is a life that is pleasing to Allah, even if it is hard. Here are some brutal facts about life from the Quran and Sunnah:

Life is a Test

It is very clear in the Quran that life is a test. We are here to separate the people of Paradise from the people of Hellfire. This means each soul will have its own personalized tests. The Quran guarantees that life is a test, and that we will all be tested. We should therefore always be ready to handle the tests of life and be patient with whatever tests Allah sends our way.

“Definitely, I made whatever is on this earth beautiful to test which of them are best in their deeds, and I will make all of it into dry soil,”

Surah Al-Kahf 18:7-8

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth, lives, and fruits. So, give good tidings to the patient.”

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:155

Some tests last a lifetime

There is a misconception that after every trial there will be a period of ease. The reality is that each person’s case is different. Some people face tests that last a lifetime. This could be a war, unjust imprisonment, a chronic illness, or anything else. Not every test ends. Some trials last a lifetime, and the ease only comes in the Afterlife. Patience with such trials however lead to Paradise and can a be cause of forgiveness for all one’s sins.

Ibn Abbas said to me, “Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “This black lady came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.’ The Prophet ﷺ said (to her), ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.’ She said, ‘I will remain patient,’ and added, ‘but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’ So, he invoked Allah for her.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 5652

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “The most privileged people in the world among the people of Hellfire will come on the Day of Resurrection to be dipped in Hellfire, then it will be said: O son of Adam, did you see any good? Did you get any blessing? He will say: No, by Allah, my Lord! Then, the most miserable people in the world among the people of Paradise will come on the Day of Resurrection to be dipped in Paradise, then it will be said: O son of Adam, did you see any hardship? Did you have any distress? He will say: No, by Allah, my Lord! I did not once see hardship or distress.”

Sahih Muslim 2807

Worldly Success is not guaranteed

We are not guaranteed victory in this world. Many righteous people in history did not achieve worldly success. Many were martyred, others spent long periods of time in prison, and many worked towards projects that never materialized in their lifetime. Life is not about the results; it is about the efforts. Do good work for the sake of Allah and try your best. Leave the results to Allah. Only Allah knows what is best for us. Sometimes the humility of hardship may be better for us than the arrogance that may come with success.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Even if the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, let him plant it.”

Musnad Ahmad 12902

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him.”

Sahih Muslim 2999

Every Stage has its own challenges

Some people assume that as they get older, life will get easier. However, each stage of life has its own challenges. The challenges of youth are different from those of young married couples. The challenges of parents of teenagers are different from the challenges of elders. Every face of life has its own trials. We need to be realistic about what life has to offer and focus on excelling in every phase regardless of the challenges that we face.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would want to have two valleys. Nothing fills his mouth but the dust of the grave, yet Allah will relent to whoever repents to Him.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6439, Sahih Muslim 1048

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”

Shu’ab al-Iman lil-Bayhaqi 10250

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6412

True Success

We must live in this world with realistic expectations. If we live purposeful lives that are pleasing to Allah and focused on the Afterlife, then we can survive any trials and achieve the true success. True success is not a life of luxury and ease. It is not wealth or fame. These are all actually trials that could distract one from true success. True success is eternal Paradise. This is what we seek.

“Those who believe and do righteous deeds will have Gardens beneath which rivers flow. That is the great triumph.”

Surah al-Buruj 85:11

Posted by Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help and Izzah Academy, author of over a dozen books, and the operations manager of Yaqeen Institute.