In the Face of Abuse and Hardship

By: Sayyid Qutb

In the Face of Abuse and Hardship: You shall most certainly be tried in your possessions and in your persons; and you shall hear much hurting abuse from those who were given revelations before you and from those who set up partners with God. But if you persevere and continue to fear God -that is indeed a matter requiring strong resolve. (Quran 3:186)

In this verse, God tells the believers in no uncertain terms that they will have to undergo tests and trials which will affect them and their possessions. They have to persevere and remain steadfast in order to prove themselves worthy of God's trust and His great reward. It is the natural way of things when it comes to the establishment of any faith in real life that its advocates should stand a hard test. There is no escaping the fact that they will have to demonstrate their patience in adversity, their determined resistance and strong resolve as also their readiness to sacrifice whatever is required of their possessions and their persons. This is the only way to heaven which cannot be attained without sacrifice and hardship. Hell, on the other hand, is surrounded by easy pleasures and temptations. Moreover, there is no other way to mould the community which will become the standard-bearer of Islam and discharge its duties. This community must receive thorough education and cultivation in order to heighten its potentials and strengths. The only way is the practical discharge of the duties imposed by their faith and by their gaining a true and practical knowledge of life and people as they are. The trials are needed so that only the strongest in faith continue to advocate the Islamic call. It is only such people that are worthy of its advocacy since only they are fully equipped to be so entrusted. Moreover, it is through trial and perseverance that faith becomes dearer to the faithful. The more they have to endure of hardship and the more sacrifice they have to give for their faith the more valuable it becomes to them. They do not turn their backs on it afterwards, not in any circumstances.

Trials strengthen those who are tried. It is resistance which sharpens potentials and consolidates them. A new faith requires that these potentials be heightened so that it can establish its roots deep in the most fertile soil of human nature.

It is also through trials that the advocates of a faith come to know themselves as they are. They will look at themselves as they struggle for their faith. They become more aware of human nature in reality and its latent potentials, and they know the true nature of societies and communities. They observe the struggle between their own principles on the one hand and desires and temptations on the other. They become aware of how Satan works on man leading him astray and causing him to err.

Moreover, it is through the trials endured by the advocates of a certain faith that its opponents come to realize that there is much good irk it; its followers have stuck by it despite all the hardships they have endured for its sake. It is then that those opponents may themselves accept that faith en masse.

This is in the nature of faith and ideology: to withstand such trials while maintaining fear of God, so that repelling aggression by others does not turn into counter-aggression, and despair is not allowed to becloud one's vision as one goes through the hardships. But this is far from easy: "That is indeed a matter requiring strong resolve. "

The Muslim community in Madinah was thus made aware of what awaits it of sacrifice, agony, abuse and trial in possessions and persons. These were to be inflicted by its enemies, whether these followed earlier religions or were idolaters. Despite all this, the Muslim community was determined to go along its way, without reluctance or hesitation. Members of that Muslim community in Madinah were certain that every soul will taste death, and that rewards are paid on the Day of Resurrection. They knew that true triumph is that of being drawn away from the fire and of being brought into paradise. To them, the life of this world was nothing but an illusory enjoyment. It is on such hard rocks that the Muslim community in Madinah stood and along that straight and correct way it made its strides. The same hard rocks and the same straight way are available to its advocates in every generation. The enemies of this faith remain the same. Generations follow generations and still they plot to undermine it. The Qur'an, however, remains the same, well preserved by God.

The methods of trial may differ from time to time, but the principle remains the same: "You shall most certainly be tried in your possessions and in your persons; and you shall hear much hurting abuse from those who were given revelations before you and from those who set up partners with God. "(Verse 186)

The surah gives many examples of the schemes adopted by people of earlier religions and the idolaters and their propaganda which aimed to cast doubt and confusion on the very fundamentals of Islam and on its followers and their leadership. These examples are always renewed and new methods and forms added to them as new means of communication become available. They are all directed against Islam and its principles of faith as well as against the Muslim community and its leadership. Hence, the same principle which God explains to the first Muslim community as He points out its way and the nature of its enemy remains always applicable.

This Qur'anic directive remains valid for the Muslim community every time it takes upon itself to implement God's method in practical life. It reassures the Muslims that God's promise will come true. All that it has to endure of trials, abuse, false accusation and hardship becomes very pleasant, since it is no more than a confirmation that the community is going along the way God intends. It is fully certain that perseverance and maintaining its fear of God are all the equipment it needs. All enemy schemes are of little effect. Trials and abuse are of no consequence.


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