Many Muslims mistakenly think that when trials, misfortunes and calamities strike them, then it is a proof for their high level of eemaan (faith), or due to their elevated status, or due to the correctness of their manhaj (methodology). And this is not necessarily the case – as will not be hidden. Rather, these trials and calamities may be a form of punishment due to an error, or as a result of idle speech – and we seek Allaah’s refuge. However, what is required for the Muslim, in all his affairs, is to seek refuge in Allaah and to think good of Him – the Most Perfect – and to devote oneself in asking Him for forgiveness and for well-being, whilst at the same time accusing oneself and blaming ones own soul.
So, the reason for trials and misfortunes may sometimes stem from deficiencies in outlook, deviations in manhaj (methodology) or being distanced from that which is correct. All of this, in their fruits, are counted as being from sins and acts of disobedience – whose evil consequences are not known, except by the Lord of the Worlds.
Results of Sin
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim (d.756H) – rahimahullaah – said: “Son from that which one must know, is that sins and acts of disobedience cause harm. And their harmful effects upon the heart are certainly like the harmful effects of poison upon the body – although the effects vary in levels and intensities. And is their in this world or the Hereafter any evil or harm except that it is due to sins and acts of disobedience?
So, what was it that took the two parents out of Paradise – the home of delight, bliss, splendour and joy – to the home of pain, sorrow and misfortune?
And what was it that removed Iblees (Shaytaan) from the realms of the Heavens, causing him to be rejected and cursed; and transforming him inwardly and outwardly – so that his form became ugly and hideous. And his inward form is more hideous than his outward form; and causing nearness to be changed to farness; mercy changed to being cursed; from being beautiful to being ugly; from being in Paradise to being in the Fire. From eemaan (faith) to kufr (disbelief); from having the friendship and patronage of the praiseworthy guardian to being the greatest enemy and opponent; from glorifying Allaah and praising Him to doing acts of kufr (disbelief), shirk (taking partners with Allaah), lies and deceptive speech. From being adorned with eemaan (faith) to being clothed with the garment of kufr (disbelief), wickedness and disobedience, causing him to reach the deepest depth of despicability, and falling in the sight of Allaah, as far as it is possible to fall. Causing the anger of Allaah – the Most High – to be upon him; making him and outcast, despised and humiliated, such that he became a leader for every sinner and criminal and becoming pleased with leadership for himself. All this happening after having reached the station of nobility and worship? So, O Allaah, we seek refuge in You from opposing Your commands and falling into that which You have forbidden; Ameen.
And what was it that caused all the people of the earth to drown, to the point that the water even rose over the mountains tops?
And what was it that caused the violent winds to overcome the people of ‘Aad, such that it flung them down dead upon the face of the earth, as if they were lopped-off palm trunks, and it destroyed whatever of their dwellings and crops it came across. Thus, making them an example for the nations until the Day of Resurrection?
And what was it that caused the clamorous shout to be set loose upon Thamood, such that their hearts were severed within their bodies and all of them died?
And what was it that caused the town of the homosexuals to be raised up and turned upside down, such that they were all destroyed, and then stones from the sky pelted down upon them after that, so they suffered a combined punishment. The like of which was not given to any other nation: And for their brothers will be its like, and it is not far from the transgressors.
And what was it that caused the clouds of punishment to overcome the people of Shu’ayb, such that when these clouds were above their heads it rained scorching fire upon them?
And what was it that caused Fir’awn (Pharoah) and his people to be drowned in the ocean; and caused their souls to be transported to Jahannum (Hellfire), so their bodies were drowned and their souls burned?
And what was it that caused the sinking down into the earth of Qaaroon, and also of his dwelling, wealth and family?
And what was it that caused the destruction of those generations after Nooh (Noah), and how they were afflicted with various punishments that caused their annihilation?
And what was it that caused the destruction of the companion of Yaa Seen, with the clamorous shout, which destroyed them?
And what caused there to be sent against the Children of Israa’eel enemies of great strength and might, who plundered their homes, killed their men, enslaved their women and children, burnt their dwellings, seized their wealth. Then they returned again a second time; destroying what was rebuilt after the first onslaught?
And what was it that caused the various types of punishments to be set loose upon the Children of Israa’eel killing them, enslaving them, destroying their land, sometimes causing them to be oppressed by kings and at another time causing them to be transformed into apes and swines. Finally the Lord took an oath that: “He would certainly keep on sending against them (the Children of Israa’eel), until the Day of Resurrection, those who will inflict them with a humiliating torment.”  ” 
I say: Indeed, the cause of all this is deviation from the Sharee’ah (the Prescribed Law) of Allaah, acting in opposition to the Deen (Religion) of Allaah and deviating from the guidance of the Messenger of Allaah . Indeed, it is authentically related from the Messenger of Allaah , that he said: “When acts of disobedience become manifest in my Ummah, Allaah will cover them all with humiliation from Himself.” Umm Salamah said: “Will there be no righteous people amongst them on that day’? He said: “Yes, indeed!” She said: “Then what will be done with them”? He said: “They will be afflicted with that which afflicts the people, then they will move on to forgiveness from Allaah and His good pleasure.” 
So the whole matter, from start to finish, is just as Allaah – the Majestic said: “And whatever of misfortunes and calamities befall you, it is because of what your hands have earned.”  Therefore, the righteous servant, when struck by a misfortune and calamity, is faced either with (I) a praiseworthy trial which will elevate him and his status in the sight of Allaah, or (ii) a blameworthy trial – a form of punishment for him and a just reward for his evil actions.
Trials and Tribulations
The like of this was indicated by Imaam adh-Dhahabee (d.748H) in Siyar A’laamun-Nubalaa (8/72-73) when speaking about the trial of Imaam Maalik (d.197H), what he suffered in it and how he was severely lashed: His arm was wrenched until it became dislocated from its socket; and a great sin had been perpetrated against him. And it was said: “By Allaah! Maalik never ceased to be held in high esteem.”
Imaam adh-Dhahabee commented upon this, saying: “this is the result of a praiseworthy trial, and it elevates the status of the servant. And whatever the case, then it is what our own hands have earned, and Allaah pardons a very great deal. “Whosoever Allaah intends to do good to, He brings misfortune and calamity upon him.”  The Prophet also said: “Everything decreed for the Believer is good for him.”  And Allaah – the Most High said: “And We shall test you until We know those of you who strive hard in the path of Allaah and those of you who patiently persevere.”  And He revealed, with regards to the battle of Uhud: When a single disaster struck you, whereas you struck them with a disaster twice as great, do you then ask: From where did this come? Say: It is from your own selves.”  And Allah says: “And whatever misfortune befalls you, it is because of what you own hands have earned. And Allaah pardons and forgives much.” 
So, the Believer, when he is tried, patiently perseveres, takes admonition, seeks Allaah’s forgiveness and does not preoccupy himself with blaming the one who has ill-treated him, since Allaah is just in His judgement. So he praises Allaah that his Deen (Religion) has remained secure, knowing that the punishment suffered in this world is lighter and better for him.” 
Therefore, the Believer should not be hasty in rejoicing and becoming elated, merely because they are being made to suffer a misfortune or trial. Since this trial maybe a punishment for some evil, or for some harm caused, and therefore it is not from the praiseworthy trial. About which the Prophet said: “the righteous may receive harsh treatment …” 
Indeed, the Believer hopes for the mercy of Allaah, corrects his actions and seeks to steer his soul towards right guidance. And perhaps he will be one of those about whom the Prophet said: “The people who receive the severest trials are the Prophets, then those most like them, then those most like them.” 
And only Allaah guides the path that is Straight.
 Taken from al-Asaalah magazine Issue No.8 (Jumaadiul-Aakhar 14114H).
 Soorah A’raaf 7:167.
 Ad-Daa’wad-Dawaa’ (p.44) of Ibn al-Qayyim.
 Related by Ahmad (6/304) with a Hasan isnaad. See Majma’az-Zawaa’id (7/268).
 Soorah Shooraa 42:30.
 Related by al-Bukhaaree (no.5645).
 Related by Muslim (no.2999) from Suhayb .
 Soorah Muhammad 47:31.
 Soorah Aal-‘Imraan 3:165.
 Soorah Shooraa 42:30.
 Siyar A’laamun-Nubalaa (8/73).
 Related by Ahmad (6/159), Ibn Hibbaan (no.2919) and also al-Haakim (4/319), with a Saheeh isnaad, from ‘Aaishah
 Related by at-Tirmidhee (no.2398),
Ahmad (1/185) and Ibn Maajah (no.4023), with a Hasan isnaad, from S’ad.