Sunday, May 27, 2012

'Tests of Faith are Essential'

For success in the world, hard work and sacrifices are essential. The capacity to face difficulties and to surmount challenges in your chosen field of work will determine the orbit of your achievements. Likewise, in the spiritual realm, the path of Allah is only for those who make a conscious effort to remain on the journey and strive hard to attain progress. Tests of faith will swiftly follow those who claim they have a spiritual commitment- only to sift the grain from the chaff.  In his Friday Sermon of 18 May 2012 Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius comprehensively dealt with the subject of spiritual trials and tribulations and exhorted Muslims to show high resolve and be prepared for all manner of hardship and suffering in order to attain spiritual benefit.

Read the Extracts from the Sermon:

“Spiritual benefit comes only to those who make an effort themselves. You will note that our Holy Prophet (sa) was the best and held the highest spiritual position yet he, too, suffered much for the sake of his faith. Religion is attained truly only after ‘dying’ for it. Had God so wished, he would not have ordered things in this way. However, God has made the same law even for worldly matters; that is, everything is achieved only through effort. With God’s grace and one’s effort, a person can reach his desired destination. In worldly affairs, achievement comes only after overcoming numerous difficulties and suffering.

Should it then be the case that no effort or striving is involved in religious achievements? In worldly affairs even a small court case sends a person running in all directions to gather support and backing for his case. Great expense is incurred and much effort is made for such matters and if, after all the effort, should the case be decided against that person, appeal after appeal is submitted and the person keeps striving to achieve his aim.

When such is the nature of striving for worldly affairs, are then matters of religion to be considered so simple that one can achieve success in them by living a life of ease and comfort? Is religion to be attained merely by someone’s touch or just by chanting a few words when God states:

Do the people think that they will be left to say, ‘We believe’ and they will not be tried?” (29: 3)

(That is) Do these people think that they will be left untried because of their verbal utterances and will be considered people of faith merely on the basis of their verbal proclamation of “we believe” and will not be tested? Tests and trials are very essential. All prophets are agreed on this that trial is an essential element in one’s progress and until a person passes successfully through the different levels of trials, he cannot become truly religious.

It is an established rule that pleasure follows suffering. Remember, however, that the person, who is not prepared to suffer hardship or face difficulties in the path of God, shall be cut asunder. Progress always comes after suffering and the state of one’s faith can be assessed only when one is faced with difficulties and tribulation. In order to gain spiritual benefit, one should first prepare oneself for hardship and suffering.

Some people in different villages of Mauritius come to me and expect to attain spiritual elevation and purity of heart just through being touched by me. Such people should remember that nothing is attained without facing difficulties and undergoing hardship and this is necessarily so. If the prophets of God went through all kinds of trials, if this humble self is going through hundreds of trials in different ways and from all directions, do my disciples and the seekers of truth expect that they shall not also undergo trials?

All believers go through trials, and Allah tests your faith through this, and the one who succeeds in his tests, it is him whom Allah shall be pleased with and shall come closer to him, and shall give him the Tawfiq to remain steadfast along with His Caliph (Khalifatullah) come what may. Our ultimate Goal is to get Allah as our reward. Without Allah, we are nothing. It is Him our Protector, the One who is 24/7 with us, who humiliates our enemy or transforms them into firm believers like in the case of Hazrat Umar (May Allah be pleased with him). It is only Allah who gives faith. It is Allah the true Goal of His messenger and of His sincere servants, who come forward, saying “Labbaik” (Here I am) to all divine decrees, who give away without expecting anything in return, who spend their time, their life for the progress of Islam, the Sahih al Islam, Islam in its pure state and truthfulness; not for an Islam which has been trampled under the feet of people.

However, on the difficult path of spiritual advancement it should be remembered that God does not allow a believer to go to waste. Given that in worldly affairs people struggle so hard, are matters of religion to be considered so light that success in them is possible just at a touch and no test or trial is deemed necessary?

Look at a farmer how he wakes in the last hours of the night to tend his crops with great effort and facing much hardship – he rests neither by day nor by night. After all this effort, when the crops are ready, he has to continue with the hard work of harvesting. He suffers so much but for a world that is here today and gone tomorrow. He faces numerous problems, one after the other, and suffers much hardship. Given that so much effort is required just to grow a few crops, is religion then the only thing left which can be attained at a mere touch and no effort is required – no test or trial is deemed necessary?

To have reliance upon such views in matters of faith and to consider religion an easy matter, like a ripened fruit ready to be plucked, is not the right attitude. You should ponder over the lives of the companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) and consider how they suffered grave difficulties and passed through great hardships. They rested neither by day nor by night. They accepted all kinds of tribulations in the path of God and for the sake of their religion they sacrificed their lives and offered up their heads.

I am reminded of an incident that took place when the Holy Prophet (sa) together with his companions set out to confront an enemy. At noon, when the summer sun was at its hottest and hot winds were blowing in their faces, they came upon a spring which was surrounded by lush greenery. One of the companions made a request that he should be allowed to worship at this spot. The Holy Prophet (sa) responded by reminding him that he should offer repentance – did he not know that they had set out upon a task that was undertaken for God and that stopping to offer worship at such a place of comfort would not serve the purpose. If there is no pain or suffering in serving (God) then that is not true service. Nothing is gained by sitting around some pond, like the Hindu Gurus, and living a life of comfort or remembering God while lying down in a lush green spot. What is needed is that at times of trial and tribulation; you should remain steadfast and should not hesitate to give up even your lives for the sake of God.

Indeed, you should be prepared at all times to sacrifice your lives for the sake of God. Spiritual benefit is gained only when a person makes a determined resolve to be prepared for all manner of hardship and suffering. It is only after such a resolve that a person can find God. Such is the way of God and ever since the world was created and the system of prophethood was established, it has been so. God’s pleasure cannot be attained without pain and hardship. In fact, by facing trial and tribulation, a person himself realizes that he is now not the same person as before and there is no doubt that God is most certainly to be found after one emerges successful from such tests and trials. Unless a person becomes prepared to face difficulties and hardships in the path of God, he cannot hope to achieve (spiritual) progress.