Assalam alaikoum wa Rahmatullaah wa Barakaatuh,
[Transcribed from “A commentary on Ibn Taymiyyah’s Essy on the Heart” translated by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips]
3. Ignoring trials
“Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing.” [6:43]
Allah sends trials to strengthen the believrs, or to remind those of them who have strayed to return to the straight path and the disbelievers to find the true religion of God, or as a punishment for hypocrites and those unable to benefit from the reminder.
Sa’d reported that he asked the Prophet sallallahu alayhi salam who among mankind had the most trials and he replied, “The Prophets, then those most like them and then those most like them. Man is tested according to the level of his faith. If his faith is firm, his trials increase in severity, and if there is weakness in his faith, he will be tried accordingly.” (Saheeh Sunan at-Tirmithee, vol.2, p.286, no. 1956)
Tests sometimes serve as a punishing reminder to those who have gone astray and an encouragement for them to return to the correct path. When people deviate, they seldom listen to the advice of those around them. However, when a calamity strikes them or those near and dear to them, it jolts those who still have some faith into recognizing their error.
“And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent.” [32:21]
Calamities also expose those who falsely claim faith, as well as show those who disbelieve that they choose hell by their own free will. There have been cases of people converting to Islam for the wrong reasons, and, after finding more difficulties in their lives than prior to their conversion, reverting to their former beliefs. God states in the Final Revelation:
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?” [29:2]
Those who transgress the limits set by God expose themselves to punishment in this life and the next. Throughout the Qur’an, Allah describes numerous past nations who rejected divine guidance and were subsequently destroyed. These stories sere as warnings to humankind of the consequence of rebellion against the commandments of God.
“…So let those beware who dissent from the Prophet’s order, lest fitnah strike them or a painful punishment.” [24:63]
The trials cause those who are sincere about life to be humble, to contemplate their states and to correct their errors. However, if the trials are continually ignored, the proud and arrogant heart becomes inoculated to the warnings, opposed to guidance and hardened in its stance against the truth.