How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: My family and I are currently going through a lot of difficulties. My question is, how does one differentiate between a test from Allah and a punishment? What should we do in either case?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. May Allah grant you and your family ease and relief from your trials, amin.

Some Criteria and General Advice

One’s own behavior during the trial is a strong clue as to why the trial was sent.

It is related that Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jaylani (Allah have mercy on him) said that trials occur for one of three reasons, each of which has a sign:

(1) Due to sins, the sign of which is the person’s lack of patience and much restlessness and complaining during the trial; or

(2) As expiation for sins, the sign of which is patience and not complaining or being restless, along with obedience being easy on the body; or

(3) As a way to raise one’s rank to the highest of degrees, the sign of which is contentment and calmness, along with obedience being easy on both the body and the heart.

[Nahlawi, Al-Durar al-Mubaha fil Hazr wal Ibaha]

In any case, one should strive to remove the unlawful from one’s life; seek much forgiveness and make much repentance; and focus on being patient and content with Allah’s decree, all the while continuing to make dua that Allah bring ease and relief from the trial.

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And Allah knows best.


Checked and Approved by Faraz Rabbani