THIS TESTING CONTINUES
Each person is tested in this world until the day that he
or she dies. For this reason, all people must make every moment of life
conform to Allah's commands, remember Him, seek His good pleasure, and
perform the acts of worship.
This reality brings with it another important truth: If people somehow
depart from the true path and show ungratefulness to Allah at the moment
of death, they may fail the test and their whole life may amount to nothing.
Even if they have spent their life up until that moment in a way that
earned His good pleasure, that one final moment of rebellion may render
all of the earlier efforts null and void.
All Muslims must take this danger seriously, because Satan, humanity's
greatest enemy, will spare no effort to exploit their weakest points and
unguarded moments, even up to the moment of death, to get them to abandon
the true path. Therefore, the moment of death is a very important time.
A person who says: "Well, I believe in Allah. I have done this much
to gain His favor. Certainly by now I have earned salvation," is
under a great delusion, for the Qur'an says that a person must pray for
salvation "in fear and ardent hope" until the
last moment of life (Surat as-Sajda, 16). Every Muslim is invited to consider
O you who believe! Fear [and respect] Allah the way He should be feared
[and respected], and do not die except as Muslims. (Surah Al `Imran, 102)
Those who Come to Belief but Later Reject It
Belief is one of Allah's greatest blessings, for it leads to happiness
and well-being in this world as well as to salvation in the next. Therefore,
as with every blessing, we must thank Allah for belief, which He grants
and withholds as He wills. Those to whom Allah does not grant belief will
never be able to acquire it, even if the whole world tried to get them
to believe, for the Qur'an states that:
However eager you are for them to be guided, Allah will not guide those
whom He misguides. They will have no helpers. (Surat an-Nahl, 37)
So, believers are saved by His mercy from unbelief. Therefore, every Muslim
must give thanks by saying this prayer, which belongs to the people of
Praise be to Allah, Who has guided us to this! We would not have been
guided had Allah not guided us. The Messengers of our Lord came with the
Truth... (Surat al-A`raf, 43)
To give thanks for a blessing means to praise Allah verbally and to act
in a way that earns His good pleasure. Since prayer is a thanksgiving
for belief, every Muslim must say their prayers with great care and attention
as a thanksgiving for this great gift, do all that they can to earn His
good pleasure, and devote themselves to Him totally.
If they do not do so, mistakenly thinking that their current status as
believers means that they are already on the way to Paradise, or if they
forget that they are being tested, then these blessings may be removed.
As the Qur'an proclaims, their hearts may be hardened and, finally, they
may deny Allah. At that point, all that they have done or believed up
to that point loses its value, and all rewards are cancelled. Allah reveals
this reality in several verses:
... As for any of you who revert from their religion
and die as an unbeliever, their actions will come to nothing in this world
and the Hereafter. They are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it
timelessly, forever. (Surat al-Baqara, 217)
It has been revealed to you and those before you: "If you associate
others with Allah, your actions will come to nothing and you will be among
the losers." (Surat az-Zumar, 65)
… those who believe ask: "Are these the people who swore by
Allah, with their most earnest oaths, that they were with you?" Their
actions have come to nothing, and they now are losers. O you who believe.
If any of you renounce your religion, Allah will bring forward a people
whom He loves and who love Him, humble to the believers, fierce to the
unbelievers, who strive in the Way of Allah and do not fear the blame
of any censurer. That is the unbounded favor of Allah, which He gives
to whoever He wills. Allah is Boundless, All-Knowing. (Surat al-Ma'ida,
In the Qur'an, Allah tells us that some believers later rejected their
belief and how far they deviated from the true path:
As for those who believe and then return to unbelief,
and then again believe and then return to unbelief, and then increase
in unbelief, Allah will not forgive them or guide them on any path. (Surat
Those who reject belief after believing and then increase in their unbelief,
their repentance will not be accepted. They are the misguided. (Surah
Al `Imran, 90)
He also describes their state in the afterlife:
… on the Day when faces are whitened and faces are blackened. As
for those whose faces are blackened: "What! Did you reject belief
after having believed? Taste the punishment for your unbelief!" (Surah
Al `Imran, 106)
These verses show the danger of abandoning faith to follow the wrong path.
Such people spend a part of their lives believing in His existence and
living according to His commands. But later on, their lower self leads
them away from Allah's religion and into denial. As a result, they become
irreligious, perhaps even more irreligious than others, because they had
learned what was right, accepted and lived according to Allah's religion,
but then had abandoned it. For this reason, all of their good works are
completely cancelled. (Allah knows best)Therefore, people should not forget
for even one moment that they are being tested in this world and that
Satan will try to tempt them off the right path through various suggestions
and doubts that these tests will never end. To deny Allah after believing
in Him is the way to endless agony.
In addition, these people who reject belief live miserable lives. Even
if they have attained a certain measure of material wealth and comfort,
they suffer a spiritual pain for the rest of their life. Since they know
the truth, they always try to suppress their conscience; however, a sense
of guilt always burns in their souls. But the pain that they experience
in this life is nothing compared to what they will suffer after death.
The Qur'an reveals:
As for those who do not believe and die while they are unbelievers, the
whole Earth filled with gold would not be accepted from any of them if
they were to offer it as a ransom. They will have a painful punishment.
They will have no helpers. (Surah Al `Imran, 91)
Since such a danger exists, believers must be aware of it up until the
very last moment of their lives. They should never fall away. The moment
they think that they have done enough to attain eternal life, they may
begin to act with abandon. As the Qur'an says: "No
indeed! Truly man is unbridled, seeing himself as self-sufficient"
(Surat al-'Alaq, 6-7).
So, always remember this danger and act in such a way to gain Allah's
good pleasure. The trials of this world continue up to the very last moment
Those who Lag Behind in the Struggle and Those
who Avoid It
People with little or no belief may live among Muslims as if nothing were
wrong, apparently following the rules of religion. But Allah has created
certain tests to bring out their real character. Muslims who endure being
tested by difficulties, hunger, need, illness, or the loss of possessions
or loved ones become strong; those with a sickness in their heart draw
closer to unbelief with every passing moment.
So, once again we see the importance of every moment. Some people may
spend the greater part of their life believing in Allah, promoting the
religion, and doing good works. But if they stop acting according to their
conscience, become lax and hard-hearted, they will not be able to show
the required discernment when necessary. Worldly concerns and cares for
this life may overpower their sense of the need to seek Allah's good pleasure,
a development that will lead them to unbelief.
Many verses relate the Prophets' struggles to
protect innocent people from an aggressive society and guard Allah's religion.
In those days, this struggle was a very important act of worship. Our
Prophet (saas) engaged in a very tough struggle against his unbelieving
society. Every struggle undertaken at the command of Allah and the Prophet
(saas) is a religious responsibility. The Qur'an says that those who try
to escape this responsibility will have their hearts sealed, for this
desire to escape shows that they have completely departed from belief.
Today, the Muslims' struggle against unbelievers is carried on in the
realm of ideas. This struggle seeks to refute all of the arguments of
those who use science to deny Allah's existence. Each Muslim has a great
responsibility, and none of them can remain in the background or uninvolved.
In the Qur'an, Allah says that those who choose to do so have had their
When a surah is sent down saying: "Believe
in Allah and strive together with His Messenger," those among them
with wealth will ask you to excuse them, saying: "Let us remain with
those who stay behind." They are pleased to be with those who stay
behind. Their hearts have been stamped, so they do not understand. (Surat
Another example is those who make excuses when confronted with difficulty
and kill their own spirit in trying to escape their responsibility, as
If it had been a case of easy gains and a short journey, they would have
followed you. But the distance was too great for them. They will swear
by Allah: "Had we been able to, we would have gone out with you."
They are destroying their own selves. Allah knows that they are lying.
(Surat at-Tawba, 42)
These examples from the time of our Prophet (saas) and from earlier Prophets
show a very important reality: Allah tests people continually and has
created separate realms for those who tell the truth and those who lie.
While Muslims show strength and determination in times of difficulty and
frustration, those who are weak reveal themselves and turn away from religion.
An example of this happened in the time of our Prophet (saas) when there
was a war between the Muslims and the unbelievers. According to the Qur'an,
some Muslims showed weakness at this time and became overwhelmed with
anxious thoughts, thinking other than the truth about Allah. In this time
of difficulty, Satan tried to make these Muslims leave the true path:
Those of you who turned their backs on the day the two armies clashed—it
was Satan who made them slip for what they had done. But Allah has pardoned
them. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, All-Forbearing. (Surah Al `Imran, 155)
This occurrence contains an important lesson for believers: Allah has
promised that people must be tested in order to separate the good from
the evil, and the only way to endure these difficult moments is to have
a strong and sincere belief in Him. Certainly, Allah makes things easier
for His devout servants, steadies their feet, and places a sense of well-being
and security in their hearts in all times of difficulty. But we must not
forget that His promise to test all people in this world and separate
the good from the evil is sure:
Or did you suppose that you would be left without
Allah knowing those of you who have strived and who have not taken anyone
as their intimate friends besides Allah, His Messenger, and the believers?
Allah is aware of what you do. (Surat at-Tawba, 16)
Do people imagine that they will be left to say: "We believe"
and will not be tested? We tested those before them so that Allah would
know the truthful and would know the liars. (Surat al-`Ankabut, 2-3)