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   Trial by hardships

Dear brothers and sisters,
In today’s khutbah, our main topic of discussion is going to be “trial through hardships”. I want to explore this topic specifically through the lens of a story narrated by Allah SWT in the Quran about a prophet whom Allah SWT brought to the people of Hawran. His name was Ayub AS and is morecommonly known by his biblical name Job. I hold this story dear to me, primarily because of two reasons, one, the message it brings to us is very profound because it speaks about the magnitude of hardships prophet Ayub AS and his wife endured throughout their trial and two, because while the trials of Ayub AS may sound too extreme to us by nature, they are relatable because everyone of us has or will suffer through a time of testing in our life and not all of us enjoy the luxury of being in a state of prosperity even as I speak. Everyone is tried in different ways under different conditions tailor-made for them by Allah SWT as he says in the last ayah of Surah Al-Baqarah [2:286]: La yukallifu Allahu nafsan illa wusAAaha"Allah does not charge a soul except [with is well-within] its capacity.” The word ‘takleef’ in Arabic means “to be burdened with something” and Allah SWT says Allah does not burden any individual, “illa wusAAaha", except for what is well-within their capacity. This means any trials that we go through in our lives are actually custom-tailored to our capability. What someone else is going through may not be something we can handle and what we are going through may not be something someone else can handle. Every experience in this life, either enjoyable or rough, is according to our own individual personalities.

Hence when people say, if I were him or her, I would have done this differently and the outcome would have been better... that statement would be naïve at best and ignorant/toxic at worst because the premise behind such as statement is that the person who’s making a bold claim like that believes or is convinced that they could have handled a kind of hardship/situation better, let alone handle it in the first place... a situation that was made not made for them but someone else without even being in their shoes. Who are we to judge who handled it better or worse when we don’t even know what’s in someone’s heart or mind? Only Allah SWT is the one who knows what that individual is going through or is feeling like and hence, only he can put everything in perspective. So, we should refrain ourselves from judging others when it comes to who handled what better without knowledge and/or without a legit reason. Keeping this ayah in mind, let's now discuss the story of Ayub AS and what his trials were and most importantly, what we can learn from it. As said earlier, Ayub AS was a prophet of Allah SWT who was sent to the people of Hawran, present day Syria. He married a woman named Rehma from the family of Yusuf AS (biblical name = Joseph), another prophet of Allah SWT. Ayub AS and his wife Rehma, both were blessed in many ways... in terms of health, they were good-looking, were young and in good shape to carry themselves, in terms of family, they both came from very respectable family lineage and together, they had lots of children, in terms of wealth, they had hundreds of acres of land for cultivation of crops and for grazing of the thousands of cattle they owned. And being the prophet of Allah SWT, Ayub AS and his wife, both, were very generous in terms of helping the community that surrounded them. They used to give Sadaqah to those in need and Allah SWT increased them in wealth, their kids were beloved for being similar and hard-working, so all was going well for him and his family and alhamdullilah, they were happy So, what happened was that our arch-enemy, that is Shaitan, felt the same jealousy when he looked at Ayub AS as he did when he had looked at Adam AS. So, it was out of spite and hatred that he decided to come and whisper to all the people of Hawran that the reason why Ayub AS is worshiping Allah SWT is because of what he has given him... like nobody can be that good, its only deception and that if that day comes when Allah SWT takes away what he is happy about, then you’ll see him turning sour and away from the worship of Allah SWT. So, as the story goes, in summary, he began to spreading rumors and started spreading the idea among people of Hawran that he is living the life of luxury, while you’re the one who’s life is full of hardship. Hence, it’s easier for Ayub AS to say in worship to Allah SWT... he can afford it, but you cannot. And the people started to say things like if we were as blessed as Ayub AS, then we would be prophets of Allah SWT too, implying that it's just the blessings and not his deeds. Hence, Allah SWT tested him not only to show  the people around him how untrue their perception of Ayub AS is, but also to raise the ranks of his loyal servant Ayub AS because Allah SWT tries this most loyal servants the most.

According to hadith 2398 in At-tirmidhi, classified as Sahih, it is narrated from Saad ibn Abi Waqas RA: “I asked: O Messenger of Allah (SAW), who among the people are most sorely tested? He (SAW) said: “The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A man will be tested according to his level of religious commitment. If his religious commitment is solid, his test will be more severe, but if there is any weakness in his religious commitment, he will be tested according to his level of religious commitment. And calamity will continue to befall a person until he walks on the
earth with no sin on him.” This hadith is very important in its meaning. It highlights that the people tried most are the ones that Allah SWT loves most. And those who deliver, they shed their sins until they come to a point where their sins are next to nothing. Going back to the story, one day, when Ayub AS was praying, he heard a scream from his fields. Upon inquiring, it seemed that few people in Hawran pillaged his land and took a lot as well as damaged a lot of his field. Another day, when Ayub AS was, again, praying, a lightning came from the sky that burned much of his cultivation until it became ashes. And another day, when his children were all gathered together and they were all eating food inside a hut, the roof of that hut fell down and it crushed all the children of Ayub AS in one sweeping blow. It especially hurts when someone’s child passes away, let alone your own child so imagine what Ayub AS felt when all of his children died at once. Allah SWT took away not only Ayub AS’s wealth in terms of children and money, he also started to take away his health. In summary, Ayub AS had several diseases all back to back and suddenly, with him having pain in his abdomen and joints, different illnesses of the skin came over, he started to become old and frail. He started to have nodules all over and he would itch and burn hard on his lesions. In short, this once successful and handsome businessman suddenly became the most tested man on earth. But to Ayub AS’s credit, he stayed patient because he knew that when Allah SWT takes away something, he also gives back something that is much better. And his journey was made a lot more palatable, even though it was extreme, because of his wife Rehma who decided to be patient with him and stayed with him throughout the ordeal.

Dear Brothers and sisters,
Continuing the story, when shaitan saw the so much was taken away from Ayub AS and his wife yet,it did not deter them in their faith, shaitan being shaitan started to incite the people of Hawran with a new take on the event. He started to spread the word that maybe Ayub AS has done something that he’s hiding... maybe that’s why Allah SWT is punishing him so much. And this lie was enough to scare the people of Hawran to ask and force Ayub AS out of Hawran who came to him and said, with conviction, that clearly you have done something to anger Allah SWT, and we don’t wish to be party to what you do so quite literally, take a hike... go away and do not return. Now, Ayub AS was left isolated, shunned and despised by his people while still, not having health or wealth to sustain himself. He was to a point where he couldn’t do anything at all but Subhanallah, his wife Rehma, would stay with him and would go out to do work in other’s household just so she could earn some food for him and herself. Can you imagine a once wealthy woman with all the luxuries in life, suddenly has to work for scrapes of foods? When one day, people decided to not offer her any work at all, she decided to cut her hair and sell that as well just so she can avoid the distress of hunger for herself and Ayub AS. When she brought bread home and Ayub AS saw it as well her hair, he was so overwhelmed that it overtook his emotions for a moment and said that he'll not eat her food and that if he could, he would hit her a hundred times. This was something, of course, he said out of grief and anger and no doubt, he should not have said something like that but hearing that, Rehma, his wife, started crying and asked Ayub AS to ask Allah SWT to end the trial because its too much now. Some scholars say it took eighteen years but one day, Ayub AS decided to call upon Allah SWT saying ‘Oh Allah, Verily I’ve been touched by the shaitan in my body and in my health and in my wealth, and you are the most-merciful and most-forgiving' So, Allah SWT sent an angel to Ayub AS with a message telling him “O Ayub, Allah sends you his salaam, and that what an honorable slave you have been by being patient with Allah’s decree and that he has told me to tell you to hit the earth with your leg’. As soon as he did, spring water came gushing out of the earth and when he bathed in it, all his sickness was gone on the outside and when he drank it, all his sickness was gone on the inside. This process was so fast that after Rehma, his wife, came back after a hard day outside at work, she couldn’t recognize Ayub AS as she had left him earlier in old-age and sickness and instead, now he was a young healthy man. She even asked Ayub As where her husband was and described him to Ayub AS and Ayub As replied that it is indeed me and that Allah SWT was given me this water that has healed me completely, almost like the fountain of youth. He asked Rehma to drink the water as well and once she did, even she regained her health and her youth and on top of that, in front of their eyes, as Quran describes it, he resurrected their kids and blessed them with even more later on, his wealth was returned to him later. If there is anything that we can take away from this story today, it is to just look at the trials of Ayub AS and his wife Rehma, and see how painful and severe were in nature and compare it with ours, and you’ll see ours don’t even come close. Their trial was rewarding in the end but understand, no individual climbs the ranks in Allah SWT’s eyes without trials in wealth, health, children or any other form so please, be patient when you’re tested and take Allah SWT as his friend. Allah SWT does not bring anyone more than what they can bear so stay steadfast and know that when Allah SWT takes away something, he always rewards the person with something even better. Have good thoughts about Allah SWT and inshallah soon enough, if we learn to stay patient with what distresses us, then inshallah Allah SWT is Ar-Rahman and Ar-Rahim, and If He wills, He’ll grant us jannat-ul-firdous

Khutbah (Trials by hardship)Artist Name
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