Every person will experience hardship, calamity, disaster, unpleasant or sad incident in his or her life. There’s not a single human being free from such occurrence. Therefore, we must equip ourselves with thorough knowledge about it so that we can deal with it well. The Qur’an and hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s saying) are the best source to understand the concept of hardship or calamity.
What does Allah (God) say about hardship, calamity or disaster? God says in the Qur'an:
“And whatever strikes you of disaster – it is for what your hands have earned; but He pardons much.” Qur’an ch. 42 verse 30.
“And judge, [O Muhammad], between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations and beware of them, lest they tempt you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. And if they turn away – then know that Allah only intends to afflict them with some of their [own] sins. And indeed, many among the people are defiantly disobedient.” Qur’an ch. 5 verse 49.
“What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself. And We have sent you, [O Muhammad], to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is Allah as Witness.” Qur’an ch. 4 verse 79.
Furthermore, Prophet Muhammad said: “No fatigue, disease, sorrow, sadness, hurt or distress befalls a Muslim – not even the prick he receives from a thorn – except that Allah expiates some of his sins because of it.”
So, according to the Qur’an, there are at least three dimensions of the concept of hardship: first, hardship is a form of punishment from Allah (God) paid on earth because of the disobedience (of God’s rules) of the people. Second, it acts as the abolition of sins so that there’s no more sin to be accounted in the hereafter. Third, it is a trial from God to increase the degree of people in the sight of God.
Basically, nothing decreed by God – including hardship or calamity – is bad. God is The Most Merciful, The Most Gracious, The Purest, The Most Just. God’s decision is impossibly bad or earning sins. A wise man once said, “When God gives you comfort, pleasant things or grace, you can then feel God’s mercy. However, when God gives you hardship or calamity, God actually wants to bestow you wisdom.”
Experiences prove that hardship or calamity often invites wisdom meanwhile comfort or pleasure often leads to disobedient of God’s rules. Prisoners repent in prisons, people become stronger personalities when difficulties arise, family members reunited when disasters occur, we realize our mistakes when something unpleasant happen, and many more “good things” or blessing are actually there when hardship strikes. But, it depends on us whether we want to “see or feel” the blessing wrapped in unpleasant things. It depends whether we can take advantage of the hardship or not. If we understand the concept of it and behave according to God’s rules, we will surely be able to see the blessing and we will be the ones who are blessed. Yet, if we take hardship the wrong way, e.g. we blame God for what happens or complain about it, then our soul won’t be able to see the blessing and we will be the doomed ones. The analogy goes like this: what’s the use of a golden pen for those who cannot write.. Or what’s the use of a very good book for people who can’t read.. Having golden pen or good book without the ability of using them is just a waste of time and money.
It’s hard for us to reach wisdom when we are in comfortable, pleasant, fun situation. In such a situation, we often don’t realize that life is a test or trial from God. We often forget to behave according to God’s rules. Abundant wealth, perfect health, great family, rising carrier, popularity and so forth give more chance to arrogance, spending money on luxuries, unselfishness, dishonesty which are against the rules of God.
So, what is the best attitude, according to the Qur’an, in facing hardship or calamity? There is no other way in dealing with it than seeking refuge to God, submitting to God’s will, doing effort to make situation better, and don’t forget the promises of God as stated in the Qur’an as follows:
“Indeed, Allah does not wrong the people at all, but it is the people who are wronging themselves.” Ch. 10 verse 44
“…And your Lord is not ever unjust to [His] servants.” Ch. 41 verse 46
“Indeed, Allah does not do injustice, [even] as much as an atom's weight…” Ch. 4 verse 40
“ …But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” Ch. 2 verse 216
“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” Ch. 94 verse 5, 6
God manifests His love towards human being through hardship. That’s the way God works…