by Raiiq Ridwan

Storytelling is one of the most amazing ways of getting our message across. Public speakers, book writers, motivational article writers, etc. are all taught to give vivid imagery through stories, as stories are how human beings best connect. Allah subhana wa ta’ala created us, and He knows best how we learn and how we remember.

Allah uses various analogies and true stories in the Quran. In fact, about a third of the Quran is just stories. And through these stories Allah teaches us the beautiful teachings of Islam in a way that we can remember, and through these stories He gives us food for thought as we try and ponder over His words. Among the Surahs in the Quran with stories of a few Prophets, is the Surah Sad. It is an interesting Surah and Allah mentions in it the stories of Prophets Adam, Dawud, Sulaiman and Ayyub alayhimussalam and their various trials. After all Allah says in the Quran, We have created death and life such that we may test which of you is the best in deeds. [1]. So what are the trials of these Prophets and how did they deal with it?

1. Dawud alayhi salam– the Trial of Justice

Allah first mentions of the great blessings that Allah had given Dawud alayhi salam through the fact that animals would listen to his recitation and that he was given a huge kingdom and success in his worldly life. Allah then moves on to tell us a story. Two angels, posed as men, were sent to Dawud alayhi salam, and one of them asked him, “This is my brother. He had ninety-nine ewes and I just the one, and he said, “Let me take charge of her,” and overpowered me with his words [2].”

Dawud alayhi salam immediately agreed without listening to the other side of the story and said this was oppression. However, immediately,

David realized that We had been testing him, so he asked his Lord for forgiveness, fell down on his knees, and repented: We forgave him [his misdeed]. His reward will be nearness to Us, a good place to return to. ‘David, We have given you mastery over the land. Judge fairly between people. Do not follow your desires, lest they divert you from God’s path: those who wander from His path will have a painful torment because they ignore the Day of Reckoning [3].’

The lesson for us in this is to be just, and hear out both sides of an argument regardless of how convincing one side may seem to be. We are Muslims and we are commanded to be just, even if it means going against close family members, our own selves or having to take the side of a disbeliever over a believer. And also the lesson in this is that the Prophets were quick in repenting to Allah even though they actually did not sin in the actual sense of the word. They aimed for perfection, and any failure to reach that would make them seek the forgiveness of the One who is Perfect

2. Sulaiman alayhi salam– the Trial of Wealth and Worldly Success

Next up comes the son of Dawud alayhi salam who was himself a Prophet- Sulaiman alayhi salam. The test of Sulaiman alayhi salam was in the fine wealth that he had been given. He had some fine horses which were beautiful and would say, My love of fine things is part of my remembering my Lord! [4] However, scholars of tafseer mention that he missed a prayer when he was busy in finding the horses which had gone away from him. And thereafter He repented to Allah,

Lord forgive me! Grant me such power as no one after me will have– You are the Most Generous Provider. [5]

Interestingly, in spite of all the wealth that Sulaiman alayhi salam had, Allah still called him, He was an excellent servant who always turned to God. [6]. And in spite of making a dua that was asking for kingdom and dominion, Allah still mentioned about Sulaiman alayhi salam, His reward will be nearness to Us, and a good place to return to. [7]

The trial of Sulaiman alayhi salam show that the natural understanding of many Muslims that wealth itself is something bad is wrong. Rather, it is the love of wealth, and when that love for wealth exceeds the love of Allah and takes us away from is that a problem. We also learn that asking for the good things of the dunya is also not something terrible!

3. Ayyub alayhi salam – Trial of Illness and Suffering

Allah goes on to mention the story of Ayyub alayhi salam in a short passage of how he suffered from a bad illness, and had lost many of his children. However, he made dua to Allah and Allah cured him of his problems and restored to him his family over time, due to Him turning in dua to Him and being patient. In this is the lesson of patience, and that patience ultimately pays a good reward, and expiates for our sins. And in spite of the fact that the trials of Sulaiman and Ayyub differed greatly, Allah said with regard to Ayyub something similar to what He said regarding Sulaiman, “an excellent servant.”[8] Indeed, Allah subhana wa ta’ala Himself says in another part of the Quran, Most certainly the patient will be given their rewards without any account. [9]

4. Adam alayhi salam– Trial of Desires and Shaytan

Then Allah comes to the very common story in the Quran of Adam alayhi salam being tempted by Shaytan to eating the forbidden fruit and being expelled from Jannah. However, in Surah Sad, Allah mentions only the conversation between Allah and Shaytan. And in it Shaytan makes dua to Allah for respite till the Day of Judgement and shows His arrogance. Thereafter, He promises to lead human beings astray by tempting them. Shaytan’s job is to beautify all that Allah has made haram upon us and make it attractive to us. Just like, among the millions of fruits of Paradise, he made attractive only that one fruit to Adam alayhi salam. The lesson we learn is that temptations to sin are from Shaytan and we should seek refuge in Allah from falling into his traps. Also, it is important to learn that there are many alternatives which are halal to that which Shaytan invites us to do.

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Raiiq Ridwan

[1] Quran 67:2

[2] Quran 38:23

[3] Quran 38:24-26

[4] Quran 38:32

[5] Quran 38:35

[6] Quran 38:30

[7] Quran 38:40

[8] Quran 38:44

[9] Quran 39:10

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