Many years ago whilst going through a dark time in my life I asked one of my friends what is the difference between a divine punishment and a test or trial? and he responded with a profound yet simple answer,it’s very simple,whilst going through a trial or test, if you forgot your creator this is certainly a punishment and if you remember him that is nothing but just a temporary trial,later he added which if you truly are a believer is promised by him ,that he will test us.
We humans always confuse punishments and trails,when hit by a calamity, an illness,an unfortunate accident,or loss of loved ones ,we instantly chose to challenge and begin denying his mercy ,whilst forgetting that the creator of Heaven and Earth only intends to try the believers not everything is meant to be a punishment saying that every pandemic and trial is a punishment is also the idea of ignorants.Unfortunately, many times when an affliction strikes someone, the people around us sometimes begin to makes us feel that it was perhaps some divine judgment against us, which could be the case in many situations, but the Almighty only intends to rebuke a soul , so we can make amendments towards others.
I came across this very interesting incident, beliver or not ,but anyone who’ll read it, will surely find it riveting, it is Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas, (volume 7, Book 71, Number 625 , for reference) ,Umar bin Al-Khattab , the 3rd caliph in islam ,when he departed for Sham (Syria)and when he reached Sargh, the commanders of the (Muslim) army, Abu ‘Ubaida bin Al-Jarrah and his companions met him and told him that an epidemic had broken out in Sham.
‘Umar said, “Call for me the early emigrants” So ‘Umar called them, consulted them and informed them that an epidemic had broken out in Sham. Those people differed in their opinions. Some of them said, “We have come out for a purpose and we do not think that it is proper to give it up,” while others said (to ‘Umar), “You have along with you. other people and the companions of Allah’s Apostle so do not advise that we take them to this epidemic.” ‘Umar said to them, “Leave me now.” Then he said, “Call the Ansar for me.” I called them and he consulted them and they followed the way of the emigrants and differed as they did. He then said to them, Leave me now,” and added, “Call for me the old people of Quraish who emigrated in the year of the Conquest of Mecca.” I called them and they gave a unanimous opinion saying, “We advise that you should return with the people and do not take them to that (place) of epidemic.”
So ‘Umar made an announcement, “I will ride back to Medina in the morning, so you should do the same.” Abu ‘Ubaida bin Al-Jarrah said (to ‘Umar), “Are you running away from what Allah had ordained?” ‘Umar said, “Would that someone else had said such a thing, O Abu ‘Ubaida! Yes, we are running from what Allah had ordained to what Allah has ordained. Don’t you agree that if you had camels that went down a valley having two places, one green and the other dry, you would graze them on the green one only if Allah had ordained that, and you would graze them on the dry one only if Allah had ordained that?”
This is the level of faith those believers had and still have, to begin with, the response of Umar Bin Khattab , so absorbing, that yes we travelled all the way to Syria from Medina, that was the decree of the creator and now if they were returning back, that is also his decession,and we humans are merely following it, from that journey to the return,due to the natural affliction is not a punishment, but a decession of God.
The heart of the believers always find solace in this reminder, when you know you’re helpless, but you also know that he has promised you ease ,that’s indeed comforting,like this verse in the Quran “مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرً” ,meaning ,”So verily, with the hardship, there is relief,Verily, with the hardship, there is relief “.