By Fatima Ariadne
From the birth of pearl, nature teaches us about self transformation. Just like Mother Clam who have to endure pain when she conceived the pearl, we have to face tribulations until we’re truly transformed.
This article is the continuation of Part 1 of series, “Adversity, Sufferings, and the Law of Contrast in Universe”. You can read the article first to get more handle of this second series better.
Every Soul is a Pearl
Every time a foreign stuff, particle, debris, and whatever irritant enters the Mother Clam’s body, she will soon coat it with layer upon layer of nacreous material. It was a painful process for Mother Clam. But from the accumulation of such nacreous layers, a beautiful pearl was born.
From the birth of pearl, nature teaches us a lesson on life’s transformation. It is not an overnight process, nor something that enters today and gone tomorrow. Just like Mother Clam who have to endure the pain when she conceived a pearl — us mortals have to face tests and tribulations of life, fall and falter in the process, until we’re transformed. And as the law of nature announces it, we metamorphose. Just like a pearl
Revisiting this hadith….
“Whoever Allah wants good for him, he puts them to test. He puts them through difficulties. Just like a diamond or some metal that has to be burnt and then that which is bad from it is removed so that you have that which is the pure diamond or the pure gold or whatever. He put them to tests, trials and difficulties.” (Hadith Bukhari and Muslim)
How Adversity Shapes Us
1) Become the Stronger You, More than Ever
Rasulullah (peace be upon him) and his companions faced an unimaginable depth of adversity on their journey to embrace and spread the divine message of Islam. Rasulullah (pbuh) was banished by his relatives, boycotted, forced to left his homeland, his followers were brutally tortured and murdered, and in Ta’if children throw him with rocks until he’s bleeding. But still when he able to conquer Makkah 23 years afterward, he forgiven all his enemies, choosing to not taking revenge for all the atrocities they’ve done.
I remember a book on a memoir of schizophrenic, which author endured and battled with his illness for 50 years that it paralyzed his life. I’ve had depression for 4 years myself and almost did suicide, literally. I couldn’t imagine if it’s 50 years. Suicide would be delicious for sure.
But you’ll never know what stretch you’re able going through until you have it yourself.
Adversity forces us to step outside our comfort zone, to challenge the limitations our minds created, and makes you re-evaluating whether what you think you’ve known – is true.
Adversity is actually a God’s way of saying “Enough you say?? You can do it more than this! Run further! Step your fear! More, more, more!”.
2) Adversity eases your path to paradise
“No fatigue, nor disease, nor anxiety, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that” (Hadith Bukhari and Muslim)
Another prophetic message in different Bukhari narration stated that a path to paradise is not easy, and surrounded by hardships. So let’s say your path to paradise is filled with snakes and thorns. How to clear it? The snakes and thorns were removed, in the form of adversity you experience in this life – so that you don’t have to experience it in hereafter.
Because in every single adversity, there’s a sin erased, and Divine reward added. You don’t experience pain for nothing!
“The greater reward is with the greater trial or (in other words); the greater the trial or hardship level, then the greater the reward.” (Hadith Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
3) No sufferings that we cannot endure
“Allah doesn’t burden a soul beyond his capacity / ability to bear. He gets the rewards from what (good deeds) he attempts, and he gets a punishment from what (bad deeds) he attempts” (Suraa Al Baqarah 286)
The Divine’s promise (and mercy) is that no one will carry a hardship beyond his capability to bear. In other words : when you experience a pain, no matter how painful and life-shattering it is, you only experience it because you CAN bear and overcome it.
4) Adversity reveals our true nature barenaked
A quote from Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal :
“Without being shaken, you don’t not know what comes to the top and what goes to the bottom. Without being shaken you don’t know a man from those who are faking; you won’t know women from those who are faking. You won’t know those who truly have faith from those who don’t. Those who make a claim on their tongue but is not really in their hearts, from those who are willing to die for this matter. This can only be shown by trials, tribulations, tests and difficulties.”
5) Exercise Our Sense of Humanity and Creation
We cannot define light without darkness. Giving without taking. Cure without disease. The opposite forces exist as a part of law of nature.
If oceans never exist, would we be even bothered to create a ship?
If all people are already rich and happy, would we be moved to exercise our humanity awareness? Would the vocabulary like “struggling” and “charity” comes to mind? Just look at the heroes in history. They’re not created without villains.
Darkness is only an opportunity to provide light. Disease exists as an opportunity to create a cure. With pain, comes a desire to change and eliminate it. Okay but actually, we don’t need the dark side as prequisite to create light if we want – you ALREADY are able to CREATE out of motivation of love, sense of service, and desire to make things better! But (unfortunately but true) pain is still a stronger motivation to kick start a change.
Patience is About Persistence, not Fatalism
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives, and fruits (i.e. foods), but give glad tidings to those who are patient – who when being afflicted with calamity, they say “truly to Allah we belong, and truly to Him we shall return” (Suraa Al Baqarah : 155 – 156)
Patience in Islam is highly misunderstood. There’s some sort of urban myth that patience in Islam is “Come what may. Whatever crap you shoot me I’ll just stand quiet here, eat ‘em all and pray because I’m patient”.
Patience is not fatalism. It’s to stay strong, take care of your spiritual and physical strength during tough times, and to trust that the Divine Sustainer doesn’t abandon you. Patience is about getting up and walk after a fall. Patience is to stand up doing what’s right in the sight of Allah even when the world going against you.
Patience is persistence.
In previous point I shared a hadith that in every adversity a muslim experiences, his/her sins are expiated. But there is no way this hadith teaching you to just do nothing about it. In early history of Prophethood, the companions were persecuted by Makkah polytheists. What were the Prophet and companions did? They didn’t just stand there quietly for the sake of “patience”. They migrated (hijrah) to Abssynia, then Madinah. When these polytheists attacked them, they fought back. Struggling was there, otherwise Islam will not stand up as we know it.
Stay strong. Divine Sustainer never left you.