During this blessed month of Ramadan, quite a few calamities befell our community: a runaway teenager (who returned home safely, alhamdulilLah, praise be to God), a near-fatal car accident caused by an intoxicated driver and two emergency surgeries, all of which happened within the first 20 days of Ramadan. In discussing the wave of trials, friends around me were baffled by the number of calamities in the month where one seeks the Mercy of Allah, subhanahu wa ta`ala (Exhalted is He), through heightened worship. I remember sharing the same sentiment but answering the question of:“Why are so many difficult tests occurring in Ramadan?” to the effect of, “Allah is Merciful and we are blessed to have these trials in this month of Ramadan.”
I know now that I did not fully understand or appreciate the true meaning of my response.
Allah (swt) knows best, but perhaps I too, was to be tested so that I could begin to appreciate Allah’s infinite Mercy. Just a few days ago I was feeling peculiarly nonspiritual in the morning. By evening I would say, I probably felt the closest to Allah than I did the entire month. That afternoon, my children and I were swimming in the community pool where 3 lifeguards watched over the large toddler pool that fed into a larger, deeper pool. My children and I were together the entire time, except for a few minutes when my older children were playing in the deeper pool while I was playing with my younger children. After a short time, I noticed my youngest son, who was not wearing a flotation device, was not around. I scanned the rest of the toddler pool searching for my son. Not finding him, my eyes turned to where my older two were playing; I did not see him. In a calm, yet surreal manner, I began wading through the toddler pool to my older kids and when I turned the corner, I saw my older daughter struggling to lift my son above the surface of the water. As my daughter passed his water laden body to me I was thankful to see that he was conscious and breathing. I yelled for help as I put my son over the side of the pool. After vomiting a lot of water several times, everyone was thrilled to hear him say that he wanted to go home. He looked good, we went home.
Within an hour, my youngest son, who usually never sleeps in the afternoon, became very subdued and began to cough. I was concerned, but not wanting to overreact, I just continued to monitor him. I wasn’t sure how to read his behavior. Shortly after, my son began to breathe with difficulty making a low gasping sound with every breath. I took my son to the hospital, forgetting that my nearest facility did not have emergency services. AlhamdulilLah, within minutes the nurse called 911 and via ambulance my son was taken to the nearest hospital with a pediatric intensive care unit. From the firemen, to the paramedics, to the nurses in the emergency room, the message was the same. For the benefit of our readers, I wanted to share this brief message as it can save lives. Anytime a child falls in the pool, even if he did not become fully submerged, you should immediately go to the hospital for observation. In short, if a little bit of fluid gets in the lungs, or even if not, within 24 hours the lungs can continue to absorb water from the body ultimately leading to death if gone untreated. This is called “dry drowning.”
It turned out that my son did have fluid in the lungs. AlhamdulilLah, after 24 hours of oxygen treatments, breathing medications, antibiotics and watching “The Lion King” 3 times (at my son’s request), he was released in good health. Subhan’Allah, so many lessons (spiritual, practical, etc.) were learned that night in the ICU. At the same time, my most humble iftar (meal to break fast) and suhoor (meal before fasting begins) were experienced in the ICU. My best taraweeh and tahajjud prayers (extra nightly prayers) in the whole month of Ramadan, was performed in a cramped space between my son’s hospital bed and my visitor’s chair. And that night was my most concentrated reading and reflection on Surat Ya-Seen (surah 36 in the Qu’ran). I was grateful for the opportunity to get closer to Allah (swt) after feeling so “off” just earlier in the day.
To go back and reflect on “why so many difficult tests occur in Ramadan?” It is simple, Allah (swt) in his infinite Mercy, loves us so much, he gives us opportunities for increased dhikr (remembrance), prayer, dua (wishes), shukr (thankfulness), Qu’ran recitation and reflection, and contemplation through these trials. And what a better time to perform all of these good deeds than in the blessed month of Ramadan, where the reward for good deeds are multiplied several fold?
Below are just a few of the benefits of being tested, especially in Ramadan, for the tested, for family and friends of the tested, and for the entire community.
The one who is directly tested has the potential for several rewards during his trial:
- For being patient
- For their increased tawakkul (reliance) in Allah (swt)
- For turning to Allah (swt) in du`a’
- For asking others to turn to Allah (swt) to make dua for them
- For being humbled by the test and realizing that Allah (swt) is the Ultimate Planner
- For reflecting on Allah’s (swt) qualities and His attributes
- If there is a loss involved, for remembering how much Allah (swt) has blessed him with so many other things in this life
- If there was imminent loss and health/wealth was saved, for thanking Allah (swt) for His mercy and blessing in being saved from that loss
- For seeing others who have a tougher test, and praying for them and at the same time being thankful for not being tested as strongly
- For doing extra good deeds in gratitude for Allah’s (swt) mercy during the test
For those who hear of their fellow brother’s/sister’s test they too, have potential for several rewards:
- For making du`a’ for their fellow brother/sister
- For asking others to make dua for the one who is being tested
- For their increased tawakkul in Allah (swt)
- For reflecting on the test and realizing/appreciating Allah’s (swt) attributes
- As a result of the other person’s trial, for reflecting on Allah’s (swt) favor and blessings upon them
- For their gratitude for not having suffered the same trial
- For doing good deeds to help the one who is being tested (assisting with money, cooking for the tested person, helping with childcare, etc.)
And finally on a community level, people feel a stronger sense of connection amongst community members because:
- People were open with each other in sharing their test and asking for du`a’
- Community members united on something good, and contributed to the tested person’s general welfare through dua, donations, food, etc.
- There was a greater level of interaction amongst community members due to the increased level of communication (i.e. regarding du`a’ requests, etc.)
As reflected in the following hadith (saying of the Prophet), May Allah (swt) bless us with patience and contentment during difficult times. Ameen.
“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.”
(Narrated by Muslim, 2999)