1. Is the Test based on our choice between good and bad?
Yes. Some trials are in order to distinguish the believers from the disbelievers:
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.
And We indeed tested those who were before them. And ALLAH will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although ALLAH knows all that before putting them to test)” [al-‘Ankaboot 29:2-3]
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
All praise is due to ALLAH and peace and blessing upon His Messenger
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of ALLAH, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Saabiroon (the patient).
Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly, to ALLAH we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.’
They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones” [al-Baqarah 2:155-157]
Some trials are via wealth and children… to know who will give thanks for them, and who will be distracted from ALLAH by them:
“And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and that surely, with ALLAH is a mighty reward” [al-Anfaal 8:28]
Some are warned to heed the implication of the trial:
“And indeed We seized them with punishment, but they humbled not themselves to their Lord, nor did they invoke (ALLAH) with submission to Him” [al-Mu’minoon 23:76]
“See they not that they are put in trial once or twice every year (with different kinds of calamities, disease, famine)? Yet, they turn not in repentance, nor do they learn a lesson (from it)” [al-Tawbah 9:126]
Some trials are to expiate our sins in this (temporary) life rather than the (permanent) hereafter (as a favour to us):
The Prophet (peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him) said: “No misfortune or disease befalls a Muslim, no worry or grief or harm or distress – not even a thorn that pricks him – but ALLAH will expiate for some of his sins because of that.” (Agreed upon. Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5641)
2. If good/ bad are from ALLAH, then our good/bad is His Choice?
ALLAH tests us, sometimes with calamities and sometimes with blessings, to show who will be thankful and who will be ungrateful, and who will obey and who will disobey, then He will reward or punish them on the Day of Resurrection:
“and We shall make a trial of you with evil and with good. And to Us you will be returned” [al-Anbiya’ 21:35]
“And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much” [al-Shoora 42:30]
“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.” [an-Nisa 4:79]
- Hadith on reward if right or wrong…
Amr ibn Al-As reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning (ijtihad) and he is correct, then he will have two rewards. If a judge makes a ruling, striving to apply his reasoning and he is mistaken, then he will have one reward.”
Source: Sahih Bukhari 6919, Sahih Muslim 1716
Caveats: 1) he is a judge and 2) he is Muslim, working within an Islamic modus operandi.
But you can see the principle at work here: It encourages positive action (so long as it is within the purview of Qur’an and Sunnah).
- Hadith on prayer-instruction disagreement where both methods are right…
Acceptable disagreement in Islam can be seen via this other Hadith reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, in which:
Excerpt: “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordered his companions after the battle of Al-Ahzaab saying, “No one of you should pray Asr until you reach the village of Bani-Qurayzah (A Jewish tribe) .” While they were on their way, the time of Asr came. Some companions said we should not pray until we reach Bani-Qurayzah. Others said we should pray Asr now because the Prophet (S.A.W.) did not mean for us to leave the Asr prayer, but he wanted us to be in a hurry. So some of the companions prayed Asr , while others continued on until they reached Bani-Qurayzah after sunset. When they went back to the Prophet, they mentioned to him the story and he did not blame either one of them.” This Hadith clearly shows us that the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) accepted both opinions, because if one of them were wrong then the Prophet would have expressed it at that time”
- Hadith on intention…
`Umar b. al-Khattâb, relates that he heard Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) say: “Actions are but by intentions and every man will have only what he intended. So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration was for Allah and His Messenger. And whoever emigrated to attain something of this world or to marry a woman, then his emigration was for whatever reason he emigrated.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]
Excerpt: “If a person performs a good and correct deed with a good intention, then his action will be good and rewardable, and if he performs the same action with a bad motive, then his action will be bad and deserving of punishment.
Likewise, if a person performs a permissible action without an intention to do something good or bad, but merely with the intention of doing something permissible, then he will be deserving of neither a reward nor a punishment for doing so.
Deeds can be good and bad in and of themselves. However, a person will only be deserving of a reward for his good deeds if he performed them for the sake of Allah and not for some ulterior motive.
ALLAH [Most Exalted,] says: “There is no good in much of their secret talk save (in) him who enjoins almsgiving and goodness and peace-making among the people. Whoever does this seeking the good pleasure of Allah, We shall bestow on him a vast reward.” [al-Nisâ’ 4: 114]
Ibn Rajab comments on this verse that Allah describes enjoining almsgiving, goodness, and reconciliation as good deeds in and of themselves. This is because such deeds benefit the people. However, ALLAH only promises a reward to those who carry out these deeds “seeking the good pleasure of ALLAH”. Therefore, if a person performs these good and beneficial deeds for the sake of ALLAH, then the deeds will be good for him as well as for those who benefit from his deeds. If he had other ulterior motives, then these deeds will be of no good for him. [Jâmi` al-`Ulûm wa al-Hikam]
Ibn Rajab further observes that a person who prays, fasts, and recites ALLAH’s name with some ulterior motive is performing deeds that have no good in them whatsoever. The person who performs such deed in such a manner is earning sin for doing so. At the same time, his deeds do not bring the least benefit to anybody else. …
The hadîth related by `A’ishah … states [that] whoever innovates a matter in this matter of ours will have it rejected…
[which] presents us with the [an]other condition that needs to be fulfilled before a deed is acceptable in Islam. The deed has to be in accordance with the Qur’ân and Sunnah. It cannot be something unlawful in itself, and if it is a formal matter of worship, it must be prescribed for us by Allah and His Messenger.
If a person performs a deed with the best of intentions, but that deed is contrary to the teachings of Islam, it will still be rejected. A good intention is absolutely necessary for a deed to be accepted, but it is not enough. The deed also has to be correct in and of itself.
A good intention joined to a bad deed is a very dangerous combination. A person doing something wrong, like a heretical innovation [bida’ah] in worship, believes he is doing something good. Therefore, he continues in what he is doing and never feels the need to repent for it. On the other hand, a sinner who knows he is doing something wrong has the advantage of being able to repent in the future for his mistakes. He has no illusions about what he is doing.”
[Source: Islam Today – Emphasis via bold and underline are mine.]
- Now… in conclusion
- I.e. this notion is still retained despite corruption in parts of the Bible (ie ‘Hear O Israel, your Lord is One.’)
- I.e. do not rely on or have a lifestyle worshipping false idols (children, spouse, wealth, career, celebrities, other people, fame, popularity, power etc) because they have no intrinsic power to do anything without the Will of ALLAH.
- Our devotion/reliance must be to God alone (i.e. pure monotheism, articulated by Ibrahim (peace be on him) most famously), as only ALLAH is, in fact, the True Power (al-Muqtadir – one of His 99 Names).
4 How will we be judged (by Allah) in this test based on our perception of good/bad?
ALLAH will also judge our efforts when it translates to action (good, neutral or bad) or inaction (good, neutral or bad).
ALLAH Knows Best.
سبحان ربك رب العزة عما يصفون وسلام على المرسلين والحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله محمد وعلى اله وصحبه أجمعين
Exalted be your Lord, the Lord of Glory, above what they attribute to Him, and peace be upon the Messengers, and all praise be to ALLAH, the Lord of the Universe. And the peace and blessing upon prophet Mohammed and his relatives and all his companions.