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Ordeals and trials in life

By His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)

Life has its own balanced system in the course of the universe and in man’s reality at both the individual and collective levels. For every phenomenon there is a cause and every existing object has its special law, which renders the course of events in the people’s lives planned in all its situations according to the surrounding circumstances… Since this is the case, man should be aware of the idea that all his situations and actions are subjected to Divine predestination that preordains for everything the truth of its existence according to the relation between the causes and their effects. There is no such thing as an emergent state or a coincidence in life, as confirmed by Allah’s saying: “No evil befalls on the earth nor in your own souls,” referring to life’s ordeals that stir sad emotions and sorrows as a result of what inflicts man’s health, family and money, “but it is in a book,” referring to what Allah predestines and keeps record of regarding the events of existence or the unseen Allah is aware of beforehand, for it is He Who makes it existent and wraps it with all its secrets and situations; thus, making the words of the Book stand for Divine knowledge,  “before We bring it into existence;” i.e. before we create it, taking into consideration all the limits of its existence.

Allah also says: “Surely that is easy to Allah,” in the way He runs life and in the way things happen according to His will through His absolute power over everything, and here is where the Quran steps in to highlight a very important humanistic issue “so that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you…” (57: 22-23). One should not surrender to any devastating sorrow or be overwhelmed by any overpowering joy, when a gain or loss takes place, based on the feeling of shock and surprise that incites this feeling or the other here and there. One should face any issue keeping in mind that the negative or positive results are a natural state in the system of existence, for both the gains and losses are subjected to their voluntary and involuntary causes, for there is no room for anything emergent or surprising in the core of things. If the causes of an event take place, the event itself should take place through the cosmic inevitability of things in what Allah has predestined, just as the comic things in the system of nature that is subjected to Divine predestination in the existence.

 The Commander of the Faithful (a.s.) said in his book Nahjul Balaghah: “Asceticism is summed up between two phrases in the Quran, where Allah, the Most High, says: 'So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you.' Therefore, one who neither grieves about past losses nor is overjoyed about the possessions he is granted has perfected his asceticism from both sides.”

In the light of this, man ought to act modestly, be poised in his feelings and trust Divine predestination with regard to the sources of his sustenance. He should not be overwhelmed by any state of joy so that it would not turn into a state of showing off or acting arrogantly and haughtily, or into a state of scared selfishness that could lead him to stinginess and to acting as a bragger and boaster, for he does not take any personal credit for that; but rather, it is Allah Who predestines what to befall on him. He should know that what he was inflicted with could not have missed him, and what missed him was not destined to be inflicted on him, for he is subjected to the movement of existence predestined by Allah.