Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 31, 2009

The Difference between a Curse and a Trial

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

an-na indal munkhasirati kulubuhum
I am with the broken-hearted
-Hadith Qudsi (mentioned in a talk by Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad)

In the past, I’ve had difficulty understanding the difference between being cursed in Islam and what it means to undergo trials but after the past week of trials (funeral, surgery, and what comes with those two things) I see more clearly.

Curses are final- they are things which can’t be lifted and will come to a completion, they are conclusive and can’t easily be contested. The example of one of the ‘false Prophets’ in early Islam, who claimed to be able to cause miracles: he spit in a well to make it give more water, and it dried up; he spit into a man who was blind in one eye to cure him and instead the man became blind in both eyes. In Hilayah al-Awliya a story is mentioned where a woman once accused a Sahaba (can’t remember his name) of theft, and he prayed to Allah, if she is lying that for her to lose her sight and fall down a well, which eventually did happen.

“Taste you therein its heat, and whether you are patient of it or impatient of it, it is all the same. You are only being requited for what you used to do.” (Quran 52:16)

Unlike trials, curses are very similar to the experience of the deniers in Hell- it doesn’t matter if they are patient or not, they are doomed there forever. Similarly, a curse is done and can’t be lifted unless one returns to Allah.

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الأَمْوَالِ وَالأنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ
الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
wa la nablu wan-nakum bi shayin minal khawfi wa’l ju’i, wa naqsin minal amwali wal anfus was- thamarat wa bashirus sabirren
And we shall surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and loss of lives (family, friends) and the fruits of your labors, but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return” (Quran 2: 155-156)

Trials on the other hand are temporary, although to those who are weak in the deen and those who lack trust in Allah they seem as permanent as curses, they do not carry the same divine intention. They have set ends and are intended to be responded to with sabr, tawakkul and istiqama (patience enabled by trust in Allah and consistent belief and perseverance of these two things).

Ya ayuhaladhina amanu asta’inu bi sabri was salatu, inallah ma’a sabireen
Oh you who believe, seek help through sabr (patient perseverance) and salat (prayer), verily Allah is with the Patient. (Quran 2:153)

The benefit of trials isn’t easy for Muslims to understand. We have the attitude, “God grant me patience, and I want it now!!” when even patience has to be learned through trial and error. There are many ways of understanding trials and the wisdom inherent in them, and poets have been well adept to capturing it, especially among our Christian cousins. Let’s run through some quotes:

-Mawlana Rumi (rahimullah) mentioned if there were no trials how would Allah address a human being with a dignified title? How could he call us generous, wise, learned, patient or just if we had achieved nothing and been left to live like animals?

-Affliction: God sometimes washes the eyes of His children with tears in order that they may read aright His Providence and His Commandment

-The truest help we can render an afflicted man is not to take his burden from him, but to call out his best energy, that he may be able to bear the burden.

-Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would’ve lain dorment. (Horace)

-The mind which does not wholly sink under misfortune rises above it more lofty than before, and is strengthened by affliction. (Cheunix)

-Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which never happen (Lowell)

-On every thorn a delightful wisdom grows; In every rill a sweet instruction flows. (Dr. Young)

-You can’t get ahead when your trying to get even.

-Affliction is but the shadow of God’s wing.

-Aromatic plants bestow no spicy fragrance where they grow but crushed and trodden to the ground, diffuse their balmly sweets around.

-Give me the character and I will forecast the event. Character, is has in substance been said, is “victory organized.” (Bovee)

-Genuine morality is preserved only in the school of adversity, and a state of continuous prosperity may easily prove a quicksand to virtue.

And lastly, remember the importance of sabr (patience) and resignation mentioned in the commentary of this Quranic verse:

Wa tamat kalimatu rabbika husna bi bani israel bima sabaru
-We completed the beautiful Word (Torah) for Bani Israel because of their patience.

Hasan al-Basri (rahimullah) said on this verse, “Patience is the way Allah completes His bounty to you.”

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.


  1. MashaAllah JazakAllah khayer for sharing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: