Why did the trial of the prophets were the toughest?
In the name of Allah. Assalamu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.
Ustadz, I have a question: In chapter Asy Syuraa (The Consultation) verse no. 30, Allah the Exalted decreed, ” Whatever misfortune befalls you is a consequence of your own deeds. But much of it He forgives.”
And it is mentioned in a hadith, that the prophets were the ones who were tested with the hardest or toughest of trials.
The question is:
How do we comprehend both indications? If the trial or calamity was caused by sin and evil deed, then why did the Prophets were the ones with the toughest of trials, whereas they were prevented from sins?
May Allah reward you with goodnesses for your kind answer.
Wa’alaikumsalam warahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
The prophets -peace be upon him- were protected from doing the major sins, as for the minor ones, sometimes it happened to some of them, but in matters that were not related to the delivering of the divine revelation. And after that, they immediately repented and asked for Allah’s forgiveness, as in the story of Prophet Adam when he ate the forbidden fruit, Moses when he punched an egyptian to death, Jones when he left his people, and so on. And this is the opinion of majority of the scholars.
Sheikh al Islam Ibn Taimiyya -may Allah have mercy on him- said,
فإن القول بأن الانبياء معصومون عن الكبائر دون الصغائر هو قول أكثر علماء الاسلام وجميع الطوائف حتى إنه قول اكثر أهل الكلام كما ذكر ابو الحسن الآمدى أن هذا قول اكثر الاشعرية وهو ايضا قول أكثر أهل التفسير والحديث والفقهاء بل هو لم ينقل عن السلف والائمة والصحابة والتابعين وتابعيهم الا ما يواقف هذا القول
“Verily, the opinion saying that the prophets were protected from major sins, but not the minor ones, is the opinion of majority of Islamic scholars and all sects, until even majority of the logicians. Abu al Hasan al Amidi stated that this is the opinion of majority of the Ash’ariyy and this is the opinion of majority of experts in tafseer, hadith, and jurisprudence, even, there were no other opinions narrated from the predecessors, the imams, the companions, the tabeen, and students of tabeen but what suited this opinion.” (see: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 4/319)
And it is urgent to know that majority of the scholars said that the wisdom beneath calamity that afflicted the faithful men, were beside it erased their sins, it would raise their degree, as mentioned by An Nawawy (See: Al-Minhaj Syarh Shahih Muslim 16/128)
The Messenger of Allah -peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said:
ما يصيب المؤمن من شوكة فما فوقها إلا رفعه الله بها درجة أو حط عنه خطيئة
“A believer doesn’t afflicted by a calamity, a spike (that thrust him, -ed) or a more terrible calamity than that but Allah will elevate his degree or erase his sin.” (Narrated by Al Bukhari and Muslim, and the text belongs to Imam Muslim).
Ibn Katsir -may Allah have mercy on him- said, upon interpreting the verse:
(وَلِيُمَحِّصَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَيَمْحَقَ الْكَافِرِينَ) (آل عمران:141)
يكفر عنهم من ذنوبهم، إن كان لهم ذنوب وإلا رُفعَ لهم في درجاتهم بحسب ما أصيبوا به
“That means, Allah erased some of their sins if they had, and if they didn’t have any sins, then He would elevate their degree according to the calamity that afflicted him.” (See: Tafseer Al-Quranil ‘Adhzim 2/127)
Thus, insha Allah, we could comprehend the meaning of the hadith of Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqash -may Allah be pleased with him- that you pointed out, when he asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who among men that get the toughest of trial?” .Then he -may peace and prayer of Allah be upon him- said,
الأنبياء ثم الأمثل فالأمثل فيبتلى الرجل على حسب دينه فإن كان دينه صلبا اشتد بلاؤه وإن كان في دينه رقة ابتلى على حسب دينه فما يبرح البلاء بالعبد حتى يتركه يمشى على الأرض ما عليه خطيئة
“(The men with toughest of trial) were the prophets, then who resemble them and who resemble them. A person is tested according to the strength of his faith, if it were strong, then the test would be harder, and if it were weak, then he would be tested according to the strength of his faith. Thus Allah will always test a slave thus he will be left walking on the earth free from sin.” (Narrated by At Timirdhi, Ibn Maja, and Sheikh Al Albani said, it is a good or valid hadith).
It means that the calamity that afflicted them was given to elevate their degrees, to show the people about their patience, and to make them as an example for human being in dealing with trial.
Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz -may Allah have mercy on him- :
الله عز وجل يبتلي عباده بالسراء والضراء وبالشدة والرخاء ، وقد يبتليهم بها لرفع درجاتهم وإعلاء ذكرهم ومضاعفة حسناتهم كما يفعل بالأنبياء والرسل عليهم الصلاة والسلام والصلحاء من عباد الله
“Allah the Almighty tested His slaves with pleasures and troubles, and sometimes Allah tested them to elevate their degrees, ennoble their names, and multiply their rewards, as Allah did to the prophets and messengers -peace be upon them -, and the pious among His slaves.” (See: Majmu Fatawa wa Rasail Sheikh Ibn Baz 4/370)
And Allah knows best,
Ustadz Abdullah Roy, Lc.