The basic message of Surah al-Balad (Qur’an: 90) is that we’re in a life of difficulties. The human being has been placed in such a life in order to be tested.
The tests of people may vary; the difficulty of these tests varies too. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that the Prophets have the hardest trials, then those who resemble them the most, then those that are most like the second group. (Tirmidhi)
Profiting From the Difficulty
If that is the case for everyone, then what are we expected to do? The surah provides the perfect answer in a succinct way. It encourages us to live in a way that will lead us to have ease after this life of difficulty – not a further difficulty. How? Through good deeds directed towards ourselves and the neediest of people.
This disbeliever, however, who doesn’t heed this advice goes from a life of difficulty to a life of much greater difficulty. This is due to his own choices. The message of the Qur’an was sent to warn and guide one and all of this pitfall.
So what is this elixer that turns difficulty to ease?
The Trifecta of Good Actions
Three actions are particularly highlighted in the Surah:
Belief in Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) is one of the greatest of deeds, and a manifestation of gratitude to Him for creating us and providing us with guidance. Believe in Allah, and work on deepening and developing that Iman you have been blessed with. This is the biggest key to the promised, unending ease in the Afterlife.
Encouraging Each Other To Be Patient.
Seeing as everyone is in some form of difficulty, everyone needs some form of support, encouragement, and direction. Many a time, directing someone to the wisdom underlying their trials can make the world of difference to them and their attitude towards life and it’s tests.
Provide them with a comforting statement. A reminder of Allah’s care for His servants. Lessons from the trials of others. Listening. Being with someone in difficulty. All these matters, when used to direct someone to Allah, can help someone embrace their tests and the benefits that come from them.
Those who give this reminder and just as in need of it as those who hear it.
Encouraging Each Other To Be Merciful.
If everyone is in difficulty, make your interactions with them a source of comfort, mercy, and kindness for them. Be a person of compassion.
Alleviate their difficulties through your kindness as best you can. It may be difficult in your own difficulties, but the benefits return to you from Allah.
Promoting such mercy also makes it part of the common discourse. It doesn’t remain as an ideal mentioned in a book somewhere. It becomes part of people’s understanding of life. A goal to achieve. A way of life to embody. This connects one to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in a way many other deeds do not.
This is the beautiful message of Surah al-Balad. We cannot escape the difficulties that life is woven from, but we can improve the quality of our lives and the lives of others now – through kindness and support – and in the future, forever – through belief and good deeds.
And all praise belongs completely to Allah, the Lord of all being.
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