Dealing with the Trials of Unknown Unknown

The writer, Al-Hajj Khalil Champsi (Toronto, Canada) is a professional engineer, PMP certified, and a community volunteer.

In one’s everyday life and planning, one has to take risk planning and management into consideration. Some of the risks are identified and monitored while others are what is defined in Project Management as unknown unknown! It’s the unexpected turn in one life makes one challenged and in Islam this can be called as ‘Bala’.

The word ‘bala’ can mean many things: trials, tribulations, sufferings, afflictions, and so on. Some Muslims assume that bala only befalls the evil as a punishment for their sins and disobedience to Allah. But this is not true. Bala is reserved for the most elite amongst the faithful. It serves as a test of faith whilst helping the pious purifying themselves of attachment to the world and elevating them to higher levels of spirituality.

Bala may come in the form of illness, poverty, imprisonment, and mistreatment by others, loss of loved ones (including children), and practically anything that we can imagine as unpleasant and hard to endure.

Allah reveals in the Quran in chapter Al-Mulk the meaning of purpose of life :

 Who created death and life that He may try you– which of you is best in deeds; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving,(67:2)

Therefore trial, tribulation or tests are the means of one to achieve higher goals in life.

Suffering and trials are like a black cloud with a silver lining. Even natural disasters that seem meaningless have wisdom behind them that only becomes apparent after many years. The key is to trust Allah’s wisdom and not to assume good and bad as being absolute. Everything is relative. If an experience brings you closer to Allah, it is good even if it appears to be unpleasant. And if an experience distances you from All?h, it is bad even if it appears pleasant.

 Hence Allah says in the Quran in sura al-Baqara :

Yet it may be that you dislike something while it is good for you, and it may be that you love something while it is bad for you, and Allah knows and you do not know. – Surah al-Baqarah, 2:216

All prophets, Imams and people of Allah suffered in life as an example that what humans see as good is not reserved for the faithful and what humans consider as bad is not a sign of being evil. And because the Prophets and Imams have greater endurance to suffering and more conviction and trust in Allah, they bore the most suffering in human history.

Similarly, by observation when one looks at the whole COVID-19 pandemic, starting from the Alpha and to present Omicron variant and with every turn we have a new variant and prediction this can go up to  Zeta. In real-time one can witness ‘Bala’ in the form of sickness, deaths ,travel restrictions, economic upheavals and lockdowns which has caused  various challenges such as  increase in poverty levels and  mental health issues to the entire humanity. The trial on the positives has made man realize one’s limits and appreciate the bounty and grace of Allah. Zoom platform has become a bridge between people across various continents and education has shown exponential growth due to online schooling.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) has said, ‘You are not a mu’min until you count bala as a blessing (ni’mah) and comfort as a trial. This is because the suffering of this world is the blessing of the hereafter and the comfort of this world is a trial in the next world.

It is said that Abu Dhar once said, ‘People hate three things while I love them. I love death, I love poverty and I love trials.’ Imam as-Sadiq (‘a) said, ‘May Allah bless Abu Dhar! But the correct thing is to say: ‘death in obedience to Allah is better than life in disobedience to Allah. Poverty in obedience to Allah is better than wealth in disobedience to Allah. Trials in obedience to Allah is better than health in disobedience to Allah.’

One can appreciate ‘Bala’ from the position of Imam Hussein (as) on the plains of Kerbala. He scarified everything for the pleasure of Allah (swt) and Quran in Sura Al-Fajr provides one with insight of his status and tranquil soul he possessed :

O soul that art at rest! (89:27)

Return to your Lord, well-pleased (with him),well-pleasing (Him) {28}

So enter among My servants, {29}

And enter into My garden (30)

Ref: Imamia Curriculum

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About the author

Al-hajj Khalil Champsi was born in Zanzibar ,Tanzania. His father Al-Hajj Hassan A P Champsi was a well known reciter of Duas and Ziyarats and mother Hajiani Maryam Champsi (Dr.Gulamhussein) was a Reciter and served her community in Zanzibar selflessly and her love of ahlulbayt was imprinted in herself and her family. His Great grand father Marhum Gulhussein M W Dharsi started a Gujarati monthly magazine and his pen name was Salsabil and his brother Marhum Kassamali Mammu Walli Dharsi (Bha Kassamali) who was an ardent Azadar and personally spent his fortune and establish Taziyakhana (Husssainiya ). Al-Hajj Khalil Champsi would frequently attend and visit Masjid and Mehfil/Hussainiya around the neighborhood.

Al-Hajj Khalil Champsi has taken keen interest in learning Islamic studies especially in exegesis of Quran by renowned Scholar like Allama Hussein Tabatabai. He has interacted with Many scholars to learn of various aspects of Religion. He also has been attending Fiqh and Jurisprudence classes under the esteem Scholar Hujjatil–Islam Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi.

Al-Hajj Khalil Champsi has been lecturing, teaching in Madrassah and participating in TV Shows as well .Tabligh is one the areas he always re-emphasis and participates actively .He has paid several visits to Khatmul Anbiya, a school which teaches National camp; Islamic curriculum and serves the Masai communities in the outskirts of Arusha located Tanzania in of support the great work done by Al-Hajj Ghulamhussein Mukhtar in area.

Al-Hajj Khalil Champsi is Professional Project Manager and Mechanical Engineer with several years of experiences in different countries. He has always found time to give back by participating in community projects especially in Building; Renovation of Masjids and Imam Hussainiya earlier in Dubai and now in Toronto.

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