The Test Phase
Then came the test.
A test involves both honouring and debasing a person. That is the difficult test, in which the reality of the Lord and the promises and threats that the Lord has long showered upon us are revealed! Now was the moment of truth. Either I would persist in returning to God and my reliance on Him, strengthening my resolve to be near Him and to distribute my time upon good occupations and worship, keeping the company of the pious and never failing in prayers, fasting, and all the other duties and acts of worship, or I would cut the rope between me and Him.
During this time, I suffered several severe crises, and I was burdened with debts, worries, and distresses that had no way out. Every door was closed in my face, and every road was blocked. I tried every solution, and attempted every answer. However, “The approaching day has approached. There is no one besides Allah that can remove it.” (10)
Then, when I found myself incapable and at a complete loss, I called to mind the words of God, Most High: “Is He [not best] who responds to the distressed and desperate one when he calls upon Him?” (11)
Therefore, I said, “O, God, I seek recourse to you as one who is distressed and desperate, and who has no means to remove my afflictions. Please answer my prayer. O, God, please have mercy upon my weakness, and remove my suffering and lighten my affair. O, God, do not leave a sin but forgive it, nor affliction but remove it, nor a need but fulfill it.
O, He…O, He: The Possessor of Bounty and Goodness, O Lord of Majesty and Bounty. You are the helper of those who take refuge, the guarantor of the starving, the aider of those who seek aid, the one who takes in the destitute, the one who answers the du’a of the distressed and desperate!
People have gone to their beds and are sleeping in their rooms so that just the lover and his beloved are alone together. You are my beloved, O the most beloved of those who are loved. You are my hope and my utmost desire. O, you who said (and your promise is true): ‘He who calls on me I will answer.’ (12) Please, answer my du’a, for I have come to you singing your praises and devoted to you, admitting my incapacity and unworthiness, confessing my sins. I stand at your door, beseeching your help, imploring your mercy. Please, have mercy upon me, O Most Merciful of those who show Mercy!”
Thus it was that I opened my soul to God, beseeching Him and seeking His help and assistance with honest intentions, good works, and sincerity towards God alone. I was, at that time, constantly striving to be a faithful and obedient servant to God.
“O, God! Listen to the one who is of hungry heart, of needy heart, of a heart deprived, of a heart that suffers. I call on you with all of your most blessed names. My debts have piled up and have become huge. O God, I have saved for this dark hour. How can I meet these debts? Should I sell my house, when it is all that I have? Where shall I and my family live? O, you who possesses the treasures of the heavens and the earth: ‘…and to God belong the treasures of the heavens and the earth,’13 ‘And there is not a thing but with Us are the treasures of it.’14 O God, bestow upon me just one grain from the bounty that you promised to those who spend their wealth in your path: ‘The parable of those who spend their property in the way of Allah is as the parable of a grain growing seven ears [with] a hundred grains in every ear; and Allah multiplies for whom He pleases; and Allah is Ample-giving, Knowing.’” (15)
I implored and beseeched God to the extent that it turned into weeping, and confiding, and continuous quiet whispering, and humble personal du’as for help, mercy, and forgiveness. I was persistent in du’a and faithful in religion, seeking only His help, His sustenance, and His aid. I did not cease beseeching. I began to apologise for my persistence and for the world that I carried on my back, and that I was a burden for and it a burden for me. I collapsed with exhaustion with my tears flooding out. I was weak, ill, and a pitiful sight!
I waited and waited, though I never ceased in beseeching God. I kept hoping God would eventually help me avert disaster. But disaster was not averted. Even then, I kept praying and waiting. But I waited in vain. Little by little, doubts started creeping in, having been sleeping and suppressed before that point. Doubts grew and began to emerge to test me in my faith. I shall not hide the fact that when these doubts began to trouble me, I felt a prick of conscience. I felt that I shouldn’t be having these doubts. I felt I was going away from the God that I had, for so long, loved and pledged my life to.
Had God abandoned me in my darkest hour? I tried hard to suppress these doubts, seeking God’s good pleasure. But why is God humiliating me so? Despite the fact that I was losing hope, I threw myself into God’s hands and turned my face to Him with this du’a that I was afraid was going to be my last:
“O, God, save me! I cannot bear to be apart from you! O, God, I fear I may slip into that which does not please you and does not please me. O, God! I am on the edge of a cliff. O, God! I am on the edge of the pit of Hell. Save me—please! Please, save me from it, O, the Mighty, the Supreme.”
How my tears just kept coming! And how my du’as and beseeching never stopped! But I noticed that, after all of these du’as and beseeching, to my horror, God’s answer was the opposite of what I begged him for. Perhaps He, Most Sublime, doesn’t understand Arabic very well. So what language should I speak to him in? Is this reasonable? I don’t know. Even though Adam’s language was Arabic, and the language of the people of paradise is Arabic, also…Perhaps Adam’s Arabic is different from our Arabic? Or perhaps He didn’t hear me? Even though He (Glory be to Him) hears the footsteps of the black ant on the solid rock, in the darkness of night. Or is He pretending not to hear me for some reason I am unaware of?
Who knows? Perhaps my du’as were just a grating noise that hurt His ears, Mighty and Sublime is He. If not, then how is it that each time I come close to Him, He moves away from me? Doesn’t that show that He doesn’t want to hear my voice? Or is it that Hebasically doesn’t care, because I am no more than a mosquito in this universe? But I dedicated myself to One who was greater than me.
The strange thing is that the parting between me and Him did not intensify until after I said, “I cannot bear to be apart from you!” Perhaps the “not,” the sound of negation, came off my tongue while I was choking with tears, and so He didn’t hear it? Is it possible that the word “bear” and “parting” have a different meaning with God? Or that He (Glory be to Him) does not like speech whose meaning is specific and defined? That could help us explain, at last, the existence of verses in the Qur’ān that are strange and curious and full of bombastic and contradictory passages, with rhymed, harmonious expressions that have no meaning, but in which the waffling Qur’ānic commentators found a thousand meanings, a thousand wisdoms, a thousand points of eloquence, and a thousand miraculous subtleties, as we shall see later?
(10) Surah An-Najm (53:57-58)
(12) Surah Ghafir 40:60
(13) Surah Al-Munafiqun 63:7
(14) Surah Al-Hijr 15:21
(15) Surah Al-Baqarah 2:261