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Trial or Punishment

In this episode of Faith Matters1 one of the questions answered by the panel was: “When do you know if something is a trial or if something is a punishment?” 

As we move through this blessed life of ours, it is inevitable to come across some difficulties.  

In my own life I have faced several difficult times or as they like to say in the world of personal development…challenges. 

During these times I have asked myself, why am I being punished? Until it dawned on me that maybe, this was not a punishment at all, but an opportunity to improve myself. 

To start off, let’s look at definitions for these two words: 

Trial: a test of faith, patience, or strength. 

Punishment: suffering, loss, or hardship imposed in response to a crime or offence. 

So, coming back to the question at hand, how do we know if it’s a trial or punishment? 

The panel discussing the topic brought forward some key thoughts. 

1) How we view the event or difficulty that has occurred in our lives is critical. An example is given of an earthquake affecting a particular region. How that earthquake is perceived by the individual, how they chose to react to it and how they come out of that difficulty will define whether they decide if it is a punishment or a trial. 

A saying attributed to the 4th Caliph of Islam, Ali Ibn Abi Talib (peace be upon him), was that if a particular event caused you to move away from God because you lost faith or were angry, then it was a punishment. However, if it brought you closer to God, then it was a trial. 

So, how we view the difficult situation and how we react to it and come out from it is very important in determining if something is a trial or a punishment.  

2) Assessing our own moral state is very important in determining if we are undergoing a trial or punishment. One of the panel of Missionaries commented that His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (peace be upon him) had spoken about this topic. 

The missionary summed up what his Holiness had said:  

“An individual should look within themselves and see their own moral state and then they will be the best judge of whether they are receiving punishment from God the Almighty or whether they are being tried and tested to increase in their spirituality.” 1

The Muslim Holy book, the Quran says on this topic:  

“So, whomsoever Allah wishes to guide, He expands his bosom for the acceptance of Islam; and as to him whom He wishes to let go astray, He makes his bosom narrow and close, as though he were mounting up into the skies. Thus does Allah inflict punishment on those who do not believe!” (Chapter 6: Verse 126) 3

 Every soul shall taste of death; and We prove you with evil and good by way of trial. And to Us shall you be returned. (Chapter 21: Verse 36) 4

In ending this blog, it is important to remember that a few of the many attributes of Allah the Almighty are that He is Gracious, Forgiving and Merciful.  

So, when going through a time of difficulty remember what He says in the Holy Quran: 

Allah desires to lighten your burden, for man has been created weak (Chapter 4: Verse 29) 5

Let him who has abundance of means spend out of his abundance. And let him whose means of subsistence are straitened spend out of what Allah has given him. Allah burdens not any soul beyond that which He has given it. Allah will soon bring about ease after hardship. (Chapter 65: Verse 8) 6

Blog based on Voice of Islam Show 7  


  1. Faith Matters Episode 196:  
  2. Merriam Webster Online:  
  3. The Holy Quran: 
  4. The Holy Quran: 
  5. The Holy Quran: 
  6. The Holy Quran: 

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