As the end of the year approaches, the level of concern, worry and anxiety rises. It becomes a time of working hard and burning the midnight oil. Leisure and pleasure are sacrificed. Everything possible is done to achieve the best pass. There is total support and assistance in whichever way possible from family and friends. After all, … it’s exam time. Passing will open many doors and failing will result in many setbacks. Thus, nothing must come in the way of passing the exams.
While working hard to pass the minor exams, which one must obviously do, does it remind one of the MAJOR exams? This life itself is a major exam. A further exam, will take place in the grave and yet another exam will be conducted on the Day of Qiyaamah. What one achieves in the exam of this life will determine whether one passes or fails in the examinations that follow it. Are we concerned about passing the MAJOR exams? Are we prepared to make the sacrifices and to try and achieve the best possible results? Do we support our families, friends and others to help them pass? Failing the minor exams is a minor problem and setback, while failing the MAJOR exams is absolutely disastrous. There is no way to make for the loss. Therefore, the main focus must be on the MAJOR exams. Hence, let us reflect over the serious exams and tests that life presents to us and check whether we are passing or failing.
Test of Happiness
One of the most severe tests is the test of happiness. Happiness here refers to any positive condition or occurrence which elicits joy and pleasure. For instance, one has received the news of passing one’s minor exams (such as school exams), how does one react? Here is the MAJOR exam. Is one humbled in gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala and moved to engage in nafl salaah, sadaqah, etc., to express one’s thankfulness, or does one “celebrate” in a manner that is against Deen? Consider the end of the year parties that take place with music, intermingling of boys and girls and a host of other sinful activities. If one opts for the sinful activities, one has failed the MAJOR exams.
Likewise, the test of happiness may come in the form of wealth. The major test is in how the wealth was earned and where it was spent. Was it earned through halaal sources? Does the wealth become an obstacle in acts of Deen, such as performing salaah with jamaat? Has money become the object of life? Is the wealth spent on sinful activities? Does one truly make shukr for the bounty of wealth by submitting oneself entirely to Allah Ta‘ala? The answers to these questions will indicate whether one is passing or failing the MAJOR exams.
Test of Pain
At times one may be tested with pain. The test of pain could be in the form of illness, financial difficulties, little setbacks in the “minor” exams, loss of a loved one or in any other manner that evokes grief or puts one into difficulty. If one responds with sabr (patience) and without complaining against Allah Ta‘ala, one has passed the MAJOR exam. What are the rewards for those who make sabr? Allah Ta‘ala declares in the Quraan Majeed, “Verily the patient ones will be given infinite rewards.” (Surah Zumar v. 10)
Test of Sentiments and Feelings
An extremely crucial test, and one that we are generally unmindful of, is the test of our sentiments and feelings. To understand it simply, we are constantly under test of what is in our hearts. The heart is meant to be filled with the love of Allah Ta‘ala and His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). If this love is in our hearts, it will be manifested by following what Allah Ta‘ala and His Rasul (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) have commanded. One who does this is on the road to achieving a great pass. However, if the heart is filled with the love of this world and greed for it, or filled with the love of the styles and ways of the disbelievers, one is on the road to failure.
Similarly, is the heart free of pride, jealousy, malice and other such spiritual ailments? Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) declared that the one with pride equivalent to a mustard seed will not enter Jannah. Likewise, he warned that jealousy burns up one’s good deeds just as fire burns wood. Thus, harbouring such evil sentiments leads to utter failure in the crucial test of the heart.
Test of Character
“The Mu-min with the most perfect imaan is the one with the best akhlaaq (character)…” declares a hadeeth. (Sunan Abi Dawood #4682) Our akhlaaq is very often tested spontaneously. When suddenly provoked, are we able to restrain our anger and control our tongue? Furthermore, are we tolerant, forgiving, compassionate, and gentle with our families, friends, employees and others? If we have erred, are we humble enough to ask for forgiveness? If we possess these and other such noble qualities, we are on the path of success. On the contrary if we are intolerant, harbour grudges, our unrestrained anger makes us swear, curse and utter what we will regret – such conduct will result in failure in the test of akhlaaq.
Test of Support
Another test that we constantly face is the “test of support”: that is to support and help one another to pass the tests of life. Passing this test is dependent on fulfilling the duty of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, with wisdom and good advice. On the contrary, if one becomes an obstacle for others to do good, or encourages them towards sin, one will be moving towards failure in this extremely important test. The severe consequences of failing this test befall one in this world. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said, “You must certainly enjoin the good and forbid the wrong, or else Allah Ta‘ala will send down a punishment upon you. You will then supplicate to him but He will not answer your du‘aas.” (Sunan Tirmizi #2169) Besides the above aspects, we are constantly tested in the MAJOR exams of life in numerous other ways. While the little and comparatively insignificant exams will come and go, the greatest focus at all times must be to pass the MAJOR exams.
May Allah Ta‘ala enable us to pass in this world and the Hereafter, aameen.