By Sikandar Azam
God is the most Merciful and Beneficent. He created man and directed him to live on earth. But He did not leave him to fend for himself. He provided him with provisions on earth and beneath it, sufficient enough to lead a peaceful life. These provisions catered only to his physical needs. God also made comprehensive arrangements to satisfy his spiritual needs. For this He revealed Books and sent Messengers to live by the Divine teachings so as to serve as models for human beings. In this chain of Messengers, the Last Messenger was Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the Final Book revealed to him is the Qur’ān. The Qur’ān is preserved and protected by God Himself; and the holy life and teachings of the Blessed Messenger is also readily available to us.
The provisions God has provided for the physical and spiritual needs of man are so huge and bountiful that man should have stood thankful to God and surrendered to His Will. But, to him these provisions proved to be a source of trial. And this trial is set by God Himself. The question is: when God is so merciful and bountiful, why has He put man on trial? To learn the niceties of Divine Wisdom in putting man on trial while providing him with bountiful provisions of life, we have to realise that God has given man the right to freedom of choice and action [this freedom is not given to angels]. Enjoying this right, man is free to adopt whatsoever way of life he chooses and to do whatsoever he likes. Thus, the provisions God has provided him, the comforts and pleasures He has made available on earth, and all riches and offspring He has blessed him with are a sort of a test for him, meant to ascertain whether or not he acts in the befitting manner.
The Qur’ān (18:7) puts it in a very succinct manner: “We have made all that is on earth as an adornment in order to test people as to which of them are best in conduct.”
As the Divine scheme is working and the world is going on and on since dawn the ages, man is enjoying the provisions and riches he has been provided with. But in this enjoyment people differ from each other. Some people enjoy these provisions and pay thanks to God for all this and as a result surrender to His Will; they will be blessed with immense rewards in the life hereafter. While some other people enjoy the Divine provisions as if they were their own creation; they do not stand grateful to God and ultimately fail to surrender to His Will; such people will not be saved from the Divine wrath. The time for the Judgement shall come as it is inevitable. Then God will reduce the entire world to ‘barren dust’. The Qur’ān (18:8) says: “And, in time, We shall indeed reduce all that is on it to barren dust.”