THIS WORLD – THE ARENA OF STRUGGLE AND CONFLICT
“Thus shaitaan caused them (Hadhrat Aadam and Hadhrat Hawwaa) to slip (into error) by means of it (the forbidden tree), expelling them from that (heavenly abode) in which they were.
We said to them:
‘Get down as enemies to each other. For you on earth will be a (temporary) abode and provision for a while.” (Qur’aan)
“Verily, this world is but play and amusement while the Abode of the Aakhirah is best for those who have Taqwa. What, do you not understand?”
Allah Ta’ala has dispatched man to earth for an extremely short sojourn. He created man physically weak, hence the Qur’aan says: “Man has been created weak.” All animals are physically stronger than man. Along with his physical weakness, Allah Ta’ala created in him a thoroughly evil nafs. Describing this Nafs, Nabi Yusuf (alayhis salaam) said: “I do not exonerate my nafs. Verily, the nafs is a greater commander of evil.” (Qur’aan)
Further compounding the problems for man, Allah Ta’ala created shaitaan, our avowed enemy. About this enemy, the Qur’aan says: “Do not follow in the footsteps of shaitaan. Verily, he instructs you with only evil and immorality and that you fabricate on Allah what you know not.”
The nafs, shaitaan, man’s weaknesses and deficiencies and the variety of mundane impositions and hardships which he has to encounter in this worldly life constitute a formidable array of forces lined up against him. Alone, man can never confront and overcome this coalition. But all these forces have been placed in this arena of life by Allah Ta’ala. Allah Ta’ala has sent man into this world to combat and vanquish all these evil and destructive forces which are constantly attacking him.
Despite his inherent weakness and the formidable coalition of forces against him, Allah Ta’ala has equipped man with adequate means to combat and defeat them. Along with man’s superior Aql (intelligence), Allah Ta’ala has promised His aid for those who sincerely struggle against these forces and maintain their focus on the original abode of the Aakhirah. Thus, the Qur’aan says: “Those who struggle in Our Cause, verily, We shall guide them to Our avenues. Verily, Allah is with the Muhsineen (those who practise virtue).”
This world is the field for struggle and battle against the nafs and shaitaan. It is in Allah’s Scheme that man should struggle in this world which is a veritable minefield of evil. If Allah Ta’ala had desired only comfort and pleasure for us, He would not have sent us into this defective world nor would He have created in us an evil nafs nor would He have created shaitaan and allowed him to mislead us. Allah Ta’ala would have created us all in Jannat where our ancestors, Aadam (alayhis salaam) and Hawwaa (alayhas salaam) were created and resided for a while.
Since conflict between vice and virtue and struggle are requisites of life on earth, there should be no surprise and no panic when calamities overtake us. People are surprised and lapse into a quandary when difficulties and hardships settle on them. It is unintelligent to expect life to progress smoothly and happily on earth. Earth is not the abode of happiness. It is the abode of struggle and hardship. Happiness, comfort and pleasure are the ingredients of life in Jannat.
Trials are integral constituents of worldly life. Allah Ta’ala says:
“Most assuredly, We shall test you with some fear, hunger, and reduction in wealth, life and provisions. Give glad tidings to the Saabireen (the patient ones).”
People are baffled when difficulties settle on them. They fail to realize that all such developments are divine enactments designed for life on earth. The difficulties are even more in the moral and spiritual path. The desires of the nafs for worldly comforts lightens the struggle for the attainment of material pleasures and worldly success. However, in the moral and spiritual spheres, it is a lifelong struggle which has to be sustained until Maut.
All requirements for moral reformation and spiritual perfection are abhorrent to the nafs, hence the struggle is uphill and constant, and no one should be surprised nor feel dejected in this process. There is no achievement without struggle. With struggle against the nafs, the Mu’min emerges victorious and at the end of life, the war against shaitaan and the nafs is decisively won.