In determining the way in which a Muslim should deal with a time of crisis, it is important to analyze exactly what, essentially, a crisis is in the context of Islamic understanding; particularly as this relates to the Qadar (predestination) of Allah.
A crisis, by definition, indicates a pivotal period of time in which a situation or condition seems unstable, chaotic, and liable to sudden, drastic, and most often, dangerous change. It implies the precipice that gives way to disaster; when every move is crucial, either facilitating a healthy and progressive resolution or initiating the descent into catastrophe.
Now, Islamicly, such a situation does not exist. Life does not proceed so haphazardly; but rather all things occur, can only occur, according to the Decree of Allah. We understand, therefore, that a ‘crisis’ basically means that circumstances seem to be other than we would like them to be. That is, our own personal vision of how our lives and situations should be developing finds itself opposed in one way or another with what Allah has decreed for us.
We therefore reject the validity of external crisis, insofar as this is understood to mean a random and volatile unfolding of events; and rather understand the conflict that arises between our own private will and the will of Allah as an internal crisis of belief..
Allah Says (what means):
“No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things...”
(Quran 64: 11)
Muhammad Ibn Abdul-Wahhaab cites in his Kitaab At-Tawheed (The Book of Oneness of Allah) that ‘Alqamah, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “He (i.e., the person referred to in the above verse) is the one who, when calamity strikes, knows that it is from his Lord and accepts it with equanimity and submits (himself to Allah’s Will).”
In other words, the contradiction between what we desire for ourselves with what Allah Almighty desires for us, produces an inner crisis, a pivotal moment in our hearts when we can either decide to bemoan our situation and succumb to anxiety and dissatisfaction, or when we can acknowledge the superiority of Allah’s Will, and persevere with the assurances that Allah knows best.
Not only has Allah informed us that we will face circumstances that we will regard as hardships, but He, Almighty, has shown us how to face them. He, Almighty, Says (what means):
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.”
(Quran 2: 153)
And Allah told us (what means):
“And be patient, [O Muhammad ], and your patience is not but through Allah. And do not grieve over them and do not be in distress over what they conspire.Indeed, Allah is with those who fear Him and those who are doers of good.”
(Quran 16: 127-128)
Furthermore, the believer understands that undergoing external crises, experiencing the oftentimes sharp contrast between our expectations and the manner in which our circumstances actually develop, or when our circumstances appear dire beyond conceivable resolution, it is an indication, in fact, of Allah’s favor. Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet said:
“Whenever Allah wills good for a person, He subjects him to adversity.”
Indeed, for the one who accepts what Allah has decreed, and endures his or her trials patiently, there is only good to come from external crises, the greater the crisis, the greater the good, if the believer engages their circumstance with Iman (faith).
Imaam At-Tirmithi stated that the Prophet said:
“Verily, the greatness of the reward is tied to the greatness of the trial: When Allah loves a people, He (Allah) puts them to trial. Whoever accepts it, will enjoy Allah’s pressure and whoever is displeased with it, will incur Allah’s displeasure.”
Crises, therefore present the believer with an opportunity to more fully realize his or her submission to Allah; in essence, to prove oneself and thereby gain Allah’s reward, and have some sins forgiven. The Prophet said:
“No calamity befalls a Muslim nor any weariness, illness, anxiety, grief, harm or harassment – even a thorn which pricks him – but that Allah expiates with it some of his sins.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Thus, we find that Iman is the crucial equalizer in all circumstances, making all external conditions ultimately beneficial to the believer who submits to Allah’s decree. As the Prophet said:
“Indeed amazing are the affairs of a believer! They are all for his benefit; if he is granted ease of living he is thankful; and this is best for him. And if he isafflicted with a hardship, he perseveres; and this is best for him.”