Sayyiduna ‘Ammaar bin Yaasir (radhiyallahu ‘anhuma) reports that on one occasion a woman passed by a certain man who fixed his gaze on her (as she passed by). Thereafter, as he passed by a wall, he scraped his face with it. He then came to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), while blood was flowing on his face, and submitted, “O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! I did such-and-such (i.e. he informed Rasulullah [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam] of the sin he had committed, and the injury he suffered thereafter).” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) replied,

“When Allah Ta‘ala intends goodness for a servant, He hastens the punishment of his sin in this world. However, when He intends otherwise, then He delays the punishment of his sins, until he is punished in full on the Day of Qiyaamah, as though he is an ‘ayr (one meaning of ‘ayr is a wild donkey i.e. just as a donkey is loaded with luggage, he will be burdened with the load of all his accumulated sins. The word ‘ayr may also refer to the mountain of ‘Ayr in Madeenah Munawwarah i.e. his accumulated sins will be as large as a mountain on account of their abundance).” (Tabraani – Majma‘uz Zawaaid #17426 and Al-Fat-hur Rabbaani vol. 19, pg. 129)

In the abovementioned hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) explained that when a believer undergoes some difficulty in this world, then that difficulty becomes a means of his sins being forgiven. This is corroborated by other ahaadeeth, such as the following hadeeth of Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) in which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said,

“There is no calamity which afflicts a Muslim, except that Allah Ta‘ala expiates his sins by means of it – even being pricked once by a thorn (i.e. even a difficulty as small as being pricked once by a thorn is a means for one’s sins being forgiven).” (Saheeh Bukhaari #5640 and Mirqaat vol. 4, pg. 19)

Such is the immense kindness of Allah Ta‘ala that throughout our lives, He continues to purify us of our sins so that our burden of sins will be lighter on the Day of Qiyaamah!

Nevertheless, it should be borne in mind that facing difficulties in this world is not always due to one’s sins. Rather, for the pious servants of Allah Ta‘ala who abstain from sinning and constantly repent to Allah Ta‘ala, it is a means of their rank being elevated in the Hereafter.

Furthermore, if we are involved in committing sins, yet we are not undergoing any difficulties or tests in our lives, then we should not take this to mean that we have escaped the consequences of our sins. Rather, this should cause us to become more worried, concerned and fearful, as our sins are actually accumulating to form a greater burden – one that may totally destroy us if we do not repent and reform our lives in time.

Similarly, we should never envy the disbelievers for the material possessions which they enjoy (e.g. mansions, cars, money, holidays, clothing and other luxuries, etc.). Outwardly, it may seem as though they are leading a problem-free life, but after they die, they will face nothing but eternal torment and torture in the Hereafter. This material world is their paradise to enjoy, while it is our temporary abode in which we have limited time to earn our Jannah.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with ‘aafiyah (ease and comfort) in this world and the next, aameen.