Quranic Reflection No. 513. Ayat 90:4 – Struggles in Life

لَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنْسانَ فِي كَبَدٍ
la qad khalaqnal insāna fī kabad
Certainly, we have created human in distress.
(Surat al-Balad, No. 90, Āyat: 4)

A certain reality that we all face is that life is full of ups and downs. We wait to get through a challenge only to find ourselves in another.  No matter where we are or what we do, Allah ‘azza wajall has told us clearly in this verse that there is always going to be difficulty in life.  Whether it is emotional, physical, psychological, or spiritual distress, we were created to face such trials to push us to become stronger and better human beings.  Amīrul Mu’minīn Imam Ali ‘alayhis-salām says: The world is a house surrounded by trial (Mīzān al-Hikmah, h 4574).


We see this now more than ever before, as we face unprecedented challenges on a global scale.  The reality of our present situation need not be sad or depressing.  Rather, accepting it and understanding what is expected of us can help us overcome the distress we might feel. A difficulty is a challenge and requires effort to overcome. But it can be overcome, with the right mindset and the right help.

There are a few things to keep in mind that will allow the truth of distress in life to be more palatable.
1) Understanding that we are not the only ones facing challenges or suffering.  Everyone is being tested in some form or another, whether the realization of the test is there or not.  Knowing that we are not alone gives us some form of comfort.

2)  Knowing that Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā has promised not to burden us with that which we cannot handle: Allah does not task any soul beyond its capacity. (Q 2:286) Allah knows the potential within us which needs to be brought out.  He would not put us through anything which is not possible for us. Sometimes we are not aware of the hidden potential within us and thus chafe at the challenges we face.

3) Allah (swt) is infinitely Merciful, He would not leave us without the tools to overcome the difficulties in life, “Have We not made for him two eyes, a tongue, and two lips, and shown him the two paths (of good and evil)?” (Q 90: 8 – 10). In other words, Allah has given us physical as well as spiritual tools to deal with the difficulties we face.

Do not allow your daily struggles to get you down. Seek the help of Allah to face them and look for resources you can use. It is important to understand that there is help available, in the form of spiritual inspiration, emotional support from friends and family, and professional help when required. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness. An intelligent person draws on the wisdom of others to add to his own.

Remember this verse to accept the basic reality of struggle in this world.  Allow it to give you a sense of humility and strength to face life. Imam says in Nahjul Balāgha in Sermon 192 which is about the vanity of Shaytān and how the disease can affect everyone: But Allah, the Glorified, tries His creatures by means of those things whose real nature they do not know in order to distinguish good and bad for them through the trial, and to remove vanity from them and keep them and keep them aloof from pride and self-admiration.

Imam Ali (a) also said: But Allah tries His servants with various tribulations, renders them to worship Him through struggles, tests them with various types of distresses, all in order to extract pride out from their hearts, and to settle humbleness in their souls, and in order to make all these open doors to His grace and an easy means to His pardon (Mīzān al-Hikmah, h 2981).

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī, Al-Amthal fí Tafsīr Kitāb Allah al- Munzal, ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān.