The test of will – Tarawih Reflections 30

The test of will – Tarawih Reflections 30

Prohibition of alcohol and gambling

‘O you who believe! Wine, gambling, altars and divining arrows are filth, made up by Satan. Therefore, refrain from it, so that you may be successful. Satan wishes only to plant enmity and malice between you through wine and gambling, and to prevent you from the remembrance of Allah and from Salāh. Would you, then, abstain?’ [5:90-91]

Surat al-Maidah was the last surah to be revealed, and these ayahs brought the last stage of prohibition of gambling and alcohol. Alcohol wasn’t banned early on in Islam, as it was like water to the people of Makkah. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) once said that if Allah had banned alcohol early on in the revelation, no one would have become Muslim.

Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said:

When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse. (Bukhari)

However, once imaan had settled and become firmly rooted in their hearts, they were able to give it up. In this final stage, Allah is asking them if they are going to abide by His rulings.

Prohibition on hunting in Makkah

The next prohibition is on hunting game while in ihram. This may seem irrelevant to us, but in those days people couldn’t just buy chicken from the supermarket or mall! They used to rely on hunting for their food – especially if they were travelling and couldn’t carry a lot with them.

It was already a tradition in Jahiliyya times that you were not allowed to hunt if you were in ihram or in the Haram area, and in these ayahs Allah is confirming that this is still true in Islam. There is a lot of wisdom in this ruling.

Safety in the Haram

There are four sacred months in the Islamic calendar, which are also called the prohibited months. Three are consecutive: Dhul Qadah, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram – the months when people would have been travelling to and from Hajj – and the fourth is Rajab, which was traditionally a month of Umrah.

Allah wants anyone going to Makkah to be safe. This is why all forms of violence and hunting are forbidden in the sacred months.

Allah will test you

‘O you who believe, Allah will test you by bringing the animals within reach of your hands and spears, so Allah marks out those who fear Him even though He is unseen.’ [5:94]

Allah explains that He will test you with the thing he has prohibited. In our context, this might not be game but something else. For example, a restaurant owner who decides not to serve alcohol might see their customers drop, and in a few months they will have Shaytan whispering in their ear to bring the alcohol back. Or you might see an off-licence corner shop with the Ayatul Kursi up on the wall, but that sells alcohol.

Allah is testing the believers’ commitment to Him, to see which one will win – their principles or their own self-interest. Many people fail the test, because their dunya concerns override their principles.

There are many opportunities for us to very easily veer off and fall for temptations and doing what is haram. Even if we have repented, Allah may want to test whether we are going to fall back into our old ways. Even though He knows the result, he is giving us the chance to have a pass or fail written into our books.

The more committed you are, the more you get tested

When you are in the middle of ‘ibadah, all sorts of distractions and influences may come your way. The same act of ‘ibadah can turn into showing off in a split second. Allah is testing your intention, sabr, and strength of imaan.

Al Qushayri commented on the ayah 94:

Whoever makes his way towards Our house, even the game should find safety from him, where no animal is harmed. Thus, they say: “The righteous person is that harms no one and bears no evil within themselves.” Whoever makes his way towards Us should abandon all greed entirely, and should not make any demands under any circumstances.

When we are committed, we are tested even more. This is what we can see happening in Gaza: the people are so committed to Allah, so He tests them more. At the end of the day, what Allah prepares for the righteous in rewards is far greater than we can ever imagine.

When we see all the martyrs in Gaza, we see it as a huge loss. But in reality, all of these people are elevated and will have a higher rank in Jannah – so it isn’t a loss for them in the akhirah.

We ask Allah to enable all of us to pass His test. Ameen

Based on the reflections of Shaykh Haytham Tamim

Transcribed by Hana Khan


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.