Fitna – What Does it Mean?

The Arabic word for trial/test often used in the Qur’an is fitna. What does it mean?

Fitna means to burn something, e.g. in Surah 85:10, “Those who burned the believing men and believing women…”

Fitna also means to put precious metals into the fire to separate the bad from the good, according to the great linguist Raghib Al-Asfahani.

Allah describes the difficulties in life as a fitna because they burn away our sins, just like the fire burns objects. But more importantly, the tests of life are not a mere punishment – though for some it could feel that way.

We are like gold: precious and valuable. But impurities hold us back from our true potential. Tests are a way to bring out the best in us, just like the fire purifies gold.

When a test comes in life, that is an opportunity to return back to Allah. He’s not punishing, He’s treating you like gold.

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