In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Imaam As-Sadi [rahimahullaah] stated in his Tafseer: Allaah said:
[وَلَقَدۡ أَخَذۡنَآ ءَالَ فِرۡعَوۡنَ بِٱلسِّنِينَ – And indeed We punished the people of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) with years of famine]; Meaning: Afflictions and drought for a long time; [وَنَقۡصٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلثَّمَرَٲتِ لَعَلَّهُمۡ يَذَّڪَّرُونَ – and shortness of fruits (crops, etc.), that they might remember (take heed)]; Meaning: They were afflicted in order for them to realise that what befell them was a punishment from Allaah and so that they might abandon their disbelief. However, neither was this admonition useful to them nor did it benefit them, rather they persisted in transgression and corruption.
Then Allaah [The Most High] says: [فَإِذَا جَآءَتۡهُمُ ٱلۡحَسَنَةُ قَالُواْ لَنَا هَـٰذِهِۦۖ -But whenever good came to them, they said: “Ours is this]; Meaning: When the land became fertile and provision was in abundance, they said, “We deserve this” and they did not thank Allaah.
Then Allaah [The Most High] says: [ وَإِن تُصِبۡہُمۡ سَيِّئَةٌ۬ يَطَّيَّرُواْ بِمُوسَىٰ وَمَن مَّعَهُ – And if evil afflicted them, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Musa (Moses) and those with him]; Meaning: When the afflictions and drought reappeared, they said, “This came to us due to the presence of Moosaa and those who follow him”.
Then Allaah [The Most High] says: [أَلَآ إِنَّمَا طَـٰٓٮِٕرُهُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَڪۡثَرَهُمۡ لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ – Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with Allah but most of them know not]; Meaning: The afflictions reappeared by the divine will and decree of Allaah and not what you think; rather your sins and disbelief is the reason that brought about these afflictions. [Ref 1]
Ibnul Jawzee [rahimahullaah] said:
A thought came to my mind about the calamities, hardships and great afflictions that takes place in the world; so I said: Glorified is Allaah and free is He from all imperfections! Indeed, Allaah is The Most Generous of all those who show generosity, and generosity necessitates forbearance and forgiveness. So how do we look at those punishments? I contemplated and saw that the presence of many people is as if they do not exist. They neither study the evidences about the Oneness of Allaah (in His Lordship, Names and Attributes and that He alone has the right to be worshipped), nor do they abide by the commandments and prohibitions of (Allaah); rather they carry on in their habits like cattle. And unless the Islamic legislation agrees with what they want, otherwise they cling to selfish interests. And after obtaining the Deenaar (money), they do not care whether it was (earned) through lawful or unlawful (means). They pray when it is easy for them, otherwise they abandon the prayer. Amongst them are those who openly commit great sins, whilst being aware of its prohibition. And it may be that there is a scholar with robust understanding, but his sins are grave indeed. So, I came to know that even when the punishments are great, they are lesser (in severity) than their crimes. And when punishments occur to wipe away sins, those (responsible for such sins) say: ‘’Which sin is this for?’’ and they forget what has proceeded (i.e. their sins). An old man becomes so insignificant to the extent that the hearts become sympathetic, whilst he is unaware of the fact that this is due to not giving importance to the commandments of Allaah in his youth. [Ref 2]
Imaam Ibnul Jawzee [rahimahullaah] said: Indeed, I have witnessed [the affair] of many people- those who are unaware of the [real] meaning of life. Amongst them is one who has no need of seeking after a livelihood due to his abundant wealth, but he sits in the market most of the day staring at the people, and how many offensive [things] and evil deeds go past him! Amongst them is one devoted to playing chess, others pass time by talking about the rulers and others talk about the high and low prices of [goods and services]. So I knew that Allaah [The Most High] has not given everyone the blessing to realise the nobility of [one’s] life span and acquaintance with the value of [one’s] period of well-being, except to the one whom it is bestowed and blessed with the zeal to profit from that. [Ref 3]
[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘Tayseer Al-Kareem Ar-Rahmaan Fee Tafseer kalaam Al-Mannaan’ of Imaam Sadi (rahimahullaah). Surah Al-Araaf Aayaat 130-131]. [Ref 2: An Excerpt from Saydul Khaatir: page: 18-19. slightly paraphrased]. [Ref 3: An Excerpt from Saydul Khaatir: page:241. Slightly paraphrased]