In Times of Weakness

None of us like to be weak.

But there are times when we are going through difficulties in our life, and we feel very weak. We feel like a weak Muslim, a person whose faith has weakened, and sometimes, just a weak person!

This Hadith of the Prophet (s) is so so so beautiful.  It motivates you to be stronger, tells you it’s ok to be weak, but again lifts you up by saying “don’t lose hope”!

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said:
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not lose heart. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens the (gate) for the Satan..'”

Sahih Muslim (The Book of Destiny)

 

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، وَابْنُ، نُمَيْرٍ قَالاَ حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ إِدْرِيسَ، عَنْ رَبِيعَةَ بْنِ عُثْمَانَ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ يَحْيَى بْنِ حَبَّانَ، عَنِ الأَعْرَجِ، عنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ الْمُؤْمِنُ الْقَوِيُّ خَيْرٌ وَأَحَبُّ إِلَى اللَّهِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِ الضَّعِيفِ وَفِي كُلٍّ خَيْرٌ احْرِصْ عَلَى مَا يَنْفَعُكَ وَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَلاَ تَعْجِزْ وَإِنْ أَصَابَكَ شَىْءٌ فَلاَ تَقُلْ لَوْ أَنِّي فَعَلْتُ كَانَ كَذَا وَكَذَا ‏.‏ وَلَكِنْ قُلْ قَدَرُ اللَّهِ وَمَا شَاءَ فَعَلَ فَإِنَّ لَوْ تَفْتَحُ عَمَلَ الشَّيْطَانِ ‏”

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Anger

 

“Why do you get so angry?”

Years ago, when I was entering the unfamiliar world of adolescence – not as unfamiliar and rocky and unexpected as adulthood was for me, though – my grandfather asked me.

Daddy jee, we called him. It was a laqab that was used by all his children, the ‘jee’ to denote love and respect. But by virtue of the first grandchild, who called him Daddy jee too, he came to be known as Daddy jee to his 29 grandchildren.

In my 20s I was fortunate and blessed by Allah SWT to gain the company of some of his strange lovers. They worked day and night to call people to the love of Allah. They hearkened and called to the true final abode instead of this temporary fleeting world. Yes, it’s fleeting… Even though it may seem painfully slow at times.

And so I learnt the beautiful ways of controlling anger. The beautiful virtues of doing so. The everlasting, but even more tempting, the immediate benefits of doing so. The gems of wisdom were laid open for us. Practicing them brought even more beauty to the theory. Experience fortified the truth. Praise be to Allah.

Years down the road, my first born came into this world. Little was I to know that this being would be a mirror for me such that I never had before. My second is not so. I know he will teach me something else perhaps. But the first one opened up my tattered heart and brought forth truths that I never knew existed.

My anger returned. Tired and frustrated from the incessant needs of this being who needed me like he needed no one else. I did not have help. I missed my mother, whom I felt would have been the source of comfort in my pain of new motherhood. I wished I could tell her my woes and get solutions in return. I wish she could take my child in her arms and grant me a few hours of carefree rest. I wished, more than ever, that Allah SWT would Reward me for this test- one whose magnitude I had no idea of.

Months passed. Things became better. My son, however, was too connected to me. Yes, I say ‘too’ because I felt stifled. And I felt guilty for feeling so. My motherhood journey is too long to fit in here. But there is one thing I want to write about.

Anger.

For those who know that this is a test in their lives – that this is a weakness they know to be in them… then be prepared that motherhood is going to test you.

One day, I fell down again, flat on my face, recounting in my mind that:

The Prophet (s) “Anger spoils faith in the same way as vinegar destroys honey.”

anger

And I could feel it being spoilt. I could feel the bitterness in my heart that lingered. I could taste regret as it seared through my soul.

It was the ilm that even made me feel this guilt. I was grateful to it. Rather, I am grateful to it now. At the time, it seemed like a curse. It hung over my head like a stormy cloud, threatening to throw lightening. I asked myself: How in the world can I sit down when standing, or lie down when sitting (the Prophetic steps to control anger) when all my child needed from me was to act right then and there? He needed something and was throwing a tantrum. I needed to act and give him what he needed, or explain why he could not get it. How in the world could I repeat the ta’awwuz (I seek refuge from shaytan the accursed) when I needed to speak to him and calm him down. How in the world do I deal with this creature when what I want to do is just sit with myself to let this anger dissipate?

I was flabbergasted. I was exhausted. My mind and body felt stretched beyond the endurance level. I was usually in situations where none apart from my husband could help me with my son. He was new in parenting too. We both tried our best.

But no matter what, I failed to follow up on the repeated words of our beloved Prophet (s):

“Do not get angry.”

I felt heartbroken, ashamed, and lost.

I knew other mothers had it the same way – I came across articles, I heard about it in talks. And the solution was to just remain calm ourselves.

But how in the world? I thought.

“Why do you get so angry?” he had asked.

The words of Daddy jee resonated in my head. And suddenly, it was as if something in my heart lit up. This is what the Prophet (s) would have asked. There are numerous ahadith in which the Prophet (s) asked a companion ‘why’? It could be just to make the person realize what he was doing wrong, or to simply understand himself what that person was doing and if there was any explanation for it. I didn’t have an answer when Daddy jee had asked me that question. But his question had stayed with me. He had wanted to know ‘why’. There had to be a reason. Or perhaps, he simply wanted me to talk to him, knowing that he would hear me out. I didn’t have an answer then. I didn’t have an answer for so many years. After more than a decade, I asked myself that question again. What was it that was causing me to get so angry?

That was the beginning of solving the mystery to my particular test.

Sometimes, we bury our feelings, brush them under the rug. And they come back to haunt us.

Allah SWT has created us in the most beautiful of forms. The brain and the mind are so intensely complicated, for a moment one can just sit in awe at the majestic creation of Allah. There is always a reason behind things. Sometimes it may just be spontaneous anger because our nafs is used to getting something, and when it is deprived, it lashes out. Sometimes, it may be an inner frustration at not being able to do something that we feel is needed or ‘right’ and we stubbornly hope for it even though there are other things that need to be done or could be done to compensate for it. Our connection to Allah SWT can be built through everyday mundane activities. Parenting is one of them. Mindful parenting. Whatever the reason is though, the solution *is* to not get angry.

So I was meant to go back to those steps. I was meant to learn and practice to be calm, even when provoked by an energetic, stubborn, 3 year old child who would not back down no matter what. I was meant to be calm in the face of a child, because I was the adult.

It was at that time I realized what a child I was.

You see, the answers are going to be the same. But we have to keep striving to get to the part where we actually act on those. We need to keep striving with our heart, our mind, our body. We have to make dua for it. And strive, yet again.

The ways to Allah are the same, yet they are different. He Calls us with Love and at times He Calls us with His Majesty, His Grandeur. Sometimes, we understand, like an a-ha moment that is so hard to explain when we want to.

But the truth is, He Promised:

‘And those who strive in Us, we will surely Guide them to our ways.’ (29:69)

Always remind yourself that, because His Promise is true.

May Allah SWT Keep Guiding us, may we keep striving till our last breaths, and may He make us amongst his righteous servants and join us with them in the hereafter. Ameen.

Wishing for Death

 

Many times, a person who has really faced pain – the kind that brings trauma with it – cannot help but wish for death. It may be an instant. It may be for a few moments. It may be for longer periods of time if they are depressed. Often, that person feels guilty for wishing for death because they are wishing for something that is disliked by Allah SWT. It is regarded as a sin to end one’s life in Islam. There are reasons why this is so and one can see what the scholars have written of it, explaining why it is forbidden to commit suicide in Islam.

However, the beauty in Islam is that it encompasses this truth about humans beautifully.

The fact, that there may be situations in someone’s life, where they are faced with such darkness, such emptiness, that they cannot but wish for death, is not disregarded when the Prophet (s) said:

“Let none of you wish for death. If he is righteous then he might increase his good deeds, and if he is sinful then he might repent.”

This is a positive affirmation. Are you wishing for death? But really, staying alive is so good for you. Strive for good deeds and repentance. Prepare for that Hereafter that you wish to reach. This is easier to understand when one is not wishing for death, however. In a state of emptiness, when the heart finds no pleasure in anything, it is hard to feel anything positive about life. And that fact itself is enough to depress us further.

But here’s the thing. In Surah Maryam, telling us about the greatest woman on earth, Allah SWT Tells us about the time before Prophet Isa was born:

And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She cried: Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten. (19:23)

SubhanAllah, Allah SWT, at this point in the Quran does not rebuke her for this wish. He Guides her gently away from it. Allah SWT Says, “Grieve not”.

If we find ourselves grieving and despairing, we are to remind ourselves of what Allah SWT Expects from us. He does not want us to grieve. He Wishes that we soon pull ourselves out of that grief. It is what we do in those moments of feeling heartache that matters. Do not feel guilty of what your hearts feels. Acknowledge your broken heart, and mend it. Tell it: do not grieve, you have Allah. If you have faced something devastating that shook the foundation of your life, you might, for a moment wish for death. But beware that this is a whirlpool of darkness, being pulled into which is harmful for your ownself. It is a quicksand because you sink deeper and deeper, until you forget who you once were. So take care of yourself. Do not become more depressed, thinking that you are being ungrateful. Do not become more depressed because you are wishing for that which Allah (subhanahu wa Ta’ala) and our Prophet (sallAllahu alaihi wasallam) did not want us to wish for. Instead, tell yourself: Grieve not. You are in Good Hands.

Do whatever you can to swerve away from that wish. Know that Allah Loves you. Know that you are in a delusion. Know that you have it in you to change. Know that if it has been weeks that you wish for death, you need to seek help. You need to ask Him, but you need to take practical steps to seek help from professionals in this field. You need support. You need to find those people whose being there will help you. Look deeper, search deeper, pray harder. Because there have been people before you who have been tested similarly.

You are not alone.

There is an ayah in the Quran that sums this up beautifully.

Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allah?” Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near! (2:214) 

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّـهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّـهِ قَرِيبٌ

Believe in that Lord, in the words of that Lord, and in His Promise. Indeed Allah’s Promise is always true. So know that His help is near. But perhaps He wishes to hear you ask for it. He loves to hear you.

So don’t keep Him waiting.

Call. Call from the depths of your heart. Call with tears streaming down your face. Call Him to Help you. Tell him “I need You”. Call on Him and ask Him for all that you can. Call Him for the khayr in this world, Call Him for eternal khayr in the akhirah. Call Him till a calmness descends on you. Call until you feel that you have shed all the burden from your shoulder; from your hunched back…

Call Him and He will Answer. Call Him, His Help is near.

Indeed He is the Nearest.

As a final straw, the following supplication is recommended by the Prophet (s), if one is perhaps tested to his utmost, with regards to his deen for example, and if he can find no respite after trying and taking the practical steps, or if for whatever reason, he is not able to make a better dua to Allah SWT.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “None of you should wish for death because of a calamity that has afflicted him, but if he must do something he should say: O Allah, keep me alive so long as life is good for me and cause me to die if death is better for me.

To my Son

2015-summers-203To my beautiful son,
who made me tremble,
and stumble,
Question and fumble.
Try and fall
fall and rise again.
He is my boss, my teacher…
Teaching me how to become a true teacher.
He is a mirror to my faults
My weaknesses.
He is the beacon to my triumphs.
May Allah Protect you and Make you such that He would be Pleased.
I try but fail, yet as I fall, He Shows me the rainbow in my clouds.
Allah, Nurture him such that his Nature will shine.
Save him from my flaws and weaknesses.