Pain, Crying and our need for Empathy

Sometimes, it is hard to relate to people who have not faced grief and sorrow in their lives. It is easy for them to think or believe that you can and should get over it.

A year or two ago, someone who had been through a couple of traumas in her life asked me if it was ok for her to cry. Yes, traumas. Not just one.

She asked me if it was ok for her to cry.

She said i know Allah SWT Loves me. I dont understand these things but I accept them. But there are times when i keep crying. I cry a lot… I look at another’s pain and i cry.

i told her what i could, but the reality was, i didnt have an answer. I didnt know if it was ok. The attitude i had always gotten was that its not REALLY ok To be doing that for so long… For you to have gotten over it meant you wouldnt cry over it right? But i found i couldnt say that to her. It didnt seem right. I couldnt even find anyhting in the Quran or Hadith that i had learnt, to tell me that it was wrong to cry.

The Prophet (s) actually calls tears a Rahmah.

“What is in the hearts and eyes comes from Allah.”

It is a mercy. Not a sign of weakness.

Then why did i have that feeling or that understanding?
And it was deep-rooted for sure. I couldnt understand it.
I’m not sure where or how I learnt that in my life… Probably when i was very young.

Fast foward to today and Allah SWT led me through some experiences… He let me have experiential knowledge of how withholding tears and not addressing feelings could harm us. He let me feel that so I could believe it with certainty. With Yaqeen.

I can say for certain now. Let them flow. Let the tears flow. It’s ok to keep crying. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to not know and be afraid and to hope but still be afraid.

We have the story of Yaqub alaihissalam (peace be upon him) who cried years for Prophet Yusuf alaihissalam. Yet society forgets that when they tell someone ‘don’t cry’. They forget that the pain needs to come out. It needs to be addressed. It needs to manifest.

They forget tears are compassion.

It was narrated that Abu ‘Uthman said:
“Usamah bin Zaid told me: ‘The daughter of the Prophet sent word to him telling him: A son of mine is dying, come to us. He sent word to her, conveying his greeting of salam and saying: “To Allahbelongs that which He takes and that which He gives, and everything has an appointed time with Allah. Let her be patient and seek reward.” She sent word to him adjuring him to go to her. So he got up and went, accompanied by Sa’d bin ‘Ubadah, Muadh bin Jabal, Ubayy bin Kab Zaid bin Thabit and some other men. The boy was lifted up to the Messenger of Allah, with the death rattle sounding in him, and his eyes filled with tears. Sa’d said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is this?” he said: “This is compassion which Allah has created in the hearts of His slaves. Allah has mercy on His compassionate slaves.”

Some people say that those who recite durud abundantly feel no sadness. Perhaps, someone, who recited a lot of durud may have felt easy in their pain. I am not denying that truth. Indeed, there is a lot of barakah in reciting durud. But talk about the benefits of it to someone who is not hurting. Did the Prophet (s) ever say to someone who was hurting, ‘recite durud on me’? Is that really what we want to diminish the durud into? It is meant to be a prayer for the Prophet (s). It is meant to be said out of love of the Prophet (s). If only we could just show the compassion that the Prophet (s) used to show his companions when someone we know is hurting. They would automatically remember the beloved (s). Their yaqeen would increase. Their love would increase.

Why do we forget who we are supposed to be? Why do we forget the mercy that our Prophet brought? The compassion that He taught. The Rahmah that he was… sallAllahu alaihi wasallam.

I felt heartache, I felt confusion, I revisited everything I knew and believed about pain.

Sometimes i think, how much Allah SWT must Love her, for Him to clarify and let me witness whatever was in my mind… So i could love her even more confidently. So i could talk and write about it with more conviction. So this knowledge for me would not just be intellectual, but experiential. I feel so strongly for this now.


Sometimes i think, if only we loved more, truly loved more, what a true ummah we could be.


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