Not a trouble, but a gift

Updated 27 November 2014

Not a trouble, but a gift

Have you ever thought you have come to the end of your tether? Or that you have suffered a lot? That everyone is against you? That people do not understand you and that the course of events always works against you?
You may be going through a difficult time, but the situation may not be as you imagine.
Allah deliberately creates all difficulties. They are like specially wrapped presents, tailor-made for each individual. Everyone has different flaws; some people are impatient, some are restless, some are distrusting, some are uneasy, some are prone to negativity and others are quick to anger.
Troubles, sickness, losses and deficiencies are all blessings for one to overcome these flaws, beautify his soul, and improve his moral values. Our Lord knows what every person needs, and He knows best how much they can stand. If there is something troubling you, it will not exceed your capacity to cope with it; as a matter of fact — if you are believer — it will strengthen you.
Some people who encounter times of trouble may think there is no way out, that everything has come to an end, that they have come to the end of the road and that their difficulties can never be overcome. Some people may even behave in a rebellious way, but these things are in fact apprehensions whispered to them by satan.
Allah creates different events for everyone on Earth. The observances commanded by Allah, the difficulties He creates to test us and the responsibilities He places on us are all proportional to our strength.
Our Lord knows best what people can cope with and how much. Allah is infinitely Just and Forbearing toward His servants. Our Lord will never impose a greater burden than one can bear, nor a responsibility one’s conscience cannot accept; no one would ever be wronged. That is Allah’s promise. It is a manifestation of His being the Most-Compassionate and the Most-Merciful.
All sorts of tests, sicknesses, accidents, material and psychological difficulties and all the rest, are set out within the individual’s ability to cope with them and are events that Allah has ordained specially for them in their destiny.
We do not impose on any self any more than it can stand. With Us there is a Book which speaks the truth. They will not be wronged. (Surat Al-Muminun, 62)
Everything in the life of this world is realistic and takes places as the result of causes. For that reason, some people think that the time allotted to them in this world will never end. The fact that everything gradually decays and that people grow old, even the existence of death, do not make them admit to that irrefutable fact. They imagine that the life of this world is absolute and are reluctant to think about the Hereafter or even to consider a life after death.
The troubles and difficulties visited on such people, who fall into the error of thinking that they should constantly strive for worldly things, never end. For that reason, in order to see the goodness and wisdom in events and realize that ‘everything happens for the best,’ one must first not forget that this world is only a transient place of trial.
A sincere believer must know the truth that no matter what befalls him, it will be something in the face of which he can exhibit moral virtue and fortitude. No matter what hardship befalls him, it will be something he has the strength to cope with and face with patience.
Believers never lose their joy if there is a decrease in their blessings, if they are sick or in the face of some other affliction. On the contrary, they regard troubles as a gift. They have no need for special reasons to be happy. For them, faith itself is a source of joy and gratitude.
They trust that all troubles in life are created to test them and that they will receive a fine reward in the Presence of Allah for their fortitude in the face of troubles; that idea is their source of happiness. Since they act in the light of their conscience they make comparisons and through comparison, better realize the value of blessings. That is the joy of faith.

The joy of faith and a reminder
The joy of faith is a heartfelt, sincere happiness that people who live without faith in their hearts cannot replicate. This is a fulfillment of the heart of the believer, who hopes for Allah’s approval, mercy and eternal Paradise, with joy from Him.
This joy-filled life that believers enjoy in this world will, by the leave of Allah, continue increasingly without any interruptions in Paradise.
As for those who had faith and did right actions, they will be made joyful in a verdant meadow. (Surat Al-Rum,15)
No matter what befalls you, do not forget that you are strong enough to cope, and that you can face it with fortitude and pleasantness.
A final reminder: When you are troubled or made uneasy by something, have a look at the situation other people in the world are in and think about those who are starving to death in war, about those who are trying to survive by eating grass, about those waking up to the sound of bombs and finding their homes crashing down about them; think about those who cannot find water to drink.
Give thanks for what you have one by one. Think of the people who have never even dreamed of those shoes you may have worn for years and no longer like and are planning to throw in the trash. And always remember to give thanks for what you have.
Give thanks to Allah for all the blessings He has bestowed on you. Make a resolution to see the goodness in everything by saying, “Alhamdulillah, thanks be to You, my Lord.”


The beauty of prayer in Islam

Updated 23 September 2016

The beauty of prayer in Islam

GOING deeper into our spiritual state during prayers (salah) requires that we have a presence of heart and are mindful of the words being said during the prayers.
Our prayer will feel shorter, yet when we look at how much time we actually spent, we will think, “Did I just spend 10 minutes?” or even 15 and 20 minutes.
A person who began applying this said he wished the prayer would never end.
A feeling that Ibn Al-Qayyim describes as “what the competitors compete for… it is nourishment for the soul and the delight of the eyes,” and he also said, “If this feeling leaves the heart, it is as though it is a body with no soul.”

The love of Allah
Some people’s relationship with Allah is limited to following orders and leaving prohibitions, so that one does not enter hell. Of course, we must follow orders and leave prohibitions, but it needs to be done out of more than fear and hope; it should also be done out of love for Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an: “… Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him.” (Qur’an, 5:54)
We often find that when a lover meets the beloved, hearts are stirred and there is warmth in that meeting. Yet when we meet Allah, there is not even an ounce of this same feeling. Allah says in the Qur’an: “And (yet) among the people are those who take other than Allah as equals (to Him). They love them as they (should) love Allah. But those who believe are stronger in love for Allah.” (Qur’an, 2:165)
And those who believe are stronger in love for Allah. There should be a feeling of longing, and when we raise our hands to start the prayer, warmth and love should fill our hearts because we are now meeting with Allah. A dua of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “O Allah, I ask You for the longing to meet You” (An-Nisa’i, Al-Hakim)
Ibn Al-Qayyim says in his book Tareeq Al-Hijratain that Allah loves His Messengers and His believing servants, and they love Him and nothing is more beloved to them than Him. The love of one’s parents has a certain type of sweetness, as does the love of one’s children, but the love of Allah far supersedes any of that. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Any person who combines these three qualities will experience the sweetness of faith: 1) that God and His messenger are dearer to him than anything else; 2) that his love of others is purely for God’s sake; and 3) that he hates to relapse into disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown in the fire.” (Bukhari)
Thus, the first thing he mentioned was: “… that God and His messenger are more beloved to him than anything else…”
Ibn Al-Qayyim says: “Since ‘there is nothing like unto Him’ (Qur’an, 42:11), there is nothing like experiencing love for Him.”
If you feel this love for Him, it will be a feeling so intense, so sweet, that you would wish the prayer would never ever end.
Do you truly want to feel this love? Then ask yourself: ‘why do you or should you love Allah?’
Know that you love people for one (or all, in varying degrees) of three reasons: For their beauty, because of their exalted character or/and because they have done good to you. And know that Allah combines all of these three to the utmost degree.

All-embracing beauty
We’ve all been touched by beauty. It is almost fitrah (natural disposition) to love what is beautiful. Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, said about the Prophet, peace be upon him, that it was “as if the sun is shining from his face.” Jabir (may God be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allah was more handsome, beautiful, and radiant than the full moon” (Tirmidhi)
Allah made all His Prophets have a certain beauty so that people would have a natural inclination toward them.
And beauty is more than what is in the face, because beauty is in all of creation and somehow has the ability to take our breath away and give us peace simultaneously. The glimmer of the crescent moon on a calm night, the intensity of a waterfall as the water drops for thousands of feet, the sunset by the sea … certain scenes of natural unspoiled beauty stirs something in us. As Allah is the One Who made it beautiful, so what of Allah’s beauty?
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “And it is enough to realize Allah’s Beauty when we know that every internal and external beauty in this life and the next are created by Him, so what of the beauty of their Creator?”
This fitrah for loving what is beautiful is because Allah is beautiful. One of His Names is Al-Jameel (the Most Beautiful). Ibn Al-Qayyim states that the beauty of Allah is something that a person cannot imagine and only He knows it. There is nothing of it in creation save for glimpses.
Ibn Al-Qayyim says if all of creation were the most beautiful they could be (so let’s imagine, ever single human being looked as beautiful as Yusuf, peace be upon him, and the whole world was like Paradise), and all of them combined from the beginning of time until the Day of Judgment, they would not even be like a ray in comparison to the sun when compared to Allah. Allah’s beauty is so intense that we will not even be able to take it in this life. In the Qur’an, Allah describes Musa’s (peace be upon him) request: “And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, ‘My Lord, show me (Yourself) that I may look at You.’ (Allah) said: ‘You will not see Me but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me.’ But when his Lord appeared to the mountain He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious.” (Qur’an, 7:143)
Even the mountain could not bear the beauty of Allah and crumbled, and when Musa, peace be upon him, saw this (he did not even see Allah), he fell unconscious. This is why on the Day of Judgment it is Allah’s light that will shine on everything. We talk about breathtaking beauty, but we have yet to experience Allah’s beauty. While things in this world can be beautiful or majestic or if they combine both they are finite, true majesty and beauty are for Allah: “And there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” (Qur’an, 55:27)
Keeping all of this in mind, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah directs His Face toward the face of His servant who is praying, as long as he does not turn away” (Tirmidhi).
Remember this in your prayer, and ask Allah to allow you the joy of seeing Him in Paradise.