In my profession as a psychologist I have heard many heart breaking stories of abuse, injustice, betrayal and oppression. Many people have lost their innocence, withstood physical and sexual abuse and were emotionally wounded. Usually to help a person through these difficult trials and tribulations using psychology alone without Islam could take years. In my practice I rely on the guidance of Islam along with psychology in order to help each person to overcome their painful struggle, gain new insight and feel empowered by reflecting on one of Allāh most empowering names Al-Ḥakīm means the Most Wise. The name Al-Ḥakīm has transformed the way I do therapy and the way I live my life each and every day.
The tests in life are inevitable Allah says in Surat’l-Baqarah (155):
Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere.
The tests will definitely come – it’s how you react to the tests that distinguishes you from others, sets your ranks, earns your Islamic grade and your ultimate abode.
There are 6 aspects to the name Al-Ḥakīm:
1. A GOOD WAY TO GAUGE WHETHER OR NOT YOU ARE HEEDLESS OR RIGHTEOUS IS SEEING HOW YOU REACT TO TESTS AND TRIALS.
A heedless person will start to feel doubt, anger and frustration with each new test. They will get further away from Allāh while a righteous person will draw closer to Allāh and increase in certainty. Think back to the last time you were tested. What was your initial reaction? Did you embrace your destiny with gratitude and acceptance or did you question it with frustration and anger?
Two men can get into a car accident, breaking every bone in their bodies. The heedless one will question Allāh and feel sorry for himself while the righteous one will accept his qadar (destiny) with full contentment. One of my family members experienced this tragic accident of breaking every bone in his body and he very heroically demonstrated his devotion by being optimistic & grateful the entire time. He even went as far as comforting those who visited him in the hospital by making them laugh.
Another excellent example of righteousness is a man in Jordan whose wife left food on the stove, causing the house to accidentally burn down. When the man went inside and walked through the ashes he saw his 3 kids standing behind the door – the older child protecting the younger ones – charred to death. What do you think was his reaction? Anger? Self-pity? Depression? On the contrary, he saw the incident as a test and he immediately went to the masjid and prayed 2 rakaʿāt shukr (gratitude), showing acceptance of Allāh’s qadar (destiny). That man exemplified tawakul (trust in Allāh) and he fully understood the name Al-Ḥakīm – that there is wisdom in everything that occurs.
2. THE KEY TO UNDERSTANDING AND CONTEMPLATION IS TO REALIZE THAT ALLĀH HAS WISDOM IN EVERYTHING HE DOES.
Whenever you are faced with trials or tribulations think to yourself what could be the wisdom behind the test and you will discover new insight and valuable treasures. You may have just gotten a divorce, lost your job, not yet married or you have very difficult family members and you think there is nothing good about your situation. You may think why me? Why do bad things happen to me? But be very careful about the questions you ask. Instead of saying why me ask what is the wisdom, because if you truly believe Allāh knows best and that He is most wise, you have to trust his plan. None of us would have the audacity to tell Allāh (astaghfirullāh) that I know better than you, but each time we are mad, we question or we complain, it’s like saying that we know better than Allāh. Let’s show Allāh the respect He deserves by accepting His master plan and trusting it is in our best interest.
3. BEING CERTAIN THAT YOU ARE IGNORANT IN COMPARISON TO ALLĀH’S WISDOM.
You cannot pour the ocean into a teacup. Our limited understanding is like a teacup while Allāh’s wisdom is like the ocean. When there are natural disasters, people who are wrongfully imprisoned, when children are killed, and people are in extreme hunger you may think that it’s not fair and you question the justice. That’s when you need to realize that you can’t judge the events of the world according to your understanding of justice and fairness.
One of my friend’s 3 year old son drowned in their pool. They were devastated at first as anyone would be, but māshā’Allāh they had tawakul (trust) in Allāh’s plan. They went on Ḥajj, she wore ḥijāb in order to increase their commitment to Allāh, and they were gifted with another baby boy. She says that the loss of her child was a form of mercy because it led her and her husband to get closer to Allāh.
4.WHENEVER THERE IS A TEST THERE IS AN EXCHANGE.
Allāh deprives you only to give you something even better. You go from the ni’ma (blessing) to moni’m (source of the blessing: Allāh).
When a blessing is taken away you are blessed with closeness to Allāh, contemplation and understanding which are much more valuable than the actual blessing. A person who only sees evil in his tests is deprived of the closeness to Allāh and the treasures of understanding.
…But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allāh knoweth, and ye know not.
There is a scholar who was wrongfully imprisoned recently. He was taken away from his wife, his newborn twins, and two other children. At the beginning he spent his time making du‘ā’ that he will be released immediately. He hoped he would stay there for only a few days. To his dismay he stayed in prison for a year and a half. He was tortured, in solitude away from his kids and family. What do you think was his state of mind? Do you think he was in a state of depression for his plight? Did he feel hopeless that his du‘ā’ was not answered – questioning why me? NO WAY! This righteous man, māshā’Allāh, did not only avoid depression and remain hopeful, he actually wrote 100 good things about being imprisoned (such as writing books of tafsīr, reviewing Qurʾān, teaching others and increasing in his understanding). Now that’s reframing! If he can come up with 100 good things about being imprisoned then we can be positive about our trials. He was quoted as saying: “I thank Allāh the most high that he did not answer my du‘ā’ to get out of prison early and he extended the period of the blessing of the test so I could get the fruits of the lessons that I learned.” Simply amazing, māshā’Allāh.
5. BE CONTENT WITH ALLĀH’S QADAR.
Whatever has happened was for the best. Don’t question the past, don’t hold grudges, accept what has happened. If you truly believe that Allāh is the most wise and you accept qadar (destiny), then you won’t be mad about the past. Forgiveness is the road to recovery and once you embrace this concept then you can have emotional stability. I can’t tell you how many people have gotten a new lease on life in therapy by giving up the grudges. Their lives transformed and they were able to attain a new spiritual awakening and peace through forgiveness. Remember true forgiveness is to forgive and forget.
6. ALLĀH NEVER BURDENS YOU WITH MORE THAN YOU CAN BEAR. YOU WILL BE TESTED IN ACCORDANCE TO YOUR LEVEL OF ĪMĀN (FAITH)
It should be a very comforting feeling to realize that whatever you are facing, Allāh knows that you can handle it. It is like having an encouraging coach cheering for you while he believes in you and knows you have the capacity to achieve your goals. Don’t get discouraged with the difficult tests, instead be encouraged that Allāh considers your īmān strong enough to withstand the test. Also, feel secure that you have it in you to pass the test. You just have to believe in Allāh’s plan for you and have enough trust in yourself that you will endure and succeed, inshā’Allāh.