By Abu Muhammad Yusuf
The journey of life often encompasses difficulties, challenges, trials and tribulations. With the right frame of mind and positive attitude we can come out of each “dark tunnel” better, stronger and wiser.
We have a choice on how we respond to life’s “storms.” Either we can cast blame while becoming resentful and bitter or we can be positive and turn to Allah Ta’ala and exercise patience. Every hurdle we face in life has a meaning and Allah Ta’ala will not expose us to a burden we cannot endure. “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Qur’an: 2:286).
“Great reward comes with great trials. When Allah loves a people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it attains His pleasure, whereas whoever shows discontent with it incurs His wrath.” (Hadith- Tirmidhi)
“…….If anything befalls you, do not say ‘If only I had done (such and such), the such and such would have happened,’ rather say: ‘Allah has decreed and what He wills He does , for (saying) ‘if only’ opens the door to the work of the shaytaan(devil).”(Hadith-Muslim ).
As part of our Imaan (faith), we believe that all matters are in the hands of Allah Ta’ala. However, our Imaan can get shaken during times of trials and hardships. It is during such times though that we should remind ourselves that a believer’s position and rank is raised in front of Allah and that such a hardship may very well be a sign of Allah’s love for the believer. This can help us in maintaining and even strengthening our faith.
Once a boy found a cocoon of a butterfly and took it home. One day a small opening appeared, he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole.
Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. Then the boy decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily.
But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The boy continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the boy in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Allah Ta’ala’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.
Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If Allah allowed us to go through our life without any obstacles, it would sometimes cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been and possibly never be able to “fly”.
Sometimes we need heat and warmth to ripen fruit and sometimes cold is needed in certain fruit to complete the ripening process. So exactly is the same in life sometimes we may have to undergo various conditions that may appear to be unfavourable so that we “ripen” and are ready for the onward journey.
I wise person once said: “ I asked for Strength…And Allah gave me Difficulties to make me strong. I asked for Wisdom…And Allah gave me Problems to solve. I asked for Prosperity…And Allah gave me Brain and Brawn to work. I asked for Courage…And Allah gave me Danger to overcome. I asked for Love…And Allah gave me Underprivileged people to help. I asked for Favours…And Allah gave me Opportunities. I received nothing I wanted …Yet I received everything I needed!”
Accepting and enduring our condition and the Divine Decree of Allah Ta’ala can help us in not only shedding burdens of the past but to also win Allah’s pleasure. Suppressing our urge to blame others for the pains that we encounter by maintaining a positive mindset can help us maintain a less stressful life and promote healthy relationships.
“Nothing befalls a believer, a (prick of a) thorn or more than that, but Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase a bad deed.” (Hadith-Bukhaari )
Hardships and trials are part of everyone’s life. The important thing is for us to have the right attitude of trusting Allah and His plans when facing such hardships and trials. During such trying times, always remember that nothing happens without the Will of Allah. Second, we may not know that our trials and hardships may be part of a bigger plan of which we may have only limited knowledge. It’s only at a later stage when the bigger Plans of Allah reveal themselves to everyone. We can see an example of this from the following verse of Qur’an-Surah Yousuf that when the step brothers of Prophet Yousuf (peace be upon him) were taking him to throw him into a dark well, Allah revealed to Prophet Yousuf (AS) that,”Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.” (Qur’an, 65:7) and this is exactly what happened.
Allah also reminds us:“…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.” (Qur’an-Surah Baqarah: 216)
“There is a blessing in calamity that the wise man should not ignore, for it erases sins, gives one the opportunity to attain the reward for patience, dispels negligence, reminds one of blessings at the time of health, calls one to repent and encourages one to give charity and endure.”
Life is a learning curve and the challenges are there to make us stronger and to condition us and build us emotionally, spiritually and physically for the greater challenges that we will encounter tomorrow. Outwardly circumstances may be perceived as hardships but in reality they may really be blessings in disguise!