The true test of faith: how to react in the midst of tragedy and hardship

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.”

Life is hard. And we hardly ever get what we want. We fight as hard as we can, to find that we are short of succeeding. Suddenly, we find ourselves upset, angry with rage, and heartbroken because if, we don’t achieve a certain goal, or become the person we have built and imagined ourselves to be, we are nothing but failures. And, then without hesitation, we soon become the opposite of what Allah (SWT) has prescribed or ordered us to be in the Quran. We lose motivation, faith and hope in achieving a set dream or goal. We further ourselves from our Lord, which eventually, leads to the shortage of dua, and prayer or more, for that matter.

Negative thoughts begin to play in our mind, listening to the words of Shaytan rather than those of Allah (SWT). To him, we are a prey, and ultimately, we listen to Shaytan, forgetting our role on this earth. Forgetting how in a moment, Allah (SWT) can change our situation, from disastrous to peaceful. Forgetting that, one moment away from the worship of Allah (SWT) could potentially mean a moment lost to gain His love, to save ourselves from what is to come. Finally, we remain in this state for quite some time. We sit there waiting for something to happen, something to change.

But, nothing does, and so, we deepen our sadness, and anger, and instead of turning to Allah (SWT), instead of praying, raising our hands towards Him, waiting for Allah (SWT) to speak to us, to love us, to assure us that everything will be all roses and butterflies, regardless of what we attain or not, we as human beings, carelessly turn to the one whom refused to prostrate before Allah (SWT). We turn to him, and we boast in enjoyment of this life, we ignore the signs, we ignore all that He has provided for us. At last, we choose to engage in bad matters, or actions. We lash out at our family, at our loved ones.

We can barely stand them, or the sight of them. And, in an instant our failures have taken over us, and though we blame ourselves, we don’t see a reason to ask for help, or think that we deserve anything of the sort. So, we move away. We distance ourselves from “Al-Wadud, the most-loving”, for without him we wouldn’t know the meaning of love, from the Karim-the most giving”, the One that gives and gives, whether you ask Him or not. How can we deny all that he has given us for a moment, of distress? A moment of weakness?

So, here we stand; all washed up, thinking we don’t need our Lord. That, we can survive this life without Him. We continue to further our heart, our soul from the One, that says; “Take one step towards me, I will take ten steps towards you. Walk towards me, I will run towards you” , and yet, we think he won’t run to us when we are tangled around our hardships, our failures, and our insecurities? But, I’m here to tell you that, there is no one but Him who can save you from you, who can catch you when you stumble and fall, who, when you give up, He places thousands of reasons why we mustn’t surrender.

I am an example of what it feels like to give up, to question whether, my prayer and dua’s are infant being answered. I am an example of what it feels to see yourself as a failure, to give up on what I want, and what I think I need in this life. I have questioned whether I should give up my worship, asking myself; would it even matter? What would I lose? But, infact, I would lose everything. I would lose everything that God is, for this world. A world, that when compared to the heavens, would amount to nothing.

So, if I were to give, or place any advice in the hands of those reading this article, it would be the following few:

  1. Patience. It is a simple 7 letter word. A word that when placed in the hands of hardship, does not digest well. BUT, with all due respect, it is the only process, only tool or action, that could potentially save you from what you may proceed to do amidst your breakdown and afflictions. It is a process, that must be dealt with carefully, in order to achieve the level of patience one is looking for. Patience, allows you to fully understand the situation you are in, and helps you control your anger in a particular situation, avoid engaging in prohibited sins, and repenting for previous and current sins. Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, “Sabr has two parts: patience for the sake of Allah (SWT) concerning what He is pleased with (i.e., acts of worship and obedience), even if it is hard on the heart and the body, and patience when avoiding what He dislikes, even if it is desired. Those who acquire these qualities will be among the patient persons whom Allah shall greet (when they meet Him in the Hereafter, Allah willing”

  2. Prayer. The second step to dealing with hardships, also interlinks with being patient when seeking help from Allah (SWT). Don’t ever give up your prayer for what seems like a temporary hardship that without doubt Allah (SWT) will push you out of. Everything on this earth is temporary, and so is your short-lived pain and struggle (s). Ultimately, prayer is the first thing we will be asked about on the day of judgement. The second pillar of Islam, the action we were ordered to perform 5 times a day, is the most essential aspect of a person’s religion. It is with prayer, that we find comfort, reassurance, and answers to all our questions, which in turn, transforms our mind and soul to be patient in those situations. The moment you place your forehead onto the ground, all your troubles disappear, and by the time you lift your head off of the ground, what was troubling you wouldn’t matter anymore. In the Quran, Allah (SWT) states: “Seek help through patience and prayer” . Allah (SWT) himself places the answer in our hands, in our hearts. How amazing is it to know that, He wants us to run closer to Him, even if it is a calamity that brings us to Him, or a glimpse of happiness? He has placed a simple order before us, that is to pray to Him, and then all our troubles will disappear. It may not be now, or in two weeks, but Allah (SWT) will eventually find a way for you to survive anything you are experiencing. Never turn away from the simple action that could save you in this life, and the next.

  3. Make immense amounts of Dua. It’s as simple as that. Dua makes everything seem simple. If you want to cry, do so. Pour your heart out to Allah (SWT). He knows what is wrong, and only wants us to ask him, he wants us near Him every day, not only when it is convenient to us. Raise those hands up, and ask for everything your heart desires. Ask from Al-Razak, Al Karam. Ask, because it is with Him that everything is possible.

  4. Dhikr. Many of us don’t understand the importance of making dhikr. It is in a nutshell, a bottle of small miracles that play a vital role in your daily life. In my experience, I can only say that Dkhir has saved my life, in times of hardship, anger and hatred. Every time, I feel some sort of negative feeling toward a person (s) or situation, I begin my Dkhir cycle. As a result of this, I become calm, and happy. It is simple, and small action but, oh how it will bring wonders to your life. I suggest you start with the general ‘Astaghfirullah, Alhamdulillah, Allahu-Akbar’, and then move on to the more intensive terms, such as; Subhan’Allah wa bi hamdi’ (if said 100 times, it will remove all your previous sins!), ‘La ilaha ila anta, subhanaka inni kuntu min al zalimeen’ (can be used when in times of hardship, and in need of Allah’s help). If you are in need of barakah, and love the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), I suggest you say ‘Allahumma salli 3ala Muhammad, wa 3ala ali Muhammad (PBUH) 100 times, every day! These Salawats are sent straight to the Prophet (PBUH) by Allah’s angels. How amazing is that? You utter these words, and immense barakah comes down to you! Always keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah (SWT), and watch your life unfold in front of your eyes.

  5. Be grateful. With everything that we have now days, we forget to be grateful in the times of hardships, the way we are when we are at ease. We get excited when we achieve a milestone, get a job, or get married for that matter, forgetting, of course to be grateful, and thank Allah (SWT) for all these blessings. However, when hardship hit, we move away from Allah (SWT), stop praying, stop making dua, we don’t even want to know Allah (SWT) anymore. Being grateful is when you understand that everything Allah (SWT) sends us is a blessing, regardless whether it is bad or good. It is all a blessing in disguise. But, we are constantly struggling with this because we want our lives to be perfect. No sadness, no fights, no failures, nothing. We don’t want to be tested. In reality, it doesn’t work that way, and until we realise that, we will continue to be ungrateful for all the things Allah (SWT) gives and doesn’t give. It is said that, “Amazing is the believer, for whatever Allah (SWT) decrees for him, it is better for him! If he is tested with a bounty, he is grateful for it and this is better for him; and if he is afflicted with a hardship, he is patient with it and this is better for him” We must learn to be grateful for being alive, grateful for the second chances we receive to be better Muslims. We must be grateful for the food we have on our tables, the clothes we wear and the people who often turn our lives around, and the hardships Allah (SWT) saves us from. It is all a test, a test of gratefulness, for what we receive from Him, and what we don’t.

You may be thinking, “Well, I know all these steps. I’ve learnt them before, I’ve tried them all. Isn’t there anything else I can do?”

In all honesty, yes, these steps have been written over and over before, by countless writers on websites just like ‘Hadith of the day’, but, if we really think about it, if we bring ourselves to understand the purpose of this life, and the essential root of where the stem grows, blooms, from, where our happiness, sadness, success and failures derive from. We are nothing, without the foundations of these specific and paramount actions that are of great significance during our time on this earth. The secret, is to repeat the above practices constantly, until, one day you believe that your faith in Allah (SWT) is stronger than any doubt, failures or insecurities you may have. Until you deliberately turn to these practices every day, every minute of your life, without a slight thought, or hesitation, not to. It is a step, a cycle, which with persistence will bring you peace, and success, and happiness in ways you never thought possible. And without a doubt, the reaction toward the hardships we face, or the successes we attain, will determine what we receive in this life, and in the hereafter.

by Nada Nassif

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