By Traci Wells-Ali
Could you do with a fresh start, with a new perspective on the tests of life that we all face..?
“Do people think they will be left alone after saying ‘We believe’ without being put to the test? We tested those who went before them: God will certainly mark out which ones are truthful and which are lying.” (Quran 29:2)
Life is full of tests. As early as we can remember we are all put to our own version of tests. Tests that Allah, our creator, has individually planned for each and every one of us. Personally tailored and tweaked to suit the lifestyle and personality of each human being. Just as we are all completely unique, so are the tests that Allah has chosen for us.
I remember the many questions I had when I was first introduced to Islam. Questions I had mostly for God and not for Islam as a religion. Allah, our creator, the all merciful, the all forgiving, the dictator of our fate. The belief was there, however the understanding and knowledge was not.
Why is there so much evil in the world? Why do some people suffer? Why is there so much war & hatred?
The questions hovered in the back of my mind unable to reach my lips for fear of uttering questions that would never be answered.
And if they can’t be answered, then what? Have belief without peace and certainty? Clarity is what I was desperate to feel. To experience the “faith” that so many Muslims claim to have. Peace in your heart that this life and it’s tribulations will all be worth it.
There must be an explanation. This can’t be just the way it is. There has to be an answer.
“We shall certainly test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property, lives, and crops. But (prophet), give good news to those who are patient, those who say when afflicted with calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ (Quran 2:155/156)
So began the journey of discovery.
I had been given an opportunity, a second chance at this life. A fresh start. And I wanted to do it right. And the only way I could do this was by gaining the knowledge, to educate myself like never before. To read.
“Read! In the name of your Lord who created: He created man from clinging form. Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One who taught by the pen, who taught man what he did not know.” (Quran 96: 1/2/3/4/5)
And with this knowledge came belief. In all it’s glory. Not just the word but the feeling. The faith that I had so wanted. Little by little a new perspective on this life and everything in it started to become clearer. Like those misty dark winter mornings that break way to sunshine and warmth, giving optimism and energy to our souls.
Having been through my own tests in life I have always tried to have a positive attitude, trying to look on the bright side of things and to be grateful. But this isn’t always easy.
Islam guides us when we are tested. Reminds us that it is all for a reason.
As human beings we can never know what is good without experiencing what is bad. Seeing beauty without seeing destruction. Seeing the familiar friendly smile of a loved one when we have spent a day being ignored and shoulder barged in the busy city. The agony of the morning after a workout but knowing the benefits to our health and bodies that Allah has blessed us with.
And with Islam comes the Quran, a guide on how to live the best lives we can possibly live. And two of the key elements to this guide are repeated throughout its contents;
Gratitude and Patience.
Gratitude plays an imperative part of this journey.
It is so easy to lose gratitude, to become resentful about even the smallest of things.
Our society promotes greed and status. It glorifies material possessions, symbolising wealth and success. We are led to believe that we need that new car, we need those new shoes, we need to be at a glamorous party, we need the best, most popular, most desirable new trend. And don’t forget to post all those “possessions” that we “need” onto social media! So the world can see how lucky and wealthy and successful we are!
Except our perception of wealth is obscured. The word wealth immediately brings to mind the celebrities and those we presume are “successful” that have the material possessions to show for it.
But wealth is so much more than that. It is the wealth of our souls. Of our minds. Of our emotional intelligence. Our humanity. The wealth of our Deen.
“Whatever good things you possess, come from God.”(Quran 16:53)
Patience….ahhh patience. It is a fading phenomenon in this fast paced society. Everything is in our reach. The days of waiting are a distant memory. Our children’s generation will never know how long some of us had to wait for the simplest of things. Their lives will be as easy as a touch of a button. This is why it is crucial that we all practice patience. As often as possible. And show our children the joy of waiting, patiently, for the gifts in life to happen.
But to also be patient in times of hardship. When things seem hopeless and every cell in your brain wants to stop the torment, patience is the relief to the pain. The knowledge that there will be an end to the turmoil. That nothing is forever, and even though it is tough and painful and we sometimes feel hopeless, we have to hang on to our faith. And be patient. That in the end we will have something that we can’t even imagine in our most glorious dreams.
For that which awaits us is worth all of the patience that we can muster. For who wouldn’t want to find paradise! Alhamdulillah!
“Be steadfast: God is with the steadfast.”(Quran 8:46)
“Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring. Angels shall enter from every gate (with the salutation): ‘Peace be with you, that you persevered in patience! Now how excellent is the final home!” (Quran 13:23–24).
About the author: Traci Wells-Ali