By Romina Afghan
If there is one quality that raises a person from being an average “Muslim” to an outstanding one who worships Allaah with “ihsaan” or excellence, it might be the ability to be grateful to Allaah at all times and in all circumstances; the ability to see His Love, Mercy and Blessings in every single thing that comes our way; the ability to see the ‘silver lining’ in every cloud that passes, and to be utterly grateful not just for the silver lining, but even for the cloud itself that shades and covers you, even if it suffocates and stifles you at first.
How do we get to that seemingly impossible stage where we have complete trust and contentment with everything that comes from Allaah, even when it is in complete contradiction to the ease and desires which your heart seeks? Where you are so saturated with the gratitude of Allaah’s blessings upon you, that your heart is overcome with love for Ar-Rahmaan, whose Mercy envelopes you and cocoons you at every moment, and with every breath, and in every single cell of your body?
How do we get to the stage where , if someone were to ask you why you do what you do, the immediate response is the same as that of the Prophet Muhammad ( sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam), “Should I not be a thankful slave?”
Is this state really possible for us?
Yes, we can all get there, by the permission of Allaah, by practising the skill needed, by looking for the silver lining, by hunting for it and being one hundred percent certain that it is there, even when it eludes us; even when all we seem to see is the pain and the struggle in front of us.
Look for those moments in your life where you faced something undesirable, where something didn’t seem to go to your best-laid plans, and ask yourself, ‘How is Allaah making me better through this? How am I being drawn closer to Allaah through this difficulty? How am I being forced to evolve?”
Look for where the pain is in your difficulty, because the pain is an indicator of where you are being forced to grow. Your pain is the catalyst for your new birth. Perhaps your “blessing in disguise” is actually your ticket to Jannah.
Perhaps your difficult mother or difficult child is your ‘blessing in disguise’, and the pain of that difficult relationship enables you to connect to Allaah and derive your strength from Him; perhaps this relationship teaches you to free yourself from the attachment to creation and attach more sincerely and securely to the Creator. Perhaps your inability to control your wayward child is a lesson to you that He is the Controller of all affairs.
When I look back in my life to one of the most difficult periods myself and my family faced, I have to admit that I couldn’t see the silver lining in that test for a long time – how could my brother dying young in a car accident and leaving behind four young boys ( the youngest of whom was just two weeks old), be a blessing? How was it a blessing to see my mother and father in pain, grieving, hollowed out from the shock of having their hearts ripped out from their chests and buried with their son so unexpectedly?
So the times I see the blessings, I think of how suddenly temporal this dunya became for us; how, as a family, we remembered that this life truly is the “lowest life” as dunya means in Arabic; how the reminder that death is imminent and could be close to any one of us at any time refocused our priorities and efforts; how suddenly the veil was lifted from our hearts that had been captivated and deceived by this dunya; and how we were able to see it for what it really is – a few short days, either to set it free or imprison it for eternity.
And then on the days when I see the pain in one of my nephew’s eyes, or a Facebook post from a young man trying desperately not to forget the fading memories and love of a father now buried, I remember, “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon”– that indeed we belong to Allaah, and surely to Him we are all returning.
He took what was His – my brother was never “mine”, my mother’s son was never “hers”, my nephew’s father was never “his”. He always belonged to Allaah, and now he has returned back to Him – how can we complain of a gift that was loaned to us, and now has returned to its Owner?
And when it becomes difficult to see through the fog of pain to where the blessings are, I have to remember WHO that owner is – that Owner is none other than Allaah. I have to remind myself of the sublime and true qualities of Allaah: He is ar-Rahmaan, the One whose Mercy envelopes us just as a child is enveloped in its mother’s womb, He is ar-Raheem, the One whose Mercy is continuously shown to us and upon us, He is al-Wadood, The Most Loving, who hates to take the soul of his servant because he hates death and al-Wadood hates to hurt him ( Bukhari 6502), He is al-Hakeem, whose wisdom I cannot compare my faulty and weak logic to, He is al-Aleem, the All-Knowing; al-Baseer, the One Whose sight encompasses all things past, present and future; the One to Whom all things are known definitely and completely in their true reality.
So if I were to realise who Allah truly is, and let that knowledge infiltrate my heart, by constantly affirming and re-affirming His Names and Attributes and looking at my own deficiencies in insight, in wisdom, in love, in knowledge and in all those things that show up every day in the mistakes and actions of my daily life, then I am forced to submit from my soul to the Majesty and Truth of Allaah, and admit my failings to Him, as in the duaa of the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam:
Allaahumma aslamtu wajhi ilayka wa fawwadtu amri ilayka wa alja’tu zahri ilayka raghbatan wa rahbatan ilayka, la malja’a wa laa manjaa minka illa ilayka. Allaahumma aamantu bi kitaabika alladhi anzalta wa nabiyyika alladhi arsalta
O Allaah I submit my face to You, and I entrust my affairs to You, and I rely totally on You in hope and in fear of You. Verily there is no refuge nor safe haven from You except with You. O Allaah, I believe in Your Book which You have revealed and in Your Prophet whom You have sent.
And perhaps that in itself is where the blessing is – to realise my own weakness and acknowledge His Strength; to fully comprehend my incapacity and powerlessness and realise His Might, His Power; to submit myself more fully as a slave.
So since this life is a test of our servitude to Allaah, if your ‘blessing in disguise’ helps you to increase in your worship, in your true knowledge of yourself as a humble slave and of your recognition of who your Rabb, Creator, Allaah actually is, then surely there can be no greater blessing, and you have thus come to actualise the purpose of the ‘blessing in disguise’ which was sent to you.
That isn’t to diminish your sadness or grief, or say that these emotions are not allowed because even our emotions are gifts from Allaah that we can choose to use in ways which will help us and enrich us, and we know the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam himself grieved and shed tears over the passing of his loved ones. Rather, I think that its whether we choose to let those emotions overcome us and become destructive, or whether we allow them to flow, heal and gradually move us closer to our Creator, which is their ultimate purpose.
Yaa Allaah, we ask you to help us see the blessings in the people, places and situations You have placed us in, for our own benefit; we ask You for the ability to acknowledge your Favours upon us at all times; we acknowledge our weakness in recognizing them and in showing gratitude for them in the way that You deserve, We submit to Your Knowledge of what is better for us, we seek refuge in You from being blind to Your blessings, in whatever form they come and we ask You for Your Pleasure and seek refuge in You from Your displeasure, Ameen.