By Aliya Vaughan
When I first embraced Islam I was studying for my master’s degree. My accommodation was just a short walk to the university which was very convenient for me. However, one night I needed to work late as I was working to a deadline, which meant I had to walk home on my own in the dark. The walkways were unlit in those days and close to waste land. As I was new to Islam, I was not familiar with Allah’s name, Al-Muhaymin (The Protector), but I knew I could call upon Him for my safety. So that is what I did, in my own way and in my own language. When I stepped out into the chilly night air, I felt a comforting warmth in the groove of my back. It was like an invisible wing had gently wrapped around my waist to shield and guide me home. I felt so secure in that moment and ever since then, I have always connected myself to this beautiful name, Al-Muhaymin (The Protector).
Now, I’m not advocating that we undertake risky behaviours. We do have to take precautions, but we also have a very strong safety net when we call upon Allah to protect us. Allah says He sends His angels as guardians to watch over us, and I have to say I felt as though this happened to me on the night I was walking home from university. I have also heard similar stories that would reinforce this amazing phenomenon.
“For each (person), there are angels in succession, before and behind him. They guard him by the Command of Allah”
Surah ar-Ra‘d 13:11.
Fortunately, in Islam we have many ways of seeking Allah’s protection: in our five daily prayers we ask Allah seventeen times a day to ‘guide us on the straight path’ and by doing so, we not only gain Allah’s protection from going astray, but we also keep ourselves in check by keeping away from temptations and sins. Without the prayer and being mindful of Allah I’m sure I would fall into mischief.
“Verily, the prayer keeps one from the great sins and evil deeds.” Surah al-Ankaboot 29:45
My children’s book ‘A Race to Prayer’ was inspired by a story my husband told me when he went to a football match in Algeria. When the prayer came in, he left the stadium to perform his salah. During that time, an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale killed many people and destroyed thousands of homes. My husband was thankful that Allah protected him that day. For the 3,500 people who died, some chose to pray on time, so they were taken while performing an obligatory act of worship. For those who chose to delay their prayers, their lives were taken when they were engaged in other activities. This illustrates how important it is to pray on time, as we never know will happen next. But it also illustrates that although prayer is a form of protection, it will not always save us from Allah’s qadr if it is already written. But our prayers will go in our favour on the Day when we are accountable and when we need Allah’s protection the most.
I used to be quite indecisive. I would procrastinate when making decisions because I feared every conceivable outcome. Now I perform Istikharah (a special prayer seeking guidance). This is because Allah knows what is good or bad for me. If it’s bad for me He will remove it, but if it is good for me, He will make it easy for me to have it and bring it forward. I put my full trust in Allah to guide me in making the right decisions as He will protect me from harm. Even if I do not like the outcome, Allah knows it is good for me and so I accept it, wholeheartedly. To trust Allah, we need to fully believe He has our back in all our affairs. There is no problem too big that Allah cannot solve. We just need to turn to Him and ask Him for help.
Years ago, when I was living in London, three young people knocked on my door carrying a baseball bat and threatened me and my children. The police were called and I was escorted to safety, but the incident urged me to learn ayat ul Kursi; a very powerful verse in the Quran for Allah’s protection. Since then, I always recite this ayah before I go to sleep. In fact, I don’t feel comfortable until I do. I also call upon Allah, Al-Muhaymin to grant protection to my family from any form of harm, abuse or attack. This doesn’t mean we are totally immune from people’s bad manners and behaviour, but Allah promises to protect us from serious calamity and disaster when we recite it. It’s also ideal if you or your children are afraid of the dark! It provides that element of reassurance that soothes the heart.
There is a dua from the Prophet’s Sunnah that I also say before leaving the house and at night before sleeping, and I’ve taught my children to do the same.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “He who recites three times every morning and evening (the following dua), nothing will harm him.”
`Bismillahil-ladhi la yadurru ma`as-mihi shai’un fil-ardi wa la fis-sama’i, wa Huwas-Sami`ul-`Alim
(In the Name of Allah with Whose Name there is protection against every kind of harm in the earth or in the heaven, and He is the All-Hearing and All-Knowing),’
(Reported by Uthman bin `Affan. Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah)
Without going into too much detail, my eleven-year-old son suffered abuse on public transport recently. The police were called and they were given CCTV footage etc, but out of curiosity I asked my son if he had remembered his duas that morning, to which he replied, ‘I did! But can you imagine if I didn’t, it could have been far worse.’ Subhanallah, I realised how true this was. There are times when I know I have forgotten to say this dua, like when I had a car accident. Immediately, I knew I had omitted it from my daily routine that morning. But it was also my error for reversing out into a side road, so we have to be mindful of our own mistakes and shortcomings. We can’t just recite the dua and expect Allah to protect us if we make poor choices or deliberately place ourselves in danger.
I have peace of mind when I recite verses from the Quran and call upon Allah, Al-Muhaymin for my protection. It allows me to hand over the controls to my Lord, who is Ar -Raqib, the Watchful, and al-Aziz, the All Powerful. He is my ever-watchful Guardian and Protector who grants me and my family ultimate safety and security. I cannot be responsible for protecting my children every moment of the day and night, but I can ask Allah to do that for me. I can also ask Allah, Al-Muhaymin, to give me strength and protect me when I anticipate fear, whether it is from physical or verbal confrontation or simply fear of an unfavourable outcome. This gives me a great source of comfort and liberates me from unnecessary worry and anxiety. By eliminating the fear and paralysis that I would otherwise have had, I am free to live my life with the ultimate confidence of knowing Al-Muhaymin shoulders the burden of my fears better than I alone ever could.
About the author:
Aliya Vaughan has been a Muslim for 24 years. She lives in the UK with her husband and six children. She is a qualified life coach and author. She has recently published her award-winning children’s story ‘A Race to Prayer’ with Kube Publishing.