It was just days after Boris Johnson’s decision that we in the UK would not close schools or isolate ourselves due to the spread of coronavirus. I sat at home scrolling through social media and could not believe the panic I was witnessing not just in general society, but also amongst my Muslim sisters, especially the ones I had looked up to and considered to be very much into the deen and more knowledgeable.
Since the outbreak, I’ve heard many scholars mentioning the importance of trusting Allaah, the reward for patience, and how the reward of a martyr is given to a person dying due to a plague (Bukhari), over and over again:
Aisha reported: She asked the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, about plagues and he said, “It is a punishment that Allah sends upon whoever he wills, but Allah has made it a mercy for the believers. Any servant who resides in a land afflicted by plague, remaining patient and hoping for reward from Allah, knowing that nothing will befall him but what Allah has decreed, he will be given the reward of a martyr.”
Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5402
I’ve seen it translated into many languages. Yet, everyone around me was still going crazy. There have been so many posts of so many different articles about the virus itself: dos and don’ts, ways to protect ourselves, statistics, discussions about which country made a mistake, which one isn’t prepared… I felt overwhelmed and tired. I wanted to share a bit of peace, give my sisters a glimpse of a sense of stability. I wanted them to feel and really feel secure that nothing will happen to anyone unless Allah wants it to. I wanted to remind them in this wave of madness, that this stop is temporary and a better place awaits us on the other side; that there is no point in panicking because we can never change the day we were destined to die. I wished to inspire them to stop and think clearly again. So I posted:
Suhayb reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Wondrous is the affair of a believer, as there is good for him in every matter; this is not the case for anyone but a believer. If he experiences pleasure, he thanks Allah and it is good for him. If he experiences harm, he shows patience and it is good for him.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2999
Little did I know that the very same day I would be tested regarding the degree of my own belief in the words I shared with others. I remembered someone telling me that when you talk about Allah, Allah will test you to practice what your preach. And this is exactly what was going on.
It’s been a tough week for me. I have been thinking a lot about my approach to everyday life, here as I sit, isolated from many. I’ve had many arguments with people around me and tried hard to reset my focus and priorities. I realise that this time is something I much needed, because after a lot of rest and having the space and ability to take care of my ibadah, I think I had begun to feel above all the pains and disappointments that would have left me in tears just a few days before.
And at the end of that unusual week, another test fell on my shoulders making me feel as if I actually asked for it. Someone lied about me, knowing very well they did, to save their image and shatter mine. It made me ponder over the meaning of the above hadith over and over. I just felt it was like a challenge, as if Allah, through the very words I had quoted, was asking me, “How will you react now?” Normally, I would run for comfort to someone who I know would support me, tell me I’m right, tell me that it’s ok to hurt, that I’m innocent and that it was all just so unfair on me. But I didn’t.
I am not sure if it was because of the tiredness of an emotional battle around that time, or because of increase in the amount of ibadah adding up to a level where sabr was somehow easier for me. It could be a mix of both. I remembered when ‘Aishah Radiallahu Anha ( the wife of the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) was accused of adultery and how Allah Himself defended her honour through the verses of the Qur’an – a fact for which she was known to be proud and grateful for, for her entire life.
It could have been worse….
First, I thanked Allah that this test wasn’t worse than it is, as I read Sahaba used to do. Hers was surely much worse than mine. Then I joked in my mind, that I took Aishah as my Muslim name therefore a glimpse of her test shouldn’t surprise me much! I also thanked Allah that this test wasn’t in my deen ( my faith) . I didn’t remember at that stage what else the Sahaba were thankful for in the midst of a test, but I just raised my hands up and made a duaa. From the heart, channelling all of my energy into that.
For me to make duaa instead of letting my anger eat me up, made me realize that Allah has blessed me greatly with the opportunity to answer my test paper in a better way. I finished praying my ‘Asr and sat on the prayer mat, putting my whole aching heart into the duaa:
Ya Allah, my Beloved Allah, you know the truth, you know my intention and you know my tawbah ( repentance ) for the mistake I made. You know that I’ve been lied about, and they do not know. You are my Guardian, My Protector, my Defender and besides You I have no one to rely on or ask from. Please defend me, protect me and guard me. Please do not let this affect me or people around me. Please make the person who wronged me admit to their mistake and forgive them. HasbunAllahu wa ni’Amal wakeel. La hawla wa la quwwata ila billah.
Now, what you need to realise, this reaction isn’t natural for me in the sense it isn’t a reaction I was born with or find that it comes naturally to me in normal circumstances. It never used to be; I had to learn it and earn it through an enormous amount of tears. It was a very painful journey through the very same people I’ve been giving my heart to, breaking me to pieces over and over again. But it was Allah teaching me over the past few years that you do not expect perfection from your loved ones and you do not give an entire heart to them either. They have a place in your heart, but they don’t own it and they can’t have all of it. Only Allah can and should, so unless you stop expecting from people instead of asking Him, you will hurt. “They ( people you love) are the means and not the source” – says Yasmin Mogahed in her book. I finally understood.
But it was Allah teaching me over the past few years that you do not expect perfection from your loved ones and you do not give an entire heart to them either….
Just minutes after I made this duaa my anger has vanished. An idea of how to prove my point came to my mind, supported by proof I never realized I had. The whole angry energy has disappeared from our home and I knew, I felt and understood, that the very same hadith which was the reason my reaction was tested, was the one that taught me how to react in the first place.
It should have been obvious, one might think. But I know we learn the depth of such words only when they are put in context for us. This means we need to practically learn and experience them, and this often needs to contain some hurt, some unpredictedable change of the scenario we have created in our minds and the ensuing emotional battle as we come to terms with what we wanted and what we actually have, with what we expected and the unexpected reality, with what we thought we deserve and what we actually need. No doubt, those battles are hard, and they require us to dig deep and find resources we never thought we had, but my dear sister, if it came easy, I doubt we would remember to hold onto it in future situations. If it came easy, it would go faster than it came. If it came easy, the prize wouldn’t be jannah.
About the author:
I am Silesian, an ex-language support worker, mother, revert, blogger. They call me a migrant but I disagree: I belong nowhere, interested in a never ending journey. Because a home is where the heart is.