I always worry that I don’t do enough, and that I’m filled with sin because of my weaknesses. I try to keep in mind that Allah may be putting me through this circling of sin, so that I can grow stronger in Imaan (faith) and can turn back to Him. I often think about how I’ve asked Him to increase my Imaan and bless me with certain things, and realize that these struggles, be it with family, friends, health, love/marriage, Deen, work, education, etc. could, in fact, be part of Allah answering my Dua. Allah increased the Imaan of Ibrahim (AS) by putting him through tests and struggles, and Ibrahim (AS) was amongst the most beloved and most faithful of Allah’s creation. So, how can I expect to get things I ask for without having to work for it, especially if what I ask for is so high in value to me?
Welcome to my mind. That is an example of some of the thoughts that flood my mind from time to time when my Imaan is all over the place, and I’m struggling to get a grasp on things. We all experience this roller coaster of faith, where things are great at one point and we feel incredibly close to Allah, and then not too long after, we find ourselves sinning, stressing over things, and feeling a sense of uncertainty and a lack of clarity. Upon reflection, I found that the greatest reality I must come to terms with is that this is normal and that Allah has a reason for it all.
Allah tests us in our strengths to make us stronger, and tests us in our weaknesses to turn them into strengths. We all have them. But with an optimistic mindset, we can find peace in knowing that this is all part of Allah’s plan. If people often compliment you on your patience, your appearance, your talents, or anything else, remember that you are being tested. Arrogance is a sneaky enemy, so it’s important to be careful as to not fall into its trap. Remember Allah and thank Him when someone compliments you. The same goes when someone disrespects or insults you. Arrogance and other emotions (anger, frustration, etc.) can seep in from those kinds of experiences. Then too, remember Allah and thank Him for all He has given you, and reflect on what the Prophet (SAW) would have done in a similar situation.
“O Allah, You know me more than myself, and I know myself more than these people who praise me. Make me better than what they think of me, and forgive those sins of mine of which they have no knowledge, and do not hold me responsible for what they say.” – Abu Bakr Siddique (RA)
The beautiful thing is that often, we will find ourselves being tested by Allah in the matters that we would otherwise feel confident in. For example, a patient person will be tested in their patience. They will be tested in seeing how long they can remain strong in their trust and reliance upon Allah when their Dua take longer to be accepted. In the same (but perhaps more obvious) way, Allah tests the impatient person with patience, not to see if they can be patient, but to give them the opportunity to develop into becoming patient.
The truth is, nothing worth having comes easy, except if Allah wills. Everything comes with its opportunities to grow closer to Allah, and to pass a test from Him. If something you pray for is granted to you easily, then it comes with a test attached, to see if you will be grateful and will remember Him. But in most cases, we have to work incredibly hard, and sometimes have to face major struggles to achieve our goals. When we want something, we often want the best of what we seek. When you pursue marriage, you want a spouse that will be best suited to you and your nature, and such that they will bring you closer to Allah, will keep you happy, supported, loved, cared for, and protected, and with whom you can one day reach Jannah. When you pursue a career, you want to be the best you can be and reach the highest ranks in your career goals. When you want to get in shape, you want to be in the best levels of health and fitness you can be. The examples go on, and not all of them apply to everyone, but the point is that these things take time, effort, patience, trust in Allah, reliance on Allah, and an unrelenting amount of Dua. I remember once hearing a lecture where the speaker said:
“Make Dua like a child asking his parents for his favourite candy – he won’t stop asking until he gets it. Do the same with your dua, keep asking until you get it.” – Sh. Kamal el Mekki
Some hear that and think, “What if what I’m asking for isn’t right for me? What if Allah wants something else for me?” If that were the case, Allah would have removed that matter from your mind and heart. He would have replaced it with something better for you. Allah loves us, and He knows what is best for us, and so, if we ask Him to guide us and to make things easier, in order to pursue what will be beneficial for us in this life and the Next, then that is exactly what Allah will give us, insha Allah.
I’m not sure if any of you have done this “trust exercise” back in school, but there was this activity where a person would fall backwards, completely trusting that their friend behind them will catch them. It was tough for those who were partnered up with someone they didn’t know. But, if they had a friend as a partner, it was easier, because they felt the person cared enough about them to not let them get hurt. We know so much about Allah, including the love, care, and support He has for us. We know that there is no one that we can depend on more than Him. So, we need to now trust Him to catch us when we fall, to give us the strength to get through our struggles, to respect and accept that He puts us through situations and struggles to make us stronger, and that He instills thoughts and desires (the halal ones…the haram ones are Shaitaan’s whispers, so watch out for those!) into our hearts and minds to give us chances to get closer to Him.
Tonight, as you slide into bed, reflect on all that you are facing in life, all the blessings you have, and the things He has instilled in your heart. Act on making changes to pursue betterment in this life and the Next by remembering Him, thanking Him, and taking those leaps of faith towards the things He has instilled in your heart and mind. Remember to not beat yourself up over your sins, but to rather make positive changes in your life towards growing and becoming a better version of yourself.
“No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of worrying can change the future. Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by Allah’s decree. If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from it you cannot flee.” – Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (RA)
May Allah grant you all continued guidance, patience, ease, and success, as you take on the tests and struggles of this world, and may He make your desires and thoughts sync with what pleases Him, and your displeasures and dislikes sync with what displeases Him. Ameen!