I am sure that each and every one of us
has, at some point in his or her life, been visited by grief,
tragedy, or tremendous loss, emotionally or materially. It may have been a
serious illness or accident or death of a loved one, or we may have failed an
important examination, or we may have seen a business or professional
career which has grown and prospered over many years, finally come to disaster.
To those who have suffered such a loss, their feelings are hard to describe
adequately. There is a sense of utter despair, emptiness, and a numbing of the
senses. It can become so intense that one actually questions the whole purpose
and meaning of life. In this country we have many organizations and charities
that offer professional help like bereavement counseling or advice on dealing
with financial hardship. However, many people are unable to come to terms with
sudden catastrophic loss, and therefore, we often hear of someone being so
overcome with grief that they have taken leave of their senses, they suffer
prolonged and repeated bouts of deep depression, a complete change of
personality. In extreme cases, some victims of hardship lose all inclination for
life at all and they commit suicide.
How should we Muslims deal with intense personal suffering and grief? How should
we comfort a friend or relative who is in distress?
In Sura Al-Baqara, verses 155-157, Allah subhanallahu ta'ala reminds us:
Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger; some loss in goods
or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who
patiently persevere. Who say when afflicted with calamity: "Inna lillahi wa inna
"To Allah we belong and to Him is our return." They are those on whom (descend)
blessings from Allah and Mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance.
From these verses we can see that in a Muslim's life, hardship and suffering
should never come as a complete surprise. In fact, Allah promises us some
hardship as a certainty, somewhere during our lifetime. It is a test of our iman,
our faith in Allah, and we should not despair, because there are lessons to be
learnt from every situation, especially from misfortune.
I am reminded of a Turkish proverb which says that the best teacher is a bad
experience. A true believer should know that during his lifetime, he must expect
to be visited by success and failure, pleasure and pain, loss and gain. This is
the inseparable duality of life. We cannot value anything without knowing its
opposite. We must accept life as it comes, in the best of times and the worst of
times, with equal grace and forbearance.
In our arkaanul Imaan, we say:
"Wa bil qadri khairi wash sharr-ree minal laahi ta 'Aalah."
" And the consequences of good and evil, come from Allah"
Let us consider Nabi Ayyub's example, which appears in Sura Al- Anbiyya_h, v. 83
"And (remember) Ayyub when he cried to his Lord "Truly distress has seized me
but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful."
So We listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him and We restored
his people to him and doubled their number as a Grace from Ourselves and a thing
for commemoration for all who serve Us"
Nabi Ayyub was a prosperous man, with faith in Allah, and he suffered many
hardships. His cattle were destroyed, his servants killed by the sword, and his
family crushed under his roof. But he held fast to his faith in Allah. As a
further calamity he was covered with ugly sores from head to foot, and his
friends abandoned him. But throughout this ordeal, his faith, his iman remained
rock-solid, unswerving, undiminished.
Because of this, Almighty Allah was pleased with him, so he was restored to full
health. Not only was his prosperity redoubled, but his family and friends
returned to him, and Allah gave him 7 sons and 3 daughters. He lived to a good
old age, and saw four generations of his descendants before he died.
This inspiring story of Prophet Ayyub is a wonderful example to us all. When we
encounter sudden hardship, we should not feel sorry for ourselves, because
self-pity leads us nowhere. We should place our complete trust in Allah
subhanallahu ta'ala, and have the certainty in heart and mind, that at the end
of our pain and suffering, Allah's love and mercy will embrace us.
To a Believer, good fortune and misfortune are merely two sides of the same coin
of life. Although we do not welcome hardship, we know that even in the noonday
of life, we live in the shadow of death; in the peak of our prosperity, we are
just a few short paces away from poverty and in the prime of our good health,
illness lurks in the shadows nearby.
A hadith narrated by Abu 'Abbas 'Abdullah, says:
"Remember Allah in times of ease, and He will recognize you in times of
distress. What hit you could not have missed you, what missed you could not have
hit you. Remember that victory comes with patience, relief comes with affliction
and ease comes with hardship".
innallaha wa malaaikata yusalluna alan nabi. Ya ay yuhal
latheena amanu sallu alayhi wasalli ma tas leema.
Allahumma salli ala Muhammad, wa ala ali Muhammad, kama
salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik
ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali
ibrahim. Fil ala meen, innaka hameedun majeed.
Sub' hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata
illah billah yu althi yual theem.
My dear Brothers and Sisters,
"verily in the Messenger of Allah we have the finest of examples"
Prophet Muhammad [sallal-lahu 'alayhi wasallam] also endured much pain and
hardship, especially in his youth, with extraordinary patience and perseverance.
He was an orphan, cared for by milk-mother, grandfather, and uncles. During the
early years of his mission, he was jeered, taunted, threatened, reviled and
persecuted by his own tribe, the Quraish of Makka. Many of his followers
were killed for their acceptance of Islam. In the 63 years of our prophet
Muhammad's life, he experienced every human hardship from loss of father, mother
and grandfather to loss of dear friends, personal wealth and rejection from his
tribe. Because of his unswerving devotion to Allah, he was granted success in
this world, and in the hereafter. History has witnessed his achievements.
Whatever personal grief, suffering or loss we might encounter in our lifetime,
it would be appropriate to remember Sura Dhuha,-ha. This Sura addresses Nabi
Muhammad directly, but it also applies to all Muslims indirectly, in all times
and all circumstances.
Wal laili idza_ saja_
Ma_ wad da'aka rab buka wa ma_qala_
Wa lal a_khiratu khairul laka minal u_la_
Wa lasaufa yutika rabbuka fatarda_
Alam yajika yatiman fa a_wa_
Wa wajadaka da_lan fahada_
Wa wajadaka a_ilan fa agna_
Fa am mal yatima fala_ taqhar
Wa am mas sa_ila fala_ tanhar
Wa am ma_ bini mati rabbika fahad-dith
By the glorious morning light, and by the night when it is still; Your Lord has
not forsaken you, nor is He displeased. Verily, the hereafter will be much
better for you than the present. Have we not found you an orphan, and gave you
shelter and care? Have we not found you wandering, and gave you guidance?
Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness, nor turn away The petitioner
unheard; but the blessings of your Lord Rehearse and proclaim!.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, next time we encounter grief or hardship, and we feel
lonely and depressed, let us remember this Sura, that offered hope and
reassurance to the greatest of men. It offers the same hope and reassurance to
us also. At the end of every dark tunnel of despair is the reward of Allah, Most
Gracious, Most Merciful.
Let us pray, may Allah give us strength to endure hardship with patience, and to
emerge from all the trials and tribulations of this life, with our Iman renewed
and our trust in Allah redoubled.