You are a believer. You observe your duty to God, but then a calamity befalls you all of a sudden. You ask yourself in the heart of the night: why did this happen to me?Many answers come to your mind. But you aren't really convinced. You compare yourself to others, to people who are very similar to you but haven't experienced such a sudden calamity. Then, you ask yourself: well, this has now happened, anyway; how can I get out of it? You think again and again, night and day, month after month. Then comes the time when you lose hope and sigh: how long will this last?
These whispers may not answer your questions, unfortunately. But they were meant to help you find answers in the Koran.
First, what's a calamity? Well, it could be a chronic illness, a long period of unemployment, debts, a state of poverty, a family problem, inability to marry, etc, etc.
Now, what could be behind your calamity?
One reason may be ibtila (test or trial).
"Do men imagine that they will be left (at ease) because they say, We believe, and will not be tested with affliction? Lo! We tested those who were before you. Thus Allah knoweth those who are sincere, and knoweth those who feign." (Al-Ankabut : 2-3)
If you are "sincere", as the Koran put it, then the problem is half solved once you say words that prove your sincerity.
"And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast, Who say, when a misfortune striketh them: Lo! we are Allah's and Lo! unto Him we are returning. Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. Such are the rightly guided." (Al-Baqara : 155-157)
As you see, if you say those words there will be blessings and mercy on you from your Lord. But is that enough? No. That's just the first step. The next step is du'a (invocations).
By making invocations to God you are in fact proving your submission to Him. You realize that you are but a slave of God and that without God's grace you just can't really get what you want.
"O mankind! Ye are the poor in your relation to Allah. And Allah! He is the Absolute, the Owner of Praise." (Fatir : 15)
Some people say they would rather love God than submit to Him. God says:
"there is naught else in their breasts save pride which they will never attain." (Ghafir : 56)
What should you say in your du'a? Well, nobody knows better than you what you feel. So express your feelings in simple words. Ask of God what you expect Him to do for you. But before "asking" anything, do praise God. Glorify Him. Apologize to Him. Show that you "care" about God so that He will care about you in a way that you can feel it. God cares about you already -as long as you believe in Him- but now you'll feel God's care through things that happen in your life. God says to you : "Pray unto me and I will hear your prayer." So pray unto God and you will see that God did hear your prayer.
"And your Lord hath said: Pray unto me and I will hear your prayer. Lo! those who scorn My service, they will enter hell, disgraced." (Ghafir : 60)
"And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them bear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright." (Al-Baqara : 186)
Anyway, whatever you do, you won't really get what you want unless you are humble to God.
"We have sent already unto peoples that were before thee, and We visited them with tribulation and adversity, in order that they might grow humble. If only, when our disaster came on them, they had been humble! But their hearts were hardened and the devil made all that they used to do seem fair unto them! Then, when they forgot that whereof they had been reminded, We opened unto them the gates of all things till, even as they were rejoicing in that which they were given, We seized them unawares, and lo! they were dumbfounded." (Al-An'am : 42-44)
Why should you be humble? Well, when you do someone a favour wouldn't you expect some kind of thanks in return? Would you be pleased if that person you were kind to was an ingrate towards you? So would it be fair to pray unto God and when your prayer was answered you forgot all about God and what He did for you?
"And if misfortune touch a man he crieth unto Us, (while reclining) on his side, or sitting or standing, but when We have relieved him of the misfortune he goeth his way as though he had not cried unto Us because of a misfortune that afflicted him. Thus is what they do made (seeming) fair unto the prodigal." (Yunus : 12)
Now that I have made invocations to God, you wonder, when will my prayers be answered?
Nobody can tell you, to be honest. So if your ordeal lasts longer than you expected or hoped, then a question may nag you: isn't it true that anyone who has in his heart good faith equal to the weight of a wheat grain or a barley seed will enter Paradise? Since these people around me who share my belief will all enter Paradise, so why should they be "happier" than I--who am much more scrupulous about practising my faith than many of them? Why should I be deprived of the joys they are having now since we will all have quite the same joys in the Hereafter?
Well, it's not "quite the same joys",I'm afraid.
"See how We prefer one above another, and verily the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment." (Al-Isra : 21)
" And ye will be three kinds: (First) those on the right hand; what of those on the right hand? And (then) those on the left hand; what of those on the left hand? And the foremost in the race , the foremost in the race: Those are they who will be brought nigh, In gardens of delight; A multitude of those of old, And a few of those of later time, On lined couches, Reclining therein face to face. There wait on them immortal youths, With bowls and ewers and a cup from a pure spring, Wherefrom they get no aching of the head nor any madness, And fruit that they prefer, And flesh of fowls that they desire, And (there are) fair ones with wide, lovely eyes, Like unto hidden pearls, Reward for what they used to do. There hear they no vain speaking nor recrimination, (Naught) but the saying: Peace, (and again) Peace. And those on the right hand; what of those on the right hand? Among thornless lote tree, And clustered plantains, And spreading shade, And water gushing, And fruit in plenary, Neither out of reach nor yet forbidden, And raised couches, Lo! We have created them a (new) creation, And made them virgins, Lovers, friends, For those on the right hand; A multitude of those of old, And a multitude of those of later time." (Al-Waqi'a : 7-40)
You may even be reunited with your family there:
"And they who believe and whose seed follow them in faith, We cause their seed to join them (there), and We deprive them of naught of their (life's) work. Every man is a pledge for that which he hath earned." (At-Tur : 21)
Even in this life of the world your life is not quite the same as that of those you may be envious of:
"For those who do good in this world there is a good (reward) and the home of the Hereafter will be better. Pleasant indeed will be the home of those who ward off (evil)." (An-Nahl : 30) "Or do those who commit ill deeds suppose that We shall make them as those who believe and do good works, the same life and death? Bad is their judgment!" (Al-Jathiya : 21) "Whosoever doeth right, whether male or female, and is a believer, him verily We shall quicken with good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do." (An-Nahl : 97)
Maybe –because of your distress– you don't perceive this "good life": you don't look beyond appearances.
It would be great if you had a steady job, a partner that you love, a house of your own and children at an early age. But life is not only a steady job; it's not only a good partner; it's not only a house of one's own; it's not only begetting children at an early age. Life is, above all, a feeling. Will you be happy with your job? Will you be happy with your partner? Will you feel at home in your house? Will your children be as successful as you?
The life of the world is just like a movie or play: actors play different roles, and each actor is judged on his/her own performance. A wretched beggar in a movie is not necessarily a wretched actor in real life. At the end of a play, all actors line up in a straight row and bow to the spectators, but some actors get more applause than others, depending on their talent. We shall all bow to God one day and we will be judged on our "performances" as believers, and only there shall we live the real Life–if we are good believers.
There are two kinds of ibtila: ibtila tarqiya and ibtila tanqiya.
Ibtila tarqiya (or Promotion Test) is for the devout faithful who –at worst– commit minor sins or no sins at all. God tries these people with affliction and adversity so that their iman and yaqeen will rise higher and higher. Their patience and endurance (despite all hardships) will earn them higher grades in Paradise than they would normally get for merely performing acts of worship (like praying, fasting, etc.).
Ibtila tanqiya (or Cleansing Test) is for sinners among believers. The calamities that befall these people are a means to cleanse them of their sins if they stick to their iman and do good deeds to atone for their ill deeds. Ibtila in this sense is kind of educative punishment.
"He who doeth wrong will have the recompense thereof, and will not find against Allah any protecting friend or helper." (An-Nisaa : 123)
"Whatever of misfortune striketh you, it is what your right hands have earned. And He forgiveth much" (Ash-Shura : 30)
As you see, God forgives much, because the punishment is not meant to make you suffer, but rather to lead you (back) onto the right path.
"See they not that they are tested once or twice in every year? Still they turn not in repentance, neither pay they heed." (At-Tauba : 126)
God warns you and guides you at the same time:
"Allah biddeth you beware (only) of Himself. Unto Allah is the journeying." (Al-i'Imran : 28) "And let those who conspire to evade orders beware lest grief or painful punishment befall them." (An-Nur : 63) "Allah would explain to you and guide you by the examples of those who were before you, and would turn to you in mercy. Allah is Knower, Wise. And Allah would turn to you in mercy; but those who follow vain desires would have you go tremendously astray. Allah would make the burden light for you, for man was created weak." (An-Nisaa : 26-28) "If ye avoid the great (things) which ye are forbidden, We will remit from you your evil deeds and make you enter at a noble gate." (An-Nisaa : 31) "And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace." (An-Nur : 33) "But lo! with hardship goeth ease, Lo! with hardship goeth ease" (Al-Sharh : 5-6)
Strangely enough, there's a kind of ibtila which could be for both the devout and sinners alike. This ibtila is kind of a preparation for a mission that you'll have to accomplish later in your life. This is the longest and hardest ibtila. This could be, though, a godsend for sinners if they managed to endure their hardships until the "mission" was accomplished, for the prize is no less than the company of the Elite in Paradise.
"Whoso obeyeth Allah and the messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah hath shown favor, of the Prophets and the saints and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they! Such is the bounty of Allah, and Allah sufficeth as knower." (An-Nisaa : 69-70)
Of course, that's not easy. All kinds of hardship are hard to bear--be you a believer or disbeliever. But what's the alternative? Sin?
"Or do those who do ill deeds imagine that they can outstrip Us: Evil (for them) is that which they decide." (Al-Ankabut : 4) "And thy Lord is not unaware of what ye (mortals) do." (An-Naml : 93) "Lo! thy Lord is ever." (Al-Fajr : 14) "O mankind! Your rebellion is only against yourselves. (Ye have) enjoyment of the life of the world; then unto Us is your return and We shall proclaim unto you what ye used to do. The similitude of the life of the world is only as water which We send down from the sky, then the earth's growth of that which men and cattle eat mingleth with it till, when the earth hath taken on her ornaments and is embellished, and her people deem that they are masters of her, Our commandment cometh by night or by day and we make it as reaped corn as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We expound the revelations for people who reflect. And Allah summoneth to the abode of peace, and leadeth whom He will to a straight path." (Yunus : 23-25)
There are, therefore, only two options open to you: either you choose to be with God or follow false deities. If you choose to be with God, God will be with you. "Allah is the Protecting Friend of those who believe. He bringeth them out of darkness into light. As for those who disbelieve, their patrons are false deities. They bring them out of light into darkness. Such are rightful owners of the Fire. They will abide therein." (Al-Baqara : 257)
But what about those folks out there who sin day and night and yet don't suffer like me, you ask? How about those who don't believe in the first place? First, if you ask this question, then, definitely, there's something wrong with your iman. You have to ask yourself: are you a true believer? Here are the criteria to judge yourself, to gauge the level your iman: "They only are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when the revelations of Allah are recited unto them they increase their faith, and who trust in their Lord; Who establish worship and spend of that We have bestowed on them. Those are they who are in truth believers. For them are grades (of honor) with their Lord, and pardon, and a bountiful provision." (Al-Anfal : 3-4)
The true believers are those "Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest! Those who believe and do right: Joy is for them, and bliss (their) journey's end." (Ar-Ra'd : 28-29) "They make it favor unto thee (Muhammad) that they have surrendered (unto Him). Say: Deem not your Surrender a favor unto me; nay, but Allah doth confer a favor on you, inasmuch as He hath led you to the Faith, if ye are earnest." (Al-Hujurat : 17) "Say: O mankind! Now hath the Truth from your Lord come unto you. So whosoever is guided, is guided only for (the good of) his soul, and whosoever erreth erreth only against it. And I am not a warder over you." (Yunus : 108) "Proofs have come unto you from your Lord, so whoso seeth it is for his own good, and whoso is blind is blind to his own hurt. And I am not a keeper over you." (Al-An'am : 104)
Then, ask yourself: what do you want? Do you want to be happy in this world, in the Hereafter or in both? "But of mankind is he who saith: "Our Lord! Give unto us in the world," and he hath no portion in the Hereafter." (Al-Baqara : 200) "Whoso desireth that (life) which hasteneth away, We hasten for him therein that We will for whom We please. And afterward We have appointed for him hell; he will endure the heat thereof, condemned, rejected. And whoso desireth the Hereafter and striveth for it with the effort necessary, being a believer; for such, their effort findeth favor (with their Lord). Each do We supply, both these and those, from the bounty of thy Lord. And the bounty of thy Lord can never be walled up." (Al-Isra : 18-20) "Whoso desireth the reward of the world, (let him know that) with Allah is the reward of the world and the Hereafter. Allah is ever Hearer, Seer." (An-Nisaa : 134) "Your Lord is best aware of what is in your minds. If ye are righteous, then lo! He was ever Forgiving unto those who turn (unto Him)." (Al-Isra : 25) "And were it not that mankind would have become one community, We might well have appointed, for those who disbelieve in the Beneficent, roofs of silver for their houses and stairs (of silver) whereby to mount, And for their houses doors (of silver) and couches of silver whereon to recline, And ornaments of gold. Yet all that would have been but a provision of the life of the world. And the Hereafter with your Lord would have been for those who keep from evil." (Az-Zukhruf : 33-35) "And those who deny Our revelations step by step We lead them on from whence they know not. I give them rein (for) lo! My scheme is strong." (Al-A'raf : 182-183) "And let not those who disbelieve imagine that the rein We give them bodeth good unto their souls. We only give them rein that they may grow in sinfulness. And theirs will be a shameful doom." (Al-i'Imran : 178)
"Say: As for him who is in error, the Beneficent will verily prolong his span of life until, when they behold that which they were promised, whether it be punishment (in the world), or Hour (of Doom), they will know who is worse in position and who is weaker as an army. Allah increaseth in right guidance those who walk aright, and the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord's sight for reward, and better for resort." (Maryam : 75-76)
"Leave Me (to deal) with him whom I created lonely, And then bestowed upon him ample means, And sons abiding in his presence, And made (life) smooth for him. Yet he desireth that I should give more. Nay! For lo! he hath been stubborn to Our revelations." (Al-Muddathir : 11-16) "Shall We then treat those who have surrendered as We treat the guilty?" (Al-Qalam : 35) "Is he who is a believer like unto him who is an evil liver? They are not alike." (As-Sajda : 18) "Think they that in the wealth and sons wherewith We provide them We hasten unto them with good things? Nay, but they perceive not." (Al-Muminun : 55-56) "See how We prefer one above another, and verily the Hereafter will be greater in degrees and greater in preferment." (Al-Isra : 21) "Say: The evil and the good are not alike even though the plenty of the evil attract thee. So be mindful of your duty to Allah, O men of understanding, that ye may succeed." (Al-Maidah : 100) "Allah enlargeth livelihood for whom He will, and straiteneth (it for whom He will); and they rejoice in the life of the world, whereas the life of the world is but brief comfort as compared with the Hereafter." (Ar-Ra'd : 26) "Then withdraw (O Muhammad) from him who fleeth from Our remembrance and desireth but the life of the world. Such is their sum of knowledge. Lo! thy Lord is best aware of him who strayeth, and He is best aware of him who goeth right." (An-Najm : 29-30) "Noah said: My Lord! they have disobeyed me and followed one whose wealth and children increase him in naught save ruin" (Nuh : 21) "Lo! Allah will cause those who believe and do good works to enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow; while those who disbelieve take their comfort in this life and eat even as the cattle eat, and the Fire is their habitation." (Muhammad : 12) "And on the day when those who disbelieve are exposed to the Fire (it will be said): Ye squandered your good things in the life of the world and sought comfort therein. Now this day ye are rewarded with the doom of ignominy because ye were disdainful in the land without a right and because ye used to transgress." (Al-Ahqaf : 20) "(…) and the mercy of thy Lord is better than (the wealth) that they amass." (Az-Zukhruf : 32) "This life of the world is but a pastime and a game. Lo! the home of the Hereafter that is Life, if they but knew." (Al-Ankabut : 64) "And We have appointed some of you a test for others: Will ye be steadfast? And thy Lord is ever Seer." (Al-Furqan : 20)
Besides, are we the one to tell God what to do with His creation? "He will not be questioned as to that which He doeth, but they will be questioned." (Al-Anbiyaa : 23) "Lo! thy Lord is Doer of what He will." (Hud : 107) "Is it they who apportion their Lord's mercy? We have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of the world, and raised some of them above others in rank that some of them may take labor from others; and the mercy of thy Lord is better than (the wealth) that they amass." (Az-Zukhruf : 32)"Say: O Allah! Owner of Sovereignty! Thou givest sovereignty unto whom Thou wilt, and Thou withdrawest sovereignty from whom Thou wilt. Thou exaltest whom Thou wilt and Thou abasest whom Thou wilt. In Thy hand is the good. Lo! Thou art Able to do all things." (Al-i'Imran : 26) "He it is who hath placed you as viceroys of the earth and hath exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He hath given you. Lo! Thy Lord is swift in prosecution, and lo! He is Forgiving, Merciful." (Al-An'am : 165) "And Allah hath favored some of you above others in provision." (An-Nahl : 71) "Allah maketh the provision wide for whom He will of His bondmen, and straiteneth it for whom (He will). Lo! Allah is Aware of all things." (Al-Ankabut : 62) "Unto Allah belongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth. He createth what He will. He bestoweth female (offspring) upon whom He will, and bestoweth male (offspring) upon whom He will; Or He mingleth them, males and females, and He maketh barren whom He will. Lo! He is Knower, Powerful." (Ash-Shura : 49-50) "Allah (Himself) is witness that there is no God save Him. And the angels and the men of learning (too are witness). Maintaining His creation in justice, there is no God save Him, the Almighty, the Wise." (Al-i'Imran : 18)
"(…) and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little." (Al-Isra : 85) "Such is Allah, your Lord. There is no God save Him, the Creator of all things, so worship Him. And He taketh care of all things. Vision comprehendeth Him not, but He comprehendeth (all) vision . He is the Subtile, the Aware." (Al-An'am : 102-103) "Lo! thy Lord is Wise, Aware." (Al-An'am : 83) "So coin not similitudes for Allah. Lo! Allah knoweth; ye know not." (An-Nahl : 74) "And if the Truth had followed their desires, verily the heavens and the earth and whosoever is therein had been corrupted. Nay, We have brought them their Reminder, but from their Reminder they now turn away." (Al-Muminun : 71) "Praise be to Allah, unto Whom belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. His is the praise in the Hereafter, and He is the Wise, the Aware. He knoweth that which goeth down into the earth and that which cometh forth from it, and that which descendeth from the heaven and that which ascendeth into it. He is the Merciful, the Forgiving." (Saba : 1-2) "Lo! the righteous verily are in delight, On couches, gazing, thou wilt know in their faces the radiance of delight, They are given to drink of a pure wine, sealed, Whose seal is musk. For this let (all) those strive who strive for bliss, And mixed with water of Tasnim, A spring whence those brought near to Allah drink. Lo! the guilty used to laugh at those who believed, And wink one to another when they passed them; And when they returned to their own folk, they returned jetting; And when they saw them they said: Lo! these have gone astray. Yet they were not sent as guardians over them. This day it is those who believe who have the laugh of disbelievers, On high couches, gazing. Are not the disbelievers paid for what they used to do?" (Al-Mutaffifoon :22-36) "That which ye have wasteth away, and that which Allah hath remaineth. And verily We shall pay those who are steadfast a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do." (An-Nahl : 96) "And unto Allah belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth, that He may reward those who do evil with that which they have done, and reward those who do good with goodness. Those who avoid enormities of sin and abominations, save the unwilled offences (for them) lo! thy Lord is of vast mercy. He is best aware of you (from the time) when He created you from the earth, and when ye were hidden in the bellies of your mothers. Therefor ascribe not purity unto yourselves. He is best aware of him who wardeth off (evil)." (An-Najm : 31-32) "And Allah brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts that haply ye might give thanks." (An-Nahl : 78) "And whatever of comfort ye enjoy, it is from Allah. Then, when misfortune reacheth you, unto Him ye cry for help. And afterward, when He hath rid you of the misfortune, behold! a set of you attribute partners to their Lord, So as to deny that which We have given them. Then enjoy life (while ye may), for ye will come to know." (An-Nahl : 53-55) "Whatever of good befalleth thee (O man) it is from Allah, and whatever of ill befalleth thee it is from thyself." (An-Nisaa : 79) "That is because Allah never changeth the grace He hath bestowed on any people until they first change that which is in their hearts, and (that is) because Allah is Hearer, Knower." (Al-Anfal : 53) So instead of spending your time thinking about why so-and-so is so happy although he/she is the arch-sinner of the neighbourhood, do as God tells you: "And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others. Unto men a fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune from that which they have earned. (Envy not one another) but ask Allah of His bounty. Lo! Allah is ever Knower of all things." (An-Nisaa : 32)
"Your Lord is best aware of what is in your minds. If ye are righteous, then lo! He was ever Forgiving unto those who turn (unto Him)." (Al-Isra : 25)
"If Allah knoweth any good in your hearts He will give you better than that which hath been taken from you, and will forgive you. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful." (Al-Anfal : 70) And here is where begins the solution to your problem.
The solution, then, starts with du'a, as we saw in Whisper 26. But for du'a to bear fruit, it must be accompanied by taqwa (warding off evil, keeping one's duty to God). "And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, Allah will appoint a way out for him, And will provide for him from (a quarter) whence he hath no expectation. And whosoever putteth his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. Lo! Allah bringeth His command to pass. Allah hath set a measure for all things." (At-Talaq : 2-3) "And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, He maketh his course easy for him. That is the commandment of Allah which He revealeth unto you. And whoso keepeth his duty to Allah, He will remit from him his evil deeds and magnify reward for him." (At-Talaq : 4-5) "Lo! he who wardeth off (evil) and endureth (findeth favor); for verily Allah loseth not the wages of the kindly." (Yusuf : 90)
Taqwa may be easy for some, but it may be extremely hard for others. So it may take some time before someone can really meet this condition. God says: "And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed." (An-Nur : 31) "O ye who believe! Turn unto Allah in sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will remit from you your evil deeds and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, on the day when Allah will not abase the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their light will run before them and on their right hands: they will say: Our Lord! Perfect our light for us, and forgive us! Lo! Thou art Able to do all things." (At-Tahrim : 8) "Forsake the outwardness of sin and the inwardness thereof. Lo! those who garner sin will be awarded that which they have earned." (Al-An'am : 120) "He knoweth the traitor of the eyes, and that which the bosoms hide." (Ghafir : 19) "Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts; and if Allah willeth misfortune for a folk there is none that can repel it, nor have they a defender beside Him." (Ar-Ra'd : 11) "The Forgiver of sin, the Acceptor of repentance, the Stern in punishment, the Bountiful. There is no God save Him. Unto Him is the journeying." (Ghafir : 3)
But God does help those who are really sincere about going His way: "As for those who strive in Us, We surely guide them to Our paths, and lo! Allah is with the good." (Al-Ankabut : 69) "Allah increaseth in right guidance those who walk aright, and the good deeds which endure are better in thy Lord's sight for reward, and better for resort." (Maryam : 76) "While as for those who walk aright, He addeth to their guidance, and giveth them their protection (against evil)." (Muhammad : 17)
Being a muttaqi (one who wards off evil) doesn't mean, though, that you will never sin: "And obey Allah and the messenger, that ye may find mercy. And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil); Those who spend (of that which Allah hath given them) in ease and in adversity, those who control their wrath and are forgiving toward mankind; Allah loveth the good; And those who, when they do an evil thing or wrong themselves, remember Allah and implore forgiveness for their sins -Who forgiveth sins save Allah only?- and will not knowingly repeat (the wrong) they did. The reward of such will be forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide for ever, a bountiful reward for workers!" (Al-i'Imran : 132-136)
But even with du'a and taqwa, you have to be patient, because even if your wish does not seem to be fulfilled quickly enough, this doesn't mean that God does not take into account the efforts you've been making to please Him. Even if you may get the impression that God does not care about your "misery", He is in fact with you. "Lo! Allah is with the steadfast." (Al-Baqara : 153) Moreover, "Allah loveth the steadfast." (Al-i'Imran : 146) "But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient." (An-Nahl : 126) "Endure thou patiently (O Muhammad). Thine endurance is only by (the help of) Allah." (An-Nahl : 127) "And have patience, (O Muhammad), for lo! Allah loseth not the wages of the good." (Hud : 115) "Lo! as for those who believe and do good works, Lo! We suffer not the reward of one whose work is goodly to be lost." (Al-Kahf : 30) "But it was not Allah's purpose that your faith should be in vain, for Allah is full of pity, Merciful toward mankind." (Al-Baqara : 143) "All that are in the heavens and the earth entreat Him. Every day He exerciseth (universal) power." (Ar-Rahman : 29) "And let not thy hand be chained to thy neck nor open it with a complete opening, lest thou sit down rebuked, denuded. Lo! thy Lord enlargeth the provision for whom He will, and straiteneth (it for whom He will). Lo, He was ever Knower, Seer of His slaves." (Al-Isra : 29-30)
If you think you're steadfast already, then think again! "And of His portents are the ships, like banners on the sea; If He will He calmeth the wind so that they keep still upon its surface. Lo! herein verily are signs for every steadfast grateful (heart)." (Ash-Shura : 32-33) "O ye who believe! Endure, outdo all others in endurance, be ready, and observe your duty to Allah, in order that ye may succeed." (Al-i'Imran : 200) See? You have to "outdo all others in endurance"! You know why? Well, .... "And of mankind is he who would sell himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah; and Allah hath compassion on (His) bondmen." (Al-Baqara : 207) "O ye who believe! Seek help in steadfastness, and prayer. Lo! Allah is with the steadfast." (Al-Baqara : 153)
There are two kinds of patience: 1) positive patience, which means working hard in order to attain one's aim and enduring hardship; 2) negative patience, that is, waiting with crossed arms and lamenting one's lot.
As a believer, you have to have both ambition and patience, because they will allow you to have a better vision of things. "But if ye persevere and ward off (evil), then that is of the steadfast heart of things." (Al-i'Imran : 186) "And verily whoso is patient and forgiveth, lo! that, verily, is (of) the steadfast heart of things." (Ash-Shura : 43) "Then have patience (O Muhammad) even as the stout of heart among the messengers (of old) had patience" (Al-Ahqaf : 35)
If Man was placed as a viceroy in the earth, how about you who aren't only a man, but on top of that a believer? "And when thy Lord said unto the angels: Lo! I am about to place a viceroy in the earth" (Al-Baqara : 30) "Recite unto them the tale of him to whom We gave Our revelations, but he sloughed them off, so Satan overtook him and he became of those who lead astray. And had We willed We could have raised him by their means, but he clung to the earth and followed his own lust. Therefor his likeness is as the likeness of a dog; if thou attackest him he panteth with his tongue out, and if thou leavest him he panteth with his tongue out. Such is the likeness of the people who deny Our revelations. Narrate unto them the history (of the men of old), that haply they may take thought." (Al-A'raf : 175-176) Lastly, if you really are a patient person, then consider yourself lucky, for patience is the greatest thing man can ever be given. "But none is granted it save those who are steadfast, and none is granted it save the owner of great happiness." (Fussilat : 35) "For those who do good in this world there is good, and Allah's earth is spacious. Verily the steadfast will be paid their wages without stint." (Az-Zumar : 10) And patience is -in God's sight- a great virtue, too. "Lo! We found him steadfast, how excellent a slave! Lo! he was ever turning in repentance (to his Lord)." (Sad :44)
Sister ummabdurrahman wrote in her blog: "Putting my faith into everyday practice has been difficult. How can I strengthen my faith if I have been lacking it? How did I achieve this once newly found faith that was encouraging and positive? Was it a process I went through? I have reached a very low point in my faith. Yes, there are tests in life and greater than others but what I have yet to figure out is why are these tests an interruption of a person’s personal faith. It is like adding more weight to a scale until it reaches its capacity or like pouring a glass of water and it overflows without any direction. Has there ever been a time when you have doubted your faith?"
Any believer going through such hardship could ask that question if he said "Lo! we are Allah's and Lo! unto Him we are returning", and made invokations to God, and strove as best he could to ward off evil, and outdid all others in endurance, and yet his hardship went on and on as before, if not worse. The fact is that all the above efforts are good, but they may not be sufficient because God does not always answer prayers as quickly as one makes them, except for the case of "the wronged one". "Is not He (best) who answereth the wronged one when he crieth unto Him and removeth the evil" (An-Naml : 62). Then bear in mind that if God did not answer your prayers as soon as you made them, it might be because what you want(ed) was/is not good for you. Time will tell you that the person who was the sunshine of your life at some point, or the job that looked like your dream job, wasn't really good for you. "but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, ye know not." (Al-Baqara : 216)
"Naught of disaster befalleth in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before We bring it into being Lo! that is easy for Allah, That ye grieve not for the sake of that which hath escaped you, nor yet exult because of that which hath been given." (Al-Hadeed : 22-23)
"Naught of disaster befalleth in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before We bring it into being Lo! that is easy for Allah, That ye grieve not for the sake of that which hath escaped you, nor yet exult because of that which hath been given." (Al-Hadeed : 22-23)
Another fact is that a believer can have quite the same problems as a disbeliever. A believer, too, can fall ill. "And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women and ye find not water , then go to clean on high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it." (Al-Maidah : 6) "And whoever among you is sick or hath an ailment of the head must pay a ransom of fasting or alms giving or offering." (Al-Baqara : 196) "And when I sicken , then He healeth me" (Ash-Shu'araa : 80)
A believer, too, can be poor. "Let him who hath abundance spend of his abundance, and he whose provision is measured, let him spend of that which Allah hath given him. Allah asketh naught of any soul save that which He hath given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease." (At-Talaq : 7) "Whoso (of the guardians) is rich, let him abstain generously (from taking of the property of orphans); and whoso is poor let him take thereof in reason (for his guardianship)."(An-Nisaa : 6) "And marry such of you as are solitary and the pious of your slaves and maid servants. If they be poor; Allah will enrich them of His bounty . Allah is of ample means, Aware." (An-Nur : 32)
A believer, too, can undergo financial difficulties.
"And if the debtor is in straitened circumstances, then (let there be) postponement to (the time of) ease; and that ye remit the debt as alms giving would be better for you if ye did but know." (Al-Baqara : 280)
A believer, too, can have a family problem. "If a woman feareth ill treatment from her husband, or desertion, it is no sin for them twain if they make terms of peace between themselves. Peace is better. But greed hath been made present in the minds (of men). If ye do good and keep from evil, Lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do. Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so): But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense. If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful. But if they separate, Allah will compensate each out of His abundance. Allah is ever All Embracing, All Knowing." (An-Nisaa : 128-130)
A believer, too, can have difficulty getting married.
"And let those who cannot find a match keep chaste till Allah give them independence by His grace." (An-Nur : 33)
A believer can suffer a lot of things. "And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops" (Al-Baqara : 155)
A believer, too, can lose hope. "And when We cause mankind to taste of mercy they rejoice therein; but if an evil thing befall them as the consequence of their own deeds, lo! they are in despair! See they not that Allah enlargeth the provision for whom He will, and straiteneth (it for whom He will). Lo! herein indeed are portents for folk who believe." (Ar-Rum : 36-37)
So what's the difference between a believer and a disbeliever in this respect? God says: "If ye are suffering, lo! they suffer even as ye suffer and ye hope from Allah that for which they cannot hope. Allah is ever Knower, Wise." (An-Nisaa : 104)
It's a fact that (some) disbelievers do suffer as (some) believers do, but while a believer is supposed to link the life of the world to the Hereafter, a disbeliever seeks comfort in this world only--without relying on any deity whatsoever, following his own lust and desires, assuming that his success in this life would depend only on his own physical and mental capabilities. While a believer seeks success in both this life and the Hereafter, a disbeliever concentrates all his intellectual efforts and energy on the life of the world, believing that this is the wisest way to deal with one's life. While a disbeliever does not follow any Holy Book, save his own desires, a believer is constantly reminded that there's another life awaiting him and that he should prepare for it.
Disbelievers say: "Doth he promise you that you, when ye are dead and have become dust and bones, will (again) be brought forth? Begone, begone, with that which ye are promised! There is naught but our life of the world; we die and we live, and we shall not be raised (again)." (Al-Muminun : 35-37)
God says: "O ye who believe! Observe your duty to Allah. And let every soul look to that which it sendeth on before for the morrow. And observe your duty to Allah! Lo! Allah is informed of what ye do." (Al-Hashr : 18)
Our problem is that we –today's Muslims– tend not to recognize these facts, because we have been brought up within a system that dinned into us that "if you work hard, you will succeed". We tend to ignore lessons from the past.
Why don't we remember, for instance, that before this faith –Islam– became so powerful, so widespread, when it was still a naissant faith in the midst of a harsh environment, the first believers who embraced it had suffered so much; they were subjected to torture, blockades, starvation, humiliation, but they resisted and remained stoic, and carried the faith in their hearts and on their shoulders until it became the Faith of great empires that stretched east and westward and has now become the fastest-growing religion in the greatest country on earth, America? Those early believers, too, asked the same questions you asked when they felt too weak to bear any more hardship, and here's the reply they got: "Or think ye that ye will enter Paradise while yet there hath not come unto you the like of (that which came to) those who passed away before you? Affliction and adversity befell them, they were shaken as with earthquake, till the messenger (of Allah) and those who believed along with him said: When cometh Allah's help? Now surely Allah's help is nigh." (Al-Baqara : 214)
If you had a smooth life –full of joy and bliss, with no sufferings, no worries– you wouldn't probably ask yourself such existentialist questions. But now that you've asked them, you have got closer to meditating about your very existence. You would think of how you came into being out of nothing, of how God –by giving you life– gave you a chance to live in perfect happiness in Paradise–if only you were patient until the ordeal was over! So if you really want to be one of those who will lead an eternal, happy life in Paradise, you have to bear the sufferings that have been afflicted on you in this world (and which will be over, anyway). Paradise has a price, and if you want to go to Paradise you have to pay that price, and the price is patience. "And We have appointed some of you a test for others: Will ye be steadfast? And thy Lord is ever Seer." (Al-Furqan : 20) "O mankind! Lo! the promise of Allah is true. So let not the life of the world beguile you, and let not the (avowed) beguiler beguile you with regard to Allah." (Fatir : 5) "The devil promiseth you destitution and enjoineth on you lewdness. But Allah promiseth you forgiveness from Himself with bounty. Allah is All Embracing, All Knowing." (Al-Baqara : 268)
Patience is a big word. Patience is a frightening word. Patience is the last thing one would wish to hear about. A Moroccan proverb goes, “Patience is the only door where people don’t jostle.” Even if you earnestly believe that patience is key to success; even if you preach patience in mosques, in speeches or in writing, it is always difficult to perceive patience as a “normal” thing. There will always come some time when you start questioning what you believe or preach if the thing you have been patient for seems still too far away. There are so many factors that may make patience hateful to many of us: society, age, chronic illness, family, etc, etc. So what to do when you have to live with patience on a daily basis –as if it were indeed a chronic illness? How do you manage your life as a patient (or patience-loving) person? How can you keep hope when everything around you inspires only despair and frustration?
Well, there is not one and only one answer to those questions. But as with big problems, one has to adopt certain strategies, which I will try to detail below:
1) If you don’t have a good Muslim friend already, then by all means look for one. Neither the Holy Koran, nor any wisdom in the world would replace a good (human) Muslim friend. I say ‘friend’, not a lover or someone to flirt with, and I say ‘human’ (that you can meet and speak to), not a pen-pal or a ‘friend’ on Facebook or the like. Such a friend –if you had one– would help you a great deal: by listening to you, by visiting or calling you (when you feel nobody cares about you), by giving you advice, by giving you the opportunity to say aloud what you think (about faith, for example) in secret. Even if you were an Imam or a great scholar, such a friend would still be a must if you were caught in a particularly harsh adversity.
Some would raise their eyebrows at the mentioning of “an Imam or a great scholar” in this regard. Well, I know several stories, of which I’ll tell you one –knowing that some would say these are isolated cases. I once was envious of someone who won prizes for writing in the then famous Muslim weekly Al-Muslimoon. He wrote wonderful things about Islam (even as a student of Islamic Studies at the Faculty (or College)). He then became an Islamic Studies Professor at another Faculty, which is an enviable job here, which enabled him to marry soon after graduation. But then, one day, he picked a quarrel with his (uneducated) wife, and as he slapped her she rushed into the kitchen and picked up a knife which she pointed threateningly at his chest. She did not kill him, fortunately. But that led to divorce after they had gotten two children. You can imagine the life of this man after that incident.
2) Avoid unnecessary problems. For example, if you know that you are jobless or have a very low income and yet you take on debts beyond your means, then why blame others for your (resulting) ordeal? If, on the contrary, you have a certain amount of money (or any savings) but you are jobless and yet you keep spending as if you were going to find a new job the next month, then why blame others if you ran out of money and became a debtor? God says: "And let not thy hand be chained to thy neck nor open it with a complete opening, lest thou sit down rebuked, denuded." (Al-Isra : 29) "Spend your wealth for the cause of Allah, and be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good. Lo! Allah loveth the beneficent" (Al-Baqara : 195)
3) Be modest. If, for one reason or another, you found yourself up to the ears in debt, then don’t expect money to fall upon you from the skies. Do seek help from humans (while waiting for God’s mercy). God does not prohibit you from asking help from humans. In fact, you won’t get such help (from humans) unless God so decides. If someone does help you, that is indeed a mercy from Allah, Who says: "but help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty. Help not one another unto sin and transgression, but keep your duty to Allah." (Al-Maidah : 2) "And if the debtor is in straitened circumstances, then (let there be) postponement to (the time of) ease; and that ye remit the debt as alms giving would be better for you if ye did but know." (Al-Baqara : 280) "If Allah touch thee with affliction, there is none that can relieve therefrom save Him, and if He touch thee with good fortune (there is none that can impair it); for He is Able to do all things. He is the Omnipotent over His slaves, and He is the Wise, the Knower." (Al-An'am : 17-18)
God is aware that some people are shy or feel that their dignity would be hurt if they "begged" and therefore cannot ask help from other people. "(Alms are) for the poor who are straitened for the cause of Allah, who cannot travel in the land (for trade). The unthinking man accounteth them wealthy because of their restraint. Thou shalt know them by their mark: They do not beg of men with importunity. And whatsoever good thing ye spend, lo! Allah knoweth it." (Al-Baqara : 273)
But if you really need help, then don’t hesitate to seek help and assistance from your fellow humans.
"Allah asketh naught of any soul save that which He hath given it. Allah will vouchsafe, after hardship, ease." (At-Talaq : 7) "No blame is there upon the blind nor any blame upon the lame nor any blame upon the sick nor on yourselves if ye eat from your houses, or the houses of your fathers, or the houses of your mothers, or the houses of your brothers, or the houses of your sisters, or the houses of your fathers' brothers, or the houses of your fathers' sisters, or the houses of your mothers' brothers, or the houses of your mothers' sisters, or (from that) whereof ye hold the keys, or (from the house) of a friend. No sin shall it be for you whether ye eat together or apart. But when ye enter houses, salute one another with a greeting from Allah, blessed and sweet. Thus Allah maketh clear His revelations for you, that haply ye may understand." (An-Nur : 61) I do not mean by asking help “begging”. What I mean is that you can ask somebody for a reasonable loan or something like that to be returned when possible, or maybe you could express your need to a friend in a way that he/she may take the hint and therefore offer his/her help willingly.
4) If you can, do avoid mean people (even if they happen to be members of your own family). If you don’t want to lose a sibling, then try to limit your contact with him/her to the strict minimum (if he/she is a mean person) until your hardship is over. You will certainly find other people willing to help you (for one reason or another). Don’t care of those reasons as long as they are not impermissible. You know, most people would not provide help for God’s sake.
5) Be realistic. Even if you are the most devout person on earth, you shouldn’t expect God to do everything for you. Miracles do happen, but they don’t happen in everybody’s life. God did so much to protect the first believers in Islam; He helped them in so many ways; (but to give us the example,…) He also taught them to look after themselves. He said to them, for example: "And when thou (O Muhammad) art among them and arrangest (their) worship for them, let only a party of them stand with thee (to worship) and let them take their arms. Then when they have performed their prostrations let them fall to the rear and let another party come that hath not worshipped and let them worship with thee, and let them take their precaution and their arms. Those who disbelieve long for you to neglect your arms and your baggage that they may attack you once for all. It is no sin for you to lay aside your arms, if rain impedeth you or ye are sick. But take your precaution" (An-Nisaa : 102)
If you live in a place that is prone to earthquakes or floods, or any other sort of disaster, then it would be unwise to expect God to save the place from an earthquake or flood because of your presence in there. Even in the Koran there’s a reference to such bad places and bad happenings. "As for the good land, its vegetation cometh forth by permission of its Lord; while as for that which is bad, only evil cometh forth (from it). Thus do We recount the tokens for people who give thanks." (Al-A'raf : 58) "His likeness is as the likeness of a rock whereon is dust of earth; a rainstorm smiteth it, leaving it smooth and bare." (Al-Baqara : 264)
"And the likeness of those who spend their wealth in search of Allah's pleasure, and for the strengthening of their souls, is as the likeness of a garden on a height. The rainstorm smiteth it and it bringeth forth its fruit twofold. And if the rainstorm smite it not, then the shower. Allah is Seer of what ye do. Would any of you like to have a garden of palm trees and vines, with rivers flowing underneath it, with all kinds of fruit for him therein; and old age hath stricken him and he hath feeble off spring; and a fiery whirlwind striketh it and it is (all) consumed by fire. Thus Allah maketh plain His revelations unto you, in order that ye may give thought." (Al-Baqara : 265-266) "Have ye taken security from Him Who is in the heaven that He will not cause the earth to swallow you when lo! it is convulsed? Or have ye taken security from Him Who is in the heaven that He will not let loose on you a hurricane? But ye shall know the manner of My warning." (Al-Mulk : 16-17)
Another thing: if you live in a place where there is so much evil, then don’t expect God to save that place from a disaster because you personally or a few pious people like you live there. "And guard yourselves against a chastisement which cannot fall exclusively on those of you who are wrong doers, and know that Allah is severe in punishment." (Al-Anfal : 25) Such bad happenings could take place even in the presence of a prophet: "And when Moses asked for water for his people, We said: Smite with thy staff the rock. And there gushed out therefrom twelve springs (so that) each tribe knew their drinking place. Eat and drink of that which Allah hath provided, and do not act corruptly, making mischief in the earth." (Al-Baqara : 60)
6) If you can, do read a lot. Don’t just read the Koran. You can read poetry and fiction, as well. You can read a bit of philosophy. You can read biographies or any inspirational material. You can read all this and more in addition to the Koran. The more you know of the world the more you understand your sufferings and the more you know how to deal with them. In so doing, you would acquire wisdom, which is in itself a great gift from Allah. "He giveth wisdom unto whom He will, and he unto whom wisdom is given, he truly hath received abundant good. But none remember except men of understanding." (Al-Baqara : 269)
7) If you can, try to change the décor of your everyday life. If you live in town, why not have a stroll or ride on the outskirts and see how people out there go about their everyday life; and while you are there contemplate the landscape around you. The more you do it the more you discover new things you had taken for granted. This little "tourism" is in fact part of a believer's practise of his/her faith. "Will they not regard the camels, how they are created? And the heaven, how it is railed?
And the hills, how they are set up? And the earth, how it is spread?" (Al-Gashiya : 17-20) "Have they not observed what is before them and what is behind them of the sky and the earth?" (Saba : 9)
"By the sun and his brightness, And the moon when she followeth him, And the day when it revealeth him, And the night when it enshroudeth him, And the heaven and Him who built it, And the earth and Him who spread it, (...) " (Ash-Shams : 1-6) "Hast thou not seen how Allah hath sent down water from the sky and hath caused it to penetrate the earth as water springs, and afterward thereby produceth crops of divers hues; and afterward they wither and thou seest them turn yellow; then He maketh them chaff. Lo! herein verily is a reminder for men of understanding." " (Az-Zumar : 21) "Have they not travelled in the land, and have they hearts wherewith to feel and ears wherewith to hear? For indeed it is not the eyes that grow blind, but it is the hearts, which are within the bosoms, that grow blind." (Al-Hajj : 46) "Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! Thou createdst not this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire" (Al-i'Imran : 191)
8) Even if you think you are keeping your duty to God, don’t fail to implore forgiveness. In fact, asking forgiveness is a prerequisite for ease (end of your ordeal). "And I have said: Seek pardon of your Lord, Lo! He was ever Forgiving. He will let loose the sky for you in plenteous rain, And will help you with wealth and sons, and will assign unto you Gardens and will assign unto you rivers." (Nuh : 10-12)
9) In addition to asking forgiveness, remember Allah all the time (at least in your heart). "O ye who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. And glorify Him early and late." (Al-Ahzab : 41-42)
"And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah's bounty, and remember Allah much, that ye may be successful." (Al-Jumu'a : 10) "Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!" (Ar-Ra'd : 28) "Such as remember Allah, standing, sitting, and reclining, and consider the creation of the heavens and the earth, (and say): Our Lord! Thou createdst not this in vain. Glory be to Thee! Preserve us from the doom of Fire" (Al-i'Imran : 191)
10) Do amuse yourself from time to time, take rest, relax whenever you feel tired, because, as the Prophet (pbuh) said, “if the hearts get tired they become blind." And God says: "Allah tasketh not a soul beyond its scope. For it (is only) that which it hath earned, and against it (only) that which it hath deserved. Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget, or miss the mark! Our Lord! Lay not on us such a burden as Thou didst lay on those before us! Our Lord! Impose not on us that which we have not the strength to bear! Pardon us, absolve us and have mercy on us, Thou, our Protector" (Al-Baqara : 286) "Say: Who hath forbidden the adornment of Allah which He hath brought forth for His bondmen, and the good things of His providing? Say: Such, on the Day of Resurrection, will be only for those who believed during the life of the world. Thus do We detail Our revelations for people who have knowledge." (Al-A'raf : 32) "And wherein is beauty for you, when ye bring them home, and when ye take them out to pasture." (An-Nahl : 6) "And horses and mules and asses (hath He created) that ye may ride them, and for ornament. And He createth that which ye know not." (An-Nahl : 8) "Have they not then observed the sky above them, how We have constructed it and beautified it, and how there are no rifts therein? And the earth have We spread out, and have flung firm hills therein, and have caused of every lovely kind to grow thereon" (Qaf : 6-7) "and sendeth down for you water from the sky wherewith We cause to spring forth joyous orchards" (An-Naml : 60)
11) Try to avoid (excited) people who are newly married or who have just found a job, or who have just been relieved of a hardship –especially if these people used to quote a lot of Koran and Haddith during their talk with others. Because of their excitement and complacency, these people could harm you a great deal––if you (naively) expected them to be “more thoughtful” as a result of their previous suffering.
12) Stop from time to time to meditate about your own life. If necessary, isolate yourself in open spaces (park, woods, beach, etc), where you could speak loud to yourself: ask yourself questions like, “Hasn’t there really been anything new happening in my life since the beginning of this ordeal?” ...or questions like: "Did He not find thee an orphan and protect (thee)? Did He not find thee wandering and direct (thee)? Did He not find thee destitute and enrich (thee)?" (Adh-Dhuha : 6-8)
Ask yourself: what was your reaction the last time you were relieved of a hardship? "And if misfortune touch a man he crieth unto Us, (while reclining) on his side, or sitting or standing, but when We have relieved him of the misfortune he goeth his way as though he had not cried unto Us because of a misfortune that afflicted him. Thus is what they do made (seeming) fair unto the prodigal." (Yunus : 12)
As nobody will really feel what you personally feel, then nobody would speak to you in the way you would wish. Now that you are alone (far from eyes and ears) you could speak to yourself as some do in front of a mirror in the dressing-room. This sounds crazy, but you would find it as a breathing exercise! It would relieve your soul of its “poisons” as exercise would rid your body of its poisons. By asking yourself frank questions here you would end up admitting that, after all, there’s some kind of “progress” in your life despite the overall ordeal.
13) To fight monotony and despondency, do assign yourself a long-term goal, mission or project––if you haven’t done it already. Do everything you can towards the fulfilment of this project and you’ll restore your feeling of self-importance when you realize that –at least– there’s something new happening in your life and that you’re not wasting away your time and life in this world. "And trust thou in the Living One Who dieth not" (Al-Furqan : 58) "Allah it is Who appointed for you the earth for a dwelling place and the sky for a canopy, and fashioned you and perfected your shapes, and hath provided you with good things. Such is Allah, your Lord. Then blessed be Allah, the Lord of the Worlds! He is the Living One. There is no God save Him. So pray unto Him, making religion pure for Him (only). Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds!" (Ghafir : 64-65) "And your Lord hath said: Pray unto me and I will hear your prayer. Lo! those who scorn My service, they will enter hell, disgraced." (Ghafir : 60) "Lo! We verily do help Our messengers, and those who believe, in the life of the world and on the day when the witnesses arise" (Ghafir : 51)
And the Angels say to you: "We are your protecting friends in the life of the world and in the Hereafter. There ye will have (all) that your souls desire, and there ye will have (all) for which ye pray." (Fussilat : 31) "And thou (Muhammad) art not occupied with any business and thou recitest not a lecture from this (Scripture), and ye (mankind) perform no act, but We are Witness of you when ye are engaged therein. And not an atom's weight in the earth or in the sky escapeth your Lord, nor what is less than that or greater than that, but it is (written) in a clear Book. Lo! verily the friends of Allah are (those) on whom fear (cometh) not, nor do they grieve. Those who believe and keep their duty (to Allah), Theirs are good tidings in the life of the world and in the Hereafter. There is no changing the Words of Allah that is the Supreme Triumph. And let not their speech grieve thee (O Muhammad). Lo! power belongeth wholly to Allah. He is the Hearer, the Knower. Lo! is it not unto Allah that belongeth whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is in the earth?" (Yunus : 61-66)
14) Know your human nature and start looking at people as “human beings” rather than “persons”. Try to pay attention to what people have in common: greed, arrogance, impatience, envy, etc. When you read the Koran, or autobiographies or any kind of writings, try to meditate about “the psyche” of Man. Here are examples from the Koran: "Man prayeth for evil as he prayeth for good; for man was ever hasty." (Al-Isra : 11) "Lo! man was created anxious, Fretful when evil befalleth him, And, when good befalleth him, grudging" (Al-Ma'arij: 19-21) (...) "And if We cause man to taste some mercy from Us and afterward withdraw it from him, lo! he is despairing, thankless. And if We cause him to taste grace after some misfortune that had befallen him, he saith: The ills have gone from me. Lo! he is exultant, boastful" (Hud : 9-10) "And He giveth you of all ye ask of Him, and if ye would count the bounty of Allah ye cannot reckon it. Lo! man is verily a wrong doer, an ingrate." (Ibrahim : 34) "And when We make life pleasant unto man, he turneth away and is averse; and when ill toucheth him he is in despair." (Al-Isra : 83) "Say (unto them): If ye possessed the treasures of the mercy of my Lord, ye would surely hold them back for fear of spending, for man was ever grudging." (Al-Isra : 100) "And verily We have displayed for mankind in this Quran all manner of similitudes, but man is more than anything contentious." (Al-Kahf : 54)
"Man is (self) destroyed: how ungrateful!" (Abasa : 17) "As for man, whenever his Lord trieth him by honoring him, and is gracious unto him, he saith: My Lord honoureth me. But whenever He trieth him by straitening his means of life, he saith: My Lord despiseth me. Nay, but ye (for your part) honor not the orphan And urge not on the feeding of the poor, And ye devour heritages with devouring greed, And love wealth with abounding love." (Al-Fajr : 15-20) "Lo! man is an ingrate unto his Lord, And lo! he is a witness unto that; And lo! in the love of wealth he is violent." (Al-Adiyat : 6-8) "And He it is Who sendeth the winds, glad tidings heralding His mercy, and We send down purifying water from the sky. That We may give life thereby to a dead land, and We give many beasts and men that We have created to drink thereof. And verily We have repeated it among them that they may remember, but most of mankind begrudge naught save in gratitude." (Al-Furqan : 48-50)
15) Try to strengthen your belief in Fate and Destiny. Keep in mind verses like these: "Naught of disaster befalleth in the earth or in yourselves but it is in a Book before We bring it into being, Lo! that is easy for Allah, That ye grieve not for the sake of that which hath escaped you, nor yet exult because of that which hath been given. Allah loveth not all prideful boasters, Who hoard and who enjoin upon the people avarice. And whosoever turneth away, still Allah is the Absolute, the Owner of Praise." (Al-Hadid : 22-24) "And when We make life pleasant unto man, he turneth away and is averse; and when ill toucheth him he is in despair." (Al-Isra : 83) "No calamity befalleth save by Allah's leave. And whosoever believeth in Allah, He guideth his heart. And Allah is Knower of all things." (At-Tagabun : 11)
Also read the stories of Prophets in the Koran, such as Sourat Al-Qasas.
16) Beware of dreams. If you had nice dreams in your sleep, please do not over-interpret them. They might be good (authentic) dreams, but they might as well take too long to come true. So don’t disappoint yourself by pinning your hopes on the fulfilment of a nice dream you saw in your sleep.
17) Give thanks to Allah for what you have already:
"And when your Lord proclaimed: If ye give thanks, I will give you more" (Ibrahim : 7) "And verily We gave Luqman wisdom, saying: Give thanks unto Allah; and whosoever giveth thanks, he giveth thanks for (the good of) his soul. And whosoever refuseth, Lo! Allah is Absolute, Owner of Praise." (Luqman : 12) "If ye are thankless, yet Allah is Independent of you, though He is not pleased with thanklessness for His bondmen; and if ye are thankful He is pleased therewith for you. No laden soul will bear another's load. Then unto your Lord is your return; and He will tell you what ye used to do. Lo! He knoweth what is in the breasts (of men)." (Az-Zumar : 7) "Few of My bondmen are thankful." (Saba : 13) "Whoso desireth the reward of the world, We bestow on him thereof and whoso desireth the reward of the Hereafter, We bestow on him thereof. We shall reward the thankful." (Al-i'Imran : 145)
18) You will certainly be hurt and challenged (sometimes even from people who aren't necessarily better off than you), so be defiant without seeking to hurt anybody. Remember these verses: "And he was building the ship, and every time that chieftains of his people passed him, they made mock of him. He said: Though ye make mock of us, yet we mock at you even as ye mock" (Hud : 38) "And We reveal of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy for believers though it increase the evil doers in naught save ruin." (Al-Isra : 82)
Mohamed Ali Lagouader