Where Are the Answers?

Sunrays shining through the forest

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

“What am I going to do? Why is my life so messed up? Why can’t I find happiness? Why am I alone? Why do I feel stuck? Why do I have these problems?’…

These questions only have meaning if we direct them to Allah. No one else can answer them. Consider the words of the Prophet Ya’qub (alayhis-salam, peace be upon him) when his son Yusuf (as) was secretly thrown into a well by his brothers. They then reported to their father that Yusuf had been killed by a wolf.

And he turned away from them and said, “Oh, my sorrow over Yusuf,” and his eyes became white from grief, and he fell into silent melancholy.

They said, “By Allah , you will not cease remembering Yusuf until you become fatally ill or become of those who perish.”

He said, “I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah , and I know from Allah that which you do not know.

– Quran, Surat Yusuf, 12:84-86

“I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah…”

When you feel stuck, when you feel that no one understands your situation, when you’re in pain and you can’t even imagine a solution, only Allah has the answers. You can’t see a way forward, but He can. You don’t see your own worth, but He does. You can’t figure out the road to happiness, but He can show you.

I remember a night in Arizona when I was twenty six years old. I lay on a cot in a small, frigid cell. There was snow outside and I had only a thin blanket. As I often did, I put on all my clothing in layers – three pants, three shirts, an army jacket and a pair of boots – and still I kept waking up shivering and shaking. Yet, even more than the physical discomfort, my spirit was tired. I had made mistakes in my youth and had been locked up for almost five years. I had become hard mentally and physically, but my heart was full of sorrow. I lay there that night and I thought, “I have nothing in life. I have accomplished nothing. I have no university degree, no wife, no children, and not even my freedom.”

That was a bad time. But I had my faith, and I used to weep to Allah, asking Him to have mercy on me. I think I gave up on myself for a while, but I never gave up on Allah. It would not even have occurred to me to do so. I did cry to Him sometimes saying, “Why, Allah? Why? Why am I here, suffering like this?” But it wasn’t despair, only confusion. In my heart I knew that He heard me and that an answer would come.

Shortly after that I received a letter from the parole board granting me early release. I had previously been told very clearly that I was not eligible. It was entirely unexpected, and if you are familiar with the American penal system, miraculous. But for Allah, nothing is impossible or even difficult.

Within a few months I was free. I found a  job a week after my release, and I excelled. I began writing, sitting at my desk every night after work and disciplining myself to work on poetry, stories and articles. Eventually I went back to school and began a new career, got married, bought a beautiful house, and one day had a child…

What can I say except Alhamdulillah! SubhanAllah! What can I do except weep in gratitude for these blessings that I did nothing to earn, but were given to me by my Lord who loves me and cares about me, and wants good for me. I am so deeply touched and moved by the way Allah has answered my prayers from the depths of darkness. If I did anything to merit His blessings, perhaps it was only that I directed my pleas to Him. I knew that no one else could help me.

This is a very emotional post for me to write. I want every Muslim to have this sense of Allah as their friend, as someone who cares for them deeply. I want to put that awareness into your heart like a gift.

When I was in that cell I used to pray the same dua’ over and over, begging Allah repeatedly. If I had made such pleas to a human being they would have stopped hearing me long ago. When we’re needy with people it pushes them away, but when we’re needy with Allah He comes closer to us! He never tires of answering our need and forgiving us.

I know of many similar stories of people who have hit rock bottom and have called upon Allah – or , not even knowing “Allah” by that name, have called to the Supreme Being, saying, “I know you hear me, tell me what I need to do, show me the way!” – and then, like a circle of sunlight piercing a cloud, something or someone comes into their lives to show them the way forward.

When we’re out of ideas, surrounded by problems, and feeling totally alone… we’re not alone. Allah is with us. If we pray sincerely and strive, He will put light in our hearts and help us from directions we did not expect.

Ask Allah sincerely, open yourself to Him, and accept what He gives you even when it goes against your own desires. The answers to your questions are there, with Allah, I promise you. All those terrible questions that you ask yourself in the silence of your mind, the answers are with Allah.

Advice from a Cloud (If a Cloud Could Speak)

Cloud and birds

Advice from a cloud

By Wael Abdelgawad, with contributions by Arif Kabir | IslamicSunrays.com

Everyone deserves water to drink, so shower your kindness on sinners and saints alike.

People will see different things in you:  relief, comfort, or a fearsome sign of a storm. Pay no mind, and go about your life peacefully.

It’s a beautiful thing to provide shade on a hot day (to comfort those in distress).

You sometimes drift aimlessly, but by the will of God, and following your heart, you eventually find the clear current and resume your journey.

Oppose evil with thunder and lightning, but with others be soft as cotton.

Not everything is as it seems:  the darker the cloud, and the heavier the storm, the more water it brings to cleanse the earth and support new life.

Never forget, you are mainly made of water. Make sure to always replenish yourself with pure sustenance.

There’s a rainbow right behind the storm.

Can you think of any other advice a cloud might give? Please share.

30 Inspirational Islamic Sayings and Short Poems

Field of flowers and sun shining

Inspirational Islamic sayings by Wael Abdelgawad, Hanan Bilal, Imam Zaid Shakir and Others

By Wael Abdelgawad, Hanan Bilal, Imam Zaid Shakir and Others

1

The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it. Whenever it is taken from something, it leaves it tarnished.” – Imam Bukhari’s Book of Muslim Manners.

2

Abdullah bin Al-Haarith said, “I didn’t see anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah (s).” – (At-Tirmithee, 3641).

3

“Allah. It all starts with Him – the universe, humanity, and our own conception – and it all comes back to Him in the end. There’s no victory without Him, no progress, no peace. Strengthen your relationship with Him in the easy times, and you will find Him beside you in the hard times.” – Wael Abdelgawad

4

“Allah (God) is an exponential word.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

5

“Keep your head up, forge forward fee-sabeel-illah, keep praying, learning, thinking, following your dreams, and loving the people in your life. It’s all worth it, it all matters and makes a difference. Every single thing you do is meaningful, even when you don’t see it. You are my brothers, my sisters, my heroes.” – Wael Abdelgawad

6

“When you’re out of ideas, that’s when faith comes in. Let Allah show you the way.” – Wael Abdelgawad

7

“No one should ever be depressed by his or her worldly situation as long as he or she is walking on the path leading to Paradise. Attaining Paradise is the great objective of this life, and the person who gains it is victorious, regardless of what he achieved in the world.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

8

Allah has a beautiful plan
for every woman and man.
Trust Allah and pray
and He will light the way.

– Wael Abdelgawad

9

“When I am feeling low and downtrodden I just find a quiet place and sit alone with my favorite book (the Quran)! When I turn each of its miraculous pages my heart begins to feel lighter and the world around me brighter! The love, warmth and security of each word sets in and it is in these very moments that I know for sure in my heart how much Allah really loves me! Alhamdulillah! Subhanallah! Allahu Akbar!” – Asmaa Deanna-Dee

10

“‘Oh, but what’s the use of trying to be a good Muslim when I end up sinning again and again?’… Well, what’s the use of bathing when you get dirty again and again? Salat (prayer) is a purifier. Though you sin again and again, keep returning to Allah for purification. Fasting is a purifier, Zakat is a purifier, Hajj is a purifier… We can use the same analogy for hope and motivation. We have to keep finding them again and again. That’s the nature of life.” – Wael Abdelgawad

11

“Try to become an embodiment of compassion and mercy in your daily life. Do not wait for a situation to occur that will call out these virtues in you. Rather, seek out opportunities where you can manifest them along with all of the other prophetic virtues. Do not live your life passively waiting to be used, roused or stimulated into action by events. Live an active life wherein you become the one who is initiating acts of goodness and kindness in all that you do. Be an embodiment of the truth you represent. Let your words and comportment convey the dignity of the believer to all that you meet.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

12

“Wash your heart every morning with salat, then warm it up with dhikr. Approach life with hope and faith. Every day do your best, Allah will do the rest.” – Wael Abdelgawad

13

“God is truly AWESOME! I see the POWER of GOD moving in MY LIFE, in my families’ lives, in the world….GOD has GREAT things in store for us. All we have to do is submit and accept GOD’s direction for our lives. I accept!” – Hanan K. Bilal

14

“I believe in Allah because He believes in me… and in you too. He made us Muslim, didn’t He? That is a gift and a blessing. So believe in His plan for you, because He believes in you, He has faith in you, He has a purpose for you.” – Wael Abdelgawad

15

“Is not the help of God close by? Certainly it is. God says “Call upon Me and I will respond.” Don’t tire on calling on Him. Don’t despair from receiving His Mercy. Despair is a sign of disbelief.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

16

“It’s okay to feel sad, anxious, lonely, frustrated, and confused. Feeling these emotions doesn’t make you less of a believer. The difference between the believer and non-believer is that the believer remains patient and turns to Allah for help.” – Wael Abdelgawad

17

“Sharpen the mind, harden the body, soften the heart, and be of service to others.” – a motto for the believer, by AbdelMalik Ali.

18

“When we’re out of ideas, surrounded by problems, and feeling totally alone… we’re not alone. Allah is with us. If we pray sincerely and strive to the best of our capacity, He will put light in our minds and hearts and help us from directions we did not expect.” – Wael Abdelgawad

19

“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Let’s all practice having a lot more love for self and others… LOVE is a verb… it’s an action in constant motion…. we are either loving or unloving… love starts at home with our family.” – Hanan Bilal

20

“If Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” – Unknown author

21

“If we let Taqwa – Allah-consciousness – become our guide then it leads us to self-awareness and sincerity. A person who cultivates Taqwa can never be a terrorist, an oppressor, or a hypocrite. A person with true Taqwa must shed compassion as the sun sheds light.” – Wael Abdelgawad

22

“You will not believe until you are merciful to each other. Your faith is not complete until you are merciful to each other.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

23

“Even when we think we have nothing, we have Allah, and Allah is everything.” – Wael Abdelgawad

24

Let love be selfless
and truth fearless;
Let our breasts be flooded with light –
Make our hearts clear as crystal.

– Muhammad Iqbal

25

“One of Allah’s names is Al-Wadood, The Most Loving, and this is appropriate because a Creator must have love in order to create works of beauty and power. Allah created you out of love. He created you with intent. He created you to succeed, not to fail, and He gave you all the tools that you need to thrive. Open your eyes and see what a miracle you are, what a thing of beauty, what a gift to the world. I see that in every person I know. Do you see it in yourself?” – Wael Abdelgawad

26

“True religion shines from the face of the believer and impresses itself on others without words. It is subsequently followed by words that are uplifting and beneficial.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

27

It’s okay if you’re not free from sin;
Allah will forgive you, and let you in.
Just turn to Him, and from your soul
ask forgiveness, and make Him your goal.

– Wael Abdelgawad

28

“I asked Allah for strength and Allah gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked Allah for wisdom and Allah gave me problems to solve. I asked Allah for courage and Allah gave me obstacles to overcome. I asked Allah for love and Allah gave me troubled people to help. I asked Allah for favors and Allah gave me opportunities. Maybe I received nothing I wanted, but I received everything I needed – Alhamdulillah.” – Anonymous

29

“Forgiveness is not for the weak. Being able to forgive those who have wronged you is a mark of spiritual strength and confidence. When you forgive, you grow, your heart begins to heal, your back straightens up, your eyes clear so that you can see the road ahead. Anger is a spiritual sickness; but when you forgive you live.” – Wael Abdelgawad

30

“You are all my family. I know that you are human and imperfect. Some are confused, some struggling, some tired, needing a moment’s rest. Tired of the rain and needing the rainbow. I love you all fee-sabeel-illah. Have no fear. Allah is with you and will not abandon you for a single heartbeat. The rainbow is coming, or maybe it’s already here and all you need to do is look up. ” – Wael Abdelgawad

If Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it

If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

If Allah brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Whatever misfortune you have experienced, let Allah show you the way out.

Has your heart been broken? Have you experienced disappointment and loss? Trying to figure out how to be happy again? You need only three things: faith, hope and time. Keep the faith alive in your heart, even if it’s just a spark. Hold on to your hope for the future, even by the tips of your fingers. And let time pass… In time your faith will blaze again, your hope will soar.

So be patient, trust Him, thank Him, and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Hang in there. He will bring you through.

“Attach your heart to God and you will never be let down.” – Imam Zaid Shakir

“When I cry or lose or bruise, so long as I am still alive, nothing is ultimate. So long as there is still a tomorrow, a next moment, there is hope, there is change, there is redemption. What is lost, is not lost forever.” – Yasmin Mogahed

Ask Allah, He WILL Help You

Beautiful sky at sunrise

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

If you ask Allah for guidance sincerely, believing in Him and trusting in Him, he WILL guide you. If you approach Him with humility and faith and ask Him for help, He WILL help you. “And your Lord says: “Call on Me; I will answer you.” (Quran 40:60). I personally have experienced this in my life again and again. Allah is real and miracles do happen.

I remember one time when I was deeply confused about something that mattered very much to me. I prayed to Allah late at night, and began crying. After my prayer, I laid down right there on the musalla (prayer rug), and fell asleep, and BAM, here comes one of the most powerful dreams I have ever had, with a very clear answer to my problem. Then the next night I’m outside and feeling some doubts again, and all of a sudden I see a tremendous meteor go flaming across the sky right in front of me. I was amazed and I laughed out loud because Allah could not have made it any clearer.

I’m not promising you a dream and a meteor (smile). But Allah’s promise is true. He WILL answer you, maybe in ways that you see clearly, or in ways that you don’t. The answer might be to protect you from harm, or to give you something better than what you requested. Or the answer might only be a feeling of faith and tranquility in your heart that allows you to move forward confidently. He WILL help you.

Walking This Path Together

Jasper National Park, Alaska

Jasper National Park, Alaska

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I’m just a guy who has lived an unorthodox life. I have been alone and chained. I have seen frightening violence. I have also wandered the mountain trails in Central America, camped in the snows of the Sierras, and laid on my back in the Sahara, watching a meteor shower decorate the sky. I have witnessed the birth of my child, and received great gifts. I have been so blessed by Allah, so cared for, as He rescues me and heals my heart, again and again. I have been loved monumentally, and have learned to love in return.

Maybe I’ve learned a little something, and maybe I possess the talent to put it into words. Am I someone special? Yes, but so are you! Some of you amaze me. Young or old, married or single parents raising children with no help, sacrificing for your families, finding your way in the world, working, creating, struggling, studying, teaching. I have much to learn from you. I have a long ways to go in this life Insha’Allah, and many strange paths to walk, and so do you. I am happy that we are walking this path together, in this moment.

We have Allah, and Allah is everything

Man surrounded by sun rays

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Even when we think we have nothing, we have Allah, and Allah is everything. We can be materially poor and still be wealthy beyond belief.

I’m not advocating poverty. Money has its uses. Most importantly, it can be used to help people and relieve suffering. But it is still just a tool created by men and women. An object, a thing. It can never define us, nor can it elevate us, or take us where we need to go in this life and the next.

There are things that matter more than our wallets. Allah is everything, and our relationship with Him defines us more certainly and clearly than our bank balances ever could.

If we are close to Allah, if we have a bond with Him, if we trust Him, then we have everything. We have greater security than any alarm system could provide. We have a brighter light than any chandelier. We have a clearer path than any highway. We have a truer happiness than any entertainment system, house or car could offer. We have everything.

The Sun Will Rise

African sunrise

A sunrise in Africa

“However long the night, the dawn will break.” (InshaAllah) ~ African Proverb

Give Me Something Better

Corner Brook, Canada

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

The Messenger of Allah (sws) said: “There is no calamity that befalls one of the Muslims and he responds ‘Inna Lillahi wa inna ilahi raaji’oun, Allahumma ujurni fi museebati w’ukhluf li khayran minha,’ (Truly to Allah we belong & truly to Him we shall return, O Allah reward me in this calamity & compensate me with something better than it), but Allah will compensate him with something better than it.” (Muslim 918)

In other words, if you’ve lost something precious, or if disaster has hit you, and you respond with faith in Allah, asking Him to replace your loss with something better, then Allah will surely respond and give you something better.

SubhanAllah! What more could we ask? Allah is the only one who does this. If your house is destroyed, the insurance company will try to find a way to deny your claim, and if they finally pay then they will pay less than it’s worth.

The crucial thing is that the dua’ must be said in that moment of pain and loss, when you are really hurting. You can’t respond at first by saying, “Why did you do this to me Allah, I didn’t deserve this!” then months later when you’ve recovered somewhat, think you can say this dua’ and it will work for you.

The whole point is that in those moments when life is most difficult and you are totally thrown for a loop, you respond by turning to Allah. That’s the test. Those moments are the proving ground of your soul. If you can face Allah in those moments of agony and say – I trust You, all things return to You, I know you will give me something better – then indeed Allah will give you more than you can imagine.

May Allah give us the strength to remember Him and turn to Him instinctively in times of calamity and times of joy as well.

Allah Will Make a Way Out

Al-Masjid An-Nabawi Al-Sharif, in Madinah

Al-Masjid An-Nabawi Al-Sharif, in Madinah

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Are you stressed? Take a deep breath, and as you release it, let your heart slow down and be calm.

Step back and look at your situation objectively. It’s almost never as bad as you think. Just do your best, and trust Allah. He will show you a way forward, and bring you through. He will bring you relief from a direction you did not expect.

This is true. I have experienced it over and over in my life, and it is a promise from Allah:

“And whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make for him a way out, And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent.” (Quran 65:2-3)

Here is a true story that illustrates this point in an amazing way:

The Hotel Manager

Recently, a Muslim man was caught in a dilemma, where he faced two choices, both of which were onerous. This man was the manager of one of the largest hotels in Egypt. The hospitality industry in Egypt is one of the most competitive in the world so this manager always strived to provide the best possible service in his hotel. He paid attention to the smallest details, set the budget priorities, observed his staff, and got personally involved whenever a problem occurred. He was very good at his job. Because of this he was highly valued by his superiors.

However, there was one element of the job that galled him. A duty that he felt ashamed over. In any large hotel in Egypt, serving alcoholic drinks is a must, and that duty was killing him inside. He knew that serving alcohol is haram. It is forbidden by Allah, and whatever money comes from it is not blessed but haram; but it was part of the job and had to be taken care of, regardless of how he felt towards it.

Time went by and he performed his job admirably, but this business of selling alcohol was eating him up inside. Finally he decided to go to one of the well- known Egyptian sheikhs and ask his advice. After arranging for an appointment to meet this sheikh, he met him and explained the problem. The sheikh without hesitation said, “You must leave this job.”

That was not enough of an answer for the manager. He explained to the sheikh, “This is the only job I know. I’ve been working in this field all my life. I don’t know what else to do. I have a wife and children to take care of. I can’t just leave the job and be unemployed and penniless like so many others in Egypt.”

The sheikh replied, “Did you come to me thinking that I might give you permission to do what Allah forbids? Leave this job for the sake of Allah.”

The man, not knowing what to do, said, “But I have family to take care of. I’m their only source of money. How will I feed my children? If I leave the job, I won’t be able to provide them with the simplest needs of life. What shall I do?”

The sheikh reminded the manager of a verse from the Quran:

“And whoever is conscious of Allah, He will make for him a way out, And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him.”

The man returned to the hotel, knowing that he had to make the most difficult decision of his life. He knew now that this job would not satisfy Allah. As frightened as he was for his future, he was not willing to lose his faith and lose the hereafter because of a job; but he trembled when he thought of the risk he was taking, and the fear of what the future might hold for him and his family.

At the hotel the manager went about his job, looking normal on the outside. But inside he was thinking furiously, considering.  Then he made his decision. He decided to quit the job with no regrets. He became convinced that this was the right thing to do. With a strong faith and an absolute trust in Allah, he made a plea to the heavens: “O Allah, I trust You, and I’m doing this only for You. I know you will make for me away out, so please help me.”

He headed directly to his office, sat at his desk, and began writing his resignation.

As he was writing, the phone in front of him rang. It was his superior at the corporation office, calling with news. The manager was stunned and could hardly believe the news he heard, but it was true. The man was informed that he had been promoted and would no longer be responsible for managing this hotel but instead he would manage a new hotel located in Al-Madinah, the holy city of our Prophet (peace be upon him), and right next to the Masjid of the Prophet. Of course, being in Saudi Arabia, this new hotel sold no alcohol.

His dua had been answered in a heartbeat, from one moment to the next, before he even finished the letter of resignation.

Till this day, the man is still the manager of the hotel in Madinah.

Subhan’Allah…

“Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.” (Quran 002.286)

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