A People of Hope

Cloud and birds

We (Muslims) are not a people of despair. We are a people of hope and redemption and transformation. The wind will always come. Fall in prostration during the storm and you will be safe. Like all things of this world, it will pass. Healing will come. Change will come. Victory will come.
It always does.

– Yasmin Mogahed, January 30, 2017

Give It To Allah

Sun shining on a river in the wilderness

Beautiful post by Imam Zaid Shakir:

As-Salaam Alaikum Beloveds,

Sometimes, when the situation seems too big, too complicated, too unbearable, give it to Allah. His capabilities are boundless. When you find yourself at a loss for words, you just don’t know what to say; ask Allah to guide your tongue, His words are inexhaustible.

When you find your courage challenged, your strength waning and don’t even know if you will be able to get out of bed to face another day in a seemingly dirty, dark, death-wishing dunya, ask Allah to lift you up, His strength will more than suffice you.

If you are feeling that the menacing clouds of tribulation gathering over the Sea of Despair are harbingers of yet another gut-wrenching storm, take time to pray. You will find that the light of truth will shine its life-giving rays through those clouds, caressing your heart, quickening it and allowing you to live, love and laugh for another day. Who could ask for more?

In Solitary Confinement, a Young Man Prays to God

Guantanamo prison cell

An isolation cell at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

What would you do if you were locked away in a prison like this for years? Would you keep up your prayers, alone in the solitude of your cell? Many Muslims do. Remember them in your dua’.

Yesterday I was watching a National Geographic show called “Hard Time”, about the state prison system in Georgia, USA. This episode was filmed in the “Hi-Max”, the ultra-high-security institution where inmates are permanently locked in isolation.

These cells have molded concrete walls and thick steel doors with tiny plexiglass windows. Prisoners are fed through a slot in the cell door. The guards do not speak to them. It is a world of utter silence and loneliness. Men go mad. Many mutilate themselves or commit suicide.

There was a quick shot through the door window of a young man in his solitary cell. He was Muslim. He laid his only towel on the floor and began to pray.

I saw that and it moved me. SubhanAllah. We take so much for granted. Is there any reason why I have been so blessed and that young man has not? Am I a better man than him? There he is, all alone in a concrete box for years and years, praying to God with no one to see him, not giving up hope, not giving up his faith. While we, who have our freedom, fail to give God His due. And which of the favors of our Lord will we deny?

Allah Will Show the Truth

Sunlight illuminating the clouds

Allah will guide those who seek it out of confusion and into clarity.

By Amy Estrada | IslamicSunrays.com

One thing I totally believe about Allah, is that He will guide those who seek it out of confusion and into clarity. He will clearly show right from wrong, good from bad, pure from impure. Sure there are plenty of times we get stuck in a situation where we can’t figure out up from down, or what’s really going on. We follow wisdom as best we can. And Alhamdulillah, when He sees fit, He shows the truth of things in a way that cannot be denied.

Don’t despair if the situation doesn’t make sense. Don’t worry if the way forward doesn’t seem clear. Don’t degrade yourself if you can’t figure that person out. Throw your cares to Allah all the time, and take those small steps forward as His noor slowly reveals the way. Eventually it will all be clear, and your iman will blossom as you see how He really is bringing you to all things good in this life and the next.

We can never sabotage His mercy. Never!

Keep up your good work

Sunrise behind a hill, Sun and tree

Sunrise

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Keep up all your good work. Don’t give up on yourself.

I am 100% sure that there are people who admire you and look up to you.

Recite Surat al-Asr often and contemplate the meaning. Imam Shafi’ famously said that if Allah had revealed only Surat-al-Asr, it would have been enough for the guidance of humanity.

By the time!
Surely, humankind is in loss –
Except for those who believe and perform righteous deeds, and strive together for truth, and strive together for patience. – Quran 103

Those who do as Surat al-Asr advises are not in loss. Where are they? In success, peacefulness, gratitude, and progress.

If you are still struggling on the path to your dream, then believe in yourself and know that you have a bright future in your work and in love, Insha’Allah. Problems never last, but patient people do. Your day will come, don’t worry.

Make dua’ (pray) immediately when you wake up, and last thing before you sleep. Be peaceful and trust Allah. The road unfolds ahead of you each day. Keep your head up.

Allah’s Plan for You and Me

Morning Sun

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

Allah had a plan for you before you were born, and He still has a plan for you. Allah’s plan for you is necessary and glorious. His plan is vital to your success, and important to the world. If that sounds grandiose, bear with me.

Some people are fatalistic, believing that everything that we do is set in stone, as if we were robots pre-programmed in the factory. Such a reality would strip us of free will and deny our natures. Rather, I believe that Allah has a flexible plan for each human being:  a plan that allows that person to benefit the world with his/her unique talents.

This is in fact the Islamic view of al-Qadar, or predestination. There is no doubt that Allah has decreed everything that happens in the universe from the beginning of time to the end, and that Allah has written it all in al-Lawh al-Mahfooz (the Book of Decrees).

“Know you not that Allah knows all that is in the heaven and on the earth? Verily, it is (all) in the Book (Al?Lawh Al?Mahfooz). Verily, that is easy for Allah” (Quran, al-Hajj 22:70)

However, as Sheikh Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid explains,

Belief in al-qadar does not contradict the idea that a person has free will with regard to actions in which he has free choice. Sharee’ah and real life both indicate that people have this will.

Allaah says concerning man’s will (interpretation of the meaning):

“That is (without doubt) the True Day. So, whosoever wills, let him seek a place with (or a way to) His Lord (by obeying Him in this worldly life)!” [al-Naba’ 78:39]

(and other similar ayaat)

These verses confirm that man has a will and the ability to do what he wants and not to do what he does not want.

With regard to real life, everyone knows that he has a will and the ability to do what he wants and not to do what he does not want. And he can distinguish between the things that happen when he wants them to, such as walking, and those that happen without him wanting them to, such as shivering. But the will and ability of man are subject to the will and decree of Allaah.

Sheikh Al-Munajjid’s last paragraph is the key to understanding Al-Qadar: walking (voluntary) versus shivering (involuntary). Other scholars have explained it as two types of Qadar, fixed and flexible. The fixed Qadar is that which happens to us from beyond our control. For example the time and place of our birth, any illnesses and natural disasters that befall us, etc. The flexible Qadar is that which is within the realm of our free will. That includes our choice to do good or evil, what we choose to believe and how we choose to live.

Sheikh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah wrote:

There are two types of provision and lifespan: the first type has already been decreed and is written in Umm al-kitaab, and cannot be changed or altered. The next type of qadar, Allah has informed His angels of His decrees. This is the type where provisions and lifespan may increase or decrease. Hence Allah the Almighty says what may be translated as, “Allah blots out what he wills and confirms [what He wills]. And with Him is the Mother of the book.” (Surat Ar-Ra’ad, verse 39)

The mother of the Book (Umm al-Kitaab) is Al-Lawh al-Mahfoodh, in which Allah has decreed all things as they will always be without change.

However, the decrees contained in the books of the angels, such as lifespan and provisions, may increase or decrease according to various circumstances; thereafter, the angels will re-write a person’s provision and lifespan. If a person upholds the ties of kinship, his provisions and lifespan will be extended, otherwise they will decrease.” [See Majmoo’al-Fataawa 8/540]

So Allah has a plan for you, but fulfillment of that plan is up to you:  the choices you make, as well as your degree of faith, persistence and determination will determine the outcome.

I said that Allah’s plan for you is important to the world. The proof of this is simply that Allah created nothing in vain. Look at His creation. Everything has a purpose, from the sun that heats our world, to the bacteria that consume waste. Everything in creation has a purpose that is necessary to the functioning of its ecosystem.

You are the same. You have a purpose. You are necessary to the world. If your presence were not vital in some way, then you would not have been made.

Discovering Allah’s Plan

How do we discover Allah’s plan for us? Where do we find it? How do we realize it in our lives?

It’s not as difficult as we might think. It wouldn’t make sense for Allah to have a plan for us and then leave us stumbling in the dark. Allah’s plan doesn’t have to be a mystery. If we trust Him, do what He asks, and follow our hearts, His plan will unfold in our lives like a brightly lit path.

If you are trying to follow Allah’s guidance, but you find yourself confronted by obstacles and hardship, don’t despair.  The hardship is probably a sign that you are on the right path. Consider our Prophets (may Allah bless them all) who faced tremendous obstacles:

* The Prophet Ibrahim (alayhis-salam, peace be upon him) was disowned by his family and thrown by his people into a blazing fire; Allah rescued him from that, and made him the father of two nations.

* Allah inspired the mother of the baby Musa (as) and told her to place her infant into a chest and send it floating down the Nile. That must have been an enormously difficult plan to follow, but she trusted her Lord, with the result that an entire people were eventually freed from bondage.

* The young Yusuf (as) was thrown by his brothers into a well and left for dead; later he was sold into slavery, then imprisoned for years; but in the end he became an important minister, and was reunited with his father.

* Maryam (as) the mother of Isa (as), delivered her child alone under a palm tree, far from her people as she feared their reaction; but Allah helped her through miracles, until she became the honored mother of a great Prophet.

* The Prophet Yunus (as) gave up on his mission to the people of Nineveh, ventured onto a ship and was then cast into the sea, where he was swallowed by a whale. At the point of despair, he called upon Allah with all his heart and was rescued. He returned to his mission, and achieved success.

* A’ishah (ra), the wife of the Prophet (sws), was slandered; but Allah brought the truth to light, and Aishah became a leader and scholar in her own right.

* The companion Umm Salamah (ra) lost her beloved husband Abu Salamah in the battle of Uhud; she thought that no husband could ever replace him, yet she ended up marrying the Prophet himself (sws).

Things are not always what they seem. Be patient. Allah has a plan for you.

Following Allah’s Plan

This is the hard part. Allah’s plan for us is true to who we are at our core, in our very essence. It will not correlate to an artificial persona we have adopted, or our desire to be seen and recognized. Allah’s plan may not bring us fame, fortune, or physical pleasure. It might mean giving up material comfort. So Allah’s plan for us may not be what we would wish it to be.

Road up a mountain
Allah’s plan for us is not always what we would wish it to be.

Abu Hurayra (ra), the companion of the Messenger of Allah (sws), was asked about Taqwa (God-consciousness). He said, “It is a road full of thorns. One who walks it must have extreme patience.”

In fact, Allah’s plan may be so challenging that we may perceive it but decline to follow. I have known all my life that I was a writer. I’ve been talking for years about writing certain books. And yet it took me until the age of 44 to begin writing about the things that really mattered to me, and I still have not published a book (look for it soon, Insha’Allah!). Why did it take me so long to do what I was meant to do?

I have a friend who says that Africa has been calling her all her life. She believes that her destiny is to go there and help the African people in some way. But she has not done it. Why?

I have another friend who believes that da’wah is his mission in life. He spent ten years studying Japanese at the university level, and he dreams of living in Japan and doing da’wah there. But he has no concrete plan to do so. Why?

I asked several brothers and sisters if they know what their mission in life might be. Some said yes. I asked them if they were carrying out their mission. Most said no, and gave these reasons:

  • I feel that others are more qualified than me.
  • It seems like a fantasy.
  • It feels like a dream.
  • I tried once and it didn’t go my way.
  • Right now I need to focus on financial security.
  • I’m not ready yet.

Brothers and sisters, no one is more qualified than you to fulfill the plan that Allah has for you! Allah’s plan is not a fantasy or a dream. It may not go your way the first time, or the second, or the third. It may not make you rich, but there is no true financial security in this life – that’s an illusion.  No one expects you to let your family go hungry. Work hard and provide for them, but don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that the accumulation of wealth will save you, because the only true security is with Allah. And last of all, no one is ever ready to walk fee-sabeel-illah (in the path of Allah). It is a road full of thorns. But it is also the road to fulfillment, happiness, barakah (blessings) and tawfiq (success).

Fulfilling Allah’s plan for us requires that we silence the voice of our own desire, open ourselves to Allah, and look within with total sincerity. It takes courage, patience and determination. It is the path to Jannah (Paradise), Insha’Allah.

Story: The old man and the lost purse

A medieval purse circa 1600.

A medieval linen purse circa 1600.

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari relates:

I was in Makkah during the season of Hajj and I saw a man from Khurasaan calling out to the people: “Oh pilgrims, oh people of Makkah – from those who are present and those far off, I have lost a pouch that contains a thousand dinars. So whoever returns the pouch, Allah will reward them with good, save them from the hell fire, and His bounty and favors will be acquired on the Day of Accounting (Day of Judgment).”

An old man from the people of Makkah approached him and said: “Oh Khurasaani, our city is in a very tough condition, and the days of hajj are few, and its season is appointed, and the doors of profit-making are closed. This money might fall in the hands of a believer who is poor and old in age. Maybe he plans to give it if you make a promise that you will give him a little bit of money that is halal (permissible) for him to use.”

The Khurasaani said: “How much does he want?”

The old man said: “He wants one-tenth of the money (a hundred dinars).”

The Khurasaani said: “No. I will not grant him the money and instead I will take my case to Allah, and complain to Him on the day we meet Him, and Allah is sufficient for us and the best one to trust in.”

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: “I realized that it was the old man is poor, and he was the one who took the pouch of dinars and wishes to have a little portion of it. So I followed him until he returned to his home. My assumptions were confirmed. I heard him calling onto his wife:”Oh Lubabah.”

She said: “I am at your service, O Abu Ghayth.”

The old man said: I found the owner of the dinars calling for it, and he does not intend to give any reward to the person who finds it. I said to him “Give us a hundred dinars and he refused and said he would take his case to Allah. What should I do O Lubabah? I must return it, for I fear my Lord, and I fear that my sin is multiplied.

His wife said to him: Oh Man! We have been struggling and suffering from poverty with you for the last 50 years, and you have 4 daughters, 2 sisters, my mother and I, and you are the ninth. Keep all the money and feed us for we are hungry, and clothe us for you know better our situation. Perhaps Allah, the All-Mighty, will make you rich afterwards and you might be able to give the money back after you fed your children, or Allah will pay the amount you owe on the day when the kingdom will belong to the King (Allah).

He said to her: Will I consume haram after 86 years of my life, and burn my organs with fire after I have been patient with my poverty, and become worthy of Allah anger, even though I am close to my grave?! No, By Allah, I will not do so!

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: I left with amazement concerning his condition and that of his wife. At a later point during the day, I heard the owner of the pouch calling out…

Saying: “O people of Makkah, O pilgrims, who ever of you find a pouch containing a thousand dinars, let him return it and they shall surely find great reward with Allah.”

The old man said: Oh Khurasaani, I have addressed you the other day and advised you that our land is low on cultivation, so reward the person who found the pouch so that he is not tempted to break the laws of Allah. I have advised you to pay the person who finds it a hundred dinars but you refused. If your money falls into hands of a person who fears Allah the All-Mighty, will you give him 10 dinars at least, instead of a 100?

The Khurasaani said: I will not do so, and I will complain to Allah on the day I meet him, and Allah is sufficient for us and the best one to trust in.”

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: The people dispersed and left. Later on during the hours of the day, once again, the Khurasaani made the same call, saying:

“O people of Makkah, O pilgrims, who ever of you find a pouch containing a thousand dinars, let him return it and they shall surely find great reward with Allah.”

The old man came again and said: O Khurasaani, I said to you the day before yesterday to reward the finder a hundred dinars and you refused. Then I advised you to give him ten dinars and you refused, so will you give only one dinar so that he can buy with half of it things he needs and with the other half, sheep milk, so that he can give to the people and feed his children?

The Khurasaani said: I will not do so, and I will complain to Allah on the day I meet him, and Allah is sufficient for us and the best one to trust in. ”

The old man angrily said: Come you, and take your money so that I can sleep at night, for I have not had a good mood ever since I found this money.

Ibn Jarir said: So the old man went with the owner of the money and I followed them until the old man entered his house, dug a hole and pulled out the money and said: Take your money and ask Allah to forgive me and bless me from His bounty.

The Khurasaani took the money and intended to leave, but when he reached the door he said: O old man, my father died, May Allah have mercy on him, and left behind three thousand dinars and said to me: Take out a third of this money and give it to a person from the people who is most deserving of it. Therefore I tied it in a pouch so that I may spend it on someone who is worthy of it. By Allah, I have not seen a person, since I left Khurasaan until now, who is more worthy of it then you. So take it, May Allah’s blessing be upon you, and May He reward for the trust you kept, and your patience during poverty. The Khurasaani man left without the money.

The old man wept and prayed to Allah, saying: May Allah bless the owner of the money in his grave, and May Allah bless his son.

Ibn Jarir said: I left after the Khurasaani but Abu Ghayth (the old man) followed me and brought me back. He asked me to sit down, and said: I have seen you following me since the first day; you have come to know of our situation yesterday and today. I have heard that the Prophet said: “If you are gifted from the provision of Allah, without begging or asking, then accept it and do not reject it.” So this is a gift from Allah to all those attending.

The old man called: O Lubabah, O so and so, O so and so. He called on his daughters and his sisters and wife and her mother, and sat down and made me sit down. We were 10. He opened the bag, and said spread your clothing over your laps.

So I (Ibn Jarir) did, but the girls did not have proper clothing that would enable them to do that, so they extended their hands. The old man gave dinar by dinar in order until he reached me (Ibn Jarir) and said: “Here is a dinar.” The process continued until the bag was empty and I received a hundred dinars.

Ibn Jarir at-Tabari said: So joy filled my heart because of the provision they received more then the joy I had because I received a hundred dinars.

When I was leaving the old man said: O young man. You are blessed; keep this money with you for it is halal. And know that I use to wake up for Fajr prayer with this wet shirt. After I was done I would take it off, and give it so that my daughters can pray – one by one. Then I would go to work between Dhuhr prayer and Asr prayer and then I would come back at the end of the day with what Allah has given me from dates and dry pieces of bread. Then I would take off my clothes for my daughters and they would pray Dhuhr prayer and Asr prayer, and the same would happen for the Maghrib and Isha prayers. And we did not ever expect to see this kind of money. So may Allah make us make good use of them, and may Allah bless the person in his grave and multiply the reward for him.

Ibn Jarir said: So I greeted him goodbye, and took the hundred dinars and used them to write knowledge for two years! I used it to buy paper and pay rent and after sixteen years I returned to Makkah and inquired about the old man. I was told that he died a few months after the incident that occurred between us. His wife died, along with her mother, and his 2 sisters. The only ones that remained were the daughters whom, when I asked about, found that they were married to kings and Princes. I dropped by and they honored me as a guest and treated me kindly until they died also. So May Allah bless them in their graves.

{That will be an admonition given to him who believes in Allah and the Last Day. And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).

And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things. (Quran, Surat At-Talaq 65: 2-3)

Put Down the Stone

Wael and Salma, February 15, 2013

Wael and Salma, February 15, 2013

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

As-salamu alaykum everyone,

What’s up? How is everyone?

My apologies for not updating this page quite as often recently. Many of you know that my father died of a heart attack on November 28, 2012. I went through a period of deep sadness that lasted for a few months. Alhamdulillah, I’m doing better now.

I’m doing a lot of writing these days, but the reason you don’t see it here is that I’ve been working on a novel featuring Muslim characters. I’m about half done, Insha’Allah. I’ve also been nurturing my “I Love Islam” Facebook page, which now has almost 100,000 followers. I don’t write articles for that page, but you can see some inspiring images and little blurbs that I’ve written.

Of course I continue to manage the IslamicAnswers.com advice page, and that takes time every day, as it is a high-traffic website. It provides common-sense advice on marriage and family issues.

As far as my own work goes, I’ve been developing a website with a variety of text tools for writers and web publishers. It’s called TextElf.com. Feel free to check it out, though it’s still in development, so not everything looks perfect yet.

And of course amid all this, I care for my daughter Salma – she is six years old and is my joy ma-sha-Allah – and I practice martial arts fairly intensively. Salma has become an amazing reader for her age, and is also an imaginative and resourceful artist. In the martial arts arena, I am hoping to test for nidan (2nd degree black belt) in Jujitsu this year, Insha’Allah.

Since I’m here anyway, I’ll take a moment to say a few words, inspired by something that I read recently:

Put Down the Stone

Imagine you take something light – say a stone that weighs one pound – and hold it out at arm’s length, with your arm rigid. In the beginning it’s easy, right? But after a while your arm begins to tire. Your shoulder aches, your muscles tremble, and the stone begins to feel like a boulder. The pain becomes agony and the only thing you want in the world is to set the stone down. All other considerations are forgotten.

Did the stone become heavier? In absolute terms no, but because you could not set it down, it became a mountain.

That’s how it is with the burdens of life. You’re anxious about how you’re going to pay your bills or your debt, worried about your parent whose health is deteriorating, worried about your job or school grades, fearful that you will not find a good husband or wife, stressed about problems in your marriage, self-critical because you are not the kind of good Muslim you feel you should be…

The longer you hold on to these worries the heavier they become, until life itself feels like a burden.

We all know the feeling.

Just as with the stone, you must set these burdens down.

The only way to do that is to hand them to Allah. This is called tawakkul, or trust in Allah. It doesn’t mean that you flutter through life carefree as a butterfly, no. You strive to excel in every aspect of life, but you realize that the outcomes belong to Allah; so you trust Him to handle them. You hand over your fears to Allah. You set that stone down by giving it to Allah, Who feels no fatigue, and for Whom all things are easy.

You Matter

Man surrounded by sun rays

You matter, as much as the sun and the sea. I know that may seem hard to believe sometimes. It may feel like you are walking through this world without leaving a mark; like no one sees who you truly are; like your existence has no greater significance, no purpose except survival, work, and getting by.

That’s not the case. The truth is that you are important and special, even if it’s not apparent to you. I remember one time years ago when I was in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended the mosque in Santa Clara for Jum’ah. After salat, a man approached me. He was a handsome young Indian or Pakistani man in his twenties, professional looking, perhaps a software engineer or doctor. He asked if my name was Wael, and I said yes. He told me that I had been his counselor at the Muslim Youth Camp almost twenty years before, when he was a kid and I was a teenager. He said that I had changed his life, and that he still remembered the things I had taught him. All the years since then – when I sometimes felt sorry for myself and wondered if I had accomplished anything in life – I had no idea that I had changed the life of one young man. I wonder, if I had that effect on him, did I affect others as well?

Is it possible that you and I are living our lives, doing the things we do, and not realizing what wide ripples we are sending out into the world?

In September 2012 I attended a martial arts seminar in Newport Beach, California. During the first day of training I injured my shoulder. I went to an empty room next door and lay on the floor, in terrible pain. A woman who was attending the seminar saw me. She brought me an ice pack, then checked on me repeatedly over the course of the day. I did not even know her name. But when I think of that seminar, what I remember is that woman’s kindness. Her compassion – which was perhaps a small thing to her – made my injury bearable.

I have no doubt that you too have changed someone’s life, or helped someone through a time of pain. I know that there is someone out there who looks up to you. Someone you have inspired. Someone who needs your friendship. Someone you have saved without realizing it. And someone you will save in the future, Insha’Allah.

You Matter to Allah

You are important to Allah Ta’aala (God). Consider that:

  1. Allah created you to be His khalifa (representative) on the earth.
  2. Allah created you with the best of forms.
  3. Allah created an ideal environment for you to grow. The earth is just the right distance from the sun. It has an ideal mixture of oxygen and nitrogen in the air. It is beautifully laid out with forests, oceans full of fish, mountains, grass and sky.
  4. Allah provides your daily needs. Every bite of food you put in your mouth, and every breath you take, comes from Him.
  5. Allah sent you Prophets and a Book so you would not be spiritually lost.
  6. Allah is closer to you than your jugular vein. That is not a warning from Allah, it is an expression of love and care. Who do you want to be close to? You want to be close to those you love.
  7. We might think that we are far down the list on those of whom Allah loves. But Allah is all-powerful, and needs nothing from human beings. He doesn’t need the favor of the mighty, or the wealth of the rich. He only desires our gratitude and ‘ibadah. The kings of the world, and the young, strong, famous, and educated – they have no advantage over you when it comes to Allah’s favor. To Allah, you are as important as any other person.

Would Allah have done all of this if you were not important to Him? If you did not matter?

Your journey in this life lies before you like a path through a beautiful valley. You have places to go, and things to do. Allah caused you to be born at this moment in the history of the world, as the person you are, for a reason. Your purpose is unfolding before you day by day. Your life has important meaning. Your victories, your injuries and illnesses, the losses and heartbreaks you suffer, have meaning.

Have faith in Allah’s plan for you. If you’re going through something difficult, then know that Allah will not abandon you. Things will get better, Insha’Allah. You will not be stuck in this moment forever. Take a breath, say a dua’, and be peaceful within yourself.

Have Faith

I know you have talents and gifts Alhamdulillah. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because everyone is unique. Use your own special talents in Allah’s cause, to make a better life for yourself and your family, and to make the world a better place.

Let go of self-recrimination. The past is not a curse, it’s a gift. It teaches you and makes you wise. If you’ve been through hardship and survived, that’s a blessing! It means you are strong and capable, and Allah is preparing you for something important.

Have faith in your own heart. Believe in Allah, in our noble Messenger Muhammad (sws), in the Ummah, and in the future. Whatever pain we suffer in this life is not in vain. We may cry and groan, but Allah sees our suffering and will compensate us more than we can imagine, as long as we are patient and keep faith. Allah the Most High has a plan for us, and He is the best of planners.

Feeling Unwanted

Heart shaped leaf

“By the morning brightness…”

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I was asked to write a post on this subject. Sorry it took so long.

Have you ever felt unwanted by the world, or abandoned? Personally, there have been times in my life when I felt that there was no one who truly loved me for who I was. I was wrong, of course. I was seeing the world through the dark glasses of depression, which distort the true image of the world.

We all go through gloomy periods when we feel that no one sincerely cares for us; that even our friends and family are using us, or only tolerating us because they have to.

Muslims raised in the West (especially converts) sometimes have a different dilemma. We may feel that “born” Muslims don’t really want us because we don’t fit in; and the non-Muslims don’t appreciate us either, because we are believers. So we don’t fit in anywhere.

Guilt

Feelings of being unwanted are also common among those who have committed sins. They may be plagued by guilt and feelings of worthlessness. People go so far as to feel that God Himself has abandoned them. At IslamicAnswers.com we get questions from people who say things like, “I know that Allah hates me,” or, “I don’t deserve Allah’s love.”

Often the intensity of people’s guilt is out of proportion to the deeds they have committed. I wonder if the child’s fear of abandonment (a universal human experience) doesn’t linger in the human psyche, waiting to leap out when things go bad, and say, “See! I knew I’d be abandoned one day.”

The Prophet (sws)

Let’s look at the Prophet Muhammad (sws), our noble example. He never committed sins; nevertheless, he went through periods when he  felt worried and stressed. Early in his Prophethood there was a time when the revelation of the Quran was suspended. The Prophet wondered if he had made some mistake that had caused Allah to abandon him.

Until Allah revealed Surat ad-Duha (Quran, Surah 93):

By the morning brightness

And [by] the night when it covers with darkness,

Your Lord has not taken leave of you, [O Muhammad], nor has He detested [you].

And the Hereafter is better for you than the first [life].

And your Lord is going to give you, and you will be satisfied.

Did He not find you an orphan and give [you] refuge?

And He found you lost and guided [you],

And He found you poor and made [you] self-sufficient.

So as for the orphan, do not oppress [him]. And as for the petitioner, do not repel [him]. But as for the favor of your Lord, report [it].

Syed Abul-‘Aalaa Maudoodi commented on the first verses of this Surah, saying,

“He (the Prophet sws) was given the consolation that revelation had not been stopped because of some displeasure but this was necessitated by the same expediency as underlies the peace and stillness of the night after the bright day, as if to say: “If you had continuously been exposed to the intensely bright light of Revelation (Wahi) your nerves could not have endured it. Therefore, an interval was given in order to afford you peace and tranquility.” This state was experienced by the Holy Prophet in the initial stage of the Prophethood when he was not yet accustomed to hear the intensity of Revelation. On this basis, observance of a pause in between was necessary.”

SubhanAllah, what a brilliant insight. I never considered this before: that if I’m going through a period when there’s no one who appreciates me – when I’m all alone – maybe it’s because that’s where I need to be spiritually. Maybe there is an important life lesson that can only be learned in solitude.

So not only has Allah not abandoned me – and He never will! – but He is guiding me, watching me, and bringing me along the best path for me at this moment.

That changes things completely. It tells me that my narrow perspective – “Allah is not helping me” – is 100% wrong. The truth is the opposite – Allah is helping me in ways I do not yet perceive. He is with me at every moment. He has never abandoned me.

Allah does not turn away from us. The light of His guidance shines unceasingly. His Mercy and Compassion are available at all times, day or night.

Rather, we are the ones who turn away from Allah. We cover our eyes to block His light so that we can continue in sin; or we turn away to pursue paths of lust and desire.

What About Family?

If we can acknowledge that Allah has not abandoned us, then why do we sometimes feel that the people closest to us are the ones who respect us the least?

Love between family members is taken for granted. We are “supposed” to love our families, so we sometimes don’t feel the need to express our love. Also, family members often feel that they have a right to criticize each other, so it can feel like our families only see the bad in us. Furthermore, when we see someone every day and know them intimately, we can become hyper-aware of their faults and bad habits.

What’s needed is compassion. We must forgive our family members, and focus on their good qualities. Everyone is imperfect. You may not see it so much with your friends because you don’t live with them, but everyone has bad habits. We need to spend time with our families outside of the obligated family functions. Go to the park with them, go on a road trip, etc.

Lastly, if you have a family member who is truly abusive, then avoid that person, and recognize that it’s not your fault. Not everyone can be what we would like them to be. Not everyone will approve of us and be proud of us as we would like, and that’s true even for family members sometimes.

What About Friends?

I don’t have all the answers on this one, as I have not been totally successful in forming close, lifelong friendships. I had three solid, long-term friendships that lasted for 12 years, 25 years, and 27 years, respectively, but they came to an end. I have other casual friendships:  people whose histories I somewhat know, and are good to chat with, but not people I could call in an emergency.

I think part of the problem is that I am a generous and giving friend; and this attracts “takers” – people who are needy, manipulative or selfish.

I suspect that many of those who feel unwanted and unloved by their friends are making the same mistake. They are choosing friends who are takers, not givers. This gives you a temporary feeling of usefulness, because it appears that the other person needs you. But when you are feeling down, when you’re having a problem, when you need someone to hold you up – your “friend” is nowhere to be found.

But what happens if a person who is a “giver” – someone who is kind and compassionate – befriends another giver? You get a deep relationship in which the two of you support each other through good times and bad, Insha’Allah.

Wanted

You are wanted. Allah created you for a reason, and put you on this earth at exactly the time that you are needed.

If it seems that certain individuals do not appreciate you, consider the example of the Prophets, most of whom were rejected by their own people. Some, like the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), went from being respected and admired by his people, to being reviled. The point is that there will always be those who don’t appreciate you. Accept that, and work on becoming sincere with Allah. Trust in His plan for you. Trust that He is guiding you, and that if you go through hardships it’s because there are important lessons for you to learn.

Allah created you deliberately. You have a special and unique purpose on this earth. If you don’t see it yet, give it time. But trust that you are indeed wanted and necessary, as much as the mountains or the moon, and as much as any human being who ever lived. Be peaceful in your heart. Forgive others, and forgive yourself. Stay close to Allah, praise Him, ask His forgiveness, and thank Him for every  blessing in your life.

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