Getting in Touch With Gratitude

Girl with arms raised to the sky

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

If a life comes down to what a man or woman has learned, then I’ll say this: you may feel discouragement, anxiety or despair, but you never know what’s coming tomorrow. Never give up on Allah, and never give up on yourself. Allah brings life and light from darkness. A closed room opens and becomes a road to the sunrise. Miracles happen every day, and I am a witness to that.

Gratitude

First, take nothing and no one for granted. Remember to be grateful for everything – for health, breath, the heart pumping in your chest, wholesome food on the table, rain falling unbidden from the sky, family, friends, the Quran, the Prophet (sws), everything. Gratitude is the first order of the day. Gratitude is the path to loving Allah. Gratitude is the only argument one needs against disbelief. It is the cure for sadness and materialism as well, and is the motivation to do better tomorrow.

When I sit down to eat with my daughter Salma, we first say Bismillah, then each of us names three things for which we are grateful. It has the effect of connecting us to the blessings of the moment – such as the food on the table – and the greater blessings that we often take for granted, such as the presence of family and the gift of Islam.

I’m a huge believer in gratitude, which is why I focus on it in my writings, including in my novel, Pieces of a Dream.

Ask from Allah

Second, know that you have nothing but what Allah has given you, and no protector but Him, so when you ask, ask from Allah. The book, “Don’t Be Sad” mentions a story:

A Muslim went to a certain country as a refugee and he implored the authorities there to grant him citizenship. He was denied, and all avenues were closed to him. Despite his many efforts at importuning others, all of his contacts failed. One day he met a righteous scholar, and explained his predicament.

The scholar said, `Supplicate to your Lord, for He is the One who makes things easy.’ This advice is given clearly in the following hadith:

On the authority of Abu Abbas Abdullah bin Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:

One day I was behind the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) [riding on the same mount] and he said, “O young man, I shall teach you some words [of advice]: Be mindful of Allah and Allah will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, then ask Allah [alone]; and if you seek help, then seek help from Allah [alone]. And know that if the nation were to gather together to benefit you with anything, they would not benefit you except with what Allah had already prescribed for you. And if they were to gather together to harm you with anything, they would not harm you except with what Allah had already prescribed against you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” (It was related by at-Tirmidhi, who said it was a good and sound hadeeth).

The refugee later related,

“By Allah, I stopped going to people for help or for intercession. Instead I began praying to Allah in the last third of the night just as the scholar told me to do. Just before the break of dawn, I would call to Allah and invoke Him for relief.

I submitted an application for citizenship without using any person of position to intercede for me. A few days passed and then suddenly, to my astonishment, I was called to pick up my citizenship request papers. They were stamped with ‘Approved.’

Forgive

Third, forgive yourself and do better tomorrow. Everyone loses control sometimes. Everyone sometimes hurts others and feels regret. Everyone has shameful experiences. Everyone.

Fourth, forgive others. Be gentle and assume the best when it comes to people’s intentions. Everyone is struggling in this world. Other people’s anger or criticism is almost always the product of their own fear.

Save one soul

Why does it seem sometimes that the Muslim world is so out of touch with gratitude? Why does it seem that we Muslims are consumed with anger and frustration?

It’s understandable. We Muslims are a conquered people. Our lands were divided by colonialists, we are ruled by tyrants and kings, and we are under siege or occupation by non-Muslim powers in many places. We watch as some of our most ancient cultures are reduced to rubble and conflict. At the same time, we’re dealing with major social issues like corruption, poverty, unemployment and inability to marry.

All of that generates feelings of anger, frustration and resentment. We see that reflected in the discontent of many Muslims.

Surely, however, we are not meant to live our lives in a constant state of frustration. After all, there has always been – and will always be – suffering in the world. So the question is, how do we acknowledge the suffering of the Ummah, and work for the betterment of the Muslims, while still maintaining our own inner peace and sense of gratitude? How can we feel outrage while not allowing it to eat away like acid at our imaan?

Going back to the hadith of ibn Abbas mentioned above, we must remember that no one can  help us or harm us with anything except that which is permitted by Allah. We must strive to do all we can for the sake of Islam, then leave the rest in Allah’s hands. If we are at least doing something, then we do not have to feel impotent.

It also helps to keep our focus small. No one can carry the suffering of the world on his or her shoulders. Try instead to help one person. There is value in saving one soul, or even assisting one person in a small way. When you have saved one soul, then save another, and another. In this way you become a part of a great movement of goodness and compassion that transforms the world.

All the while, be grateful. Focus on what you have, rather than what you do not have. Be aware of the visible blessings blossoming all around you, and imagine the many more invisible blessings showering down from Heaven.

My Only Advice

Take responsibility for your own choices.

Take responsibility for your own choices.

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I’m often touched by my readers’ comments, and I feel grateful to Allah that I have the opportunity to help people through my writing.

I apologize that I’m unable to advise people personally through email or Facebook chat. I have so many business and personal projects going, and I have a daughter to take care of. And I have my own struggles. I’m doing my best just to walk the path.

If you need advice on a marriage or family issue, please to go my IslamicAnswers.com website and submit your question to the team.

Here is the best advice I can give for any situation:

“Take responsibility for your own choices and happiness. Live up to your talents and make something happen. Eliminate ‘I can’t’ from your vocabulary. Create opportunities. People will tell you ‘no’: you tell them ‘yes’.

Turn to God for guidance with an open heart and have the courage to follow what comes, rather than clinging to your own imagined outcomes. He will always provide a way out, will always open a door; you only need eyes to see it, and that comes from sincerity.

Be sincere with yourself above all, because if you’re lying to yourself then you’re stuck. Focus on your own mistakes rather than the mistakes of others, but only in order to learn and do better. Don’t bind yourself with guilt and self-pity. Regret for the past is a waste: it’s gone and you can’t change it, so forgive yourself and forgive others.

Believe in something greater than yourself. You have a purpose in this life, a mission, and most likely you know in your heart what it is, so find a way to follow that path, one step at a time.

Guard your spirit from harm but be open to love. Choose compassion again and again, even when the world makes it hard. Be patient with your family and friends. Don’t hold your love back: you only go through this world once, so let your love shine like the sun.”

***

If this has been helpful, then make dua’ for me. Jazakum Allah khayr, may Allah reward you all.

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.

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.

Support Our Sponsor, Join Today!

Zawaj.com Muslim Matrimonials

Join our Islamic Sunrays Facebook page.

If you like an article, please comment! It means a lot to the authors.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 199 other subscribers

Archives

Pieces of a Dream