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.

Believe in Allah, Because He Believes in You

Amazing sunrays and clouds

By Wael Abdelgawad | IslamicSunrays.com

I believe in Allah because He believes in me… and He believes in you too. Believe in His plan for you, have faith in Him, trust His guidance to you, because He has faith in you, and trusts you.

Some people might challenge this assertion that Allah believes in us and trusts us. To me, that’s surprising. Allah created nothing in vain. Everything He does has a purpose. His creation of humanity was done with intent.

Why were we created? Many Muslims will automatically respond, “To worship Allah.” That’s true, but why does Allah want to be worshiped? Furthermore, why did He create everything else – the stars, planets, forests, seas, mountains, animals?…

Without presuming to know Allah’s intentions, and returning to the realm of the human for a moment, I will make a simple observation. As a writer, one of the reasons I write is because the act of putting my thoughts and feelings on paper satisfies something deep within me. I’ve been writing creatively since I was a child, and to me it’s not a hobby but a calling. I’m a writer, therefore I write; and I am a writer because I write.

The same is true for a painter or any other artist. I imagine if you asked a painter why he paints, you might get many different answers:

  • “It makes me happy”
  • “It’s my passion.”
  • “To express my ideas.”
  • “To make money.”
  • “I don’t know, I just do.”

The bottom line is that it’s the painter’s nature to paint; it’s her calling, her function. She is a painter, therefore she paints; or she paints, therefore she is a painter. Same difference.

Allah is Al-Khaaliq, The Creator. That is one of His names, one of His attributes. He expresses this attribute by creating. You are a part of that expression, and so am I. So is a blue whale, Mount Kilimanjaro, the Grand Canyon, a dolphin, a mouse and an amoebum. Everything that Allah created is amazing in its function and awesomely complex in its design. Everything that He created is beautiful and purposeful. Including you and me.

To create is an act of love. It is an act of faith. The Creator loves you and believes in you. Believe in Him, believe in yourself, believe in humanity, and believe in the unique path that Allah has chosen for you.

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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