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.

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Article by Wael

Wael Abdelgawad is an Egyptian-American living in Fresno, California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including Zawaj.com and IslamicAnswers.com, and also of various technology and travel websites. He is a writer and poet, and has been a web developer since 1997. This project, IslamicSunrays.com, is very dear to his heart, as it has allowed him to express ideas that have growing inside him for many years. Wael is divorced and has one lovely young daughter. He practices and teaches martial arts (somewhat obsessively), and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and vanilla fudge ice cream. Wael is an advocate for human rights and blogs about these issues at AbolishTorture.com. He is also a volunteer with the MyDeen Muslim youth organization in Fresno. Wael tagged this post with: , , , , , Read 238 articles by
34 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Wael says:

    It’s very difficult for me to write a post like this. Putting myself emotionally back in that time is like ripping a hole in my own heart. But this is the only honest way to communicate the message and convey my sense of the depth of Allah’s kindness and love.

    • SisterZ says:

      This may sound strange, but yesterday, either after Dhuhr or Asr Salaah and after shedding many tears and asking Allah for guidance, I opened the Quran to the same surah and another plea of Yacub(as) spoke out to me in ayah 18:

      ‘…’patience is most fitting’……. ‘it is Allah(alone) whose help can be sought’.

      JazakhAllahkhayr for struggling to write this.

      SisterZ

    • MuratM1262 says:

      Brother Wael,…gotta tell u, ur a true brother…when i usually read ur posts…i get convinced…& i try to follow & learn from the moral out of ur post…you’re a good man.
      I pray Allaah…ya Rab grant you & us all al-Ferdawss el-Aa’laa…ya Rab,

      • Wael says:

        Thank you so much. Alhamdulillah I’m glad that my experiences can benefit others. This points to the fact that the hardship we experience in life has a purpose. It teaches us important lessons that cannot be learned any other way.

  2. Asmaa says:

    Jazakalaahu kheir for your informative post. I understand as reader that it is not easy for one to reveal his past trials because many pple only talk about their achievement which may not have any impact to pples’ life but by sharing with us your past challenges it can have a great impact on me in particular as well as others even though it bricks your injured heart. Brother rest assured our Almighty Allaah loves for when He intends good for His servant He tries Him, And you were able to excel with patience, persevering, trust and your constant prayer and thanking Him. Shukraan.

  3. nash says:

    Salam brother,

    would you please share the specific dua you read? or which dua would you recommend in times of turmoil?

    JazakaAllah khair for sharing this post, you have no idea how many people you will help out like ths :)

  4. A says:

    ASAK Brother, This is a beautiful article, mashaAllah. May Allah (SWT) reward you and bless you and your family. And may He continue to give you great success and shower you and your family with His overflowing Mercy. This is a great reminder. JAK.

  5. Amy says:

    Though it may be difficult (and I know it is) for you to share these things, I am so glad that you do because there are so many people who have faced, or are facing now, similar circumstances who need to know that they aren’t the first and they aren’t alone. The past might be a chest of painful memories for the one who lived them, but for others it’s a chest of jewels and treasures to help them find hope and determination to find their own path out of dark times.

  6. MuratM1262 says:

    Believe it ir not…from a while, I asked my aunt…how can I feel that Allaah’ is there…listening to what I say…& who am I…among all those people to answer my prayer…all this answered…
    ( wa etha saa’alak eebady ‘aany fa eny kareeb…ugeeb daa’wata adaa’y ethaa da’aan)
    In surat al-Baqarah…
    I wish i could write it in Arabic…
    But it’ll show up as ‘?’__
    Jazakaa Allaah, for bringing this post up,

  7. Tony says:

    Subhan’allah!! What a great article. Your story brought me right back to a very difficult time in my life many years ago. Thank you for the reminder. Brother, your writings are always so deep. I often read your writings over the course of weeks at at time. Please keep writing. Thank you.

    Tony

  8. Muhammad1982 says:

    Masha Allah brother Wael, as other brothers and sisters said; it must have taken a lot of courage, strength on your part to share your past struggles but you know that who ever will read and benefit from it; Allah will reward you for that. It certainly helped me and I am sure will help many who will come to read later on iA.
    May Allah (swt) help us all stay strong throughout HIS tests and trails iA. Jazak Allah for writing this faith refreshing post.

  9. friend says:

    Words direct from the heart ,touches directly the hearts.
    The pain is so real that i dont have words for it.

    Thank you for sharing your life with us .also the post ‘tranforming power of a childs love’.i have read it over and over and over again.

    may allah fill your life with happiness and ease both here and the hereafter ameen.

  10. precious star says:

    “I know many people who have hit rock bottom and called upon Allah…”I know you can hear me, tell me what 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”

    I am waiting for this moment. How lucky you were to experience it in your 20′s! And then go on to have children, success, etc.

    The reality is most people don’t achieve such miracles. Your story is warm because it tells us what Allah SWT is capable of. But is it inevitable….or perhaps the better word is axiomatix

  11. precious star says:

    Oops..hit the enter button by mistake.
    I was saying….is it axiomatic that if we pray from the depths of our soul, if we prostrate before the Almighty in tears, that we will find closure to the dark, lonely, hurtfulful chapter in our life?

    In my experience, the answer is no. We keep hope alive and make best efforts, and keep making dua to Allah to pick up the pieces of our broken soul. But things don’t always work out the way we want. We get hurt and remain hurt. We wish for families of our own but none materialize. We ask for children but remain childless.

    The Almighty works in ways that we cannot comprehend. There is a divine destiny. We can pray to change the circumstances in our lives, but the answer is His alone.

    I am waaaaay past my 20s and 30s. And, perhaps, I have come to realize that the simple things we yearn for, such as a family and children of our own, and respect from colleagues, may never come to fruition despite our pleas. But I say this because hindsight is 20/20. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I believed that things would happen if I just asked. I know now that life is much more complicated than that. God’s plan for each of us will only truly unfold in another lifetime.

    • Wael says:

      “When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I believed that things would happen if I just asked.”

      I never believed this, and I feel it’s important to explain that I am not suggesting this. I said, “something or someone comes into their lives to show them the way forward.” Allah shows us the way. He does not hand us our entire future gift-wrapped with a nice bow on top. We still have to do the work.

      What Allah gave me in that story that I could not secure for myself was my freedom. When it came to getting a job, I got a job quickly because I was so absolutely determined (I think I told that story in a previous post). I lived in a halfway house for six months, then for six months I lived in a room at the YMCA that was so narrow I could touch opposite walls at once. Then in a tiny loft apartment in the worst part of town, and even then I had to pay my rent bi-weekly because I couldn’t come up with the entire month’s rent at once. I worked 12 hours a day and lived on white rice and oranges, and leftover pizza from company dinners. I saved money to start a business and someone broke in and stole it… There’s much more I could tell you, but I shouldn’t have to. Suffice it to say that I experienced heartbreak, setbacks and deep depressions. I failed at some things and then tried others…

      Whatever I achieved, I achieved because Allah blessed me with an opportunity, and then I capitalized on that opportunity by working very hard, being persistent, overcoming failure, and keeping faith no matter what.

      If I wrote this article in a way to suggest that just when life is darkest, Allah will step in and suddenly give us everything we ever dreamed of, then I expressed myself poorly. I believe that if we are sincere, and pray to Allah alone, and put our trust in Him, then He will give us abilities and opportunities. What we do with those is up to us.

      • notthateasy says:

        yes he gives us wayyy many opportunities and what we do is upto us. We try our level best then things don’t work out, we get hurt because its fate!!!

        You can go on arguing about we did not try our best but you haven’t been put in my situation or our situation for the matter, and I can gurantee you that you never have tried as much as I did to get married. Its not that easy to change destiny. Allah is the most merciful and it is true He has blessed me a lot and I can never finish being thankful enough to HIM. I am Allah’s servant and He is the most kind to have blessed me so much. But then there is just this one thing I dont have, it hurts a lot and hurts more when I hear you say I havent tried my best, Brother YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!

        its easy to find faults in others specially when they are ill fated, because it gives you a sense of security that what happened to us will not happen to you for so and so reason, but you realize the truth only when you are given the same terrible hell that I am living. salam

        • Amy says:

          Salaams,

          Forgive me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you are saying you are “living hell” only because you have not been able to marry? I’m not trying to minimize your loneliness, but that kind of pales in comparison to the experiences alluded to in this article. Even then, there are countless people who would gladly have taken the author’s place because his situation would be a cakewalk compared to what they are living.

          I think you should do a couple of things: 1. Quit trying to run away from your pain. If you’ve tried your level best to achieve marriage and it’s being withheld, there is a trove of blessings in the pain you are experiencing in being kept from it, if you could only but see it. 2. Read this sister’s post http://www.yasminmogahed.com/2012/01/03/this-is-love/. You need to have a more balanced perspective about what attaining marriage is and is not. I can assure you, even those in happy and satisfying marriages will admit that it’s not this “ultimate” thing worth letting yourself feel so tortured about not having.

      • precious star says:

        I agree with you, and that’s why I said earlier “we keep hope alive and make best efforts, and keep making dua to Allah”.

        I’ve lived life long enough, and been through my own tribulations, to know that Allah delivers circumstances, not “a gift with a nice bow on top.” I’ve lived life long enough and humbly enough to know that we have to work hard and do the best we can in order to achieve the best possible outcome in our lives.

        What is the BEST thing to ever happen to you? The most precious thing in your life? Your daughter?

        Did you undergo decades of heartbreak in an effort to bring her into fruition?

        Only someone who wishes to be a mother will truly know the heartbreak of not having a family. But if your daughter is the most precious blessing you have, then you may know what i am talking about.

        I’ve never been incarcerated, or lived off oranges, I will admit that. I spent my 20s in school – which is a huge blessing and opportunity, no doubt.

        But MY point was that sometimes Allah does not give us the circumstances we wish that will help us achieve what we want. He may give circumstances that will allow us to achieve something…but the ultimate outcome — I’m sorry, it is not “up to us”. It is up to Him. Like you, I don’t think its necessary to go into detail about all the tribulations and setbacks I’ve experienced, but I do know that many, many times, Allah’s answer is “no”. Allah will take care of us, of that I have no doubt.

        • friend says:

          Dear precious star,

          asalamalaikum,

          iam single myself. younger than you but old enough to start thinking that i may stay single for the rest of my life, so i know what you mean. i do agree with you that we can only try and claim that we have tried our best but ultimate answer lies with Allah , thats what makes Him , HIM. we can only request and make use of oppurtunities.
          in my experience there are certain things you can work towards and certain things are just ‘qadar’ ,Fate.
          you can work hard in studies, work hard in jobs, be persistent in it etc and you get it. certain things like marriage, divorce, having children, a disease, a life changing acident or experiene are all in our divine destiny. we should ofcourse do everything possible as far as our efforts are concerned but the rest is up to Allah.
          ofourse people who have never been married and those who have been married and had a divorse or have children of that marriage ,their life domain is different to those who have never been there. never been there is a difficult position to be in but we know for certain that those with unhappy marriages wish they were in our situation instead.

          i agree with you that sometimes we just have to do total submission to what has been decreed for us and have faith in Allah that He will bring us through what ever hardships we face because of whats been withheld.

          for women speciallyit is diffiult not being married and have a family of their own as you never feel you fit in anywhere, people think that only because you are not married thats why you have become so bitter or you look unhappy or you are thankless to Allah but the truth is its only beause you are not married that you dont belong anywhere, unfortunately it is a painful truth.

          everyones has thier peice of good and bad in this world. when i did not have money i used to think that when i will have money i will happy , when i had money i still was searhing for happiness, iam not talking about greed for money iam talking about money for necessaties.

          we all are struggling in one way or the other. i read a post by yasmin mogahed about the 3 levels of patience which really helped me understand many aspects of patience.its worth having a read at it.

  12. friend says:

    Dear Amy,
    asalamalaikum
    you introduced me to this very valuable website and through it i got to know about suhaib webb website as well. so i feel a bit shy telling you where i read this article.Jazakallah khairun. i always think of you when i visit her website.

    i am sorry i couldnt find the exact link but you can listen to this audio lecture on you tube or her webiste under this title.

    Yasmin Halaqah – Nov. 29 – Sabr (Patience) & Rida (Contentment).wmv
    OR
    Contentment with the decree of God (Ridah)( on yasmin’s website

    • Amy says:

      Ha ha Friend, I actually went on her website trying to find it myself with the search option but couldn’t find anything that seemed to match, so I asked thinking you might have the straight shot!

      I will check those out. Masha’Allah, I think it’s wonderful that we have so many talented Islamic writers and thinkers to benefit all of us. My sincere duas are with them and all the people they are inspiring.

      • friend says:

        mashallah!!! its in the audio lecture section.
        also i got a little confused between notthateasy and preious star. any way i meant to write for all of us.

  13. Find God, God is every where, quantum theory, string theory and bizzare chaos theory, each such theory is nothing but our own stupidity to see the God in front of us,

    http://www.allah111.blogspot.com

    engineer ishrat hussain mohammad dubai uae.

  14. Shafat says:

    This is a very nice article which you have posted, brother Wael. As you have said, Allah is always with us. However, I try to feel this way, but I never do. My life is filled with regrets and there is always unhappiness in my heart. And I can never find inner peace in my soul. Furthermore, you said that Allah sometimes gives those which go against our desires. However, the fact is that when it comes to my prayers and supplications, Allah never answers them. Which is why I often (well, most of the time), think that Allah has deserted me.

    I pray five times a day and try my best to keep my relationship with Allah strong. However, I can never attain peace in my soul. I just don’t know what to do brother Wael. If you can give me some encouragement, it should as well help. Jazakallahu Khairan.

  15. Riedwana says:

    Thank you.
    My eyes were filled with tears.
    My hope, trust and believe in Allahs guidance will stay with me in every breath that I take. life is a challenge indeed, only Almighty Allah has a plan for me and you. Allah alone has control over everything. My struggles ahve humbled me, and has made my deen even stronger. This to me is truly a blessing. I know for sure that one fine day that all that I wish and pray fro will come to light.
    May Allah reward you in abundance for this beautiful blog/ website you have created.

    Shukran
    R

  16. Lamisha says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    After reading this post, I just realised how much I’m forgetting about Allah swt who gave us life and many subtle blessings we take for granted.

    Just 2 mins before I was reading this I felt so sad and sorta depressed because I might have failed my A level chemistry exam and English. I really need those subjects to Persue to my career in future. Still waiting on results though. But after reading this I realise how selfish I am and how other people are suffering more than me. May Allah bless us all and guide us all to janah Ameen Jazakallah Khair for writing this emotional post, truly has made me think deeper.

  17. Zeinab says:

    Salam Brother Wael,

    Thank you for your article.

  18. O masood says:

    Every one says the same,Allah is great & mercy ful,i suffered a lot & suffering,i want to close to Allah but Allah is not happy with me & not forgive me,some time i pray regerualy & then stop,please guide me & what u said is true & very nice

  19. Zarine says:

    Hi Wael

    I have a dear friend who is very distressed and is almost losing faith. I really want to help him but he is not able to open up to me and tell me the reason for his distress. I really feel helpless, please pray and help us so that he may see a solution soon

    • Wael says:

      May Allah help him and guide him. You are female, correct? Maybe he needs to discuss the issue with a man. Also, I would caution you against building a close friendship with a boy who is not your mahrem, as it leads to trouble.

      • Zarine says:

        Thank you so much for replying and for your advice. All i can do is just pray and be patient till everything gets better. I just hope that my prayers get answered soon. The current situation really makes me feel restless.

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