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Coping with Trials & Misfortunes & Life’s Pitiless Storms

Excerpt from another beneficial article by Abu Aaliyah:

Life is never without its ups and downs, its triumphs and tears, its joys and sorrows. In the Qur’an we read the following: We will surely test you with fear and hunger, and loss of property and lives and trade. But give glad-tidings to the patient who, when struck by some misfortune, say: “We belong to God, and to Him shall we return.” On those shall be blessings from their Lord and mercy; and such are the rightly-guided. [2:155-57]

Patience (sabr) is seen as an antidote to the earthly struggles and sufferings we all must endure. The unbeliever must endure, as must the believer. Suffering is intrinsic to the human story – though the “problem of suffering” as a crucial chapter in the philosophy of religion is of fairly recent origin. By patience I mean: restraining one’s soul in times of difficulty or discomfort, and enduring adversity without complaint.

Those who choose to lose sight of God, when they are struck by a misfortune, tend to suffer on two levels. First, there is the calamity itself and its corresponding pain and anguish. Second, there is the accompanying belief that it should never have happened and that its happening proves something very bitter and dark about the world (and if they bring God into it, then about the nature of God).

The believer, by contrast, lives under the awareness that whatever we have or enjoy is ultimately a gift on loan to us from God, upon an acceptance of the destiny willed by God.“We belong to God, and to Him shall we return.” Yet knowledge that God is the sole owner of all that we have – including our ownselves – is not to deny human emotions; which are themselves God-given. Once, as his dying infant son had gasped for his final breath, the Prophet, peace be upon him, took him in his arms, whilst tears flowed from his eyes. One of those present was puzzled over such weeping, given how the Prophet himself had forbidden wailing and vociferous lamentation. When he finally found his voice, this is what the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘This is compassion. The eyes shed tears, the heart grieves, yet we say nothing to displease our Lord. O Ibrahim! We grieve over being parted from you.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.1303; Muslim, no.2315]