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LANALLAH __Islamic BlogZine__
Saturday, June 04, 2005


Amel S. Abdullah

Picture it: your alarm clock fails and you wake up late on the day of a big meeting at work. Frantically, you get dressed and run out the door, only to see your bus pulling away from the curb. You cannot flag down the driver, and the next bus will not come for another hour. Without doubt, you will be late for the meeting.

"Every cloud has a silver lining."

It is a short phrase with a lot of meaning, encouraging us to look for the bright side to life's disappointments and disasters. It is funny how we are often irritated by something like missing a bus or a meeting, yet we would be so grateful if it turned out that the bus had been destined for an accident, killing everyone on board. In this case, we would say that being late was a blessing.

There are silver linings in every situation, but we often do not look beyond the surface in order to find Allah's blessings, which are not always as obvious as a fatal accident that we managed to avert. Sometimes, blessings are hidden and remain so. For example, what if a thief had been planning to rob your house while you were at work, but he has lost the opportunity when you returned home that morning after missing the bus? Or what if missing the bus led you to get into a long conversation about Islam with your neighbor whom you never usually see, and that person ended up becoming a Muslim many years later, long after you moved away?

You might never find out about the thief or the person who embraced Islam, or some other important thing that happened because you missed the bus that day. But this does not make those incidents any less real. For this reason, we should always thank Allah for everything that happens in our lives and have confidence that everything happens for a reason, according to Allah's wisdom.

Having this great belief in Allah's wisdom and Divine Plan distinguishes Muslims from people of other faiths, who often question Allah's Plan or even get angry with Allah when something bad happens. How can Allah allow people to kill one another? How does Allah let babies die? Why is there so much anguish in the world? Most of us have heard such questions, which are frequently motivated by the pain of having experienced or witnessed a tragic event.

Al-Hasan al-Basri advised: "Do not hate the trials that befall you or the calamities that happen to you, for they may be something that you hate but it leads to your salvation, and there may be something that you love, but it leads to your doom."

In order to understand why tragedy strikes, we have to understand that life can certainly be tough, that it may be filled with disappointments, and that the manner in which we handle such disappointments is a test of our character and faith.

The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: 'How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs is all good, and this applies to no one except the believer. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks and that is good for him, and if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and he will be rewarded for that, so everything that Allah has decreed for the Muslim is good.' [Muslim]

He also said: 'Whoever Allah wishes good for, He inflicts him (with hardship)'

Besides patience, the trials we experience in life teach us many virtues, such as gratitude to Allah and having compassion for others who may be going through even worse situations. One woman was consumed with sadness when her young son's finger was severely cute in an accident. But then she thought about other children who had lost their entire hands or been completely disfigured in worse accidents and felt relief at the relative case of almost losing a finger.

The same woman recalls a time when she had no heat in her home during the coldest months of winter and describes the experiences as a life-changing event. "It woke me up to the reality of poverty," she says. "My situation was temporary, but there are people who live continuously without the comforts that many of us take for granted.

I realized that I had to start getting involved.Indeed, life's calamities have the effect of shocking us into action. The unexpected death of a loved one, for example, often serves as a reminder that our time is limited, and that we cannot keep counting on tomorrow to do good deeds and be better Muslims.

The time to accomplish our goals is now, because tomorrow may never come.

Allah tells us: "And we will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient´┐Ż" [2:155].

Hardships teach us to be humble. In this fast-paced world, we often think the way to solve problems is to press a button, make a call or put pressure on influential people. To keep up, we might even get a little demanding at times. Eventually, however, we all face situations that are clearly beyond our control and we are reminded how weak we really are. No amount of authority, self-confidence or intelligence can prevent an earthquake, a flood, a fire, a volcano or any other disaster. Even our enormous progress in the fields of science and medicine can't stop death or keep up with disease and famine. In a moment, riches can turn to rages, happiness to misery, strength to disability, and the list goes on.

Allah says in the Qur'an: "And We have already sent (messengers) to nations before you, (O Muhammad); then We seized them with poverty and hardships that perhaps they might humble themselves (to Us). Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves?" [6:42-43].

By calling on our Lord and Creator in times of hardship, we acknowledge our tremendous need for help and guidance.

Allah promises His blessings and guidance to those who combat calamity with patience and say: "Inna lilaahi wa inna ilayhe raji'oon - Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return." [2:156].

By managing our disappointments with faith, dignity and perseverance, we serve as good models for others and lend composure to even the worst of situations. While many people become confused at times of tragedy, it is at these very moments that we have to help ourselves and the ones we love by pulling together and focusing on the bigger picture.

The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said, 'Worshipping at times of tribulations and confusion is like migrating to join me.']Muslim]

He also said, 'There is nothing that befalls a believer, not even a thorn that pricks him, but Allah will record one good deed for him and will remove one bad deed from him.'[Muslim]

So whether we are immersed in tragedy or simply bothered by the minor annoyances of daily life, we should always strive to make the best of every situation and remember that life's trials are a necessary part of developing a good Muslim character.

And Allah knows best.

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