Some days are so hectic and stressful that I become moody and start giving the people around me some attitude, especially my brother Abdullah. He’s the recipient of the coldest of my behavior. I feel really bad about it later on, but thank Allah that’s he such a good sport. He comes around with his never-ending stories and breaks the ice quicker than I ever thought possible. But this is not about that.
This is an appreciation post.
A few weeks back, I was *forced* to contemplate on my behavior with my family and as it turns out, I was wrong and my dad was right, although there are still many things that could use some sorting out. This Ramadan was probably not the extreme-soul-cleansing, iman-boosting Ramadan that I was hoping for, but I do think that it changed me for the better and made my relationship better with both my parents. I never appreciated my dad in my whole life the way I do now. I never realized how dependent on him I really am. But I realized that some of my most important du’as came true this Ramadan as well. Allah is so Merciful that I feel overwhelmed when I think about the way He blesses us and guides us.
We all know that hidayah is from Allah and it is only through His Guidance that we are even able to do good deeds, but one timeless piece of advice that I’d give to anyone is that no matter how sinful you are or how many people you have wronged, never stop making du’a to Allah and begging Him to guide you and help you. And never, ever stop worshiping Him-its not your choice anyway; Allah made it obligatory. Pray your salawat, read Qur’an and develop a relationship with the Qur’an. The worship will take over your desires; the du’as will ease your burden and remind you that you do not have to face anything alone.
Allah is happy with the people who call upon Him and He is unhappy with those who don’t make du’a. It’s your choice what you want to do.
Another reason that I feel grateful right now is because of a sad video that I came across on Tumblr. I’ll post it later inshaAllah, but the point of the video was to showcase the sadness of a family upon the unjustified arrest of their innocent son who has been in prison for 7 years with no apparent chance of being released soon. Something about that video made my heart sink; it was one of things where you literally feel like you’re going to be physically sick due to someone else’s sadness being weighed on your shoulders.
I then reflected on my blessings; who cares if I don’t live in the ideal family? Who cares if everything doesn’t go my way? Allah gave me life and He gave me Al-Islam and that is enough to prove that Allah wants good for me. We learn about having “husn ud-dhan” (good/positive thinking) towards people, then why not towards Allah?
Self-delusion is often the result of thinking that others owe us something (e.g. respect, service, obedience, etc.) and that we are fine just the way we are. We only refine our character when we tell ourselves that we are in need of improvement and that others are in fact better than us. The way we look at others is a direct reflection of the state of our hearts.
It’s not uncommon for people to wait for some big event to take place so they can start changing themselves for the better (e.g. graduation, marriage, Hajj, age 40 or 60 or whatever) but those are nothing but lies that are perpetuated internally, leading people to more sin and misguidance. The more we disobey Allah, the more we distance ourselves from guidance but as long as we keep asking Him and begging Him to guide us on the Straight Path, He won’t let us go, because He is Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem.
I want to end this post with the story of my favorite du’a. I never thought that this du’a would become my favorite but it did. I never intentionally added it to my mental du’a list, but it was a habit of mine to say it whenever I lost something (or did the people around me).
When I was 4 years old, I once went grocery shopping with my parents and bought some peppermint candies (yum!) and then I misplaced the bag. I asked my dad where it could have gone, (and I still haven’t figured out whether or not he hid the bag on purpose) and he said, “Let’s say a du’a that you’re supposed to say when you lose something. Repeat after me: Inna liAllahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.” Then, he and I looked all over the living room and I found it on top of a high drawer. Then my dad told me, “See? When you say this du’a, Allah let’s you find what you lost.” So I grew up thinking that this is the “lost & found” du’a and later on, when I heard people saying it upon hearing about someone’s death, I was like, “Okay, this is the death du’a.” And then when I became capable of roughly understanding the meaning of the Qur’an without looking at the translation, I heard it in the context of the ayat surrounding it and I was like “Wow, that’s nice” but I had never really let it sink in. Then finally, I learned the ayat in detail in my Tafseer class and my entire perspective changed. Allah (SWT) said in Surah Al-Baqarah:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient. Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.” Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” (2: 155-157)
This ayah first lists the different types of things that human beings will be tested by, so basically it is affirming that tests and trials are a part of every person’s life and there is no way of escaping them, but Allah describes the reactions of a certain group of people to these tests. He says that they have the quality of patience. How do they act upon that quality? The first thing they do is that they recite the following du’a: “Inna liAllahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon” (Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return).
A person who says this du’a is doing two things:
First, he’s affirming the validity of Allah’s decree upon him through these beautiful words, thus increasing his patience and level of tolerance.
Second, he’s comforting himself using the truest of statements and the greatest of realities, which remind him of his origins and his helplessness, compared to Allah’s Power and Ownership of everything.
Now, look at the result of these beautiful words!
Allah says that His Blessings and Mercy will be upon these people and He goes on to positively enforce their behavior by including them among the rightly guided. When people are in difficulty, they naturally need mental and emotional support. They need to be told comforting words and given the encouragement and morale to be able to do what’s right at the time.
We know from the famous hadith that Allah gives us hardships when He wills good for us. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Whenever Allah wills good for a person, He subjects him to adversity” (Bukhari).
The meaning of this hadith beautifully ties in with the meaning of the ayat mentioned above. Allah gives us hardships to test us. Then, He gives us the exact antidote to counter it. On top of that, He gives us good news upon good news. And Who else can be more Merciful than Allah?
So just read the ayat above and let the words sink in. When you say that du’a, you have Allah on your side. He is showering you with His Blessings and is enveloping you with His Mercy and is including you with the rightly-guided ones. If you have such good news, what calamity is big enough to take over the comfort you feel by knowing that Allah is with you? Because we all know that Allah is the the Greatest. He is greater than your pain, your sadness, your hardship, and your misery. He is Able to remove it and give you comfort. So just say His Words and you’ll be fine. These blessed words work miracles-don’t take my word for it. Take Allah’s Word for it.