Archive for July 10th, 2008

When the going gets tough…

When I was younger, whenever I was faced with hardships and trials, I would always look for a way out. In my mind I thought there was a place somewhere on earth that I could be where life would be free from any struggles or hardships.

أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ

وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ

Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested? And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) of those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to the test). (Surah Al-Ankabut: 2-3)

 

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاء

وَالضَّرَّاء وَزُلْزِلُواحَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللّهِ  

أَلا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ  

Or do you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah”? Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near! (Surah Al-Baqarah:214)

As I matured and grew up and learnt more about the religion, I came to the realisation and acceptance that life is a continous struggle. No doubt there will be good days but there will be bad days too. And our best course of action would be to prepare for those bad days.

So here in this little blog of mine, under the category “A Fortress of Reminders”, insha-Allah I hope to build a list of reminders that I can go to again and again to help cope with those stressful times. (smiles)

Of course the degree of our trials and tests is only equivalent to our level of eman and my own little tests are in no way comparable to the trials faced by the prophets or scholars. But it is humbling to look at those who have been tested to a greater degree and see how they passed through the tests successfully. Insha-Allah their stories will serve as inspirations in dealing with our trials.

One such example is the life of Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy on him) who led a life of poverty and  was imprisoned and severely tortured towards the end of his life.

Due to the hardships and trials that Imam Ahmad was going through, his son Abdullah asked him, “O my father, when is relaxation (from all this pain and poverty) going to come? And Imam Ahmad’s answer was, “With the first step into jannah”.

Insha-Allah, I hope that the days when I feel stressed out I’ll remember this and be more patient. (smiles)

The story of Imam Ahmad was mentioned in a really inspiring khutbah by Muhammad AlShareef; ‘Have you tasted Jannah?’ and you can listen to it here.

Say it with a Smile

Picture this:-

It’s past bedtime, you told your 5 year old son to put away his toys and get ready for bed. 30 minutes later you go into your son’s room and he’s still happily playing with his toys. Now, what would your immediate reaction be?

Would it be something like:-

“Didn’t I tell you to put away your toys and get ready for bed!? Why are you still playing with your toys? Put them away, now!”

Now, let’s take a look at how the Prophet Muhammad salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam dealt with an almost similar situation. Take special note of the words in bold and underlined.
When he was 10 years old, Umm Sulaym, the mother of Anas Ibn Malik, gave her son in the service of the Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam.
In his ten years as the Prophet’s servant Anas said “….I served him for ten years, and he never said, “Uff” (an expression of disgust) to me. He never said, ‘Why did you do that?’ for something I had done, nor did he ever say, ‘Why did you not do such and such’ for something I had not done.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Anas also said,
“Allah’s Messenger salla Allahu ‘alayhe wa salam had the best disposition amongst people. He sent me (when I was a child) on an errand one day, and I said: By Allah, I would not go. I had, however, this idea in my mind that I would do as Allah’s Apostle (SAW) had commanded me to do. I went out until I happened to come across children who had been playing in the street. In the meanwhile, Allah’s Messenger (SAW) came there and he caught me by the back of my neck from behind me. As I looked towards him I found him smiling and he said: Unays, did you go where I told you to go? I said: Allah’s Messenger, yes, I am going. (Narrated by Muslim)
Masha-Allah! Notice that even though Anas was a still a child he was at least more than 10 years old when this incident happened? Notice how the Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam did not get upset, but merely reminded him of the task in a good-natured manner? 
This hadeeth shows that Prophet sal Allahu alayhe wa salam understood the psychology of children and even teenagers; ie. they will forget and they will make mistakes (just like us, adults, huh?), so the burden falls upon us to be merciful towards them and overlook their faults.

As a parent I can only say that this is much easier said than done. We may remember it one day and forget the next. But as I recall my own experiences from being a child, a mother, a wife and an adult, I have learnt that in general we, as human beings respond more positively to gentleness than to harshness. It really is true that it’s not what you say but how you say it.

To illustrate this, think of something mean to say to your loved one…and imagine saying it to him/her with a huge smile on your face. Do you think your loved one will get offended? Then think of saying something really nice to your loved one, this time say it in the meanest of tones…you get what I mean?

So, let’s revisit the above scene:-

We open the door to our son’s room and we see that he is still playing with his toys…

We walk calmly towards him, sit ourselves down next to him, put our arm around his shoulders and say in the gentlest of tones; “Are you going to put away your toys and get ready for bed?”, with a big smile on our face…

May Allahu subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us patience in dealing with our children in the best of manners. Ameen.

(I learnt about this hadeeth from an AlMaghrib class I took on Islamic Manners; “The Rules of Engagement” some years ago. And somehow the way the Ustadh conveyed it to us made it stick to my head till this very day, and so I thought it was indeed something worth sharing. May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala reward Shakyh Muhmmad Faqih with the best of rewards. Ameen.)