The Islamic faith is not unfamiliar with tests and tribulations. This is the eighth in a series of articles on depression according to Islam. It is from the On Demand Course: Mental Health Workshop – An Islamic Guide to Dealing with Depression.
Imam al-Haddad, in his poem “Ya Sabiran,” says:
“And when events change for the worse and overshadow you, remain still and beware of stepping out of line.”
“Remain still” means continuing to have submission to the One who is in control. The One who is in control is the All-Merciful, the Gentle.
Do not be hasty in your actions as a result of despair, whims or the lower self. Do not act without wisdom and knowledge in a way that you would regret later on.
Tribulations Will Pass
Beware of stepping out of line by despairing, losing hope or by having a bad opinion of Allah. The norm that Allah has decreed in this world is that if the tribulation is great, then the ease that comes with it is great or even greater than that tribulation.
Then he says, “Tribulations pass swiftly like storm clouds clearing and their very existence becomes something of the past.”
Everything has an end including tribulations. They have set ends that Allah has decreed by the day, by the specific time, even down to the millisecond. It will come to an end and we are sure of that. However, we have to have patience.
Imam Haddad says, “When hardship seems to go on forever, this is a sign of lasting good on the horizon.”
Again, with the greatness of the tribulation, there is great relief and great lasting good that will come with it. Have certitude in Allah’s promise. So what do we do?
Right after that, he says, ”Be steadfast/have patience May Allah guide you in the manner of the people of Taqwa and purity, those who remain firm in adversity.”
If we want to be patient, then we look to the people of patience. They are the people of taqwa, the people of purity, the people who remain firm in adversity.
Looking at others who are patient although afflicted helps us with our trials and tribulations. It helps us have patience.
Loss and Affliction
Consider the story of a female companion of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) from the helpers (Ansar), the people of Madina. After the battle of Uhud and the great affliction that happened to the believers, there was a rumor that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was killed as well as Abu Bakr and Umar (May Allah be pleased with them).
She hastened and went out in the direction of the battle to ask about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). As soon as she met the first companions that were coming back from battle, she said “What happened to the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)?” They told her, “Your father was martyred.” So she said, “I seek reward from Allah and consign my affairs to Him but tell me about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).”
Then they told her after that, “Your brother has been martyred as well.” She replied the same way, “I seek reward from Allah about that and consign my affairs to Him but tell me about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).” Then they told her, “Your husband also was martyred.”
She was firm in belief. She said, “I seek reward about that with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta‘ala. Tell me about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).” Then they said, “Your son was martyred.” She was not shaken. She said, “I seek the reward from Allah and can sign my affairs to Him regarding them, but tell me about the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).”
Firm in Adversity
Then they told her the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) was well. She said, “I will not rest until I see him.” So they took her to him and then she saw him (Allah bless him and give him peace) and then she reportedly said, “Every calamity short of you, (O Prophet of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace)) is easy.”
She responded in this way because of her state of taqwa, purity and firmness of belief in the face of adversity, which translated into this very strong connection and love of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).
That gave her patience. So we look to have that connection with the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), to have that connection with Allah so that we are firm in the face of adversity.
The example of the patient inspires patience in us. Inspires us to leave any sense of being let down, of despair, or any bad states. It helps us come out of those states.
Time and Consistency
Imam Haddad says, “And realized that the world is by nature a place of constant change and frustration, so reflect deeply.”
Reflect deeply on those norms that Allah has created. The world is in a state of constant change and frustration. It is not a place of constant happiness. But also, reflect on the fruits of responding with patience when those tribulations happen and what comes out of it in terms of reward and goodness in this life and the next.
He says, “Use your time in comfort and ease and cast aside your worries because they do nothing to harm you.”
Do not overwhelm yourself with taking on too much at one time in terms of the means of patience. Build routines of the remembrance and worship that you take on. Fill it with some comfort, with some ease, but, take advantage of your time.
Also, do not expect a sudden change. Those states take time and consistency and do not usually happen suddenly.
Be Grateful Always
Casting aside those worries does not mean that we do not feel them. Allah made humans this way. This is how we are. We feel those pains. But, we respond to them without despair.
And we should try to make our sole concern and our sole focus Allah. This also takes time and training. When that happens, Allah takes care of all other worries. It has come in a narration:
“Whoever makes their sole concern one, then Allah will protect them and take care of the rest of their worries.”
Imam Haddad then says “Enter the vast realms of reliance and contentment and be grateful in both hardship and ease.”
Reliance on Allah
Have reliance on Allah. He, the All Merciful, the Gentle, and the All-Knowing, has the power to change our state. He knows you and your state more than yourself. Be content with what Allah has apportioned for you. Have the opinion that He has done so to elevate you because He loves you.
Be grateful in all your states knowing that Allah’s blessings are in times of ease as well as in times of hardship.
The Imam says, “And follow the example of the purest and closest of all, the greatest guide, the epitome of beauty in existence, Muhammad, the best of all men.” May peace and blessings be upon him.
All this comes down to following the most perfect of creation, our beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Follow his example, seeking nearness to him through being like him in times of tribulation for he was the most beloved of Allah and that meant that he was the most tested of His creation.
Through patience, to emulate the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), we hope that we are of his close companions in the hereafter and in the highest abodes with eternal bliss and felicity, where all of our worries, tribulations, and hardships will be gone.