“And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and We shall try your reported (mettle).” [Quran 47:31]
“Nor strain your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to parties of them, the splendour of the life of this world, through which We test them: but the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring.” [Quran 20:131]
Whilst living with a disability, it can be difficult to comprehend why certain things happen, and the fact that there is a reason and a particular wisdom behind the tests that Allah (The Majestic) gives us. But from my personal experience, I think that this journey towards that realization is the whole point.
The Experience of Patience
Growing up I was taught by my respected elders and superiors that if I wanted or needed anything in life, all I needed to do was have patience (sabr), ask Allah (Exalted be He) and He will give. It wasn’t until I was in my late teens when I actually understand what that meant.
Up until then, I had wrongly created my own interpretation of ‘sabr’, which had no resemblance to the meaning I was taught as a child. I made myself believe it to mean that you had to put on a brave face and that any sign of hardship was a sign of ungratefulness. Don’t tell anyone how frustrated, angry and upset you truly are because the last thing you want is for your secret to come out…
This carried on for around six years until one day I woke up and decided “This can’t be right,” and I made a conscious decision of find out for myself what ‘sabr’ really meant. I began to reflect on why it is that Allah (the Majestic) creates each individual in a particular and unique image.
Every Person is Unique
In the past few years my false façade of contentment has become real contentment. This doesn’t mean that I’ve somehow come to the end of my journey to Allah or that my faith is somehow ‘perfect’, because there is simply no such thing. Of course I still face days that are harder than others. However, the truth of the matter actually lies in the very realisation that the journey is ongoing.
I spent so much time thinking that if I prayed hard enough I would wake up and miraculously be able to walk again, thinking that this is what I needed in order to carry myself in this temporary world with complete certainty, gratitude and comfort in my own skin. I could not have been more wrong.
With time and after a lot of sleepless, tearful nights I realised that there is no such thing as coincidence, and that this is where my patience (sabr), thankfulness (shukr), certainty (yaqeen) in Allah’s plan for me, and comfort come from. Being in a wheelchair is no coincidence; neither is being born a New Zealander at this particular point in time or being born into a particular family.
The people we encounter, the conversations we have and the sights that we see – good and bad – all happen for a reason and are blessings, just as any opportunity to reflect and turn to The Most High is a blessing.
To me, the crucial step is to look inwards and ask myself whether my outlook on life is that of a victim, or of someone who was created by Allah (Exalted is He) in the way that He intended and is the Benefactor of, through His countless blessings.
Sister Latifa is 21 years old and resides with her Mum, Dad and 2 sisters in Auckland, New Zealand. She is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English Literature and Education at the University of Auckland.