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Satanic Whisperings (Waswasa) as a Trial from Allah: Punishment or Blessing?

Answered by Sidi Wasim Shiliwala

Question: I read the other day on a fellow Islamic teacher’s Twitter, as a type of saying, that the way a person reacts to a test and trial from Allah determines whether or not it is a punishment or a blessing in disguise. I wonder this about my waswasa.  For years I would get doubts as to whether or not I was really praying to Allah or shaytan, astaghfirullah. I think to myself, “has Allah been punishing me all these years”? Shaykh Faraz’s advice has always been that we must simple ignore the waswasa.  I then start thinking did Allah want me to start taking medication for my problems instead of overcoming them on my own ( they once offered it to me during counseling)?  Following your advice, I finally saw myself overcoming the waswasa only to be drawn back by my doubts again. Please advise me.

Answer: As-salamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh,

Jazakum Allahu Khairan for this question. Satanic whispering (waswasa) is a serious subject, so I’ll deal with that first before answering your general question:

Ignore Waswasa at All Costs

Before discussing the concept you mentioned, I first want to reiterate Shaykh Faraz’s advice of ignoring Satanic whispers (waswasa). Regardless of one’s spiritual state, they are never helpful, and should never be indulged. In order to improve our relationship with Allah, we must sever all bad thoughts and influences, and waswasa is chief among these.

Shaytan wants you to falter back into a state of worry and anxiety, because he knows that this will make your path to Allah that much more difficult. Allah warns us in the Qur’an that Shaytan is “a clear enemy” (2:168), and Shaytan has himself sworn his enmity of mankind, saying: “I will surely sit in wait for them on Your straight path / Then I will assault them from before them and behind them, from their right and left…” (7:16-17).

Since he will attack us from all sides, the only way to overcome his ploy is to ignore him altogether and to focus on Allah. As Allah says, “Verily he [Shaytan] has no power over those who believe and rely upon their Lord” (16:99). For guidance on how to effectively do this, please refer to the advice that Shaykh Faraz Rabbani gave you, and also read some of the answers related to waswasa here on SeekersGuidance.

Dealing with Trials

As for the saying you heard about one’s reaction to a trial, the main benefit from it is that it encourages patience and contentment during times of difficulty. If one is patient and steadfast through a trial, that indicates that the trial was for the purpose of removing sins; if one isn’t patient, then that indicates that the trial was a punishment. The chief element is patience, as Allah guarantees us that He is with the patient (2:153)

However, that statement should not make one worry or despair about their past trials. When it comes to our individual cases, we can never be sure as to why a certain difficulty fell upon us, as only Allah knows the reality of His actions.

After all, what we see as trials may not even be trials, as Allah may have given them to us in place of a worse fate. As Allah tells us in the Qur’an, “It may be that you dislike a thing and it is good for you, and that you may like a thing and it is bad for you; Allah knows but you do not know” (2:216).

Because Allah the Exalted is in complete knowledge and control of all things, we cannot assume knowledge of His actions and purposes. Similarly, we also shouldn’t assume that we failed the trial, but rather we thank Allah for easing our burden, seek His forgiveness for any sins we committed, and have high hopes that we did our best and will do better next time.

 

Never should we despair, for despair is itself sinful. Allah has both commanded and reassured us in the Qur’an: “Oh My servants who have transgressed against themselves [in sin], do not despair of the mercy of Allah! Verily, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most-Merciful” (39:53).

After trials pass, we should be relieved that they passed. Under no circumstances should we actively wish for difficulties to occur or return, nor should we do anything to facilitate their return. The Prophet (peace be upon him) once met a man who became deathly sick because he asked to be punished in this world for his sins.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) strongly discouraged him from doing this, and told him that he should have asked for the best in this world, the best in the hereafter, and salvation from the hellfire. [Sahih Muslim]

This hadith teaches us that we should never seek punishment, but that we should always seek mercy and forgiveness. Rather than hope for trials, we should take advantage of our times of ease to increase in our praise and worship of Allah. Above all, we must keep in mind that life itself is a test from Allah, and that we must strive to be the best Muslims we can be in all situations.

As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “How wondrous is the affair of the believer! … If something good happens to him, he gives thanks, and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him.” [Sahih Muslim]

Rather than question the circumstances and wisdom behind your cure, remember that it came from Allah, and be thankful for it! While a believer may reflect on how they could have handled a trial better, they should always rejoice from the lifting of that trial, as it is a tremendous mercy from Allah.

Medication and Relying on Allah

As for whether or not you should continue taking medication, that is a decision that is best left between you and your doctor. Just as we go to religious scholars for advice on our religion, we go to doctors for advice on our physical and mental health. In all cases, we follow the advice of the experts.

Consultation in serious matters is an emphasized sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him); A’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) said that she “never saw anyone consult his companions more than the Prophet (peace be upon him).” [Musnad Ahmad]

If your doctor insists that you take a particular medication, then there is absolutely no problem in taking it. Rather than being punished for anything, you will be rewarded for taking the means to better health. Remember that taking the means is an essential part of this religion, and is a confirmed sunnah of all the Prophets.

Someone once asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) about whether relying on Allah means that he should or shouldn’t tie his camel down (so it won’t wander off), and the Prophet (peace be upon him) responded: “Tie it and rely upon Allah.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhi]

The same applies to medicine: if you are sick, you ask for Allah’s help and seek a doctor’s advice; after all, if you get better after taking medicine, then that medicine is merely the means by which Allah cured you. By following the advice of those experts around you, you managed to overcome waswasa – this result is from Allah, so accept this gift from Him and thank Him for easing your difficulty.

Stop Dwelling and Continue Your Spiritual Journey

Above all, remember that what’s in the past is in the past, and that our duty as Muslims is to repent for any past mistakes and then work towards improving ourselves. Rather than stress over waswasa or past anxieties, I would advise you to continue working on increasing your acts of worship, religious knowledge, and dhikr of Allah.

Don’t focus on your actions, but focus on Allah the Exalted, and how much he has given to you. Be happy and thankful, and invest your time in praising Allah for his favors upon you and sending salawat on the Prophet (peace be upon him).

And when difficulties come – and as long as we are living in this world, we will find difficulties – realize that they are from Allah, and don’t dwell upon why they’re there, but on how you can get past them with excellence. Be ever grateful, because passing such trials with patience and thankfulness will increase your rank with Allah. And regardless of what happens in your life, be ever mindful that, as Allah tells us, “Verily we belong to Allah, and verily to Him we are returning” (2:156).

May Allah continue to aid you and put ease in your life, and increase us all in faith and good works.

Baarak Allahu Fikum,
-Wasim

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Related Answers:

A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

A Reader on Wasasa (Baseless Misgivings)

Answers on Dealing With Trials

Advice on Dealing with the Financial Crisis

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: Can you give some information -advice – on how Muslims should respond to financial crisis both in the public and private lives?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states.

In short, the answer to dealing with any crisis—whether privately as individuals or publicly as a community—is to return wholeheartedly to the teachings and guidance of the Qur’an and Sunna, which related to financial matters include the following:

(1) Realize the true nature of this world, as explained by the Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) in many hadiths, such as:

“This world and all that is in it is cursed, except for the remembrance of Allah, that which He loves, a scholar or a student of knowledge.” [Tirmidhi]

That is, all of this world is blameworthy except for that which is used as a means to please Allah, to draw near to Allah, and to serve Allah and His religion. If one’s worldly efforts are done for the sake of Allah, they are blessed and bring blessings; otherwise, they are devoid of good and become a means of headaches and worries.

(2) Related to that, try to infuse all of your work and career endeavors with a sincere intention—to please Allah, to use your earnings for the sake of Allah, to earn a halal income, to have enough money to support your dependents and donate charity, etc.

Having a job is a great blessing of Allah Most High, and a means to do much good. It is the way of the prophets themselves, as Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No one ever ate better food than from the work of his own hands; and Allah’s prophet Dawud used to eat from the work of his own hands.” [Bukhari]

Take the means to secure a good job, and work hard: be diligent, honest, and upright—all for the sake of Allah.

(3) Spend in charity, and do so regularly. This is a great source of baraka in one’s life and wealth, as well as a means for acceptance of spiritual works, good health, and warding off calamities.

Allah Most High states, as related by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in a hadith qudsi, “Spend O son of Adam! I will spend on you.” [Bukhari]

(4) At the same time, be balanced in your charity, and do not neglect your primary financial obligations.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “O son of Adam! For you to spend the surplus is better for you, and for you to withhold it is certainly worse. You will not be blamed, however, for keeping what suffices you; and [when you spend] begin with your dependents.” [Muslim]

A Qur’anic verse that provides a most beautiful summation of the attitude of the believer towards his wealth is:

“And seek, with respect to all that Allah has given you, the next abode; yet forget not your portion for this world; and [when you do spend] do so with excellence, just as Allah has shown excellence to you.” (28:77)

Muslims do not neglect their worldly duties and responsibilities, yet their focus, aim and goal is Allah and the afterlife. And when they do anything for Allah, they do so with excellence and beauty (ihsan).

(5) Have godfearingness (taqwa) in all your affairs, as taqwa is a means to every good in general, and specifically to relief from distress, unforeseen provision, and ease in one’s affairs.

Allah Most High states, “Whoever has taqwa of Allah, He will give him a way out, and will provide sustenance for him from whence he least expected,” (65:2-3) as well as “Whoever has taqwa of Allah, He will make easy his affairs.” (65:4)

(6) Avoid wastefulness (israf), which is a major vice and disease, prevalent at both the individual and societal levels today.

Allah Most High states, “Do not be extravagant: verily the extravagant are the brethren of devils” (17:26–7), as well as

“Eat and drink, but be not wasteful: verily Allah loves not the wasters” (7:31).

For a more detailed discussion on wastefulness, please see:

Global Warming and Wastefulness

(7) Related to avoiding wastefulness, appreciate the immense blessing of wealth, and show much gratitude for it. This is a sure means to keeping the blessing, inshaAllah, as well as finding increase in it.

As Ibn Ata’illah states, “Whoever does not show gratitude for blessings has exposed himself to losing them, yet whoever shows gratitude for them has tied them down by their tethers,” which is based on the Qur’anic verse, “And surely if you show gratitude, I will most certainly give you more” (14:7).

(8) Maintain family ties, which itself is an expression of gratitude for the blessing of family, and also a means to expansive sustenance.

Our Beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us, “Whoever would love for his sustenance to be broadened [and filled with blessing] and for his lifespan to be extended, then let him maintain family ties.” [Bukhari, Muslim]

(9) Make tawba your constant companion in the journey of life. Shun the unlawful and ask much forgiveness.

This should be done for the sake of Allah alone, but Allah does inform us of some worldly benefits of tawba as well, including financial, as He Most High states, “So I said, ‘Seek forgiveness from your Lord, indeed He is Ever-forgiving. He will send down rain upon you in abundance, and He will increase you in wealth and in children'” (71:10-12).

(10) Realize that financial difficulties, as with all difficulties, are tests from Allah. Turn to Him in neediness, lowliness, humbleness, and impoverishment. Raise your hands in supplication, and ask of His favor. Tell Him that you are His weak servant, and He alone is Lord, Master, Powerful, and Free of need.

Persevere, be steadfast, and hold fast to contentment. Take the means to end the trial, and leave the rest to Allah. If we are pleased with Allah, Allah will be pleased with us, and there is no success greater than that.

Please see also this related answer:

Bringing Barakah into Your Wealth and Life

As well as this general article related to dealing with suffering and trials:

Suffering and Divine Wisdom

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Prophetic Supplications to Cure Illnesses

Answered by Sidi Tabraze Azam

Question: If one is afflicted with an illness, especially one  that could be life threatening,  what are specific supplications or acts of worships  that one and one’s loved ones can perform? Are some more desirable than others?

Answer: Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I hope you are in the best of health and spirits insha’Allah.

In times of difficulty, follow the Qur’anic advice, “Seek help through patience and prayer” [2:45]. In such situations, it is a call and a reminder from Allah to turn back to Him, to be grateful for one’s blessings and to re-focus one’s heart on the Bestower of everything.

Anas reported that he said to Thabit, “May Allah have mercy on you, shall I give you the talisman of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “O Allah, Lord of people, remover of hardship, heal – for you are the Healer other than whom there is no healer – with a healing that does not leave illness behind.” [al-Bukhari]

((أَلَا ‏ ‏أَرْقِيكَ ‏ ‏بِرُقْيَةِ ‏ ‏رَسُولِ اللَّهِ قَالَ بَلَى قَالَ فَقَالَ‏ ‏اللَّهُمَّ رَبَّ النَّاسِ مُذْهِبَ الْبَأْسِ اشْفِ أَنْتَ الشَّافِي لَا شَافِيَ إِلَّا أَنْتَ اشْفِهِ شِفَاءً لَا ‏ ‏يُغَادِرُ ‏ ‏سَقَمًا))

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Anyone who visits a sick person whose time has not yet come and says seven times in his presence, ‘I ask Allah the Immense, the Lord of the Immense Throne, to heal you,’ Allah will heal him of that illness.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

((أَسْأَلُ اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ رَبَّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ أَنْ يَشْفِيَكَ))

One should make one’s supplications in a heartfelt manner, in need of Allah and with a living heart. Don’t feel obliged to make a supplication in Arabic, use any language you feel comfortable with and ask as He loves to be asked.

Also, it would be pertinent to work on fulfilling any obligations that are due – either to Allah or other people – and make a firm resolve to complete them. Another thing one could do is to gather some people and do a complete recitation of the Qur’an together with the intention of granting recovery to the sick person. As Allah says, “Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of God: for without doubt in the remembrance of God do hearts find satisfaction. [13:28]

The Purpose of Trials & Tests

In the end, we should remember that this life is a life of trial and tribulation. We are being tested because Allah knows that we can handle it, and He seekers to raise our ranks by means of these tests and to cleanse our hearts from the darkness of sin.So, for this, we should constantly thank Allah and see our states as indicative of His perfection.

Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his mistakes by it.” [al-Bukhari, Muslim]  Abu Hurayra also reported that the Messenger of Allah may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When Allah desires good for someone, He afflicts him.” [al-Bukhari]

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalaam,
Tabraze

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Guidance of the Prophet Muhammad on the Virtues of Patience (and Thankfulness) in Tribulation and Hardship

muhammed_arabicThese are a few hadiths of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk) on the great honor that trials, hardships, and tribulations can represent for a true believer, and how these are opportunities to exhibit one’s patience, trust, reliance, contentment, and thankfulness to Allah Most High.

34. Anas said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘Allah the Mighty and Exalted says, ‘When I test My slave regarding the two things he loves and he shows fortitude, I repay him for them with the Garden.'” He meant his eyes. [al-Bukhari]

35. ‘Ata’ ibn Abi Rabah said, “Ibn ‘Abbas said to me, ‘Shall I show you a woman who is one of the people of the Garden?’ I replied, ‘Please do.’ He said, ‘This black woman came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said, “I have fits during which I expose myself. Pray to Allah Almighty for me.” He said, “If you wish, you can show fortitude and you will receive the Garden, and if you wish, I will pray to Allah Almighty to heal you.” She said, “I will show fortitude.” She said, “I expose myself so pray to Allah that I do not expose myself.” So he prayed for her.'” [Agreed upon]

36. Abu ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said, “It is as if I could still see the Messenger of Allah talking about one of the Prophets, may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon them, whose people beat him, making his blood flow. While he was wiping the blood from his face, he said, ‘O Allah, forgive my people. They do not know.'” [Agreed upon]

37. Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No fatigue, illness, anxiety, sorrow, harm or sadness afflicts any Muslim, even to the extent of a thorn pricking him, without Allah wiping out his mistakes by it.” [Agreed upon]

38. Ibn Mas’ud said, “I visited the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, when he had a fever. I said, “Messenger of Allah, you have a very high fever!’ He replied, ‘Yes. I have the fever of two of you.’ I asked, ‘Is that because you will have two rewards?’ He said, ‘Yes, it is like that. No Muslim is afflicted by harm, whether it is a thorn or something worse, without Allah expiating his evil deeds on that account and his sins fall away from him like leaves from a tree.'” [Agreed upon]

39. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When Allah desires good for someone, He afflicts him.” [Al-Bukhari]

Source: Chapter on Steadfastness (sabr) from Imam Nawawi’s Gardens of the Righteous (tr. Ayesha Bewley)