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17 Benefits of Tribulation – By Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

In this video, Shaykh Faraz Rabanni goes over a brief treatise by al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abd al-Salam listing the various benefits of trials and tribulations. Now more than ever do Muslims need to understand the divine meanings and wisdom in the trials and tribulations that humanity is facing in the Covid-19 pandemic. Whatever difficulty befalls us is an opportunity to remember the majesty of Allah, and to show gratitude for the innumerable blessings he has bestowed upon us. This trial of Covid-19 is an opportune time for us to increase in our connection with Allah.

Is It Haram to Like One’s Beauty and Appearance?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Is it haram to like one’s beauty and appearance, because it can be classified as arrogance? Is it also arrogant to wear nice clothes, put on makeup and do our hair in front of women in order to show off our beauty?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for your concern, grant you clarity in this matter, and guide you to what is pleasing to Him.

Definition of Arrogance

“No one with an atom’s worth of arrogance will enter paradise.” A man asked, “But a person loves that his clothes are seemly and his sandals are seemly.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) replied,” Indeed Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Arrogance is denying truth and holding people in contempt.” (Muslim)

It is in our nature as human beings to enjoy beauty in its myriad forms. However, it is sinful to look down on others by because we feel superior to them in beauty, wealth, intelligence etc – that is a form of arrogance.

Vanity vs Dignity

“Vanity is when a person deems them self to have some blessing and forgets that it is from Allah and it does not require that a person is looking down on another person. Dignity (‘izzah) is when a person recognizes the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon them (faith, life, health, beauty, wealth, knowledge, prestige, etc) and walks humbly with a recognition of those blessings while not deeming themselves better than others.” From Balancing Confidence and Humility and the Wisdom of Trials from Allah

I strongly recommend that when you feel pleased about your beauty, you immediately remind yourself that this is a blessing from Allah Most High. InshaAllah, this will protect you from vanity.

Showing Off

“And [remember] when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.'” [Qur’an, 14:7]

It is unwise to show off anything we have been blessed with. The appropriate attitude to have towards blessings is that one of gratitude (shukr) towards Allah. He is the One who bestows all of our blessings upon us. Whatever Allah grants, He can take away as a means of testing us. The best way to secure our blessings is through having continual shukr, inshaAllah.

Please refer to the following links:

Balancing Confidence and Humility and the Wisdom of Trials from Allah
What is the Difference Between Self Respect and Arrogance?
What is the Islamic Understanding of Pride?

Wassalam,
Raidah

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Why my Singlehood Seems Endless and Why is it So Difficult to Bear?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil
Question: I am having a difficult time being a Muslim woman and being a low self-esteemed single. I really feel bad for my parents because I feel like I am also adding to their burden.
Is this singlehood a trial or a punishment? Do all difficulties end? If so, then why are some women still single despite hoping and wanting to get married?
Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
I pray this finds you well. May Allah ease your sorrow. Longing for a spouse is a natural. What you do in the meantime, however, can either add to your misery, or add to your contentment.
Self-worth
My dear sister in faith, remember that you are already precious to Allah. There is only one of you in all of Creation. Allah Most High, out of His love for you, placed belief in your heart. You do not need a husband to complete you, or make you feel better.
This yearning that you feel is really a reflection of your soul’s longing for Allah. He is the One who will never let you down. All else, by definition, is human, flawed, and limited. Even the kindest and most loving husband will have his bad days, and pinning your happiness on him will only lead to disappointment.
Self-care
It sounds like you may be depressed. I recommend seeing an understanding counsellor, psychologist, or holistic healer who is able to help you be gentle with yourself.
In addition to that, schedule in daily, weekly, and monthly activities which bring joy to your heart. Strive to exercise regularly, eat well, keep in touch with loved ones, and be involved in charity activities. Build these slowly into your life, and remember to be gentle with yourself.
The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris is a wonderful book which I recommend. It will help you come to peace with things you cannot change.
Hypnosis Downloads is an option for you to improve your emotional well-being. I would recommend tracks like self-love and overcoming depression.
Reaching out
Reach out to your family and friends for support. This will help you feel less isolated and lonely, which may reduce your longing for a husband. You are no burden to your loved ones – they love you! The issues of the world are real and pressing, but your own grief is also real, and worthy of attention. You cannot be of service to anyone else if you are suffering.
Prayer and supplication
“Your striving for what has already been guaranteed to you,
and your remissness in what is demanded of you
are signs of the blurring of your intellect.” [Hikam of Ibn Ata’illah]
Please strive to be consistent in your prayer. This is of the utmost importance, because prayer is what keeps you connected to Allah. Wake up in the last third of the night and pour your heart out to Him.
Do not fret over what is already ordained for you – Allah has already written whether or not you will marry. You are better off orienting yourself to Allah and nourishing your relationship with Him. Beg Him for patience, for His Mercy, and for the gift of a righteous husband. Most of all, ask Him for contentment with His Decree.
A deep, rested sense of peace can only come out of consistent prayer, tahajjud, and sincere supplication. No husband can give that to you.
Why marriage?
I’d like you to sit down and ask yourself a few questions. Why do you want to get married? What do you think marriage is like? What do you want in a husband?
I strongly advise that you enrol in the Successful Islamic Marriage course on SeekersGuidance and deepen your understanding of what marriage entails in Islam.
I know many women, including myself, who married in our late twenties or thirties. Since we have gotten married, we have all faced various tests like challenging interaction with in-laws, financial stress, moving countries etc. I realised that our many years of singlehood were preparation for the many tests that came with marriage. Was the wait worth it? Absolutely. I pray that this time of singlehood will be nourishing and healing for you, too.
Maintaining limits
Although it is common for unmarried people to date in countries like Singapore and elsewhere, this is not the way of the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). To ensure maximum blessings in your marriage, please observe the limits of Islam, and not culture.
Save your first touch for your husband, not a boyfriend. There are too many instances of long-term boyfriends and girlfriends who do not end up getting married. The ramifications of these illicit relationships can range from unwanted pregnancies to deep and devastating heartbreak. Just because something is culturally condoned, it doesn’t make it right.
Provision
Allah has already guaranteed the provision for every soul in creation, including whom we marry.
Allah says, “There is not a single creature on the earth except that Allah takes care of its provision” [Quran 11:6].
If Allah has written for you to marry, then it is only a matter of time til you meet him. Please use this time as a way to know yourself better. Practise compassion with yourself, so that you can be compassionate towards your future husband, in-laws, and children. Tests don’t stop with marriage. Rather, they increase and take on deeper layers. Use this time of singlehood as a way to prepare for that, inshaAllah.
And Allah knows best.
Please refer to the following links:
Is There a Concept of “Soulmates” in Islam?
If I am patient, will I get a good spouse?
Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah – “Marriage as a Cosmic Ideal and Social Reality
Raidah Shah Idil
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment? [Follow-Up Questions]

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Assalamu alaykum,
I have follow-up questions regarding this answer: How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?
1) Can you further distinguish between expiation of sins vs raising of ranks?
2) Specifically, how is calmness distinct from mere patience?
3) How is contentment distinct from merely avoiding complaining?
4) What is obedience of heart? (versus mere obedience of body)?
5) If we find ourselves in the first category or second (i.e. that of sins or expiation of sins), can we “raise” the purpose/goal of the trial through intentionally altering the “symptoms” i.e. complaining less, so that it becomes an expiation of sin rather than a punishment?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Expiation of sins is for them to be covered over, which is distinct from being raised in degrees.
(2) Patience is remaining firm upon that which will be pleasing to Allah. Calmness is serenity after uneasiness and worry. [see: A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah]
(3) Contentment is the heart’s joy at the unfolding of destiny. [see: Contentment: the Property of the Believers – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus – Video and: Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life] Complaint is objecting to Allah. [see: Things Inconsistent With Accepting Fate – Imam Ghazali]
(4) Obedience of the heart can include actions which pertain to the heart such as sincerity, trueness, and good opinion, as opposed to obedience of the body, such as prayer and fasting.
(5) Yes, and this realization is a gift from Allah.
See also: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Abuse and Breaking the Ties of Kinship

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: As-salamu alaykum,
Fisrt: Can you please tell me the Islamic ruling for a person who wants to distance themselves from a family who repeatedly subject them to various kinds of abuse such as emotional, discrimination, neglect almost on an everyday basis over many years, with no signs of stopping?
Second: is it permissible for this person to talk about their situation to other people in order to get help, without the fear of punishment from Allah, especially when it comes to parents due to their high status?
Third: is it better for this person to remain patient with the calamity Allah has decreed and only seek help from Allah alone through prayer, supplication etc. or should they also seek help from the people; who would qualify as the right people to contact?
Fourth: if this person forgives the family, even if they do not ask for forgiveness, what will be their state in the eyes of Allah in this life and the life to come? Also what will be the state of the person being abused in the eyes of Allah in this life and the life to come?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
(1) Harm is to be avoided. You should get in touch with somebody who can assist directly in your situation.
(2) Yes, it is permissible. However, do so in a manner that is not simply venting. See: When is Backbiting Permissible?
(3) No, we are called upon to take the means. Nobody said to sit still and suffer. Seek out somebody who can help. As for whom, it depends on the situation. Consider getting in touch with a local, reliable scholar.
(4) Forgiving those who have wronged one is from the high, noble sunna. Allah knows well the difficulties people face. Stay strong, ask Allah to lift the trial, pray the Prayer of Need [see: How Does One Perform The Prayer Of Need (salat al-haja)?], seek out some righteous company, and keep asking Allah for help.
And see: A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah and: How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is Allah Punishing me for my Past Sins through the Trials in my Life?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: Salam  Alaykum
I have just become infertile and I want to know if I caused it by sinning in my past or if it was always destined to happen? I am afraid of losing everything else. I always thought everything that occurs was pre ordained now I’m afraid it was my fault.
Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
No, trials aren’t necessarily the result of sins. [see: How Do You Distinguish Between a Test From Allah and Punishment?]
Have a good opinion of Allah, remove the unlawful from your life, repent from all sin, get up before Fajr and pray, asking Allah to give you contentment (rida) and make the trial easy to bear, and work on your state with Allah, striving for an increase in gratitude and patience.
Please also see: Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a and: Divine Decree, Contentment, and Lessons From the Prophet’s Life and: Can Supplication Change Destiny? and: A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
And Allah alone gives success.
wassalam,
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Balancing Confidence and Humility and the Wisdom of Trials from Allah

Answered by Shaykh Rami Nsour

Question 1: How can we balance self-esteem with humility? To me self-esteem means one loves oneself and consider themselves to be mostly good, yet Islam requires us to consider ourselves weak, broken and full of faults. Is it ok to do ‘affirmations’ by looking in the mirror and repeating statements like ‘I am good’, ‘I am carefree and joyous’ etc. for 2 minutes a day? This is what some self-help non Muslim people recommend.

Answer 1: Before analyzing the various practices that one can do to improve their self esteem, it is important to note the Islamic understanding of how we view ourselves.

The Islamic Understanding of Self-Esteem

There are terms to know and they are arrogance (kibr), vanity (‘ujb), dignity (‘izzah), debasement (dhul), and humility (tawadu’). Knowing these terms and what the definition is is important so that one does not fall into the prohibited. Arrogance (kibr) is when a person deems themselves to be good but in relation to others as in saying, “I am better than him/her/them.”

Vanity is when a person deems them self to have some blessing and forgets that it is from Allah and it does not require that a person is looking down on another person. Dignity (‘izzah) is when a person recognizes the blessings that Allah has bestowed upon them (faith, life, health, beauty, wealth, knowledge, prestige, etc) and walks humbly with a recognition of those blessings while not deeming themselves better than others.

If a person allows others to walk over them and take away their rights, this is called dhul and it is haram. So you have to hold your head up high with dignity, not with arrogance. All people have to remember that they have God-given rights and it is an obligation to protect their dignified state (muru’ah). If a person voluntarily gives up their owed rights and is not demanding, then this is humility (tawadu’) and it is a praiseworthy trait.

A person must therefore protect his self-esteem especially since our greatest enemy, the Shaytan, who has declared war on mankind, hates our God-given dignity. Allah says, “And we have ennobled the children of Adam.” It was this honor, nobility and dignity that cause Iblis to refuse to bow and caused him to become rejected. Iblis hates us for this and will try everything to remove our dignity.

He will make us remove our clothes, tattoo ourselves, wear undignified clothing, speak filth hurt ourselves and others. He works day an night to sink us into a state of depression and then into a state of despair. In the state of despair, we end up hurting ourselves and others, leaving faith, and taking our lives or the lives of others. So, we must have a fortress of strong self esteem to protect ourselves against the shaytan.

Mentioning the blessings that Allah has given us is actually a good practice. In Sura Duha it states, “And as for the blessing of Allah then speak.” At the same time, we do not want to allow a recognition of the blessings of Allah turn into arrogance or vanity. One way to do this is to remind ourselves of our nature, which includes the fact that we carry najasah in our bodies, we create filth in our ears (wax), eyes (sleep), nose (mucous), mouths (saliva), etc.

Hasan al Basri once saw a man he did not know walking with arrogance The many saw Hasan looking at him and said, “Do you know me?” to which Hasan al Basri said, “Yes, you began as a clot of blood, then at the end your life you become a rotten corpse and in between that you caryy filth in your body.”

The science of understanding the intricacies between all of these states is called Tassawuuf and is an accepted part of Ahlul Sunna wal Jama’ah. I encourage you to study this science but to begin by gaining a firm grounding in the science of faith (aqida) and law (fiqh).

Question 2: I understand that Allah tests us with suffering as a trial, but what if it is too much for the person to handle?  I suppose I am trying to ask how come we are tested in ways that we can be completely ignorant about? As a child I was beaten, tricked and nearly drowned by other children falsely accused by my parents for things, and told I was stupid.  Were these experiences supposed to benefit me in the long run?

Answer 2: We all experience different levels of trials but we have to be firm in realizing that they are all from Allah. Recognizing Divine Decree (qadr) is a pillar of faith as is mentioned in the Hadith of Jibreel alayhis salam. One of the main ways that the Shaytan gets us to question the existence of Allah is to begin by getting us to question Divine Decree.

How to Deal With the Divine Decree

Many people have left faith in God because of not being able to answer the question, “If there is a God, then why is there evil in the world?” For a Muslim, the answer should be automatic and it is, “Allah does whatever He wills” (Quran 85:16). I myself repeat this ayah when I see or hear things I cannot understand such as the death of children, atrocities against people, oppression, etc.

There is another ayah to repeat and reflect on when we think about things we cannot answer and it is the verse, “He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned” (Quran 21:23). Therefore, do not allow yourself to ask about what has happened unless you first accept it and then you are trying to find wisdom in what happen, as the angels were in asking about the creation of mankind. Also, when reflecting on what you experienced think about the prophets and what they experienced

They lived lives like we did as a consolation to us. We cannot fully relate to angels because they do not experience life as we do. Having prophets as examples allows us to be able to relate to them. We will all experience aspects of the Seera of the prophets or the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless them and our Prophet).

If you feel rejected by others, reflect on the people’s rejection of their prophets. If you feel betrayed, think of Yusef at the bottom of the well (and a person can drown in a well). If you feel alone, think about Musa alayhis salam in the land of Madyan. You should not feel stupid by thinking about your life and experiences. Your life is a book that Allah gave only to you and He wants you to reflect on your life. Just as we are to reflect on the heavens and earth, we are to reflect on ourselves as Allah says in the Quran (51:21).

Using Life Experience to Strengthen Faith

You need to use your life experience to grow stronger in faith and not be weakened. If you feel weakened by thinking about your life, then you are reflecting on it in the wrong method. Change the method that you are using to think about your life. Also remember, that we can sometimes get depressed and reflection and dhikr can help. Other times the depression becomes clinical and we need medication or therapy. Do not feel embarrassed about seeking out this type of help. There is no difference between seeking medical help or therapy for physical ailments or mental ailments.

Rami Nsour

How Do I Respond Correctly to Success?

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: I’m finding success a struggle. What do I do?

 

Answer: Walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

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

Yes, apparent worldly or religious “success” can be a trial (fitna) in life. Like everything in life, it is a test. The test in it is: Will you respond right to it?

What are key ingredients of right-response in success?

(One) Seeing all good as being from Allah–not from oneself. “Whoever finds good, let them praise Allah for it,” reminded the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk)

(Two) Being thankful for the blessing of this good–by directing the blessing towards the pleasure of Allah, in the ways pleasing to Allah.

(Three Not allowing this good and its attainment veil you from other good that you must pursue in life–such as the fulfillment of the rights of Allah; your right to seek Allah in life; the rights of spouse, parents, and family; the rights of your body and worldly needs/desires, in permissible and praiseworthy ways.

This is what the sunna teaches: finding the “beautiful balance” in life. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Give everyone and everything in life its due right.”

Key to these keys is:

(1) Consistently keeping good company–which is company that uplifts you and reminds you of Allah.

(2) Having spiritual routines that are realistic and consistent–particularly every morning and night, even if just 5 minutes–and sticking to them unwaveringly.

(3) Keeping one’s tongue moist with remembrance of Allah.

Strive to follow this Prophetic sunna to, “Keep your tongue moist with the remembrance of Allah.” [Tirmidhi] In your walking, work, and rest. Engage your tongue, heart, and mind with the remembrance of Allah.

One way is to repeat the the “lasting good deeds” the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) recommended: Subhana’l Llah; Alhamdu li’l Llah; la ilaha illa’l Llah; and Allahu Akbar. These can be recited in order or individually. Stay constant on them, and you’ll find peace of heart and increasing presence with Allah.

See, also:

The Aim, Purpose, and Consequence of Consistent Spiritual Routines – Imam al-Haddad, with Commentary from Faraz Rabbani

And: A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam, Faraz Rabbani

Executive Director, SeekersGuidance & SeekersHub Toronto

Supplication for Overcoming Difficulty

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Can you recommend a supplication for overcoming difficulty?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

Ask Allah as He loves to be asked and always gives, realize your neediness before Him, and trust in Allah, realizing: “There is no movement or power except through Allah (La hawla wa la quwwata illa bi Allah).”

The following supplication may also be recited:

“O Allah! There is nothing easy except that which You make easy; and You make the difficult, if You wish, easy (Allahumma la sahla illa ma ja`altahu sahla wa anta taj`al ul-hazna idha shi’ta sahla).”

اللهُمَّ لا سَهْلَ إلا مَا جَعَلتَهُ سَهْلا وَ أنتَ تَجْعَلُ الحزْنَ إذا شِئْتَ سَهْلا

See also: Qur’anic Reflections: Divine Tests and the Great Virtue of Steadfast Patience

And: What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Is There a Prophetic Supplication to Relieve My Hopelessness?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Can you suggest a prayer for hopelessness? Though I constantly pray, sometimes I feel I’m being more punished than tested. For the various instances I have witnessed in my life, where there is good there is suffering where there is evil there is ease. Is there no ease ever in our life if we were to live a life of a true believer? Is life going to be a constant struggle for a believer and they will never find happiness?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that you are well, insha’Allah.

No, a true believer does find happiness. However, everlasting joy will be in the next life. As for this life, there will be times of happiness and joy, and times of sadness and difficulty.

Though, times of difficulty and hardship are in reality blessings, and a time of returning back to Allah. When one returns to Allah, seeking Him, and trusting in Him, He gives one openings.

Allah Most High says, “And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will grant them a way out, and will provide for them in ways unimagined. And whoever places their trust in Allah, then Allah is their sufficiency. Allah’s affair will surely come to pass–and Allah has made a clear decree for everything.” [Qur’an, 65: 2-3]

Moreover, the sunna as the descriptions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) tell us is to be constantly cheerful, smiling, and easy-going, even in the face of setbacks and adversity. `Abdullah bin Harith bin Juz’ said, “I never saw anyone who smiled as often as the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).” [Tirmidhi]

So, during these blessed days and nights, re-affirm your resolve to seek the good, make lots of supplication, and be of those who are increased, and relieved of their distress by gratitude and love. Realize the words of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), “How amazing is the matter of the believer! All of his matter is good, and this is not for anyone except the believer. If ease comes his way, he is thankful, so it is good for him. And if hard times hit him, he is patient, so it is good for him.” [Muslim]

Please also see: Prophetic Supplications for Trials in My Life

And Allah alone gives success.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani