A Carpet Full Of Gifts
Nothing makes you realise how limited you are as much as when you’re ill. All of a sudden, your body depends on medicine, treatments and the assistance of others for it to heal and function normally. When you fall ill, basic everyday things become so difficult to do.
In case you’re wondering, I’ve been recovering at a good pace since I got out of hospital alhamdullilah! THANK YOU for everyone’s doas; they helped me get through a very uncomfortable time. It feels surreal not having tubes poking into my hands and not needing help to do basic things anymore.
Though one can appreciate many things while they’re in a state of wellness and abundance, you are far more conscious of your spiritual state and your relationship with Allāh when you’re deprived of something—in my case it was my health. There are great blessings in both health and sickness, especially if you always think well of Allāh’s plans.
I want to reiterate what I mentioned in my previous post: our attitude towards all of life’s problems is already half of the solution. When we believe that the events in our lives are working for us, only then will we get out of that victimhood mentality that hinders us from overcoming the challenges that we are more than capable of conquering.
Ibn Ata’illah Al-Iskandari, an Egyptian scholar and waliullah (saint of Allāh), born in the 13th century, wrote in his book called Al-Hikam Al-Ata’iyyah (the Book of Aphorisms):
He commented: “Deprivation is a special institution in which the initiate (read: learner, beginner, student) is forced to acknowledge his servanthood and Allāh’s dominance and facilitate his rapid reaching to Allāh.” In short: hardship is an express route to God.
Voluntarily fasting and praying is relatively easy as we are not forced to do these acts of worship. It’s also possible to fast and pray without doing so in a state of neediness before Allāh. When we are in a state of ease, reflecting on our limits and glorifying Allāh is not something that is easy to do wholeheartedly and sincerely because we feel that we are so capable of achieving anything without His Generosity.
However, when we find ourselves in a difficult situation, it is only then that we truly realise how helpless we are. It is only in times that we are desperate for a way out that we truly understand our limits as a human being and surrender ourselves to Allāh in a state of tawadhu’ (humility). It’s not as easy to reach a state of humility when we feel so capable of doing everything on our own—the reality is: what we are able to achieve is only through Allāh’s Permission.
No one wants to go through hardship because they perceive it to be nothing but a burden but if you look at it as a chance to put sabr (patience) into practice and reconnect with Allāh, you would see that the spiritual benefits outweigh what you may lose in terms of worldly matters.
It is always better to lose a portion of our worldly gains rather than lose ourselves to the dunia. One time in fiqh class, my teacher said: “Allāh gives the dunia to both believers and unbelievers but he gives iman (faith) to only those that He loves.”
The sweetness of iman is rarely felt nor appreciated in times of ease, but in times of hardship, it’s a source of empowerment for the one that puts his trust in Allāh.
Ibn Ata’illah added: “The hours of need provide a good opportunity for the initiate to mend his relationship with Allāh. Though it may appear the most difficult situation in life, it is actually the most fertile period in terms of spiritual growth.”
I’ve experienced firsthand how being in a state of redha (acceptance in Allāh’s decree) in difficult circumstances can help us to move forward with greater ease. That’s not to say that you won’t be physically or mentally exhausted by what you’re tested with but you’ll find yourself less agitated than you normally would.
Oftentimes, it’s not misfortune itself that wears us out; it’s how we choose to perceive our problems that adds an extra burden on our shoulders. When we focus too much on the problem, it becomes magnified, leaving us overwhelmed. My ustaz often reminds me that when we obsess over our problems, it makes them bigger than it actually is, but when we draw our attention to Allāh’s Greatness, our problems shrink in size.
While we are now living in age when people talk a lot about redefining and pushing our limits, it’s important to understand that there are certain limits placed upon us which we have to accept.
Knowing our limits does not have to disempower us—on the contrary, only by knowing our limits can we make peace with what we cannot change and be open to help from both our Creator and His creations.
Acknowledging our limits can be a great source of spiritual empowerment because only when we realise our limits, we are able to acknowledge that Allāh is limitless. When we acknowledge our weaknesses, only then can we testify to Allāh’s Strength. Our nafs (ego) is like an attention-hungry diva, it’s always demanding glorification—what this does is put a veil between us and Allāh.
We cannot truly forge a bond with our Creator when we are so attached to our own selves. This is why in order to achieve ehsan (spiritual excellence), one must be able to worship as if he sees Allāh and if he does not, at the very least he knows that Allāh sees him. Achieving ehsan is not possible if both our eyes and heart are only fixated on the desires of our egos, whether it be for fame, attention, wealth, etc.
The path to Allāh is full of trials and tribulations but if Allāh brings us to it, He can also bring us through it.
If you’re currently in a state of distress, take your time to reflect on what it is He is trying to reveal to you. Open your heart up even wider while you’re in prayer and know that Allāh loves to see His slave communicating to Him in a state of sincerity. Allāh loves to see His slave put their trust in Him and sometimes, it’s in these moments that we find the relief we are looking for while waiting for our hardship to end.
No sweat or tear is ever wasted when it results in a renewed relationship with Allāh.