Reaction to Apparently Negative Happenings
various difficulties can happen for a person throughout the day. but no matter what difficulties he may encounter, a believer puts himself in allah's hands and thinks: "allah tests us in everything we do and think in this earthly life. this is a very important fact that we must never lose sight of. so, when we encounter difficulty in anything we do, or think that things are not going well, we must never forget that our lord has put this difficulty in our path in order to test our reaction."
in the qur'an, allah says that every difficulty a person meets comes from him:
say: "nothing can happen to us except what allah has ordained for us. he is our master. it is in allah that the believers should put their trust." (surat at-tawba: 51)
everything we encounter in our experience is decreed by allah and is beneficial for the believer in this world and the world to come; this is clear to everyone who observes with faith. for example, there is much benefit when a believer loses some possessions he loved. outwardly, this appears to be a misfortune but it can be the means whereby a believer may see his mistakes, increase his awareness and realise that he must take much more precaution in some areas. another beneficial side of this kind of misfortune is that it reminds a person that he does not own anything; that the owner of all things is allah.
this is valid for every thing, great and small, that happens in the course of daily life. for example, as a result of a misunderstanding or someone's neglect, a payment may be wrongly made; a job on which someone has been struggling with a computer for hours may be lost in one moment as the result of a power failure; a young student may be sick and miss the university entrance examinations for which he spent so much time preparing; due to some bureaucratic transactions, a person may spend days waiting in line; documents may never be completed, thus causing a hitch; a person who has an urgent engagement somewhere may miss his bus or plane…these are the kinds of events that can happen in anyone's life and that appear to be difficult setbacks.
but there is much beauty in these occurrences from the point of view of someone with faith. above all, a believer bears in mind that allah tests his conduct and his steadfastness, that he will die and that it is a waste of time for him to dwell on these difficulties since he is going to give an account in the afterlife. he knows there is a silver lining to all things that happen. he never loses heart but prays that allah will make his job easy and make everything turn out well. and when relief comes after difficulty, he thanks allah that he has accepted and answered his prayer.
a person who begins his day with this in mind will rarely lose hope no matter what happens or become anxious, fearful or feel desperate, and if he is momentarily forgetful, he will again remember and turn to allah. he knows that allah created these things for a good and beneficial purpose. and he will not think this way only when something serious is about to happen to him, but, as we said before, in everything great or small that happens to him in daily life.
for example, think of a person who does not make the progress he wants in an important undertaking; at the last minute, just when he was about to complete it, he encounters a serious problem. this person bursts out in anger, becomes anxious and miserable and has other kinds of negative reaction. however, someone who believes that there is good in everything will try to find what allah is showing him by this event. he may think that allah drew his attention to this in order for him to take more precautions in this matter. he will take every necessary precaution and he will thank allah that he has probably prevented even greater damage by this action.
if he misses the bus while on his way somewhere, he will think that by being late or not getting on that bus, he may have avoided an accident or other disaster. these are only a few examples. he will think that there may be other hidden reasons such as these. these examples can be multiplied many times in a person's daily life. but the important thing is this: a person's plans may not always turn out the way he wants. he may find himself in a totally different environment than he had planned, but that is beneficial for someone who puts himself in allah's hands and so he tries to find a divine purpose for everything that happens to him. in the qur'an, allah reveals the following:
…it may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. allah knows and you do not know. (surat al-baqara: 216)
as allah says, we do not know what is beneficial or harmful; but allah knows. a person must make friends with and submit to allah, the most merciful and the all-compassionate.
in this earthly life, a person can lose everything he owns in a moment. he can lose his house in a fire, his investments in an economic crisis or valuable possessions because of an accident. allah says in the qur'an that people will undergo this kind of testing:
we will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and crops. but give good news to the steadfast. (surat al-baqara: 155)
allah tells people that they will undergo various kinds of tests and that they will receive a good reward for their steadfastness in difficult circumstances. for example, a person loses something he owns and cannot find it; the steadfastness that allah describes in the qur'an is when a person puts himself completely in allah's hands and submits to his will from the moment he learns that his possessions, whether large or small, have been lost. he does not lose sight of the fact that allah has made everything and does not let his attitude or behaviour become unbalanced.
a person may suffer even worse losses in the course of a day. for example if someone loses a source of income on which he spent the greater part of his day in order to meet his needs, that loss is serious for someone who believes that his future depended on it. many of the people have been brought up from their childhoods with the idea of getting a good job. they spend every moment of their lives wanting a better job or advancement and promotion in the job they have. so, if they lose their job, their days are filled with depression and anxiety and their lives are, as they say, turned upside down.
on the other hand, a believer knows that it is allah who gives him his daily sustenance and that his sources of incomes are for this purpose only. in other words, for a believer, the blessings that allah has given him are only a means. for this reason, if a person of faith loses his source of income, he will accept the fact with steadfastness and submission. in such circumstances, he will be steadfast and pray and put himself in allah's hands. he never forgets that allah gives his daily sustenance and that he can take it away anytime he wills.
a person who takes the qur'an as a guide will immediately take control of his thoughts and actions if he loses a source of income, suffers harm, cannot study in the school of his choice or similar circumstances. he will consider whether of not his behaviour is pleasing to allah and the following thoughts may go through his mind:
- was i thankful enough for the goods, property and possessions i lost?
- was i mean with or ungrateful for the blessings i was given?
- did i forget allah and the afterlife in being too attached to my property and possessions?
- was i haughty or arrogant because of my possessions and did i distance myself from allah's way and the teachings of the qur'an?
- did i try to win the admiration of others instead of seeking allah's approval, or seek to satisfy my own wishes and desires?
a believer will give an honest and sincere answer to these questions. according to these answers, he will try to correct behaviour that is not pleasing to allah and pray for allah to help him do this. he will approach allah in all sincerity. he will take refuge in allah from all the wrong things he has done out of forgetfulness or misconduct. in the qur'an, allah describes the way those who believe pray:
…our lord, do not take us to task if we forget or make a mistake! our lord, do not place on us a load like the one you placed on those before us! our lord, do not place on us a load we have not the strength to bear! and pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy on us. you are our master… (surat al-baqara: 286)
in being tested, a person can suffer many losses one after the other. but a person with deep faith knows that there is a reason for what he suffers. one of the most important of these reasons is the spiritual training that comes with difficulty:
…allah rewarded you with one distress in return for another so you would not feel grief for what escaped you or what assailed you. allah is aware of what you do. (surah al 'imran: 153)
nothing occurs, either in the earth or in yourselves, without its being in a book before we make it happen. that is something easy for allah. that is so that you will not be grieved about the things that pass you by or exult about the things that come to you. allah does not love any vain or boastful man. (surat al-hadid: 22-23)
for a believer, the difficult situations that happen one after another during the day are the means for him to remember that he is in a place of testing to become closer to allah, to mature and to embrace the teachings of the qur'an. he is aware that allah is training him in this way and preparing him for the endless blessings of the life to come.