Sarah wiped away the tears on her embroidered shawl, realizing that hiding in the restroom during a wedding was probably not the wisest choice.
Sure enough, the door opened, welcoming a waft of subtle perfume and the sweep of a long skirt across the glossy tiles.
Sarah hastily dabbed at her face, waiting for the stranger to pass by. Instead, the skirt stopped swishing right next to her, and a warmly melodious voice greeted her with, “As-Salaamu Alaikum.”
Peace be upon you.
Sarah suddenly found the courage to look up and respond to her salaam. The girl was only a few years older than her, her striking features foreign, though her elegant attire was cut along familiar lines.
“I’m Ayah, and I must admit, I kind of followed you out here.” Her smile was so sincere that Sarah felt her smile bloom across her tear-stained face effortlessly. “I saw you being bombarded at the wedding hall. I had to check if you were alright.”
Sarah felt the angry words push past her lips before she could stop them.
“Yes, they keep prying and asking me endless questions about –”
Ayah placed a gentle hand on Sarah’s arm to stop her.
“My dear, people will say and ask all sorts of things, despite not knowing our situation. We must gently brush them to the side.” Ayah looked intently into Sarah’s eyes. “Only you know your situation. So, are you unhappy? Do you feel sad and dissatisfied?”
As Sarah considered the question, feeling her pulse begin to pound, a group of laughing young girls breezed in.
Ayah gave her a quick, kindly look and whisked her away before anyone could notice them. Sarah found herself seated on a comfortable settee in the hotel’s picturesque café.
“Well?” Ayah’s voice was both gentle and earnest.
Sarah let out a deep sigh, one that had been building within her chest for a long time.
“Yes, I am sad- I have been depressed and dissatisfied lately. And I’ve been making so much du’a, trying to do everything right. But…nothing seems to be working. I’m stuck in the same place.”
Ayah nodded, patting Sarah’s hand.
“I understand you perfectly. Last year, I was the one crying in the washroom. I had moved from my homeland to my husband’s country, and everyone treated me differently no matter what I did – they didn’t give me a chance. They didn’t realize I had struggles of my own.”
Ayah paused; unshed tears added brilliance to her eyes.
“But I realized that the problem was that I didn’t trust Allah how He deserves to be trusted. I made du’a and went through the obligations mechanically because it’s what was expected. But I didn’t feel a connection to Allah; I still felt like it was just me all alone against the world.”
Sarah stared at her. “That’s just it. That’s how I feel- so helpless, and nothing seems to be moving forward for me.”
Ayah gave her a sweet smile. “Think of this time as a season in your life.”
“Like spring or autumn?”
“Exactly. Every season is beautiful and necessary. Each lasts for a specific time and serves a purpose ordained by Allah. The same applies to the different seasons of our lives.”
Sarah nodded slowly, struggling to understand.
Ayah continued, “And each season has its own struggles and blessings, but the purpose never changes.”
Sarah was silent, feeling the understanding slowly dawn upon her.
“Our purpose on this Earth is to know our Creator and worship Him. And all He wants from us…is our best. It is we who move away from Him, He never closes the door when we need Him. So how can we believe we are alone in our struggles? How can we ignore all His blessings upon us and the Signs He sent to call us back to Him?”
This time, when the tears fell, Sarah knew they were tears of renewal – renewed hope, trust, and conviction in her Rabb- the One Who created her, the One Who sustains her, and the One Who has complete dominion and perfect control over all her affairs.
The standards of society are not the same as the standards of Allah.
Whether we are rejoicing upon receiving a blessing or grieving over a hardship, we have a choice – do we choose to act according to what pleases Allah or according to what we desire and/or what people expect?
Everyone in this world is tested, but the only ones who win in this world and the Hereafter are those whom Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى chooses as His friends to help and protect, to guide and grant steadfastness.
It’s necessary to have husnudhanni billah - good expectations about Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى.
Allah says, in a Hadith Qudsi, which is a statement of Allah phrased in the Messenger’s ﷺ own words:
“I am as my servant thinks I am.” [Hadith 15, 40 Hadith Qudsi]
My brothers and sisters, Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is telling us that He will be towards us as we expect Him to be. This is a profound and powerful statement; it tells us that the act of worship we are about to explore (tawakkul) starts from an internal shift in perspective.
And if we lack proper knowledge of Who Allah is and if we have misconceptions about our Rabb, then the process of tawakkul we adopt is likely to be faulty.
What is tawakkul?
Tawakkul is to have true and sincere trust in Allah in order to attain some benefit or ward off some harm while holding on to Allah (in obedience to Him) and adopting the means that Allah has told us to.
It includes grateful remembrance of Allah’s blessings and His Help that we have experienced in the past, and it involves taking the means but not relying on our resources because we are depending on the One Who gave them to us and Whose ability is not restricted to the means.
Being content in whatever Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى decrees for us and the willpower and determination to work in His Way, despite whatever is pushing us back, springs from realizing that Allah decrees only good for His believing slaves.
Here is a beautiful analogy (and Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى is far above any example) used by Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed to make the concept of husnudhanni billah clearer for us:
Imagine that after you read this article, your mom asks you to take a drive with her. She just grins and says, “No questions allowed!” when you ask her where she’s taking you. You have a busy day planned already, but you get in the car only complaining slightly. She chooses to take a route that you’ve never been on before and forgetting her previous instruction, you ask again, “Where are we going?” She shakes her head at your impatience and says, “You’ll see soon enough if you’ll just wait.”
My brothers and sisters- how many of us will be paralyzed with fear, doubt, and uncertainty at this point?
And why is it that you are not afraid, why are you so confident and content with where you’re going?
Because you trust your mother, you know that she will never let any harm come to you.
You don’t know the route you’re going; you are basically blindfolded as to your destination- yet you trust in the driver’s decision. You have complete faith that she has your best interests in mind.
This is husnudhann; we all have a good opinion of our mothers, bi’idhnillah!
Then what about your Creator? My brothers and sisters, what about Allah?
Maybe we will be taken down routes that we never expected or wanted, maybe the journey seems too long, too rough, or too lonely – but know that Allah will never do anything to harm you.
It is we who harm our own souls when we let go of Him سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى because we cannot survive or thrive without His Help.
This season of trials (and blessings) is here to teach us a lesson, to make us a better version of ourselves.
Once you recognize that, once you transfer that burden off your shoulders and place your entire dependence on Allah while taking the means He has given you to do your best, then nothing but acceptance, peace, and even happiness will flood your heart.
Because you know that what He سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى has in store for you is far better than what you could have dreamt for yourself.
So, claim this season as your best one yet and move forward in any way you can, strive to be of benefit to Allah’s Creation while making sure that you keep drawing closer to Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى through performing the diverse acts of worship He has prescribed with ikhlas (sincerity) and ihsan (utmost good).
I will end on this beautiful gem mined from the deep wisdom of Ibn Al-Qayyim رَحِمَهُ ٱللَّٰ :
“Had Allah lifted the veil for his slave and shown him how He handles his affairs for him, and how Allah is more keen for the benefit of the slave than his own self, his heart would have melted out of the love for Allah and would have been torn to pieces out of thankfulness to Allah. Therefore, if the pains of this world tire you, do not grieve. For it may be that Allah wishes to hear your voice by way of du’a. So, pour out your desires in prostration and forget about it and know, that verily, Allah does not forget.”
In our next article, bi’idhnillah, we shall delve into a ground-breaking statement of tawakkul and how it shaped the lives before us, and how it has the power to transform our lives in the best of ways, SubhanAllah.
If you have any guesses as to this world-shifting statement, don’t hesitate to comment below!
And if you want to embark on a heart-stirring journey of discovering Allah and your purpose through His Book and the Sunnah of His Messenger ﷺ, sign up for the Taleem Al-Quran Course right now!