Many of us have great dreams and great visions we want to fulfill. However, sometimes we are met with challenges that hold us back, keep us ‘stuck’, and slow us down on our journey to fulfilling our potential and living life with purpose and passion.
These challenges can come in the form of some sort of loss. In the Quran, God tells us:
“By time, indeed man is in a state of loss. Except those who believe, and do good and enjoin each other on the truth, and enjoin each other to be patient” (Surat Al-Asr, Qur’an 103).
And we are also told:
“We will certainly test you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits (earnings); but give glad tidings to the persevering and patient” (2:155).
These verses explain to us that human beings are naturally going to experience some sort of loss throughout the course of life – some loss of heath, some loss of wealth, some loss of loved ones, some loss of loved ‘things’ – whether they be a career or a dream or in some extreme cases safety and freedom. Arguably, if these losses are not managed properly, they can amount to an ultimate loss of a strong connection with Allah, happiness in an after-life, and peace and contentment in this life.
So the question is, how can we overcome these losses that are inevitable? How can we carry on with our lives to fulfill our ultimate purpose and maintain a strong connection with Allah? How can we heal those wounds and overcome those worries so we can live life to the fullest and step up to who we really could be and what we really could do to make a positive difference in the world?
First, it helps to remember that loss is a natural part of life because everything is transient, is passing, and is temporary. We can experience great sadness and pain but we can also experience great joy and relief. Allah (SwT) tells us once again in Surat Al – Najm – that
“And that to your Lord is the finality, and that it is He who makes [one] laugh and weep and that it is He who causes death and gives life” (53:42-44).
Our health, wealth, and loved ones are all blessings and gifts that belong to Allah that He lends to us for some time. We just tend to forget that they are gifts and end up attached to the gift and not as attached and thankful to the One Who blessed us with the gift, even when He, in His Infinite Mercy, chooses to take the gift away. And we know that for the believer, being tested or being blessed, are opportunities for patience and gratitude.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was reported to have said:
“Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him.” (Muslim)
And once again we’re told in Surat Al-Asr, the way out of this state of loss, and how to overcome and cope with it so that we can move on to more contentment and success by the will of Allah.
These keys that are mentioned in the verses cited above are:
1) Belief in Allah
2) Doing Good
3) Enjoining each other to truth
4)Enjoining each other to patience
Our belief in Allah and in His Prophet (PBUH) and in His book (The Quran) allows us to understand that we were given this life as an opportunity, a chance, a way to achieve happiness both now and later, in an after life, if we can observe those keys to salvation. We are told in the Quran:
“He’s the One who has created death and life, so He may test you which of you is best in deeds. And He is that All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving” (Quran 67:2).
We’re also told, “Whoever does good, righteous deeds, whether male or female, and is a believer, most certainly We will make him (or her) live a good life, and most certainly We will pay such as these their reward in accordance with the best of what they used to do.” (Quran 16.97).
So literally, we are here for a limited time, in a race for doing good which include the multitude of recommended actions in our faith, including the five pillars of Islam and all of the beautiful moral characteristics that the Prophet peace be upon him announced that he was sent to perfect:
“I was only sent to perfect good moral character” (Ahmad).
So our good moral character includes kindness, generosity, forgiveness, justice, faithfulness, etc. This hadith and the oft-mentioned virtues of good moral character in both the Quran and the Sunnah in fact emphasize that the five pillars and our acts of worship are supposed to shape, enhance and perfect our good moral character. Our implementation of the five pillars and practice of the highest moral character should be our fuel to taking care of the world and making a positive difference.
The third key mentioned in the verses above is to hold on to the truth – the truth of the belief in Allah and His words in the Quran which include the nature of the temporary world we have mentioned, the truth that it will have both the good and the bad, and you will feel happy and sad and we are reminded of this:
“And when some hurt touches man, he cries to his Lord, turning to Him in repentance but when He bestows a favour upon him from Himself, he forgets that for which he cried for before, and he sets up rivals to Allah, in order to mislead others from His path” (Quran: 39:8).
We need to constantly remind each other of this truth because as human beings, we are prone to forget – forget the blessings that Allah showered us with – forget the years that Allah gave us ease – and tend to only remember the times of difficulty and the times when we were tested with some loss of some blessings for reasons that Allah, in His Infinite Knowledge and Wisdom, Knows would ultimately be for our betterment and elevation. We know from the stories in the Quran and stories of great people that transformation many times came out of tribulation and the greatest moments of weakness paved the way to the greatest moments of strength.
Finally the fourth key we are told about is patience. Patience is mentioned repeatedly in the Quran and there can be volumes upon volumes written about the virtues and importance of patience:
“Patiently, then, persevere – for the Promise of Allah is true, and ask forgiveness for your faults, and celebrate the praises of your Lord in the evening and in the morning” (Quran 40:55).
And of my favourite verses in the Quran that I find very moving is:
“And be patient, [O Muhammad], for the decision of your Lord, for indeed, you are in Our eyes. And exalt [ Allah ] with praise of your Lord when you arise.”
I find this verse to be moving because it’s like Allah is comforting us – assuring us that no matter what we may experience or witness others experience and suffering from, He is there, taking care of us every step of the way. Our part, is once again to support each other to be patient.
It’s important to remember that those last two keys involve supporting one another and reaching out for one another. Many people don’t speak about their losses and some don’t even want to feel loss because naturally feeling loss entails feeling sorrow, sadness, guilt, or shame. It’s important to remember though that just because you don’t talk about it and don’t want to feel it doesn’t mean it’s not there. In fact, if it’s not dealt with and managed properly, it can affect the rest of your life now or even later.
Many people also don’t speak about their losses because they are afraid of showing their vulnerabilities – they do not want to seem weak or not in control. And this can stem from having the tendency to be a perfectionist and want things to appear like they’re perfect when we know perfection only belongs to Allah and that in reality, nobody is ‘perfect’ or has a ‘perfect life’. We are told about our weak nature in the Quran and how Allah wishes to help us through those weaknesses:
“Allah would make the burden light for you, for the human being was created weak” (Surat Al-Nisa: 28).
Many people also don’t speak about their losses because it may not be comfortable for others – as a society once again we value strength, happiness, and success as opposed to vulnerability, contentment (even when things are not ‘happy’) and ‘failure’ that can serve as valuable life lessons and a stepping stone to greater success in the future. Even in school, we are not taught how to manage our emotions – even though emotional intelligence is becoming more and more one of the top skills valued in the professional world. As a result of this stigma, people end up suppressing any negative feelings, therefore suffering in silence, unable or unwilling to reach out for support.
The important thing to remember is after of course reaching out to The Ultimate One Who can support you through anything and everything, strengthen you through any weakness, and heal you from any pain, to reach out to those who will understand you, have compassion, and be patient with you in your time of weakness and growth as you transform through learning from your losses. And to also understand that there are professionals who can provide help and should be sought when needed just like physicians are sought for physical conditions.
It’s important to remember though that it can be more damaging to open up about your losses to someone who will be-little your struggle and simply brush it off by asking you to ‘get over it’, so choose carefully whom you choose to share your loss with.
We have beautiful examples from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who would speak about his late wife Khadijah years after her death and remember how she supported him when nobody else did.
Therefore, when you open up and try to work through loss in a healthy way with the appropriate resources and people, the point is not to make it worse or make the wounds deeper – it’s actually to try to heal them, make sense of them, and learn from them so that you can move on with more purpose and passion and achieve more contentment and success in sha Allah.
For a series of free videos on “Healing”: Overcome Loss, Embrace Contentment, and Re-Ignite Your Passion, please visit http://muslimwomensuccesscoach.com/healingprogram/.