O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient. (Quran 2:153)
There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the grief of losing a loved one, especially when it is unexpected. We all become very busy in our lives whether it is for work, raising children, or even in our worship.
When calamity strikes, it often takes us by surprise and rattles our core. It can be very difficult to process an unforeseen loss and manage the whole range of emotions that come with it.
This especially holds true for new Muslims, who may still be acquiring knowledge and learning the basics of the Islamic faith. An event such as the loss of a friend or family member can be so catastrophic that it adversely affects your faith and leads to other challenges.
For this reason, it is essential for new Muslims to come to terms with grief and loss in light of the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) to fortify your faith and help strengthen your heart.
Patience in the Shock
One of the very first emotions experienced by someone that learns about the death of a loved one is shock. It manifests itself as a “punch to the gut” and results in a wide range of emotions that include intense grief, anger, sadness, confusion and bewilderment.
Make no mistake about it, death is shocking. Even though it is a part of life and it happens every day all over the world, yet still, when it happens to someone you love or even a distant relative, it can come as quite a blow.
It is imperative that new Muslims be mindful of the shock that often comes when calamity strikes and remember that Allah Almighty is our Creator and it is to Him that we belong.
Prophet Muhammad once passed by a woman who was sitting next to a grave and sobbing. The woman did not recognize him and when he told her to be patient with Allah’s decree she said:
“Go away, for you have not been afflicted with a calamity like mine.”
Later on, she discovered his identity and went to his house to say:
“I did not recognize you,” to which he replied:
Verily, the patience is at the first stroke of a calamity. (Al Bukhari)
While it is hard to receive such difficult news, and when you’re just learning about your Islamic faith, Prophet Muhammad shared this hadith about the first step someone should take when coming to grips with the onset of an unexpected death or calamity.
Upon learning about it, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said that Muslims should say:
“Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un. Allāhumma ujurni fi musibati, wakhluf li khayran minha.” (To Allah we belong and to Him shall we return. Lord! Compensate me in my affliction, recompense my loss and give me better than what I lost.)
By reciting this dua, Allah Almighty has promised to recompense His believing slave with something better.
Never Underestimate the Power of Prayer
Have you ever noticed just how heavy your chest feels prior to performing the Islamic prayer? And, after completing it, you can suddenly breathe easier and your whole being just feels lighter? This is a side effect of the power of prayer.
Every day, we have five obligatory prayers that we must perform. In each one, we have an opportunity to pour our hearts out to our Lord and Cherisher.
And when My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way. (Quran 2:186)
Muslims also have sunnah and nawfil prayers that can be offered to help alleviate some of the stress of losing a loved one while also beseeching our Lord for patience in coming to terms with the loss. Seek an audience with your Lord through every prayer and put all of your faith in the Almighty for solace from the pain.
Connect with the Quran
The Noble Quran is a guidebook of life for all Muslims and within the pages are countless verses that speak to the human heart. There is no better time to connect with the Quran than during times of anxiety, stress and grief. You will find comfort as you read each page while deepening your understanding of Allah Almighty’s Final Revelation to mankind. As Allah Almighty says in the Quran:
And We send down of the Quran that which is a healing and a mercy to those who believe (in Islamic Monotheism and act on it), and it increases the Zaalimoon (polytheists and wrongdoers) in nothing but loss. (Quran 17:82)
And take the initiative, during times of peace and ease, to work towards building a relationship with Quran by learning Arabic, studying tafsir or even joining a Quran study group at your local mosque. By attaching yourself to the Quran during the peaceful times in life, you’ll be more apt to reach for it during times of anxiety and grief.
Reach Out to the Ummah
The onset of grief, when dealing with the death of a loved one is swift, all-encompassing and will make the person suffering from it feel as if they are drowning.
It is essential to reach out to your local mosque, or even an online Muslim group, to help you cope with your loss. Most mosques have mental health programs and some even have committees that are there to assist anyone suffering from difficult life issues.
There is nothing weak about admitting you need help when struggling with grief. In fact, it takes great strength to reach out for help and understanding.
Allah Almighty has bestowed upon mankind all of the tools needed to cope with grief and loss. It is up to us to make use of them and share them with our fellow brethren in faith who may be suffering from a recent death in the family or another calamity.