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Happiness in Hardship

Happiness in Hardship
The Most Merciful allows us to enjoy ease, to be happy in the midst of the struggle.

Often when we are facing tough times, we focus on the time of ease that comes after: a good grade after studying, good health after exercise, a paycheck after work, comfort after a trial.

This is the pattern of life. We work hard: then we rest. We suffer: then we experience relief. Without the thought of rest and relief, many of us would find the tests and vicissitudes of life very difficult indeed.

Allah Almighty tells us that this is how life works:

{Allah will bring about, after hardship, ease.} (Quran 65:7)

Ease Comes after, but also with Hardship

But ease does not only come after hardship. This is something we often forget. Ease and indeed happiness also comes with, during, in the midst of hardship. So, it’s not that we have to endure and wait until the (often) unspecified time hardship ends to enjoy ease. The Most Merciful allows us to enjoy ease, to be happy in the midst of the struggle.

Allah says:

{For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.} (Quran 94:5-6)

Allah Almighty–The Most Perfect, The Creator of language, the human tongue, and intellect–does not stutter. He does not say something twice without a purpose. Allah’s promise of ease is repeated for emphasis because it is emphatically true.

Even when we are studying hard, we can be happy knowing that we will have breaks to enjoy. Even when we are exercising, we feel a release of endorphins, making us happy during the workout. And even when we are going through trials, we certainly have bright spots of joy.

Hardship Increases our Appreciation

When I look back on my life, I can see how utterly true this is. Whether it was the time when being able to wear clean clothes felt like an extreme luxury amid poverty I was experiencing. Or the cooling touch that made a mountain of difference when I had a high fever. Or the times after my parents passed away that my siblings and I found comfort in each other amid the pain of loss. I have known happiness in the middle of hardship.

without-hardshipsWe all have these stories. If we look back at our lives and think of the moments of pure joy, they often lay in a field of suffering– laughter amid tears even before the healing begins; a cooling rain shower in the long, hot summer even before autumn arrives; a good meal and company at the masjid iftar even before Eid al-Fitr comes.

The sweetness of these small spots of joy during hardship come, perhaps, because Allah is showing us how amazing the things we take for granted at times of ease really are.

We never appreciate the ease of access to food until we fast or are deprived by need. We don’t consider how, if we live in a rainy climate, the rain is a blessing. We don’t realize how good it feels to laugh when we see nothing wrong in our lives.

We are made to appreciate the seemingly smallest of things with an elevated sense of gratitude and understanding during hardships, where as any other time the blessings of life are often taken for granted or overlooked.

But in that contrast of bitter hardship and sweet happiness is so much beauty. Perhaps our hardships come just so that we can see the blessings for what they truly are. Perhaps we are guided toward gratitude through suffering because Allah wants to give us the reward for being grateful and increase us in His favor.

Allah says:

{If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]} (Quran 14:7)

I was reminded of all of this in a small way very recently. I boarded a flight that was to last more than half a day. I counted on the fact that I would sleep for a good portion of that time. But as I sat in my tiny economy seat, crammed between two large people, sleep would not come.

I began to watch a show on the in-flight “entertainment” and noticed how many scenes they had where people had pillows and blankets or were sleeping in their comfortable beds. I became more acutely aware of how much I wanted to sleep, how little I thought of this joy before, how much comfort even being able to lie down brings.

I was exhausted, but could not get comfortable enough to sleep. The passengers around me fell asleep. But I was stuck watching a show with tons of pillows and sleeping.

I was miserable. This is perhaps something most people have been through. And it’s not that big of deal, but it taught me something about happiness happening even in amidst hardship.

Finally, I slept, lightly and intermittently. There was ease with the hardship. And I was so thankful for it. Then once we landed (and took another flight and landed again), I could have a pillow, lie down, and rest even more. There was ease after the hardship. And I was so happy to have it.

But during my small struggle to get comfortable and get some rest, I realized how amazing a blessing sleep is. Something I take for granted daily. Allah Almighty reminded me of how great a blessing it is to have a comfortable place to lie down. Something I previously considered to be my right.

Allah does everything for a reason. Even the smallest of hard times can be a lesson, a great source of blessings, and even—as paradoxically as it may seem—happiness. So, we can relax knowing that we don’t need to just grit our teeth and try to pull through hard times because there is always ease.


About Theresa Corbin

Theresa Corbin is a New Orleans native and Muslimah who converted in 2001 after many years of soul searching and religious study. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for AboutIslam.net and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and the Washington Post, among others publications.Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discuss the intersection of culture and religion.

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