It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive to do that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say ‘If only I had done (such and such), the such and such would have happened,’ rather say: ‘Allah has decreed and what He wills He does,’ for ‘if only’ opens the door to the work of the satan.” (Muslim, 2664).
In hardships and calamities, it is natural to get swept away by the affliction of the moment. During such trials of faith, unless we are careful, Satan can inject fear and plant doubts in our hearts and minds.
Our beliefs in such vulnerable states may become overpowered by feelings of the moment resulting in the dwindling of our faith. Some of us start questioning the fairness and wisdom underlying such divine decisions, while others get mired in a blame game. All in all, we may find ourselves lost, helpless, and stalled finding it difficult to gather ourselves and move forward.
For such situations specifically and others in general, Islam teaches us to stay in control by hanging on to the Mercy and Grace of Allah. We pray that Allah keeps us safe from the challenges and trials of life, but as Muslims we should know and understand Quran’s message and the prophet’s guidance for handling tough moments in life.
Do Not Feel Helpless
Even when all doors appear to have been closed, as true believers we should never let feelings of helplessness succumb us. Consider the following Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and ibn Al-Qayyim’s commentary on that Hadith:
It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive to do that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say ‘If only I had done (such and such), the such and such would have happened,’ rather say: ‘Allah has decreed and what He wills He does,’ for ‘if only’ opens the door to the work of the satan.” (Muslim, 2664).
Ibn al-Qayyim said: This Hadith includes several important principles of faith, including the following: “Do not feel helpless”: Feeling helpless is contrary to striving for that which will benefit him, and it is contrary to seeking the help of Allah.
The one who strives for that which will benefit him and seeks the help of Allah is the opposite of the one who feels helpless, so this is telling him, before what has been decreed happens, of that which is one of the greatest means of attaining it, which is striving for it whilst seeking the help of the One in Whose hand is control of all things, from Whom they come and to Whom they will return.
If he does not attain what was not decreed for him, then he may feel either of two things: Helplessness, which opens the door to the work of the Satan, so his sense of helplessness leads him to say “if only,” but there is nothing good in saying “if only” in this case, rather that opens the door to blame, panic, discontentment, regret and grief, all of which are the work of the Satan.
The Prophet (Pbuh) forbade us to open the door to satan’s works in this manner, and told us to adopt the second option, which is looking at the divine decree and bearing it in mind, for if it was decreed for him, it would never have missed him and no one could have prevented him from attaining it. Hence he said: “If anything befalls you, do not say ‘If only I had done (such and such), the such and such would have happened,’ rather say: ‘Allah has decreed and what He wills He does,’” and he taught him that which will benefit him in either case, whether he gets what he wanted or not.
Revive your faith
As mentioned in the Hadith above, a strong faith can help us to hold our heads high. When faith seems to be dwindling, we should get back to Quran and remind ourselves that only Allah can let us out of our ordeal and problems. You must, therefore, keep that faith and not let Satan instill thoughts that could weaken your faith. Allah says in the Quran: If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust. (Qur’an, 3:160)
A strong faith can keep you focused on the fact that Allah alone ultimately controls all destinies and has power over all things. Remembering that fact alone at the moment of affliction can help you in conquering the pain and provide you hope and the energy to keep moving forward.
Believe in the Divine Decree
When facing difficulties, our weak faith can sometimes drive us to question the fairness of it all. In this context, we should remind ourselves that believing in Al-Qadr (Allah’s divine will and decree) is one of the pillars of Islamic faith. As the Prophet said, it means belief in Allah, His Angels, His revealed holy Books (Qur’an, Bible, Torah, Zabur), His Messengers, Day of Judgment and to believe in Al-Qadar (the divine decree) both good and bad.
As part of that belief, we should, therefore, recognize that Allah does what He wills for reasons that are only known to Him. Any attempt to comprehend the wisdom of it all using our limited faculties, or to understand how our current situation fits in His overall plan can only lead us to erroneous conclusions resulting in increased frustrations.
We, as Muslims, should accept Allah’s Decree both as it manifests itself around us and in our lives. It should be a relief to us that only Allah is the master of our destiny and we are only going to be tested about whether we reacted to what befalls as true believers by being patient in adversity and grateful in prosperity.