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Islamic Character Overcoming Hardships Reflections With the Divine

Nothing Is Ever Wasted

How to Achieve Tranquility of the Heart Series: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VI | Part VII Part VIIIPart IXPart XPart XI | Part XIIPart XIIIPart XIV | Part XV | Part XVIPart XVIIPart XVIIIPart XIXPart XX

“[And it will be said], ‘Indeed, this is for you a reward, and your effort has been appreciated.’” (Qur’an, 76:22)

Failure can take a toll on a person: that feeling of trying and trying, over and over, yet somehow never getting where you want to be. Or sometimes the task just seems too huge to achieve; is there even any use?

We touched upon this a little when discussing thinking well of Allah and tawakkul. But this aspect involves knowing that nothing ever goes to waste. In the verse above, Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala tells us our sa’y (effort) is appreciated; it is recognized. That is what we get rewarded for. Whether or not we succeed, it is ultimately the effort that we put in that Allah (swt) takes into account. One of Allah’s Names is Ash-Shakoor: He is Appreciative of what you do, no matter how small, and He rewards it abundantly. Imagine: Allah (swt) is so appreciative, He even rewards our intention! Therefore, we know that those who intend to do well, but cannot do it, are still rewarded. This feeling of failure is actually a deception from shaytan to deter us from trying. He promotes neglect: “Don’t work on your relationship with your parents, they’ll never change,” and makes us doubt: “do you really think that your tiny effort is going to have an effect?” But Allah (swt) rewards you when you try because your trying is testament to the fact that even though you know you are a minor player, you are doing it for His sake.

Look at this verse from Surat al-Baqarah:

“Or take the one who passed by a ruined town. He said, ‘How will God give this life when it has died?’ So God made him die for a hundred years, and then raised him up, saying, ‘How long did you stay like that?’ He answered, ‘A day, or part of a day.’ God said, ‘No, you stayed like that for a hundred years. Look at your food and drink: they have not gone bad. Look at your donkey- We will make you a sign for the people; look at the bones: see how We bring them together and clothe them with flesh!’ When all became clear to him, he said, ‘Now I know that God has power over everything.” (Qur’an, 2:259)

This verse describes Prophet Uzayr (`alayhi assalam) when Allah (swt) sent him to revive deserted Jerusalem. Jerusalem was ruined by an unjust king, and when Uzayr (as) arrived, it was so barren and deserted that he wondered how Allah would give life to this dead place. It seemed impossible. Still he worked the whole day, doing what he could with the little tools that he had, and laid to rest. As an example to him and to us, Allah (swt) caused him to die and brought him back to life 100 years later. Not only was this a miracle as his food and drink did not rot either, but Jerusalem was filled with new people and life. The Prophet Uzayr (as) would never have known that his small effort would culminate, by the will of Allah (swt), in bringing the town back to life. But Allah (swt) shows him how it does, as an example to us – so that we never say “it’s a waste of time.”

Subhan’Allah. Sometimes we deal with Allah (swt) as though He is a human being Who doesn’t know about the worry we feel, the stress, the striving. When we fail to see the results of our effort, we think that we failed and that it was a waste of time. But Allah (swt) tells us:

“And never is your Lord forgetful…” (Qur’an, 19:64)

If you try to work on your relationship with your family members but to no avail, remember, Allah knows about your pain. He won’t forget it, and He will give you compensation for it accordingly. If you want to work into making your community better, but something happens whereby everything you invested in it is suddenly gone, Allah always knows. The point is that we are not just about dunya even though we’re in it. When we fall, we pick ourselves back up again because we are also about the akhirah – our ultimate hope is in Him.

However, this doesn’t mean that we do the same thing over and over again knowing that it’s not working. What it means is not being defeated internally. We are Muslims, when one thing in our lives fails, it doesn’t make us feel down for an extended period of time because we know that even a step taken for the sake of Allah (swt) is rewarded. Let’s keep moving insha’Allah.

Don’t think that your efforts have been wasted. They have not. They are recorded with Ash-Shakoor, and if you don’t see the fruits of your labor in this life, surely Allah (swt) is keeping something amazing for you in the next.

About the author

jinan_b_dxb@hotmail.com'

Jinan Yousef

Jinan is a graduate of law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and UC Berkeley, with a special emphasis on international law. During her university years, she was heavily involved with the Students’ Union Islamic Society. Her main interests within the field of Islamic Studies are the Names of Allah, the life and character of the Prophet ﷺ, tazkiya and Muslim personalities. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D.

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