By Ali Habib
inspired by my friends and the sheikhs that provided the information and life lessons
As young people, unhappiness is certainly not a feeling that is alien to us. We are all struggling in some shape or form. Sometimes, failing to succeed in our studies ruins our whole mood. Some of us are stressed about finding a job to support our living costs while others are wondering whether they picked the right degree; some may even be reading this hoping to find the motivation to pursue a goal in life. Some of us have friends suffering from an illness, or we may be the ones suffering; we might even be looking for that ‘special’ person.
There are many things for us to be unhappy about, and this post was not written to judge or look down upon those feeling unhappy. It was written because I know from experience that this feeling is difficult to live with. You may be indulging in sins, too scared to repent and return back to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). However, I want to try to give you a different perspective on all of these matters. During my moments of hardship I read many books, attended various circles and watched many lectures, and the following is what I came to realise.
No matter how bad your situation is, this dunya (material world) is the lowest of places. It is only up from here, insha’ Allah (God willing). This place was designed to be a complete test: some of us are tested with poverty, unhappiness and hardship, others with wealth, riches and goodness. It is tailored to each person and ultimately, the outcome of the test depends on how we deal with it. We fail when hardships make us bitter and we fall into the trap of believing that a merciful Lord would not make us deal with these adversities; equally, we may fall into the trap of believing that we are invincible and owe our wealth only to ourselves, forgetting to be thankful to Allah (swt) every day and to use our wealth in His way and for His sake.
The companions of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), radi Allahu `anhum (may God be pleased with them), frequently reiterated: “When things are easy they are always followed by hard times, whereas when things are hard they are always followed by easy times.” If we were just patient with all the tribulations that befall us, we would be in `ibadah (worship); we could be just sitting in our homes and, if we are patient with the trials Allah (swt) tests us with, we are in `ibadah. But if we are constantly complaining, we should know that Allah (swt) will give us more things to complain about.
When trying to overcome this sense of sadness, there are those of us who stumble due to the sins we commit. However, we need to remember a statement made by the Prophet ﷺ : “I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” This is who we worship. No matter what we have done, Allah (swt) forgives if we go back to Him with a sincere heart. His mercy is beyond our understanding. “And seek forgiveness of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful” (73:20). As Rumi said in one of his poems: “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”
We know that Satan says that most of us are not in a state of gratitude. Allah (swt) states this very fact in the Qur’an: “And few of My servants are grateful” (34:13). The root of taqwa (God-consciousness) is gratitude. The Almighty is worthy of gratitude; Islam is not just about fear. We do not want to be a people who are motivated to do things only by a negative force like fear. Behind everything is Allah (swt); therefore in being grateful for everything we are grateful to Him. This effectively includes being grateful to people who harm us, because if we respond correctly, they are doing us a big favour by drawing us nearer to Allah (swt).
Now that you have understood this, sit down and think all the blessings Allah (swt) has bestowed upon you. He has allowed you to use electricity to read this piece; He has given you eyes to witness the very world He enables you to reside in. He has allowed some of us to attend universities where we enjoy the presence of great people. He has given us stomachs where we enjoy the very food He has granted us to eat. The list is endless.
Sometimes dedicating time to pondering all the things Allah (swt) has allowed us to enjoy shifts our whole mood. I do not say this just for the sake of it, but because it really is true. Over the past few days I have reflected a lot and realised that, in some way or another, Allah (swt) has answered all my pleas. Sitting down and pondering over the Mercy of Allah (swt) overwhelms me. This has certainly made me a happier person, eradicating the sense of depression, and most importantly, this realisation has made thank Allah (swt) for every incident that occurs to me. It is important to be continually in a state of reflection; the world we live in is one that can drain our iman (faith) and happiness, so the only way to overcome this is to remember and thank Allah (swt), counting our blessings more than once.
This thanking of Allah (swt) however is not merely saying ‘alhamdullilah’ (all praise be to Allah) after everything that occurs, but is also utilising the very things He has blessed us with. So if you have the gift of being creative, then use that to help those of us who are less talented in that area; if you have been blessed with wealth. donate to projects that make other human beings smile and feel this sense of gratitude. If your divine gift is in giving advice or writing, then by all means use your powerful words to help others. As the saying goes, the ‘world is your oyster’, and it is up to you to really show this gratitude.
A very noble man said not too long ago: “If you take a child and throw him or her up, there is a point when you see them go into a state of complete panic; then, when they come back to your arms, they are laughing. That is the dunya, I guarantee you. That moment is your life; you came from God and you are going back to God, and there is a moment when you are in a complete state of panic but just relax – you are in good hands. Just relax.”
Be happy, stay positive, ponder on your successes and constantly be happy with your blessings.
May peace be granted to all of us insha’ Allah.