Children Family Overcoming Hardships Personal Development Reflections Spiritual Purification

Toiling…and the Light at the End of the Tunnel

2635177164_34fb29476e_bIt’s amazing what motherhood teaches you. Three weeks ago today, I took my turn in one of the greatest struggles a woman endures. It was an experience that would forever change my life.

Three weeks ago, I gave birth.

The pain of childbirth is certainly called labor for a reason. But in that struggle, and perhaps even more so in the struggle of child-rearing that follows, we are taught an invaluable life lesson.

They tell you that the ‘best things in life are free.’ But of all the untruths we are told, that cliché is perhaps one of the biggest. Nothing in life is free. And most definitely not the best things. Everything has a price. And the more precious something is, the higher that price.

Anything worth having requires us to work for it. Allah teaches us this Truth in the Quran when He says: “And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives; and that his effort is going to be seen—then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense; and that to your Lord is the finality” (Qur’an, 53:39-42).

So, Allah tells us that in this life we will always have to strive. But He also tells us that there will always be fruit of that striving. Consider childbirth. Could not Allah have made it completely painless and simple? Couldn’t we all have come into this world without causing our mothers to bleed and suffer?

Or consider the pregnancy. Allah says: “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning was in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination,” (Qur’an, 31:14). Could not Allah have formed a human being overnight, without 9 months of that hardship? Could we not have been developed without causing our mothers the morning sickness, exhaustion, difficulty walking, sleeping, breathing, eating?

But through that strife, and as a result of that struggle, what do we have? As the fruit of our striving, we have one of Allah’s greatest gifts: a beautiful child of our own.

But it wasn’t for free.
And nothing in life is. If you want to win a gold medal, you have to give your life to training. If you want a degree, you have to spend years of sleepless nights and exhausting days, studying for it. Even something as simple as being in shape requires you to work out.

And if you want to make it to Jannah, you have to strive. If you want to be with Allah in the end, you have to endure the pangs of hunger during Ramadan, overcome sleep to pray fajr (early morning prayer), and sacrifice your wealth to pay zakah (charity). This is the price of Jannah—a gift, but one that doesn’t come for free.

And so too was my son a gift, but one that I had to struggle for. That struggle is inherent in the definition of this imperfect dunya (this life), which was never meant to be easy. When you watch someone in their first moments of life, this truth becomes so clear. The first thing we do when we enter this world is cry, and then struggle to take our first breath. Suddenly we are introduced to the realities of a life where we will bleed, feel hunger, fear, and pain. Almost immediately we are introduced to all these realities at once.

This Truth is also described in the Quran when Allah says: “We have certainly created man into hardship,” (Qur’an, 90:4).

But like my son who was the brilliant light at the end of a long tunnel, Allah also promises us an unparalleled gift as the fruit of our striving in this life. He says in the Quran: “O mankind, indeed you are laboring toward your Lord with [great] exertion and will meet it” (Qur’an, 84:6).

Originally published by InFocus News

About the author

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as the Sisters’ Youth Director for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. She also worked as a writing instructor for Cardinal Stritch University, and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an independent media consultant and a writer for the Huffington Post, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Her written works, including a book chapter on the portrayal of Islam post-911, have appeared in print and online publications worldwide.


  • mashaAllah sister Yasmin, beautiful article that I really needed! jazaaki Allahu khayran

    I think this article is a bit old, but mubaarak on your son anyway 🙂 May Allah make him from the saaliheen!

  • Allahu Akbar–what an awesome piece. Jazakillahu khaira!

    We just have to make sure that when we are going through the hard parts of life…we realize that the light at the end of the tunnel is *really a relief*…and not a train 🙂

    Barak Allahu Feeki

  • Many of the best things in life are free, but unfortunately human nature is such that we take for granted things we don’t work for. Children are the sweetest things and with human greed, if childbirth was so simple and easy, we’d overpopulate the world in a few years and not appreciate what we have. Life would also have been viewed even cheaper than it is today and everyone would be viewed as replaceable. The hikmah of childbirth pain is larger than just a personal struggle, it protects humankind from its own destructive nature.

  • There is even beauty to the struggle, not just because of the light at the end of the tunnel, but because of the realization of how small we are and thus we must put our trust fully in God. In hindsight, the toils and tests are blessings in of themselves.

  • Ma’sha’allah beautifully said and a great reminder of the bigger picture, as well as the great effort we have to make to attain the various gifts of both this life and the hereafter. May Allah (swt) Help us in the daily struggle to achieve those gifts. Ameen.

  • What about those women who go through all of that and in the end their baby dies after carrying it for 9 months. What did they get out of it? I lost a child right at the end and everyone around me kept saying oh miskeenah oh you poor girl you carried that baby and suffered for 9 months but you got nothing out of it.

  • Your article is very eloquent and thanks for posting it. However, I can’t help but disagree (as soon as I read “Nothing in life is free.” In truth, everything is free. Just think of the air you breath, the sunsine that provides us with warmth and nourishment, and so on. Futhermore, entering Jannah is a mercy from Allah that no one actually accomplishes without his permission. Not a single person could accomplish this without much forgiveness from Allah.

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