Enduring Grief and Hardship

by Arshad Gamiet

Royal Holloway University of London/27 March 2014

 “A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem. Bismilláhir rahmánir raheem

Al hamdu lillahi nahmaduhu wanasta’eenahu, wanastagh-firuhu, wanatoobu ilayhi, wana’oothu Billaahi min shuroori an-fusinaa, wamin sayyi aati a’maalinaa. May- Yahdillahu fa huwal muhtad, wa may- yudlill falan tajidaa lahu waliyan murshida. Wa ash-hadu an Laa ilaaha ill-Alláh, wahdahoo laa shareeka lah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan ‘abduhoo warasooluh

All Praise is due to Alláh, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Alláh, he is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Alláh, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad, peace and blessings on him, is His servant, and His messenger.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem! Ya Ay-yuhal-latheena ‘aamanut taqul-laaha, haqqa tuqaatihee wala tamu tun-na, il-la wa antum Muslimoon.”

O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, with correct awareness, an awe-inspired awareness, and die not except as Muslims.

Ya Ay-yuhal-latheena ‘aamanut taqul-laaha, wa qooloo qawlan sadeedaa. Yuslih-lakum a’maalakum wa yaghfir lakum thunoobakum, wamay yu-til-laaha warasoolah, faqad faaza fawzan atheemaa.”

O You who believe, – Be aware of Allah, and speak a straightforward word. He will forgive your sins and repair your deeds. And whoever takes Allah and His Prophet as a guide, has already achieved a mighty victory.

In the opening verse of Sura An-Nisaa’, Allah says:

O mankind! Show reverence towards your Guardian-Lord Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate and from the two of them scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;― Be conscious of Allah, through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights) and (show reverence towards) the wombs (that bore you): for surely, Allah ever watches over you.

My Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Our khutbah today is about dealing with Grief and Hardship. My own mother passed away on 12 March 2014, and I had the privilege and honour of helping to care for her in her last days. She was a gift from Allah, and her soul has simply been reclaimed by her Rightful Owner, Allah, swt.

I am sure that each and every one of us has, at some point in our lives, been visited by grief, tragedy, or tremendous loss, emotionally or materially. It may have been a serious illness or accident or death of a loved one, or we may have failed an important examination, or we may have seen a business or professional career which has grown and prospered over many years, finally come to disaster. those who have suffered such a loss, their feelings hard to describe accurately. Some people feel a sense of utter despair; they experience emptiness, and a numbing of the senses. These feelings can become so intense that they bring into question the whole purpose and meaning of life. Why is this happening to me? What have I done to deserve this? Is God angry with me? Why now?

Behind these painful questions lies an assumption that, somehow, we are supposed to live a life of uninterrupted happiness; as if grief, suffering and loss is meant for someone else only. Here in this country we have many organisations and charities that offer professional help like bereavement counselling or advice on dealing with financial hardship. However, many people are unable to come to terms with sudden catastrophic loss, and therefore, we occasionally hear of someone being so overcome with grief that they have taken leave of their senses, or they suffer prolonged and repeated bouts of deep depression, a complete change of personality. In extreme cases, some victims of hardship lose all inclination for life at all and they commit suicide.

How should we Muslims deal with intense personal suffering and grief? How should we comfort a friend or relative who is in distress?

In Súra Al-Baqara, verses 155-157, Allah subhanallahu ta’ala reminds us:

“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger; some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say when afflicted with calamity:

“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhir raji-oon”

“To Allah we belong and to Him is our return.”

They are those on whom (descend) blessings from Allah and Mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance.”

From these verses we can see that in a Muslim’s life, hardship and suffering should never come as a complete surprise. In fact, Allah promises us some hardship as a certainty, somewhere during our lifetime. It is a test of our imaan, our faith in Allah, and we should not despair, because there are lessons to be learnt from every situation, especially from misfortune.

There is a Turkish proverb which says that the best teacher is a bad experience. A true believer should know that during his lifetime, he must expect to be visited by success and failure, pleasure and pain, loss and gain. This is the inseparable duality of life. We cannot value anything without knowing its opposite. We must accept life as it comes, in the best of times and the worst of times, with equal grace and forbearance.

In our arkaanul Imaan, our six pillars of Faith, we say:

“Wa bil qadri khairi wash sharr-ree minal laahi ta ‘Aalah.”

“And the consequences of good and evil, come from Allah”

Let us consider (the Prophet, Job) Nabi Ayyub’s example, which appears in Sura Al- Anbiyya_h, v. 83 and 84:

“And (remember) Ayyub when he cried to his Lord “Truly distress has seized me but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful.”

So We listened to him: We removed the distress that was on him and We restored his people to him and doubled their number as a Grace from Ourselves and a thing for commemoration for all who serve Us”

The footnotes in Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Holy Quran tell us that (Prophet Job) Nabi Ayyub was a prosperous man, with faith in Allah, and he suffered many hardships. His cattle were destroyed, his servants killed by the sword, and his family was crushed under his roof. But he held fast to his faith in Allah. As a further calamity he was covered with ugly sores from head to foot, and his friends abandoned him. But throughout this ordeal, his faith, his iman remained rock-solid, unswerving, undiminished.

Because of this, Almighty Allah was pleased with him, so he was restored to full health. Not only was his prosperity redoubled, but his family and friends returned to him, and Allah gave him 7 sons and 3 daughters. He lived to a good old age, and saw four generations of his descendants before he died.

This inspiring story of Prophet (Job) Ayyub is a wonderful example to us all. When we encounter sudden hardship, we should not feel sorry for ourselves, because self-pity leads us nowhere. Hardship is a test from Allah. We should place our complete trust in Allah subhanallahu ta’ala, and have the certainty in heart and mind, that at the end of our pain and suffering, Allah’s love and mercy will embrace us.

To a Believer, good fortune and misfortune are merely two sides of the same coin of life. Although we do not welcome hardship, we know that even in the noonday of life, we live in the shadow of death; in the peak of our prosperity, we are just a few short paces away from poverty and in the prime of our good health, illness lurks in the shadows nearby.

A hadith narrated by Abu ‘Abbas ‘Abdullah, says:

“Remember Allah in times of ease, and He will recognise you in times of distress. What hit you could not have missed you, what missed you could not have hit you. Remember that victory comes with patience, relief comes with affliction and ease comes with hardship”.

 “Alhamdu lillahi Rabbil ‘Aalameen. Was-salaatu was-salaamu alaa Khairil mursaleen. Muhammadin-nabeey-yil Ummiy-yee, wa-‘alaa aalihee, wasah-bihee, aj-ma’een.                               Ammaa ba’ad:

“Innalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema. Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.”

Second Khutbah:

“Soob’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem”

Glory to Allah!  Praise to Allah! There is no power and no strength except from Allah!

My dear sisters and brothers,

Our Holy Quran declares that “Truly in the Messenger of Allah we have the finest of examples”[uswatul hasanah]

Prophet Muhammad [sallal-láhu ‘alayhi wasallam] also endured much pain and hardship, especially in his youth, with extraordinary patience and perseverance. He was an orphan, cared for by his own grandfather, and uncles. During the early years of his mission, he was insulted, threatened and persecuted by his own tribe, the Quraish of Makka. Many of his followers were killed for their acceptance of Islam. In the 63 years of our prophet Muhammad’s life, he experienced every human hardship from loss of father even before he was born, then he lost his mother when he was only 6 years old. After that his grandfather died; so did his sons and his first wife, the Lady Khadija and and many friends. His tribe rejected him and he had to take refuge in Madinah. Because of his unswerving  gratitude and devotion to Allah, he was granted success in dunya and akhira, this world, the next. History has witnessed his achievements.

Watever personal grief, suffering or loss we might encounter in our lifetime, it would be appropriate to remember Sura Dhuha,-ha. This Sura addresses Nabi Muhammad directly, but it also applies to all of us indirectly, in all times and in all situations.

Wadh dhuhaa, Wal laili idzaa sajaa; Maa wad da’aka rab buka wa maa qalaa; Wa lal aakhiratu khairul laka minal ulaa; Wa lasaufa yutika rabbuka fatardaa; Alam yajika yatiman fa aawaa; Wa wajadaka daa-lan fahadaa; Wa wajadaka aa_ilan fa agnaa; Fa am mal yatima fala_ taqhar; Wa am mas saaila falaa tanhar; Wa am maa bini mati rabbika fahad-dith

“By the glorious morning light and by the night when it is still; Your Lord has not forsaken you, nor is He displeased. Verily, the hereafter will be much better for you than the present. Have we not found you an orphan, and gave you shelter and care? Have we not found you wandering, and gave you guidance? Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness, nor turn away the petitioner unheard; but the blessings of your Lord Rehearse and proclaim!.”

Dear Brothers and Sisters, next time we encounter grief or hardship, and we feel lonely and depressed, let us remember this Sura, that offered hope and reassurance to the greatest of men. It offers the same hope and reassurance to us also. At the end of every dark tunnel of despair is the reward of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Let us pray, may Allah give us strength to endure hardship with patience, and to emerge from all the trials and tribulations of this life, with our Iman renewed and our trust in Allah redoubled. Say, Ameen1

Brothers and sisters, to conclude our khutbah:

InnaAllaha, Yamuru bil adel, wal ihsaan, wa eetaa-i zil qurba; wa yanha anil fuhshaa-i, wal munkari walbaghi; ya-idzukhum lallakum tathak-karoon. (Sura 16:90),

“Surely Allah commands justice, good deeds and generosity to others and to relatives; and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, so that you may be reminded.”

Fadth kuroonee adth kurkum, wash kuroolee walaa tak furoon [2:152].

“and remember Me: I will remember you. Be grateful to Me, and do not reject faith.”

wala thikrul-Laahi akbar, Wal-Laahu ya’lamu maa tasna’oon.” [29:45].

“and without doubt, Remembrance of Allah is the Greatest Thing in life, and Allah knows the deeds that you do.” 

 Ameen.    Aqeemus salaah