Do men think that they will be left alone saying, ’We believe’, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false.”
(Qur’an 29:2-3)

“Allah does not place a burden to a soul greater than it can bear. It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns.”
(Qur’an 2:286)

According to these verses and these are not all the verses which are related to tests in the Qur’an, we are told that we will be tested and that the test is not beyond us and that it is not overly a burden, is Allah ta’ala an oppressor? Of course not.

Surely then the question arises, why do people think their life should always be to their liking and that everything should always be easy?

For the believer, and here I mean “the believer” in the deeper sense and the level of iman, faith being at a higher level, as a Muslim has a different level of iman, faith than a believer as does a Muhsin. (We know that iman, faith, faith is of different degrees), a test is taken as it is, a test and they turn to their Lord and ask to remove it and make it easy, coupled with their patience and their thankfulness they survive, as Allah ta’ala says,

” O you who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; compete in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah that you may prosper.”
(Qur’an 3:200)

“And seek (Allah’s) help with patience, perseverance and prayer: It is indeed hard, except to those who are humbly submissive (to Allah).”
(Qur’an 2:45)

Take for instance the story of Umm Salamah, may Allah ta’ala be pleased with her. Her real name was Hind. She was the daughter of one of the notables in the Makhzum clan nicknamed “Za’ad ar-Rakib” because he was well known for his generosity particularly to travelers. Umm Salamah’s husband was ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul-Asad and they both were among the first persons to accept Islam. Only Abu Bakr and a few others, who could be counted on the fingers of one hand, became Muslims before them.

As soon as the news of their becoming Muslims spread, the Quraysh reacted with frenzied anger. They began hounding and persecuting Umm Salamah and her husband. But the couple did not waver or despair and remained steadfast in their new faith.

The persecution became more and more intense. Life in Makkah became unbearable for many of the new Muslims. The Prophet, peace be upon him, then gave permission for them to emigrate to Abyssinia. Umm Salamah and her husband were in the forefront of these muhajirun, seekers of refuge in a strange land. For Umm Salamah it meant abandoning her spacious home and giving up the traditional ties of lineage and honor for something new, hope in the pleasure and reward of Allah.

Despite the protection Umm Salamah and her companions received from the Abyssinian ruler, the desire to return to Makkah, to be near the Prophet and the source of revelation and guidance persisted.

News eventually reached the muhajirun that the number of Muslims in Makkah had increased. Among them were Hamzah ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib and ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab. Their faith had greatly strengthened the community and the Quraysh they heard, had eased the persecution somewhat. Thus a group of the muhajirun, urged on by a deep longing in their hearts, decided to return to Makkah.

The easing of the persecution was but brief as the returnees soon found out. The dramatic increase in the number of Muslims following the acceptance of Islam by Hamzah and ‘Umar only infuriated the Quraysh even more. They intensified their persecution and torture to a pitch and intensity not known before. So the Prophet gave permission to his companions to emigrate to Madinah. Umm Salamah and her husband were among the first to leave.

The hijrah of Umm Salamah and her husband though was not as easy as they had imagined. In fact, it was a bitter and painful experience and a particularly harrowing one for her.

Let us leave the story now for Umm Salamah herself to tell …

When Abu Salamah (my husband) decided to leave for Madinah, he prepared a camel from me, hoisted me on it and placed our son Salamah on my lap. My husband then took the lead end went on without stopping or waiting for anything. Before we were out of Makkah however some men from my clan stopped us and said to my husband:

“Though you are free to do what you like with yourself, you have no power over your wife. She is our daughter. Do you expect us to allow you to take her away from us?”

They then pounced on him and snatched me away from him. My husband’s clan, Banu ‘Abdul-Asad, saw them taking both me and my child. They became hot with rage.

“No! By Allah,” they shouted, “We shall not abandon the boy. He is our son and we have a first claim over him.”

They took him by the hand and pulled him away from me. Suddenly in the space of a few moments, I found myself alone and lonely. My husband headed for Madinah by himself and his clan had snatched my son away from me. My own clan, Banu Makhzum, overpowered me and forced me to stay with them.

From the day when my husband and my son were separated from me, I went out at noon every day to that valley and sat in the spot where this tragedy occurred. I would recall those terrible moments and weep until night fell on me.

I continued like this for a year or so until one day a man from the Banu Umayyah passed by and saw my condition. He went back to my clan and said: “Why don’t you free this poor woman? You have caused her husband and her son to be taken away from her.” He went on trying to soften their hearts and play on their emotions. At last they said to me. “Go and join your husband if you wish.”

But how could I join my husband in Madinah and leave my son, a piece of my own flesh and blood, in Makkah among the Banu ‘Abdul-Asad? How could I be free from anguish and my eyes be free from tears were I to reach the place of hijrah not knowing anything of my little son left behind in Makkah?

Some realized what I was going through and their hearts went out to me. They petitioned the Banu ‘Abdul-Asad on my behalf and moved them to return my son. I did not now even want to linger in Makkah till I found someone to travel with me and I was afraid that something might happen that would delay or prevent me from reaching my husband. So I promptly got my camel ready, placed my son on my lap and left in the direction of Madinah.

I had just about reached Tanim (about three miles from Makkah) when I met ‘Uthman ibn Talhah (he was a keeper of the Ka’bah in pre-lslamic times and was not yet a Muslim).

“Where are you going, Bint Za’ad ar-Rakib?” he asked.

“I am going to my husband in Madinah.”

“And there isn’t anyone with you?”

“No, by Allah. Except Allah and my little boy here.”

“By Allah. I shall never abandon you until you reach Madinah,” he vowed.

He then took the reins of my camel and led us on. I have, by Allah, never met an Arab more generous and noble than he. When we reached a resting place, he would make my camel kneel down, wait until I dismounted, lead the camel to a tree and tether it. He would then go to the shade of another tree. When we had rested he would get the camel ready and lead us on.

This he did every day until we reached Madinah. When we got to the village near Quba (about two miles from Madinah) belonging to Banu ‘Amr ibn Awf, he said, “Your husband is in this village. Enter it with the blessings of God.”

He turned back and headed for Makkah. Their roads finally met after the long separation. Umm Salamah was overjoyed to see her husband and he was delighted to see his wife and son.

Great and momentous events followed one after the other. There was the battle of Badr in which Abu Salamah fought. The Muslims returned victorious and strengthened. Then there was the battle of ‘Uhud in which the Muslims were sorely tested. Abu Salamah came out of this wounded very badly. He appeared at first to respond well to treatment, but his wounds never healed completely and he remained bedridden.

Once while Umm Salamah was nursing him, he said to her: “I heard the Messenger of God saying. Whenever a calamity afflicts anyone he should say, ‘Surely from Allah we are and to Him we shall certainly return.’ And he would pray, ‘O Lord, give me in return something good from it which only You Exalted and Mighty, can give.’ ”

Abu Salamah remained sick in bed for several days. One morning the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came to see him. The visit was longer than usual. While the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was still at his bedside Abu Salamah passed away. With his blessed hands, the Prophet closed the eyes of his dead companion. He then raised these hands to the heavens and prayed:

“O Lord, grant forgiveness to Abu Salamah. Elevate him among those who are near to You. Take charge of his family at all times. Forgive us and him, O Lord of the Worlds. Widen his grave and make it light for him.”

Umm Salamah remembered the prayer her husband had quoted on his deathbed from the Prophet and began repeating it, “O Lord, with you I leave this my plight for consideration … ” But she could not bring herself to continue … “O Lord give me something good from it”, because she kept asking herself, “Who could be better than Abu Salamah?” But it did not take long before she completed the supplication.

The Muslims were greatly saddened by the plight of Umm Salamah. She became known as “Ayyin al-Arab” – the one who had lost her husband. She had no one in Madinah of her own except her small children, like a hen without feathers.

Both the Muhajirun and Ansar felt they had a duty to Umm Salamah. When she had completed the Iddah (three months and ten days), Abu Bakr proposed marriage to her but she refused. Then ‘Umar asked to marry her but she also declined the proposal. The Prophet then approached her and she replied:

“O Messenger of Allah, I have three characteristics. I am a woman who is extremely jealous and I am afraid that you will see in me something that will anger you and cause Allah to punish me. I am a woman who is already advanced in age and I am a woman who has a young family.”

The Prophet replied: “Regarding the jealousy you mentioned, I pray to Allah the Almighty to let it go away from you. Regarding the question of age you have mentioned, I am afflicted with the same problem as you. Regarding the dependent family you have mentioned, your family is my family.”

They were married and so it was that Allah answered the prayer of Umm Salamah and gave her better than Abu Salamah. From that day on Hind al-Makhzumiyyah was no longer the mother of Salamah alone but became the mother of all believers, Umm al-Muminin.

A woman whose child was taken, a woman who was oppressed by people not to go to her husband for over a year, can you imagine the endurance, patience and faith?

We can all state that yes the Messenger peace be upon him, was among them and that it was easier, subhanallah how easy is it to bear losing your child even for a moment?

The same Lord who was taking care of the believers then is the same Lord, Allah ‘azzawajjal who took care of those who came after and the same Lord who takes care of us now.

Now, a scenario, a brother came to me a long time ago and wanted to get married but had financial problems. I asked him, “Do you think that as a Muslim who puts his trust in Allah ta’ala after submitting himself to Him, should be worried about anything when it is Allah Ta’ala who has his sustenance? Who is providing for you now and you are single? Who is providing for the sister and she is single? It is the same Lord who will take care of you both when you are married.

Many do not understand that their life is already in a state of perpetual motion and with every motion the result has already been written, DOES THIS MEAN THAT EVERYTHING WAS WRITTEN TO HAPPEN?, YES! BUT, the choices Allah ta’ala knew we would make were written, Destiny is Allah ‘azawajjal’s secret knowledge of the future. The choices are our “control”, choices are within our will, but the result was written because Allah ta’ala knew what choices we would make. Now, the uncertainty which develops because we do not know the future and what will happen causes anxiety and fear. Does having this anxiety, fear and the constant negative thoughts bear any kind of processing in the result of our future? Of course not  so our only option is to do what is in our control and leave that which is out of our control for Allah ta’ala is in FULL CONTROL.  Allah ‘azzawajjal says, in surah 65 verse 2,3

“And whoever fears Allah – He will make for him a way out (from every difficulty).And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah – then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set the decree the extent for everything”.

We cannot end the discussion without touching upon the factors which affect ones’ degree of anxiety. These can be said to be “parental psychological cycle” if I may coin the phrase. This is where the anxiety, fears and how the parents deal with stress and hard situations flood over onto the children, they then became increasingly potent as sibling “feed” the anxiety and panic other siblings. The fear and anxiety stemming from others also increase this potential also.

This then tends to lead ones adulthood seeking management and therapy of this anxiety. The solution in my opinion is self development with proper guidance and mentoring oneself and then guiding one’s own children on a path of mental strength and teaching them the spiritual strength form Quran and Sunnah, therefore giving strength to the hearts to help cope with situations.

This topic is very vast and I pray in my humble understanding I have done some justice to it although there is so much to say.
I believe that when we get involved in trying to control what we cannot it effects that which we can control, namely our choices. This illusion of control is just that an illusion. When a mother controls their kids up to point where they actually believe they can control the outcome of whether they can get hurt or not it can affect their faith and could lead into shirk there is only so much you can do to tie your camel after that we leave it to Allah, rabbil ‘Aalamin.

I will leave you this verse to contemplate on

Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah . Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.”

~

When my eldest daughter was about 9 months old like many children of her age had the difficult task of learning to walk. She would inevitably after many failed attempts learn to walk but not without the initial action of at least doing the action. On one occasion we were at my parents house. The living room was small prior to extending it many years later. It butted up against the small extension with a 3 inch step. My daughter decided to head in that direction much to the instantaneous concern of my mother who immediately started fretting and telling me literally, ” Oh careful, she will fall”, now the literal words do not do much justice to the scenario because the words were not without emotion. I replied, “It’s okay mum let her fall it’s all part of learning!”.

Principally, I am sure the above picture has been an eventuality for many. However, many are  not aware that these kind of “emotionally” charged situations, (I do not think I have or could explain how much emotion and fear my mother had at the thought of my daughter falling), can affect ones psyche and instil unnecessary fear and anxiety which would manifest in many a situation later on in one’s life.

Now, I must also add here that my mother like many mothers wanted not only to be in control but also did not want the anxiety of worrying and feeling any kind of emotion from the scenario so she thought she could “controling-ly” try to avoid it by preventing my daughter falling those 3 inches.

There are many situations which we can use an example but the principle would be the same. From the over-bearing negative automatic thoughts which would intensify with the “wis-was” (whispers of shaytan iblis the devil himself trying to cause one grief), making us believe the “That if this happens then that would happen” thought process, would not stop and we try to prevent them but not without severe difficulty, to the “If I can just prevent X from happening then I would be in control and prevent Y from happening”.

This illusion of control stems from a cycle which can only, in my opinion, be managed with therapy and the correct  belief in Allah ta’ala. Why try to control a situation which is beyond ones’ control?

The only control one has when planting a seed is making the hole, planting the seed, adding fertiliser, watering and bearing patience, can one force the seed to grow and worse still, if it does grow can one make it bear fruit or flowers? If we take this metaphorically this applies to life’s events.

When we drive the car can we say “I will not put on my seat belt because I can control any eventuality?”, “I will put on my seat belt because then I will be 100% completely safe from any eventuality?”, the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said in a hadith,

Anas ibn Malik reported: A man said, “O Messenger of Allah, should I tie my camel and trust in Allah, or should I untie her and trust in Allah?” The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Tie her and trust in Allah.

The man wanted to leave the camel untied and put his trust in Allah, but we can only do what is under our control, only what is under our control as we cannot do more than that. If we try to do what is beyond our control then that is where anxiety, stress, grief and depression lie. I am not talking about clinical depression although this can also be reduced through faith knowing our life is under the control and protection of our Creator.

Can we control the amount of sustenance we receive or what gender an unborn will be? Can we control or prevent any mishap happening in our lives beyond doing safety checks within our control or prevent a fertilisation using birth control? (our belief is if our Creator Allah ‘azzawajjal wanted a child to be born to couple no degree of birth control could prevent it).

If a person eats and drinks unhealthily we cannot say they will 100% get a certain illness without saying Allah ta’ala knows best, but we can say if they continue like that they could possibly be ill. If person’s lifestyle is exemplary in their diet and exercise we cannot say they will not get ill. If a person is ill and takes medicine for it does not mean the medicine will cure or help, our belief is,

Surah Al Baqarah 2:148

And everyone has a direction to which he should turn, therefore hasten to (do) good works; wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together; surely Allah has power (control) over all things.

And Allah ‘azzawajjal knows best and all knowledge is with Him

Ramiz Ibrahim

Author Ramiz Ibrahim

Ustadh Ramiz Ibrahim is a Psychotherapist/Counsellor specialising in Marital Relate, Addictions and Depression. He has extensive experience of therapy gathered over the 15 years he has been working in this field of Integrative Counselling and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. He is also a NLP Coach and Specialist Hijamah Therapist. He is the founder of A.I.P the Association for Islamic Psychotherapy. His philosophy is that everyone has the ability to self heal but must have the resolve to do so. He believes in grabbing the bull by the horns and doing what needs to be done, in this regard he aids his clients toward their authentic self to be honest with themselves so as to be real in their life. Everyone has layers covering the heart which need to be unravelled in order to attain the focus one needs to see the reality of their true self. Like this a person can then be real to themselves and towards others.

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  • Roland

    I hope you know how important this article is, Great work, peace be upon you.

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