Difficulties affect our hearts in many different ways. We may experience a period of struggle and pain where we turn to Allah SWT like never before, feeding our souls, praying through the night and early morning and staying hopeful, but often other times when we experience pain and struggle, the experience hardens our hearts and leads to a complete loss of hope. We can feel the state of our heart and yet that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to change its state. We can know what we need, or what we feel we need, to heal and become softer but these needs can seem difficult to reach, or be entirely unavailable in the forms we perceive we need them. Often, we can also know truth in our minds but not really feel it in our hearts; Allah SWT is the Most Merciful and yet when difficulties arise in our lives sometimes we may obsess over the problem, questioning why it is happening to us, looking for solutions or help from other human beings and forgetting that any help we receive through others comes from Allah Himself.
Deeper emotional and religious struggle can arise when we react to difficulties with anger which can further lead to shame and deep sadness at our own state- but suppressing the way we feel and making judgements on our emotions will only prolong the period of healing. If you feel anger, take the time to understand why, write it down and then look over what you have written. Often our anger is entirely misdirected, and we cannot see this until we stop trying to suppress this emotion and untangle the reasoning behind it. Seek forgiveness if you have realised that your anger really was misdirected and release the hold anger has on our mood and actions. The same exercise can be done with all difficult emotions- give yourself permission to really listen to how you are feeling and address any inaccuracies or unconstructive beliefs with compassion.
When we are down at our lowest points it is also hard to see the good in life or in ourselves. Black and white thinking means that our eyes can only see poverty and pain not the wealth and joy we have had and still have even in our darkest times. When we can only see the pain, the loss, the traumatic experiences or difficulties we face and don’t remember the joyful times, the love we give and receive, the peace we’ve experienced and how Allah SWT has always helped us, and we have survived every single low point in our lives until now, it is not only hard to cope but hard to feel truly connected to our faith.
Satan frightens you with poverty, and bids you to commit indecency, and Allah promises you forgiveness from Him, and grace as well. And Allah is All-Embracing, All-Knowing.
~ Qur’an 2:268
When we fail at something we may start believing that we will always fail, or even self-defining ourselves as failures. When we become unwell or fall into depression we may start believing that we will never experience joy again, or self-defining ourselves as faulty in some way. When we make a mistake we may start believing that we can never do anything right, and self-defining ourselves as bad people. Throughout this all the focus is on poverty, poverty in terms of love, success, material wealth and even our own personal attributes. Seeing ourselves at fault, we can create a narrative that is unhelpful, and whilst it may be difficult to do this in our darkest times shifting our focus from our faults to Allah SWT’s attributes can make a huge difference in our lives and aid our healing. Instead of feeling anger at the situation or internalising problems, blaming ourselves, remembering that Allah SWT sees and hears and knows what is happening can be a comfort. That He is All Powerful and can make miracles happen. That He is Al Wudud, the One who loves, the source of all love and kindness. That He is Al Muqallib, the turner of hearts and that He can see the state of our hearts and bring us back to faith if we just pray, humble ourselves and make ourselves ready to receive the guidance that He gives. It surely couldn’t be possible to lose faith if we remembered who Allah SWT really is, His kindness, His love and Mercy. Loss of Imaan is often through forgetting the nature of Allah, this world and the afterlife and finding ways to gently remind ourselves is important.
We can remember through reading good news, reflecting on the amazing things that happen every day, going into nature and appreciating its beauty and peacefulness, as well as remembering that this life is just a second in the big picture of eternity, that all our pain and loss here is fleeting and will be forgotten after death if we use the little time we have to strengthen the light in our soul.
“Whoever makes the world his most important matter, Allah will confound his affairs and make poverty appear before his eyes and he will not get anything from the world except what has been decreed for him. Whoever makes the Hereafter his most important matter, Allah will settle his affairs and make him content in his heart and the world will come to him although he does not want it.”
~ Ibn Mājah