Exploring the relationship between Islam and resilience.
You’re being stretched. Just imagine for a second. You’re being pulled in so many different directions, including your thoughts. They’re being stretched and stretched until you can’t see the tip of your fingers and you can’t track your thought processes anymore. Now, imagine being so pushed into a corner that you feel suffocated. You’re getting smaller and smaller, and the walls around you keep getting bigger and bigger, and all you can imagine yourself to be is a tiny, little, dot.
Resilience is feeling the above, but still being able to pull or push back into your normal state again. Imagine your stretched arms coming back towards you, your thoughts unwinding themselves back to their roots, the walls growing down instead of up, and your lungs no longer feeling crushed. Finally, the ability to feel your own existence, your god-given existence.
In reality, being resilient doesn’t just mean imagining your limbs going back into their natural state, there’s a lot of work that goes into it. We have to build up our resilience, and in order to build our resilience, we need to experience situations that force us to unleash our power to be resilient. Our god-given resilience. So, remember, Allah, our Close Friend hasn’t left us to be resilient without some guidance or even role models.
Allah (SWT) has always prepared us to be resilient, and He has instilled the ability within us to be resilient by telling us that He will send tests and tribulations to us. What we often fall victim to is just taking such ayah (verse) in the Qur’an as they are. Allah (SWT) is not ambiguous in His words but He has told us to ponder and reflect. Here is one example of many many in the Qur’an:
“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” [2:155]
Were we ever misled to believe that life in this world would be easy? Allah (SWT) has mentioned patience 90 times in the Qur’an [Ahmed], and a good portion of those times, it is often to do with facing adversity, dealing with tests, and the reward of this life and the next. Is there a trend? As said previously, Allah (SWT) is not ambiguous when He wants to make something clear to His believers or when He wants to make it easy for His believers, as He does not bore us with more than we can bear (another gift to think about regarding resilience, if we couldn’t be resilient when tested, He wouldn’t test us with it!).
Although you may be desensitised to the word patience as us Muslims like to over-use it, especially in situations where it doesn’t belong, i.e. “you’re not depressed, just be patient”, “feeling suicidal is haram (forbidden), you’re just not being patient”, “I also experience distress, but I am patient” – all of which are eye-roll worthy comments. It all comes down to perspective and reflection. Just as was mentioned earlier, the ayah (verse) where Allah (SWT) talks about hardship and tests, it’s not just a warning of what’s to come, but it’s also a reminder – “you got this, because I’ve given you the ability to be patient, to be resilient”. Patience in Islam is not a passive attitude where you let life just happen to you and surrender yourself to the situation. Islam is solution focused and forward thinking. Patience is about grabbing what you can around you, taking the opportunities that unfold in front of you, and embracing what Allah (SWT) has decreed for you.
Find out next week on how to become more resilient, but for now it’s important to remember that resilience isn’t a milestone you achieve in life. You will not one day wake up resilient, and therefore not face any difficulties, you will. However, with time, your resilience will build and you will be able to better manage these challenges and stretch back into shape quicker, and better prepared to deal with mightier challenges. Most importantly, have patience with yourself, and have patience with the Qadr (predestination) of Allah (SWT).