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When trials come, as they do, what will the first words on our lips be?

WE are taught that we should not ask for or seek out trials or difficulties in life. In fact, our Prophet (sallullahualaihiwasallum) instructed us to “Seek refuge with Allah from trials and tribulations, both visible and hidden” [sahih muslim]. Yet, the virtues and rewards of observing patience in the face of adversity is highly extolled.

I remember the first time in my Islamic class I heard the story of Umm Al Momineen, Umm Salamah (radhiAllahuunha), in which she narrates the events following the death of her beloved husband. The messenger of Allah teaches her how best to respond to her trial in an Islamic manner. He teaches her the beautiful words of the Istirjaa,

” إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون اللهم أجرني في مصيبتي وأخلف لي خيراً منها “

She says: “The Messenger of Allah (sallullahualaihiwasallum) said: ‘There is no Muslim who suffers a calamity and says what Allah has commanded: ‘Innaa Lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raji’oon. Allahummaa ujurni fi musibati w’ukhluf li khayran minha’ (Truly! To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. O Allah, reward me for my calamity and compensate me with something better than that), but Allah will compensate him with something better. “When Abu Salamah died, I said, ‘Who among the Muslims could be better than Abu Salamah, the first family to migrate to the Messenger of Allah?’ Then I said (this Du’a) and Allah compensated me with the Messenger of Allah.” [sahih muslim].

The inspiring narrative ends on a happy note where she is blessed with a new husband in the person of the Prophet (sallullahualaihiwasallum) – a prospect she could never have imagined. This was the result of her faith, her patience and her Du’a at the time of her loss.

As I sat listening, mesmerized, feeling the emotional turmoil Umm Salamah went through & reflecting on the power of Allah, I made a silent dua:

“Oh Allah, don’t put me into any trial. But if and when you do, for You do as You will, according to Your Wisdom, then guide me to remember You when calamity strikes. Guide me to the Istirjaa. Give me the strength of faith and soundness of mind to pray to you for patience and better compensation at that critical moment.”

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Years later, Allah decided to try me.

“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil).” (Qur’an, 2:155)

Indeed whatever is destined for us, good or bad comes to pass. One fine day, the unexpected happened. Allah tested me with a severe personal loss. The precise moment the news of that disaster hit my ears, something amazing happened. In a split second, time froze; my mind called a shut-down; numbed all my senses; blocked all stimuli and detached me from my physical environment. It was as if I was floating outside my body, looking down at the proceeding events.

It was then that I heard my lips murmur,

” إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون اللهم أجرني في مصيبتي وأخلف لي خيراً منها “

“Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raajioon. Allah humma ajorni fi musibati wa ikhlufli khairun minha.”

I returned to the scene of reality. Then the gravity of the blow hit me full force. Yes, the sky did seem to fall. The world did spin around me. The earth did tremble under my feet. Darkness momentarily covered my eyes. The heart violently wrung & bled. The tears flowed in scalding streams. A dark cloak of intense pain & shock muffled me into silence.

But, SubhanAllah, all that happened after the remembrance of Allah (SubbhanawataAala). Indeed, (I realized on introspection much later) my Lord had listened to my dua, made years ago. Indeed it was He (SubbhanawataAala) who guided me to the Istirjaa when I could have easily forgotten it in the midst of my shock and grief. And indeed, Allah is Most Loving and Most Merciful to His servants. Indeed it is His Mercy and blessing that He gave me the patience at the first instance of trial.

The Qur’an tells us: “… Give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere” (Qur’an, 2:155). The scholars have said that if we are guided to patience and to the words of Istirjaa after a disaster hits us, we should thank Allah for this honor.

Every time I recall that experience, I’m filled with gratitude. The rewards of bearing the decree of Allah (SubbhanawataAal) with patience are unimaginable & uncountable & are reserved with Him (SubbhanawataAal) for the Day of Recompense.

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So, did I get the response to the latter part of my dua?

Not yet.

But I’m confident and positive that He (SubbhanawataAala) will. And His (SubbhanawataAala) response will be pleasing. Allah is to His servant as His servant imagines Him to be. For He (SubbhanawataAal) has said, ‘Whatever My servant assumes of Me, that is how I will treat him,…” [Muslim]

There are times, yes, when the flashbacks of that traumatic event overwhelm me and I wallow in tears & heartache. But, those periods are short-lived. I immediately remind myself of the special blessing of Allah (SubbhanawataAala) upon me at that time & draw solace & renewed hope from it. And that reminder helps create this warm sensation of me being held securely in a cocoon of His Mercy, Love, Care, Compassion…

I tell myself, “He (SubbhanawataAala) took care of me yesterday and He (SubbhanawataAal) will take care of me today & tomorrow.”

In the meantime, I chant a new dua. A dua to take me to the next level – a superior level, inshaAllah:

Oh Allah, if and when you decide to try me again, guide my heart to more than patience. Guide me to the state of Ridha (pleasure in God’s decree & decision).” Ameen.

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* FYI, this article was written and published nearly a decade ago. During this period, Allah Taala accepted and beautifully granted the remaining portion of my dua of Istirjaa. Alhumdulillah.

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