Happy Endings?


2392266640_190df272bc_bBy Marya Bangee

She looked me in the eyes, as the dark shapes of policemen gathered behind the rippled glass of the door. “I hear voices in my head. I ask other people, and they all say that that’s not normal, that they don’t have voices in their heads.” She paused, looked down at herself, gestured hopelessly at her tattered wife-beater and shorts. “I didn’t use to be a loser. I came from an educated family; I remember when I was happy…when I thought life was pretty good. But – I lost everything. Why am I being tested like this? I am so lonely. No one understands. No one cares. I look around and I see everyone happy. Why am I so miserable?” As the police handcuffed her and took her away, to a psychiatric hospital where she would be forcefully medicated, her words rang in my mind.

I had been enjoying a close friend’s wedding celebration at the Islamic center and had dared to hope – for a few, precious moments – that life had returned to normal after a series of harrowing experiences in the past few months. As I sat after prayer, having just asked Allah for guidance and strength, I saw her walk into the masjid, thread her way through the worshipers, and take a seat at the corner of the prayer hall. I quickly got up and walked over, anticipating the scandalized reactions from attendees: “She’s in shorts! At the masjid!” I had known her for six months, been there when she had taken shahada, let her stay at my house, driven her to a drug-testing facility so that she could help fight for custody of her son, worked with local Muslim charities and social workers to get her a stable place to live…but to no avail. That night, after I took her outside, she said she was suicidal, that she wanted to hurt others, that the voices in her head were driving her – literally – insane.  Due to the sensitivity caused by the Fort Hood event, the masjid administration felt it was necessary to call the police.

After the cop cars pulled out of the parking lot, I felt dazed. Her questions still echoed in my head. It felt like a blow to my heart. I suppose it is the quintessential question that oftentimes pushes people away from faith – why do bad things happen to good people? To people who, in different circumstances, might have been just like us?

When life throws a sucker punch, what better thing to do but pick up the divine book of guidance? In the Qur’an, Allah tells us the story of Prophet Yusuf, using an entire chapter to detail his life from happy child, to scared captive, to slave, to prisoner, to the vizier who saves his people from starvation. If an individual was to meet Yusuf as he lay imprisoned for years in Egypt, and ask the Prophet to retell his story, what would we hear?

We would hear a tale of heartbreak, betrayal, grief, deceit; where a young man is betrayed by his brothers and left  to die, sold into slavery, raised far from his loving parents, tricked by his master’s wife, and jailed for false reasons. Looking at his story from this snapshot in time, without knowing the rest of the story, one would be inclined to see the injustice happening to one of the best of creation. What did he do to deserve this? But as his story unfolds, and the Prophet Yusuf is made a vizier of Egypt, he guides his country to successfully survive famine. It becomes clear how every event in his life was divinely ordained by Allah for the good of himself and the good of his people.

Our life on this Earth is but the first act in the grand story of life; the most important events are yet to come. As Judgment Day approaches, we remember that those who may have been miserable in this life, will be the truly successful in the next, eternal life. As the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“… One amongst the denizens of Hell who had led a life of ease and plenty amongst the people of the world would be dipped into the Fire only once on the Day of Resurrection and then it would be asked of him: ‘Oh son of Adam, did you find any comfort, did you get any material blessing [on Earth]?’ He would say: ‘By Allah, no, my Lord.’ And then a person from amongst the people of the world [will] be brought who had led the most miserable life in the world [he will be from amongst those destined for Paradise] and he would be dipped once in Paradise; it would be asked of him, ‘Oh son of Adam, did you face any hardship? Has any distress fallen to your lot [on Earth]?’ And he would say, ‘By Allah, no my Lord, never did I face any hardship or experience any distress.’” (Muslim)

It is difficult – perhaps even foolhardy – to judge events in this life when we do not understand the qadr (divine will) of Allah. Perhaps our trials will end in success in this life; perhaps they will guarantee us success in the life to come. Our role is to face our tests with sabr (patience), remembering to have tawakul (trust) in Allah and worshipping Him with sincerity. As Allah says in the Qur’an, “We grant the Home in the Hereafter to those who do not seek superiority on earth or spread corruption: the happy ending is awarded to those who are mindful of God.” (28:83)

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10 Comments

  1. mike says:

    I am truly sorry for your friend. I have a family member who is life long sufferer of mental illness. There is nothing one can do. As they say.. God works in mysterious ways. Allah truly does. Allah(swt) said the Quran; that He did not create this for all naught; i.e. foolhardy useless purpose. When the angels asked Allah(swt) why did He create humanity who does such destruction. He did not answer the question. He simply replied you do not know what I know. And he asked them a series of questions that the angels had no answer to but Adam(pbuh) did. Allah said I have taught him. And He left it at that. That is the true mystery. Allah does not need our prayers or rituals; why He wants to live on this world is mystery. This the true mystery that no alim or mufti has ever been able to answer. And that is also the reason why everything happens; there is a purpose but only Allah(swt) knows it.

  2. Rhonda says:

    MashaAllah Marya, wonderful reflection

    For those of you who might need any sort of counseling or need someone to talk to, there is a Muslim Youth Hotline called NASEEHA and it’s completely anonymous. http://www.naseeha.net

  3. Nomad78 says:

    Salam,

    Sister Rhonda, thank you very much for posting the link above. I think, at least in the Arab culture, pyschological issues are taboo and understanding and guidance are lacking.

    Sister Marya, I greatly appreciate your post. The thought that first came to my mind is the fact that we, humans/animals/creation altogether, do not exist in a vaccum and that everything that happens effects us at some degree or in some form. You being there for the trial of that person has awaken a sense within you that you might have taken for granted or it answered a question for you that you did not truly understand. That is the mystery brother Mike is talking about but realizing the impact that it has had on you and the thoughts that ensued is the benfit of such an event. Don’t let that feeling within you go away, who knows, maybe Allah has something bigger and better in store for you and for the lives of people you touch.
    As for the sister and her trial all I can think of is:

    أَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ أَن يُتْرَكُوا أَن يَقُولُوا آمَنَّا وَهُمْ لَا يُفْتَنُونَ
    “Do people think that they will be left alone because they say, ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.”

    While trials and tribulations are difficult, one must realize that it is for a short period of time. I am not saying do not grieve or go through the emotions but one’s faith must guide him or her to the realization that what is happening now is finite and eventually will go away but it is what will happen in the hereafter that is eternal. Her problem sounds like a psychoses that the science nowadays is advanced enough to be able to treat or minimize. It is a physical ailment that manifests itself in a psychological manner and inshallah with proper treatment she will be able to rationalize things more and who knows, other than Allah of course, she might come out of it an even stronger person. The prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “No Muslim is afflicted with any harm, even if it was (as minor as) the prick of a thorn, except that Allaah will grant him (a higher) rank and wipe out a sin due to this.”

  4. Subhan Allah, this post resonates with me. I just posted on a similar situation (which is sort of scary). It has been a difficult time and as Nomad mentioned, Allah SWT is testing us with our own situation and with the affliction of others. Supporting her was your contribution and may Allah reward you for it. We have to keep it in perspective and try just our best.

  5. Omar E says:

    Sallamu Alakum:

    wonderful article. May God bless your friend with patience, courage and faith.

    Truth be told, we all have “voices” in our head, that drive us to do sinful things everyday! Whether it be something like drinking alcohol or something as major as having the desire to harm others. This is why we have prayer, takkwa and thikir.

    I remember B. Suhaib Webb taught this online class a while back based on the book “Treatise for The Seekers of Guidance “. B Suhaib talked several times about how we all must learn to control and guard our minds. (NOTE: though of course there are some who may need medical attention. )

    Keep in mind though, that just because we dont all need medical attention to control our minds, it does not mean we are free from the whispers of shaytan. May Allah (swt) guide us and show us the right path.

    Sallam

  6. Omar says:

    Assalaamu `alaykum wa rahmatulahy wa barakatuh

    It’s pretty interesting that of all times, this would happen at a wedding celebration.

    Reading Surat Yusuf during times in which I am tested always helps me appreciate the qadr of Allah swt. It’s always good to have a reminder that everything is always in Allah (swt)’s control.

    For instance, many muslims have been concerned with all of the happenings in America (ft. hood, mosque takeovers, sh luqman from detroit), but we need to understand that everything is going according to Allah swt’s plan.

    Jazak Allahu khayran

  7. Aslam says:

    May Allah (God) help us and keep us strong at all times. May Allah help the sister overcome any obstacle that comes her way, and make her victorious in this life and the hereafter.

    When taking a step out of life and looking at the bigger picture of life around us, a thing that comes to mind when we hear about the different situations that Allah has put all of us through, is that Allah is The most Just. Allah tests us all in different ways; he puts us through different trials, yet he is the only one that can judge us all fairly. It is impossible to totally comprehend this concept with mere intellect due things not being “fair” in this world…ex. “How is it fair for someone to be paralyzed from childhood? How is it fair for a child to be born into a single family with an abusive parent? How is it fair that men have certain rights and opportunities to earn rewards with Allah that women don’t have? How is it fair that women have equal but not identical opportunities?”

    But of course, only Allah can make everything fair……This is one of the millions of things I love about Islam =)

    Also, trials that come on others are DIRECTLY related to us. A large part of MY test is how I will help/react to YOUR situation.

    Allah knows best..

  8. Ali says:

    Assalamu Alaykum

    Subhanallah. Some people are just tested harder than others. But it is those very same people who will be held at the highest level on Yawmal Qiyamah, who will bring nothing to Allah except patience.

    Just as the sister who wrote the article said, it sucks a lot, but even the Prophets were tested at even a higher level of tests. The article mentioned Yusuf (AS), but just to add on, look at Ayyub (AS). This man had a health, wealth, family, and status, and Allah (SWT) took away everything and more. But was it because Allah (SWT) hated him? Did he detest the presence of Ayyub (AS)? Was he punishing him for the sake of punishing him? No.

    Then why? Why do all of this to a person? Because he loves us, right? Think about it for a sec. If you were a poor, homeless person with absolutely nothing in his or her possession except for the clothes on his back, how can Allah (SWT) question you on how you spent your life when you had nothing in your possession that could possibly allow him to live in this life?

    Its not that Allah (SWT) CAN’T question you, it is that he WON’T because he knows what your going through. He knows and understands the trouble you are going through. He is the Most Just, the One who Knows everything.

    The point is is this: we need to remember that Allah (SWT) tests us because he loves us, and that we just need to be patient and have trust in him.

    Forgive me and correct me if I said anything wrong. Everything good from this comes from Allah, everything from myself or the Shaytan.

    Assalamu Alaykum
    Ali

    • Nomad78 says:

      Salam Br. Ali,

      Just a quick reminder for myself first and then for all others that Allah asks about more than just the wealth of the person as according to the hadeeth:

      عن عبد الله بن مسعود رضي الله تعالى عنه قال: قال رسول الله : { لا تزول قدما ابن آدم يوم القيامة من عند الله حتى يسأل عن خمس: عن عمره فيما أفناه؟ وعن شبابه فيم أبلاه؟ وعن ماله من أين اكتسبه وفيم أنفقه؟ وماذا عمل فيما علم؟ }.

      AbduAllah ibn Masood narrated that the prophet has said “every child of Adam will be asked about five on the day of judgment: His life and how he spent it, his youth and how lived it, his money how he earned it and where he spent it and his knowledge and what he has done with it”
      So we will all be asked about everything no matter how big or little it may be.

      Nomad78

  9. maryam says:

    Allah Musta’an, Allah yuyasir wa yusahil ala annaas jameean

    jezaki Allahu khayran, very timely post, barak Allahu feeki

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