They had waited 6 weeks to see each other. They had anticipated this reunion over 19 weeks of separation. She was going to surprise him with homemade cookies. He had a surprise or two awaiting her too. They were finally going to meet at a transit stop headed home. They planned to catch up over all the lost time during their 13 hour flight together.
They planned and Allah planned. And indeed Allah is the Best of Planners. He flew off, whilst she stayed behind.
Real life story. This happened to me exactly a week ago.
Ever heard those upbeat quotes that go like, ‘When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!’ Well, truth be told, none of them ever prepare you for moments like these. Moments where you feel like someone has pulled a rug out from under your feet, where you feel like the very ground you are standing on is suddenly unstable, and where you feel like the world has momentarily shifted on its axis. Moments that simply shock you to the very core.
Long story short (and we’ll skip all the minor details), I was rejected travel at the airport. It’s never happened to me before, and being a British passport holder, I honestly never thought it would. Well, life can surprise you! Alhamdulillah, my only consolation at the time was that 1) This was the Qadar (decree) of Allah and meant to happen, and 2) There was definitely some Khair (benefit) in this test, although I could not see it just yet.
I wrote this, about 24 hours after the incident, with newfound knowledge that perhaps one of the various wisdoms behind this test is the reflections and lessons that I learnt through it. I share these with you below.
It’s so easy to get dragged down in moments like these and feel overwhelmed with despair and negativity. Too easy. I know that in my case, I had a handful of different reasons to feel upset (and honestly, it was a mission to stay positive and focus on Allah). And yet, these are the moments that matter most and speak volumes about our faith in Allah and our faith in His decree. There’s a famous saying:
‘When the world pushes you to the ground, you are in the perfect position to pray.’
These words resonate with me most when I am tested. There is no one else to turn to for help and there is no one else who understands our situation as He does. There is no one else we can beg and cry out to. And there is no one else that listens and responds as swiftly as He does. He grants ease in ways that we can never imagine. He holds our hearts firm when we lose power over our emotions. And He brings to light the wisdom behind our calamities.
We fall, yet He catches us and teaches us how to fly. Every test is a learning curve. Every test is a means to make us stronger than before. Every test is a means to bring us back to Him. For we are human and in constant need of reminders. We need these tests. Because without them, we naturally forget the countless blessings and favours of Allah upon us, we forget our neediness and our desperation, and we forget our sheer dependance on Him at every moment of our lives.
“And when affliction touches man, he calls upon Us, whether lying on his side or sitting or standing; but when We remove from him his affliction, he continues [in disobedience] as if he had never called upon Us to [remove] an affliction that touched him. Thus is made pleasing to the transgressors that which they have been doing.”
A test is, in essence, a wake-up call. How we respond to that test can bring us closer or take us further away from Allah. We find the most beautiful responses to tests in the lives of the Prophets. One that I find to be incredibly beautiful is that of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) when he was driven out of the city of Ta’if and stoned until he bled. And through his pain and grief, he spoke the most beautiful words:
اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس
ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين
أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي
إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم إلى صديق مكلته إمري
إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي
أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض
وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره
أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك
لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك
To You, my Lord, I complain of my weakness, lack of support and the humiliation I am made to receive.
O the Most Merciful of the Most Merciful, You are the Most Merciful of the Most Merciful! You are the Lord of the weak, and you are my Lord.
To whom do You leave me? To an enemy You have given power over me? Or to a distant person who receives me with hostility?
As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face. Your favour is of a more expansive relief to me.
I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me.
To You I submit, until I earn Your pleasure. There is no power and no might except by You.
If we could live by these words, ‘As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face.’ when we are tested then that would ultimately be the best response. Because in the grand scheme of things, really what else matters, besides the pleasure of Allah (Subhaanahu wa ta’aala)?
May Allah grant us all unwavering strength and resolve to overcome the tests that we face, may He raise our ranks and expiate our sins through them, may He bind our hearts and keep them firm, may He draw us closer to Him and may He count us from amongst those that He loves. Ameen!
P.S. Alhamdulillah I was able to book a new flight and will be flying out tonight InShaaAllah. Exactly one whole week later. I guess it was meant to be a Sunday flight 😉