Just a few days after the passing of my beloved ma, I attended the ‘Amazed by The Qur’an’ conference by these three amazing speakers: Nouman Ali Khan, Omar Suleiman, and Abdul Nasir Jangda. To say it was one of the most memorable talks I’ve ever attended would be an understatement, simply because I was moved to tears at how timely the talk had been for me. My heart was at ease throughout, knowing fully well that I was exactly where I was meant to be, that He had placed me there, with dear friends in deen, listening to the stories of the prophets in the Qur’an as advice and inspiration for me. He wanted me to be there to receive comfort and reminders from these teachers. I knew it was His way of telling me, “Everything will be okay.”
I will not be summarizing the entire talk in detail, I believe you can head to Youtube to listen to the recorded conference. I’m writing this to briefly highlight the reminders and takeaways I got which served as light and hope for me. I will share what resonated with me so deeply, what moved me, what inspired me. As always, all that is good and beneficial is from Him, every shortcoming and mistake, is from me. Bismillah.
In his segment where he gave a comprehensive exegesis of Surah Sad, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan mentioned that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W looked up to those before him; he took inspiration from Prophet Daud. See, even our beloved Prophet Muhammad S.A.W looked up to those before him. Allah has already set role models in history, who served as examples, reminders, inspiration for everyone of us, whose remarkable life stories we can learn lessons from and whose stories we can take comfort in. It awed me and gave me so much comfort in realizing that there were many, many amazing people before me who have been tested with problems which probably weighed a thousand times heavier, but still got through life with so much love, strength, humility, kindness, resilience. All because they submit to the most High, all because they have tremendous faith in Allah. The fact that no one on this earth will live their lives problem-free, and that especially for the believers, we would be tested the more we get closer to Him, reminded me of this ayah from the Qur’an:
Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe,’ and will not be tested.
And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allaah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allaah knows all that before putting them to test).
It comforts me that I’m not alone. It comforts me that this world essentially is, a place of trials and tribulations. It comforts me that our prophets have gone through and out of the same things we are experiencing, and on a much more colossal scale. It comforts me to know that He loves me so much, and this is precisely the reason why He gifted me with difficulties, so I could learn patience, gratitude and strength from these hardships and take these tests as opportunities to earn His Jannah. It comforts me that I am not being left alone from being merely a believer by name, you know that saying ‘talk is cheap’? I’ve learnt that anyone can say they believe in God, but it takes a true believer to face an affliction, to struggle with difficulties, yet still hold on to his/her imaan, clinging to Allah tighter than before, running to Allah faster than before, crying to Allah harder than before, being with Allah closer than before.
The next speaker, Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda, then talked about Surah Ibrahim. He reminded us that when we find ourselves facing adversities, we must stand to pray. Face the direction of the ka’bah. Lower yourself in front of Allah. Place your forehead on the ground. This provides more relief than anything you will ever find. Really. Allah has provided the remedy to our struggles: Prayers. Direct communication to our Lord. Praying will guarantee you strength & resolve to go through whatever it is you’re going through. Go to Allah. He also urged us to learn and memorize the du’a of the prophets, for who better knows how to talk to Allah than those beloved to Him? And when we talk to Him, we must not be afraid to show our vulnerability. We can hide our weaknesses from others, but never to Him. Establish a meaningful prayer with Him, have a conversation with Him after your obligatory prayers in private, begging Him to help you, asking Him for forgiveness, thanking Him for all the blessings in your life. And remember that Allah did not send Islam to angels, He sent it to you and me. The gift of faith is the greatest gift we can ever receive, so treasure it and learn more about this blessing He has gifted to you.
The wonderful Sheikh Omar Suleiman then proceeded to talk about Surah Yusuf. He talked about the life story of Prophet Yusuf when he was at his lowest point, when he had no reputation, no family, no future. Through his life story, we learn that we must always, always, always have patience and gratitude. We need to maintain our patience during hardships, while still being grateful for all the things that we still have. No matter what happens, turn back to Allah S.W.T. Whatever hardship has befallen us, be patient and be grateful. If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it. Trust Him in everything that’s happening in your life right now. Remember that His promise is always true. Circumstances should not change you. Good times, bad times… patience and gratitude always.
He also mentioned that to be tested and tried in this world is better than living a life of disobedience to Allah. Won’t we rather bear the pain of this world and grow stronger out of it with Allah by our side, than feel the unimaginable pain and be punished in the hereafter?
Similar to what Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda mentioned in his segment, we must acknowledge our weaknesses to Alllah S.W.T and ask Him to grant us strength. It is an integral part of our du’a – to acknowledge our weaknesses and cry to Allah. Let Him know that you are in need of no one else but Him.
When faced with difficulties, Sheikh reminded and advised us to recite this prophetic supplication many times (trust me, this will provide you relief and comfort in ways you cannot imagine. I’ve done this personally, and the effects were deeply felt.).
“Ya hayyu ya qayyum birahmatika astagheeth!”
(O Living, O Sustaining, in Your mercy I seek relief!”
Sheikh also advised us to read Surah Yusuf for relief.
He then talked about how sins dim the light in your heart. The light of Allah will not reach you if you keep sinning. And the greatest consequence of sin? Moving away from Allah S.W.T. See, the biggest, saddest loss one can ever face is not the loss of any person, or any thing. The ultimate loss is the loss of Allah S.W.T.
When our love for dunya grows, we become more protective of it. We want this life to last forever, because we are in love with this world and everything in it. But the more we grow in faith, the more we grow in our love for our faith, the more protective of deen than dunya we would be. And that’s what we ultimately want.
So internalize this: Our Lord, Allah Azzawajal, You gave me the biggest blessing, the biggest gift one can ever receive, the gift of Islam, and I didn’t even ask for it. You gave me the tools to get into Jannah. You are my guardian in this life and the next. Everything may be taken away from me, but You will always, always, always be there. Everything is temporary, except You. In this life I must learn that I must never be dependent on anything or anyone – You will teach me that I must only ever be emotionally and spiritually dependent to You. So let me die a Muslim. Let me live as long as life is good for me, and take my life when it’s best to take my life. I only ask for goodness in my death.
Towards the end of the talk, Sheikh Omar Suleiman talked about this topic which hits home. He talked about the death of Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. The year of grief. Our prophet was dying when his fever became severe. He passed away on a Monday, at the age of 63. And Fatimah, his beloved daughter, was with him throughout. She was of course, like any other daughter, any human being, bereaved. But she stayed strong and patient. And continued being grateful. The greatest comfort is that we would eventually be with the believing souls, if we strive hard for our place in His paradise. Later, Fatimah joins her father in Jannah.
Sheikh reminded us, that when the believer passes away, the believing souls who had left before you, will smile and receive you with open arms. The joy and excitement you’ll receive is incomparable. It’s one of the best things in life to look forward to. Imagine greeting Prophet Muhammad S.A.W, and all the ones you’ve loved and you’ve lost… imagine them saying “Ahlan.” Welcome.
And that was when the floodgates opened. As I was sitting there in the sea of audience, I thought to myself: this is no coincidence. It cannot be. Allah puts me there for this very reason. He knew I needed to hear this. Ya Allah, I will wait for this day. This reunion will be the happiest day of my life. I can only imagine the smile on my mama’s face, as she greets me, as she greets the whole family insyaAllah, and fall into the longest, warmest hug that I miss, so much. Ya Allah, I cannot wait for this day.
So face grief with patience, a beautiful patience. And continue to strive to be in the realm of believing souls…