By Rana Al-Dabagh
“Here, Rana, come sit by me,” he said as he gently pointed to an empty chair by his side. We were visiting my Uncle and the whole family was gathered together, conversing in what sounded like the chatter of a full high school cafeteria. Barely making out what he said, I slipped into the empty chair as he inched towards me and softly asked in his native Arabic, “Do you know what will keep your heart at peace?” Giving me no time to respond, he quickly answered his own question, “Two things: remembering Allāh (constantly doing dhikr) and being content (Alridaa) with your situation and with what Allāh gave you.” Baffled, as I didn't expect him to give me a reminder amidst the family fun and chaos, I was struck by the depth of the gem he had just so beautifully uttered. As I was staring away in contemplation of these insightful words, my uncle topped off his advice by giving me a practical solution: “You know, Rana, after every ṣalāh, every single one, I stay in my spot and do my dhikr. Then I pray for my parents… after every ṣalāh, no matter what I'm in the middle of or no matter who is waiting for me.” Looking at his smiling face, I could feel my heart taking in all he said like fertile soil taking in the seed to grow it. I was touched, not only by his words but by the fact that this short and sweet piece of advice came when I least expected it and most needed it.
We have all gone through it—some more than others, but we have all gone through it – the difficult times when we feel our heart ache with this overpowering, overwhelming feeling of despair, anxiety, loneliness, helplessness. When we feel like there is a knot in our throat and a burning sensation in our stomachs. As we are engrossed in this dark cloud, we feel like there is no end, that the sun is forever covered by this cloud. But really the solution is one word away. Dhikr.
Whenever you feel down, make dhikr. Whenever you don't know how to handle a situation, make dhikr. When you feel anxious, make dhikr. When you feel alone, make dhikr. When your heart feels hollow and empty, make dhikr. Honestly, it is the solution, just as Allāh tells us in the Qurʾān 13:28:
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find their rest in the remembrance of God – for, verily, in the remembrance of God [men's] hearts do find their rest.”
That verse is so profound, Allāh the Creator of the Universe, the Creator of the Human Being, is telling us in His speech that our hearts will find tranquility and serenity, we will rid ourselves of those ills blackening our hearts and the negative feelings by remembering the One whose mercy is not like anything we can every imagine.
Ibn alQayyim AlJawziyya eloquently stated:
“Truly in the heart there is a sadness that cannot be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allāh and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that cannot be filled except with love for Him and by turning to him and always remembering Him. And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it, it would not fill this emptiness.”
Contentment comes hand in hand with the remembrance of Allāh . Because as you stand in ṣalāt al tarāwīḥ and you hear the majestic, powerful, splendid verses being recited, remember Allāh is bigger than your problems, call upon Him the Compeller, the Reliever, the Greatest for help. Don't go complaining to others for they are humans like you.
Remember Allāh knows what's khayr for you.
If you're going through a difficulty remember the verse in Sūrat'l-'Ankabūt 29:2:
“Do men think that on their [mere] saying, 'We have attained to faith', they will be left to themselves, and will not be put to a test?”
Allāh tests those whom He loves subḥānahu, for weren't the Prophets and the Messengers tested and tried the most? Next time you are faced with a problem, say alḥamdulillāh and remember Umar Al-Khaṭṭāb when he said:
“If Allāh strikes me with calamity I will thank Allāh for four things: 1) that the test was not in my deen; 2) the calamity could have been worse; 3) it is an expiation for my sins; 4) any loss after losing the Prophet is nothing.”
Remember that your provisions have been written for you 50,000 years before the creation of the universe. Whatever is written for you, you will get it. Don't look at what others have and what you don't, for that will always breed greed and unhappinesss. There will always be people who have more than you in this worldly life. As the Prophet said, “When a person sees a person who has better wealth and beauty, let him look at the ones who have less than him.”(Bukhāri)
Practical solution: Be consistent in doing your dhikr after ṣalāh and remember to pray for your parents (this is the least we can do for them). Whenever you are walking, with each step say alḥamdulillāh, Allāhu Akbar, subḥānAllāh … live the meaning of keeping your mouth moist with the remembrance of Allāh . Remember, whatever Allāh has written for you, you will get, no one else will get it and whatever difficulty you are going through is but a test.
As I remember, Sh. Muhammed AlShareef once said, “Try it the next time you go into an elevator alone – do some dhikr and see how that will be the best elevator ride you ever had.”
May Allāh make us amongst those whose tongues are moistened by His remembrance and whose hearts are peaceful and content.