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Nothing Is Lost

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Nothing is lost. The years of your life that you poured like water into a now-failed marriage, or the immense love and attention you gave a child  or brother or friend who now treats you like an enemy or a fool, or the work you did for a company that closed down, or the sweat and thought you put into a project that ultimately failed… none of that is lost.

It’s particularly hard when a relationship collapses, leaving bitterness where previously there was passion. It’s galling. You feel confused, betrayed, depressed. Even years later you might feel that you wasted those years, that you poured out love from your innermost core and watched it go down a drain.

The Viewpoint of Faith

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I understand the feeling. I’ve been there. I’ve been perplexed and depressed with the phrase “Everything falls apart” running through my head, thinking about how all things collapse in the end and good things never seem to last.

But that is the narrow viewpoint of depression. It is a singularly negative viewpoint, and therefore it is not the viewpoint of imaan (faith), because faith is a thing of hope. Faith gives you a window into the unseen, the world that Islam calls al-ghayb, and one of the elements of the unseen world that Allah has informed us of is that nothing is lost:

“And their Lord responded to them, ‘Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.’” (Quran, Surat Aal-Imraan, 3:195)

Allah knows the frustration and pain we feel, so He assures us that none of our deeds are lost, not only because He sees all but because we are “of one another;” in other words, we human beings are all connected. We are all a part of each other and so any love and work that one of us puts forward affects us all.

And Allah says,

“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” (Quran, Surat Az-Zalzalah, 99:7-8)

Your love did not evaporate into nothingness. Your sweat and blood were not poured down a drain. Those years of your life, those anxious moments and anxiety dreams were not in vain. Your silent good deeds, and the most tender moments of your heart, were witnessed by the only One who truly counts for Allah sees all. Everything is seen and valued. Every good deed is blessed, every act of love is rewarded, everything is returned to you in barakah many times over. Nothing is lost.

The Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him)

When the Prophet Nuh (peace be upon him) preached to his people, calling them to tawheed (monotheism) amidst the whirlpool of polytheism in which they were caught, they stuck their fingers in their ears and mocked him, and in the end the flood came upon them because of their wickedness, destroying them all except for a handful of followers and destroying even Nuh’s wife and one of his sons.

When this happened, was Nuh a failure? Were his ages of hard work in vain? Were his deeds lost? Do you find yourself saying, “Poor Nuh”?

If so, then you have missed the point. Nuh was a Prophet, a hero, and a survivor. He fulfilled his mission and delivered the message. That was his job and he did it. It was witnessed by Allah, so Nuh will receive his reward. Furthermore, he was saved from the flood and went on to have more children and to leave his own legacy of offspring and teaching. Here we are, thousands of years later, knowing his name, repeating his story, learning from him! His story has become a part of universal human mythology. How then could he be a failure? He affected the world in a profound way until the Day of Judgment, and he achieved that only by doing his job.

So I would like to suggest a replacement for the negative mantra, “Everything falls apart.” A truer statement, and one based on faith, would be, “Nothing is lost.”

Karma, the Universe and the Law of Conservation of Energy

But what if you don’t believe in Allah? Well, first of all I would say that’s a shame, because every time you put a bite of food in your mouth that’s a grace and a blessing from Him. Going back to Nuh for a moment, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “When the death of the Messenger of Allah Nuh approached, he admonished his sons: ‘Indeed I would give you far reaching advice, commanding you to do two things, and warning you against doing two things as well. I charge you to believe that there is no God but Allah and that if the seven heavens and the seven earths were put on one side of a scale and the words “There is no God but Allah” were put on the other, the latter would outweigh the former. I warn you against associating partners with Allah and against pride. (Saheeh al-Bukhari).

But even so, if you are Buddhist or Hindu, then you believe in cause and effect on a cosmic level. You believe that the good you do returns in one way or another, and any evil you perpetrate also boomerangs into your own soul. These are the fruits of karma. So again, nothing is lost.

If you deny God and believe only in science and energy and matter, then you know that still, nothing is lost! The universe is a finite system. Everything began at a single point in time – what scientists call the Big Bang. The universe is expanding, flying out in every direction, until one day in the unimaginable future it will reach the limits of expansion and begin to contract, slowly at first then faster, drawn inwards by gravity until it collapses into the nothingness from whence it came. Within this finite universe, energy can be transformed into matter, or matter into energy, but nothing new is created, and nothing is lost. There is no universal drain. In science this is known as the Law of Conservation of Energy:

“Energy in a system may take on various forms (e.g. kinetic, potential, heat, light). The law of conservation of energy states that energy may neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore the sum of all the energies in the system is a constant.”

The Greatest Love

Personally, as someone who has suffered from the tendency of all things to fall apart – what we might call the entropy of love – the purely scientific perspective is cold comfort. When I’m mourning the loss of a friend, it’s no comfort to know that the universe is a closed system and that nothing is lost in the physical, atomic sense.

But it is a great comfort to know that all the love, work and good I’ve done means something, both in a spiritual sense and in a human sense.

The American writer Washington Irving wrote, “Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.”

Every act of mercy, every charity, every moment of love you have given another human being, ripples out through degrees of separation, affecting the world in a profound way. Even if a relationship is broken, even if the person now views you with enmity, it doesn’t invalidate what you did. The love that you gave is seen by Allah. On the earthly plane, that love affects your own heart in good ways, then it percolates out to those around you and changes the world. It matters. It was not in vain. Nothing is lost.

Since I’ve been speaking of love, let me finish with a reminder of the most important love of all. The famous scholar Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya wrote:

“Truly in the heart there is a void that cannot be removed except with the company of Allah. And in it there is a sadness that can not be removed except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him. And in it there is an emptiness that can not 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.”

The greatest love we can have is our love for Allah, and it is always requited. Allah’s love descends upon us in every moment, in more ways than we can see or understand. Alhamdulillah.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Wael Abdelgawad's novels can be purchased at his author page at Amazon.com: Wael is an Egyptian-American living in California. He is the founder of several Islamic websites, including, Zawaj.com, IslamicAnswers.com and IslamicSunrays.com. He teaches martial arts, and loves Islamic books, science fiction, and ice cream. Learn more about him at WaelAbdelgawad.com. For a guide to all of Wael's online stories in chronological order, check out this handy Story Index.

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Yahya Ibrahim

    September 7, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    Bismillah,

    Great message masha Allah. I enjoyed the discussion.

    If I may add as well, that Allah (swt) is aware of you now and is equally aware of what WOULD HAVE BEEN even though it can no longer be.

    The Study of Qada and Qadar – Fate and Preordainment are AMAZINGLY uplifting when understood correctly. Allah has provided for us what is best and no other choice could have been made to change where we are at. As such the Messenger teaches that the utterance, “Laow – Had i done this differently or if I had..” is from the Shaytan.

    So not only is Allah knowing of our condition, but He has determined that it is what is best for us. Subhan Allah.

    First weekend in October I a teaching a two day seminar about belief in Qadar along with that of the Angels and Jinn. See you there if you are free insha Allah. http://www.alkauthar.org

    yahya ibrahim
    http://www.fb.com/yahya.adel.ibrahim and http://www.twitter.com/yahya_ibrahim

  2. F.R.

    September 7, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    Salams,

    I’d like to thank you for writing this insightful article. I needed this.

  3. Umm Sulaim

    September 7, 2011 at 5:01 AM

    If one for a fraction of a moment feels ones efforts are futile because of the perceived or real negative outcomes, one is in deep trouble.

    We receive the rewards for our actions without consideration of those consequences beyond our control.

    One is constantly faced with disappointments. One of my principles is to turn as many nasty experiences as possible into positive and move on.

    Umm Sulaim

  4. noor

    September 7, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    Mashallah i loved it, A must read

  5. Cucumber

    September 7, 2011 at 7:33 AM

    I love this! JazakAllahu Khair.

  6. mayqueen

    September 7, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    This is a wonderful write up. Very lyrical in its voice and it brought tears to my eyes. I am also going through a phase of “all things fall apart”. It is refreshing to read honesty and an article that has relevance. Thank you for the reminder of the greatest love. Too often we hear of the anger and the wrath and not of the love and the forgiveness of our lord.

  7. Grandparent

    September 7, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    Assalaamu alaikum, May Allah reward you and may this reminder take root in out hearts. Ameen.

    “ART THOU NOT aware how God sets forth the parable of a good word? [It is] like a good tree, firmly rooted, [reaching out] with its branches towards the sky, yielding its fruit at all times by its Sustainer’s leave. And [thus it is that] God propounds parables unto men,’ so that they might bethink themselves [of the truth]”.

  8. Blessed

    September 7, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Firstly, I would like to thank god for allowing me to come by this article.

    The quote you gave by Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, my god, spoke to me directly. I have been struggling with this void in my heart as well and I didn’t know what or how to make myself better. I was frustrated because I just could not figure out what was wrong with me. At least with your article, I have some clues and pointers to insyallah, bring me closer to Him.

    May god bless you for your efforts, insyallah.

    Jazakallah Khair.

  9. Zamzam Bayian

    September 7, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    Nothing is lost; however, soul’s injuries take long, long time to heal.

  10. Yasmin

    September 7, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this very beautiful post! I can tell that the message that you conveyed in this post really came from your heart and its obvious that this post was written in a very sincere manner!

  11. sharmeen

    September 7, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    very thoughtful. can’t explain the love of Allah in a better way as Aljawziyya wrote.

  12. Farhan

    September 7, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Personally, I think the phrasing of “If you deny God and believe only in science and energy and matter” isn’t the best, because it makes it seem as if Science is in Opposition to Islam. After reading parts of “The Incoherence of Philosophy”, my interpretation of Science has totally changed and I don’t see it in conflict with Allah.

    Excellent article, really touched me. sometimes…I do feel like efforts I have done in the past were not only wasted, they burned me and caused long-term pain. I know its obvious to know that our efforts are held with Allah, but I forget. Thanks for the reminder, Jazak Allahu khayr

    Reallyyy uplifting article.

    • Wael Abdelgawad

      September 7, 2011 at 3:38 PM

      Farhan you’re absolutely right of course, Islam and science are utterly compatible. But the Western mind tends to think that religion and science are opposed. I’ll think about rephrasing that line Insha’Allah.

      • Farhan

        September 7, 2011 at 4:44 PM

        btw, I put my objection FIRST, because I wanted my real substance to come afterwards and be the last think people read. I know what you meant, I hope that didn’t sound rude.

        • Wael Abdelgawad

          September 7, 2011 at 6:16 PM

          You did not sound rude. I appreciate all suggestions.

          • Not saying

            September 9, 2011 at 1:43 AM

            Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

            I don’t get what you were trying to say with karma and science…were you trying to comfort atheists and hindus?……Why on earth? They are ashab un nar…..disbelievers. Instead it should be to get them to understand their ideas are fiction and Islam is guidance.

  13. UmaR

    September 7, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    This reminder makes me think of the importance being sincere to Allah. If you’ve lost your loved one whom you’ve given your life to, the only comfort is knowing that with Allah are the fruits of your efforts.

    Everything action can be added to our scale of good deeds inshaAllah if we have the correct intentions, and outlook.

    Thanks for you time writing this. May Allah reward you with goodness.

    (if I could add, I don’t think atheists will ever be comforted with idea of conservation of energy, and the karma idea is a little too mysterious to bring about true comfort. It’s about JANNAH!! :)

  14. M

    September 7, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    Wow….beautifully written. Super useful.

  15. Faatimah

    September 7, 2011 at 10:13 PM

    JazakAllah khayr. I really needed this, as I’m sure many other readers did :)

  16. Pingback: Nothing is Lost « Umm Ibraheem

  17. MuslimahS

    September 7, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    JazakAllah Khair for sharing.

    Energy can neither be created nor can be destroyed but can be transferred from one form to another. My fav law in exams :P

    For every action there is equal and opposite reaction. :P :P
    action = good/bad

  18. Umme Maryam

    September 8, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    What a sweet and beautiful article. It gives so much hope when you feel that all your efforts are yielding no results. Wonderful reminder. Thank you!

  19. UmYahya

    September 8, 2011 at 8:27 AM

    Jazak Allah Khair for a very uplifting reminder……Verily in the Rememberance of Allah do hearts find rest.

  20. Pingback: Nothing is Lost

  21. n

    September 8, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    amazing article

  22. Muhammad1982

    September 10, 2011 at 7:32 PM

    Assalam O Alaikum brother Wael,
    Very well thought out and put together. It really is true that sometimes we feel like our efforts or good deeds in terms of favours/help we do to others go wasted/not acknowledged or simply turned against us but, what I have come to realise is that one way or another it pays in different shapes and forms.

    Jazak Allah and may Allah (swt) keep you healthy and give your more hikmah to keep writing this inspirational, spiritual pieces to help others. Amin:)

  23. shiney

    September 14, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    JZK for this amazing reminder…it reminded me of the ayah: “Verily, he who fears Allaah with obedience to him, and is patient, then surely, Allaah makes not the reward of the Muhsinun (righteous) to be lost.” (Yusuf- 12:90)

  24. Pingback: Nothing is Lost « Silence Screams

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