Responding to Paris Prophetically


Surah Taubah 126“Don’t they see that they are tested every year once or twice, yet they don’t repent and they don’t take heed?” 9:126

Surah Ankabut 2

Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?

Trial By Design

Trials are in this world by design. Nothing happens without the permission of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). We have no control over the actions of people around the world, be they people who share our faith or not. What we can control is our personal reactions to the situations that Allah decrees for us to experience. In fact it is our individual reactions to the circumstances that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) places us in that we will be judged by in the Hereafter.

Sometimes the tests we face are personal tests, in which each one of us is left to handle and react within our personal capacity in the best way. These are the small tests that we encounter on a daily basis. Whether it be a small fender bender, a scratch on your car or anything else that you had no possible way of avoiding, your job as a believer is to learn how to respond. The ability to respond in the best way possible is not easy to learn. But for those who are told from the beginning by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that, “you will be tested”, their reaction should be quite different. This is coupled by the fact that we have a Sunnah or a way to follow — the way of a Prophet ﷺ who was the best of responders to the tests that Allah placed him in.

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So let’s set the record straight. We believe in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and we believe that He tests those who He loves. We are thus held responsible not for the circumstances that we are placed in, but rather for the way we react to those circumstances. Lastly, yet most importantly we are blessed with a living example of how to respond to these tests, the Prophet ﷺ.

Now we have to ask ourselves: what do we do? Ask yourself what did the Prophet ﷺ do when a hard situation came upon him? How did he cope with difficulties? He turned to Allah in supplication and in humility. He took the hardship as an opportunity to gain nearness to Allah. This is seen throughout his life, yet especially after he returned from the city of Taif. Completely rejected, he ﷺ collapsed in a garden outside the city and cried this prayer to Allah.

“Oh Allah, I complain to you about my weakness, my lowness in the sight of people, my lack of planning. To whom will you turn me over? Who will you give power over me?”

The Prophet ﷺ then crying to Allah said, “Oh Allah if you are not upset with me, then I care not”. This was the reaction, the response of our Prophet ﷺ. Compare this to our response to the calamities that befall our ummah and ourselves. We choose to focus on the collective response before the personal individual response. Without doubt both are equally important, however change begins with the parts before the whole. We will never be punished by Allah for responding to a difficulty the way the Prophet ﷺ did. In fact the opposite is true, we will be rewarded greatly by Allah if our reaction and response resembles that of His Beloved. His response began with internal reflection and rectification before everything else.

We must truly understand that if we hold the Prophet ﷺ to be the example of balance, then the more we follow that example the more we too become examples of that balance. Responsible, balanced responses are what the world currently lacks. We too can lose balance and go to extremes when we stop responding the way the Beloved Prophet responded and when we use our own minds and opinions. Indeed the actions of Isis are a response in of themselves too. But is it a Prophetic response? By no means.

Are you in the Circle of Influence or in the Circle of Concern

At the heart of Islam lies a concept which molds a healthy frame of mind. This same concept was beautifully articulated by Stephen Covey in his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey speaks about Circles of Influence and Circles of Concern. He says that foolish and unproductive people are those who spend all of their time in “Circles of concerns” like global poverty, pollution, the national debt etc. Whereas productive people spend their time and effort in the “circle of influence”. Meaning those things that they actually have the ability to change.

This truth is found in a fundamental tradition of the Prophet ﷺ, “A beautiful aspect of your Islam is that you leave those things that don’t concern you”. In other words focus on the things in life that you can actually change, and if there is one thing that each and everyone of us can change, its our own selves and the way we respond to hardships.

Surah Hadid 57_23

“No calamity afflicts the earth or yourself except that it is written in a book (preordained) before it comes into existence، That is indeed easy for Allah. This is so, so that you do not grieve over what has missed you nor become arrogant because of what you have received..” [57:22-23]

Imam Mikaeel Ahmed Smith currently serves as a resident scholar at the Islamic Society of Annapolis and full-time instructor at the Al Rahman Seminary at the Islamic Society of Baltimore. He grew up in a deeply spiritual Christian home in Buffalo, New York. At the age of 18, he embraced Islam after reading the Qur’an and the Autobiography of Malcolm X. Within a year after his shahadah, Imam Mikaeel enrolled at the Dar ul-Uloom al-Madania in Buffalo, NY, where he learned to read Arabic and memorized the Qur’an. In 2008, he traveled overseas to study Arabic at the Jami’ah Abu Noor in Damascus, Syria. Upon his return, he continued studying the Islamic sciences at the Dar ul-Uloom al-Madania, where he completed the Alim program and earned his Bachelors in Islamic Studies in 2010. In 2012, he completed his studies of the Sihah Sitta (six most authentic collections of Prophetic traditions) and Qur’anic Tafseer (commentary), earning his Masters in Islamic Studies at the Dar ul-Uloom Canada in Chatham, Ontario.  Imam Mikaeel is passionate about the meeting the needs of Muslim converts, building Islamic literacy among youth, and striving for social justice. He shares a love for books and athletics.

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16 responses to “Responding to Paris Prophetically”

  1. Basir Hamidi says:

    Nice MashaAllah

  2. tabitha says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. As a muslimah I am too busy trying to make positive change within myself and build for my future that I find it utterly futile to always stop in my tracks and apologise or worry at every moment an idiotic person on this beautiful planet does something ugly. I can only pray, make dua and influence what I can.

  3. Ibn Islam says:

    “The Muslims are like one body; and whoever’s body already suffers from pain, he won’t feel the pain of others”.
    Sh. Abdul-Aziz al Tarifi

  4. Bella says:

    Assalamo alaykom brother Mikaeel. I have a question about the dua you posted “oh Allah, i complain to you about my weakness etc”. Is this dua authentic? I read in arabic that it’s actually a da’if hadith making it wrong to claim that the Prophet (sallalaho alayhi wassalam) said it. Please do shed some light on this as i loved this dua and would like to share it but i can’t write that the Prophet said it i it’s not authentic.

    May Allah reward you for this reminder.

    • Imam Mikaeel says:

      Sister Inhallah there is absolutely no problem with narrating this hadith and attributing it to the Prophet (saw). Scholars the likes of Ibn Hisham, Ibn Hisaaq, and Ibn Kathir have all narrated this hadith and attributed it to the Prophet (saw). If they narrated this hadith while having more insight to the subtleties of hadith, then as long as one mentions where the hadith comes from, there is absolutely no problem what so ever narrating it. Even if we were to concede that this narration is “weak”, there would be absolutely no problem narrating it. Because the terminology weak simply means that the hadith cant be used determining a article of faith or a ruling of jurisprudence. Imam Al Bukhari wrote an entire book Adabul al-Mufrid in which there are thousands of “weak” narrations. He wrote it well aware of the status of the hadith, because “weak” hadith are still considered hadith of the Prophet. If we were to use the logic that you used in your question, then Imam Al-Bukhari should not have written the entire book. I hope this clarifies.

      • Bella says:

        Jazak Allah khayr. Yes it did clarify. I got taught that we shouldn’t write that “the Prophet said” when it comes to weak ahadith. Seems to be a difference of opinion on this. Nonetheless, such a powerful dua. I hope i will memorize it. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer me. Barak Allahu feek

  5. aafia says:

    Regarding trials,there is a story about sahaba who were boycotted from the society,by Prophet muhammad(pbuh) and even by their own wives.The story is mentioned in quran where Allah says “And Allah has forgiven the Three whose case had been put off.When the earth with all its vastness seemed to have become narrow for them, and their own souls were a burden on them, and they realized that there was no refuge for them except in the mercy of Allah Himself, Allah turned to them with kindness so that they should turn to Him. Surely, He is Forgiving and Compassionate.”(9:118)
    So in face of any calamity we should turn towards Allah and seek repentance.Verily to him shall we return.May allah accept our repentance.

  6. Asad says:

    I’m 36 and have had a pretty easy life, I’ve never really been tested. I’m not boasting, I am grateful but my life’s good. Does that mean allah doesn’t love me? He tests those he loves?
    Does allah love the non Muslims that are tested?

    • Mustafa says:

      Assalamualaikunm wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      You are being tested, you must show gratitude instead of ingratitude. You may be tested severely later in life so brace yourself. You will know whether you are loved or not when you meet the angels at death.
      كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ ۗ وَنَبْلُوكُم بِالشَّرِّ وَالْخَيْرِ فِتْنَةً ۖ وَإِلَيْنَا تُرْجَعُونَ
      Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.

      إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
      Indeed, We guided him to the way, be he grateful or be he ungrateful.
      وَابْتَغِ فِيمَا آتَاكَ اللَّهُ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ ۖ وَلَا تَنسَ نَصِيبَكَ مِنَ الدُّنْيَا ۖ وَأَحْسِن كَمَا أَحْسَنَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ ۖ وَلَا تَبْغِ الْفَسَادَ فِي الْأَرْضِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُفْسِدِينَ
      And seek by means of what Allah has given you the future abode, and do not neglect your portion of this world, and do good (to others) as Allah has done good to you, and do not seek to make mischief in the land, surely Allah does not love the mischief-makers.

      There isn’t a shred of evidence in any of the texts that Allah loves non Muslims. Rather, whoever fails to believe in Allah and His Messenger is a disbeliever by consensus.

      وَمَن لَّمْ يُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ فَإِنَّا أَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ سَعِيرًا
      And whoever has not believed in Allah and His Messenger – then indeed, We have prepared for the disbelievers a Blaze.

      This includes every single person who does not believe in the final Messenger even if he believed in previous Messengers. Not believing in the final Messenger after the message reaches someone makes on a disbeliever.
      Allah says about those who claimed to believe in previous Messengers but did not believe in Muhammad ibn Abdullah sallahualayhiwasalam, أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ حَقًّا ۚ وَأَعْتَدْنَا لِلْكَافِرِينَ عَذَابًا مُّهِينًا
      They are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating torment.

      There isn’t any other opinion the Sahaba RA or the Salaf or the fuqaha since have said. Not even deviant groups that emerged in the Ummah-they all agreed Islam was the only way to Paradise and once someone died a nonbeliever and Islam had come to him in his life, he will be doomed forever.

      “Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’aan and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and Al-Mushrikoon will abide in the fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures”

      [al-Bayyinah 98:6]

      The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, no one of this nation, Jew or Christian, hears of me then dies without having believed in that with which I was sent, but he will be one of the people of the Fire.” Narrated by Muslim, 153.

      (Whoever opposes the Messenger and follows a path other than that of the Believers, We will leave him in that path and make him enter Hell. What a bad place it is!) [An-Nisa’ 115]

      إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَعَنَ الْكَافِرِينَ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُمْ سَعِيرًا
      Indeed, Allah has cursed the disbelievers and prepared for them a Blaze.

      خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا أَبَدًا ۖ لَّا يَجِدُونَ وَلِيًّا وَلَا نَصِيرًا
      Abiding therein forever, they will not find a protector or a helper.

      Finally Allah mentions not once but twice that he does not love the disbelievers.

      لِيَجْزِيَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِن فَضْلِهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ
      That He may reward those who have believed and done righteous deeds out of His bounty. Indeed, He does not like the disbelievers.

      قُلْ أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ ۖ فَإِن تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ
      Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not love the disbelievers.

      So, to answer your question, no by absolute consensus there is no love for the ones who did not enter Islam after it came to them and died that way.

      “Inna deenah, inndallahil Islam.”
      (Certainly, Allah will only accept Islam [submission to Him on His terms in peace] as a way of life for anyone.)
      [surah Al Imran 3:19]

      “Wa ma yabtaghi ghayril Islama deenah, fala-yuq bala minhu, wa huwa fil akhirati minal khasareen.”
      (And whoever desires a way of life other than what Allah has command, He will never accept it from them and in the Hereafter they will be amongst the loosers.)
      [surah Al Imran 3:85]

    • Haroon says:

      Salam Br Asad. From my little understanding, people are tested in “good” times and “bad” times. The tests in “good” times are more dangerous because one may not realize he/she is being tested. Its like losing the sense of touch. Your hand maybe touching something that is burning you, but you will not notice it. Your money, time, family, eyes, limbs, etc. are all tests for you. The danger is that during “good” times we let our guard down and forget that we are being tested.

      • irfan says:


        like u said ur life is pretty easy and not really hard..
        it reminds me of the verse-we shall decieve ou from directions you never imagined.”
        about this verse one of the salaf( i think hasan al basri)said-allah swt gives someone alot of wealth so much so that he forgets allah swt and enters hell….

        the wealth or comfort that is from Allah swt can be deceiving…..if allah has made it easy for u , than u ought to thank him and strive more to please him..

        allah u alam.

  7. Mahdi says:

    you’re also being tested but your test is more complex than for the one who suffers hardship in this world. Remember the hadith where the Prophet (pbuh) said on the day of Qiyamah nobody will move one step until questioned about – his life, health, wealth, time etc . We will all be held to account.

  8. Maggy says:

    May Allah reward you for providing us an in-depth exposition of this verse as a guide to application in our daily lives.
    In the wake of what had happened recently in Paris, I think many Muslims, especially in the West, have been subjected to physical or verbal abuse due to the prevalent misconceptions about Islam’s role in advocating violence amid the ISIS attacks.
    I believe we are now being tested and it is our duty as Muslims to vindicate such fallacy about Islam by whatever means possible, even if it is done through social media on an individual level.

    We will surely be asked on Judgment Day about what we did in this world to defend the honor our religion.

  9. junaid says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. As a muslimah I am too busy trying to make positive change within myself and build for my future that I find it utterly futile to always stop

  10. Assalam Alikum. good Article . Jazakllah

  11. Ethiopia Getasew says:

    aselamualeykum ya jemeatel khair, I am a new Muslim I had been accepted Islam 2 years ago. as expected rejections from every side including my parents continue until this time… I am out of home this time. It is a shock for me living with another family… am frightened for my life all my uncles arise on me I live a hidden life I want to leave my home by any means….. some times words can not express the condition… Allah knows best… try your best to make me out of my country

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