We have some great reasons to be happy at the moment – its holiday, Ramadan is only 2 weeks away and the sun’s shining. Islam guarantees happiness for every believer.
Despite being an orphan, rejected by most of the world, tortured and ridiculed, Abdullah bin Harith reported, “I have never seen a man who smiled as much as the Messenger of God “ (Recorded in Tirmithi # 2641) So what made him(SAW) smile constantly, despite knowing the horrifying punishments of the grave and Hereafter and being blessed with insights about those who would harm him?
In my own analysis I’d put it down to 3 key questions:
1. Why am I in this situation?
Each of us will deal with challenges and sometimes we are so emotionally torn, it becomes difficult to actually focus on the problem. There’s a statement “Where focus goes, energy flows“. If you focus on a negative thing, you will be consumed by its harm. If you focus on a positive, you can be grateful for what you have.
For example, “Why did that person look at me like that” – surprisingly, young or old, this seems to be a common problem. Rather than focusing on the dirty look, let’s take a step back and realise that we are able to see that person looking at us – the blessing of sight which we took for granted.
A week or so ago, I got off the train from a busy day in London at the office, and as I walked up the platform, I noticed a train official, with his fluorescent safety jacket on, escorting a lady down the platform. Wondering why this is the case, I noticed she had a white cane in her hand and her eyes were fully open but unfocused and looking upwards – she was severely blind. However, the one thing that really struck me was the size of the smile on her face!
Years ago, when I used to help out at Friends of Bright Eyes, a local charity providing daycare for children with disability, the one common factor with almost every child was their permanent smile and outlook on life. They seemed more enabled and happy, than many of us who may be able of body, but disabled in spirit and outlook. Why?
If they couldn’t walk, they appreciated the warmth of the sun on their face.
If they couldn’t talk, they enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the house.
If they couldn’t see, they loved the chatter of those around them and ability to play freely.
Their focus was on what they had, rather than what they didn’t.
If we’re asking, why does dad have to bring me to this mosque listening to Mowlvi Sahib giving another lecture that isn’t that relevant to me, while the sun is shining outside and I could be playing Fifa or watching Netflix. Rather than focusing on the Imam, focus on the fact you have a dad who wants the best for you. Don’t take that for granted.
As a community, there are often debates and difference based on how people pray and when they sight the moon – the points of difference. But if we all individually and collectively asked ourselves, how much do we have in common, we would realise this is in more than 95% of things. If someone raises their hand multiple times during the salaah, we could recognise we too raise our hands at the beginning and in Eid salaah, but also that we stand, sit, bow, recite, hold our hands and face the same qiblah – 95%+.
If we differ on the beginning of Ramadan, we could focus on the fact we are all trying to sight the moon, begin according to an Islamic opinion, fast 30 days, every day, from the same time of the day until the same end of the day, pray additional prayers, leave that which is harmful in speech and bad habits – 95%+.
And this can be extended further. If we differ on Brexit, we still share the right to vote, the same politicians, the same process, the same nationality, the same financial challenges and uncertainty – 95%+.
Even if we support Manchester United 😉 and know they lost 3-0 to Barcelona, more unites us than disunites us. The game, the rules, the passion about a national sport, the Premier League – 95%+.
We are probably all familiar with the story of Dawud (David) and Jaloot (Goliath). When this child was faced against this giant who nobody could defeat, everyone was asking themselves – this giant is undefeatable and so large, how can he win? Dawud (AS) was looking at the same situation and recognised this giant is so large, so how can I miss? Reframing a situation gives us new perspective and we should try this in each of our situations and find good company who can help us focus on the hidden blessing we are missing.
2. Is there someone in a worse position than me?
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If one of you looks at those blessed over him in wealth and appearance, then let him look at those below him.”
In another narration, the Prophet said, “Do not look to those above you, lest you view the favours of Allah as trivial.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6125, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2963
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ إِذَا نَظَرَ أَحَدُكُمْ إِلَى مَنْ فُضِّلَ عَلَيْهِ فِي الْمَالِ وَالْخَلْقِ فَلْيَنْظُرْ إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَسْفَلَ مِنْهُ
I had the opportunity to accompany a very close friend to a hospital appointment last week and he is struggling with a health condition which may have been worsened as a result of some treatment. So he can find himself in a very dark place. When we left the hospital and he was thinking about everything that had happened, I asked him if he had noticed the others who still remained in the hospital, unable to walk out like we did, unable to make a decision about their treatment and uncertain about their future? Sometimes, we forget that our situation could be much worse.
If you’re struggling to buy that new house or renovate your current place like the neighbours, have you asked yourself about all those who don’t have a place to live? Join me at the Discover Islam curry kitchen every friday to meet and help out the 60+ homeless Lutonians who come to collect food and afterwards, I can show you the dozen homeless shelters in our own roads at full capacity because of social circumstance or personal situations which has led them to homelessness.
If you’re stressing over school exams coming up, spare a moment for those 264 million children who don’t go to school because of poverty, gender bias or social challenge in Pakistan, India, Indonesia, China, Nigeria, Malawi and Ethiopia.
If you’re burning inside because of a family member who has upset you, know that you still have a significant other who cares for you, however they may show that concern. Recognise that 9 million people in the UK across all adult ages – more than the population of London – are either always or often lonely. 50% of disabled people will be lonely on any given day and 24% of parents surveyed said they were always or often lonely (End Loneliness).
If you’re worried about work you need to do or the fact you need to work 5 times harder than someone who doesn’t have your skin colour or ethnicity, how much do you think you need to possess to be in the top 1% of the worlds richest people? Approximately £600k. In this country, people on welfare benefits accrue £25,000 every year, which means, if you were to sit on the dole for 40 years, you would be a millionaire. How many in the rest of the world can claim that?
How many of you worry that you can’t get the same trainers as your mate or a better car than your colleague? I am a volunteer at a regional prison and get to speak to inmates about their situation. They would pay a fortune to be able to walk freely like you and I, let alone pandor over the luxuries we’re discussing.
The kings thumb and his friend – alhamdulillah.
Once Imam Abu-Hanifa while he was teaching, some people came to him and told him that your ships have sunk *that’s equivalent to basically someone tells you that you lost all your money*, so Abu-Hanifa pauses for a moment while teaching then he calmly said: ”Alhamdulilah” and continues teaching.. a little while later they come back to him and they tell him actually no it wasn’t your ships, we made a mistake your ships are fine, so again he pauses for a moment then says: ”Alhamdulilah” and continues teaching.. when he was asked about that action, he explains that when I first was told that my ships have sunk I paused and I examined my heart and I found it unmoved so I said Alhamdulillah and then when I was told it wasn’t my ships I paused then examined my heart and I again found it unmoved so I said Alhamdulillah..
He was thanking Allah not because of the gain or the loss his ”Alhamdulilah” was about the fact that his heart was not attached to the gain or the loss.
“The most beloved of people according to Allah is he who brings most benefit, and the most beloved of deeds according to Allah the Mighty, the Magnificent, is that you bring happiness to a fellow Muslim, or relieve him of distress, or pay off his debt or stave away hunger from him. It is more beloved to me that I walk with my brother Muslim in his time of need than I stay secluded in the mosque for a month. Whoever holds back his anger, Allah will cover his faults and whoever suppresses his fury while being able to execute it, Allah will fill his heart with satisfaction on the Day of Standing. Whoever walks with his brother Muslim in need until he establishes that for him, Allah will establish his feet firmly on the day when all feet shall slip. Indeed, bad character ruins deeds just as vinegar ruins honey.” [Tabarani, Hasan]
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever enters Paradise will enjoy bliss without misery, clothes without wear, and youth without aging.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2836
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنْ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ مَنْ يَدْخُلُ الْجَنَّةَ يَنْعَمُ لَا يَبْأَسُ لَا تَبْلَى ثِيَابُهُ وَلَا يَفْنَى شَبَابُهُ
3. What can “I” influence?
The key is to focus your energy on those things that you can influence – this will enable you to make effective changes. If you do this you will find your circle of influence starts to increase – others will see you as an effective person and this will increase your power.
Conversely, if all your energy goes into those things you cannot change your circle of influence will shrink. Not only will you drain your energy, but other people may also start to see you as unduly negative and critical. So reactive people find their circle of influence shrinks, while proactive people find that it increases.
“It is our willing permission, our consent to what happens to us, that hurts us far more than what happened to us in the first place.” -Stephen Covey
A reactive approach would be “He makes me so mad.” whereas a proactive approach recognises you are response-able i.e. “I control my own feelings.”
President Xi Jing Peng of China spoke about himself and his father – “When I was a small child, I was very selfish. I always grabbed the best for myself. Slowly, everyone left me and I had no friends. I didn’t think it was my fault but I used to push the blame on others instead.
My father gave me 3 sentences to help me in my life. One day, my father cooked 2 bowls of noodles and put the 2 bowls on the table. One bowl had one egg on top and the other bowl did not have any egg on top. He said ”My child, choose the bowl you want”.
Eggs were hard to find in those days! Without hesitation, I chose the bowl with the egg! As we started eating, I congratulated myself on my wise choice/decision and I walloped up the egg. But to my surprise, as my father ate his noodles, there were TWO eggs at the bottom of his bowl beneath the noodles! I regretted that decision! And scolded myself for being too hasty in my decision.
My father smiled and said to me, ”My child. You must remember that what your eyes see may not be true. If you intend to take advantage of people, you will end up a loser!”
The next day, my father again cooked 2 bowls of noodles: one bowl with an egg on top and the
other bowl with no egg on top. Again, he put the two bowls on the table and said to me, ”My child, pick a bowl of your choice”
This time I was smarter. I chose the bowl without any egg on top.
To my surprise, as I separated the noodles on top, there was not even a single egg at the bottom of the bowl! Again my father smiled and said to me, ”My child, you must not always rely on experiences because sometimes, life can play tricks on you. But you must not be too annoyed or sad, just treat this as a lesson. There are some lessons you cannot learn from textbooks.
The third day, my father again cooked 2 bowls of noodles, again one bowl with an egg on top and the other bowl with no egg on top. He put the 2 bowls on the table and again said to me, ”My child, choose the bowl you want”.
This time, I told my father, ”Dad, you choose first. You are the head of the family and contributed the most to the family. ”My father did not decline and chose the bowl with one egg on top.
As I ate my bowl of noodles, the impression I had was that there was no egg inside the bowl. But to my surprise, there were TWO eggs at the bottom of the bowl.
My father smiled at me with love in his eyes and said, ”My child, you must remember, that when you think for the good of others, good things will always naturally happen to you!
Many of us may be thinking, thats a nice story but I’m dealing with the real world, Mowlvi Sahib. My wife and mother-in-law will never swallow the eggs and noodle story.
So let me tell you another about a wife and mother-in-law. Once upon a time there was a woman who lived with her husband and children. Her husband was a nice man and she was a good woman. The only problem was: his mother was horrible.
She was otherwise a decent lady but to her daughter-in-law she was… a witch.
She would insult her daughter-in-law, humiliate her, taunt her, comment on her looks, her hair, her upbringing, her cooking, the way she was bringing up the children…
It appeared to the daughter-in-law that her mother-in-law’s sole aim in life was to turn her son against his wife.
His mother would plant seeds into his mind about how his wife had seemingly disrespected her, or other members of the family.
Most of the arguments that the couple had were because of the insecurities of his mother.
Unsurprisingly, she hated her mother-in-law. Resented her, despised her, abhorred her.
She could not understand why any mother would wish to cause her son to become unhappy by ruining his marriage. How could such a mother claim to love her own son, let alone his wife?
With time, her unhappiness turned to psychological torture. Eventually, the torture became unbearable.
So she decided to kill her mother-in-law.
She went to a wise man and explained her problem to him. She asked him for some poison that she could put in her mother-in-law’s food.
The wise man gave her the poison but told her that it would take 30 days to take effect.
“During these 30 days, you have to be extra nice to your mother-in-law, so that when she dies, no-one will suspect that you were responsible,” the wise man told her.
The woman rushed home and that evening she poured the whole vial of poison into her mother-in-law’s food. That night, for the first time in years, the daughter-in-law slept soundly, happy that soon the problem would be no more.
The next day she began to be extra nice to her mother-in-law. Whenever she would visit, she would talk to her, ask about her day, buy her gifts…
This continued for the first week and second week. By the third week her mother-in-law began to respond and be nice to her in return. By the fourth week she actually began to… not hate her mother-in-law.
“I don’t love her but I don’t hate her either,” the girl thought. “I can live with this.”
Then she remembered that there was only a few days left before the poison would kill her mother-in-law. She had now changed her mind.
She now didn’t want her mother-in-law to die. Her husband and her children would be devastated if her mother-in-law died.
In a panic she rushed back to the wise man.
“Please, please, give me an anti-dote to the poison!” she cried. “I don’t want to kill my mother-in-law, things are OK between us now. Please, I beg you, I don’t want her to die!”
The wise man listened to her.
“In the vial I gave you there was not a drop of poison, it was only water,” he began.
“I knew that once you began to make an effort to be extra nice to your mother-in-law she would have no choice but to respond in a similar way.”
“Whenever any relationship breaks down, before we blame the other person we have to ask ourselves if there is anything that we are doing to contribute to the breakdown and what we can change about ourselves to make the relationship better.”
Every relationship requires a regular investment. What we put into it is what we get out of it.
Remember, these 3 questions to always remain happy:
- Why am I in this situation?
- Is there someone in a worse position than me?
- What can “I” influence?
Suhaib reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Wondrous is the affair of a believer, as there is good for him in every matter; this is not the case for anyone but a believer. If he experiences pleasure, he thanks Allah and it is good for him. If he experiences harm, he shows patience and it is good for him.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2999
عَنْ صُهَيْبٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَجَبًا لِأَمْرِ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لِأَحَدٍ إِلَّا لِلْمُؤْمِنِ إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ
2999 صحيح مسلم كتاب الزهد والرقائق باب المؤمن أمره كله خير
Allah has promised the believing men and believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence; but approval from Allah is greater. It is that which is the great attainment. [Surah At-Tawbah: Ayah 72]
Ibn Al-Qayyim reported: Some of the scholars would say, “If the kings of the world and their sons knew what we have of blessings and happiness, they would fight us for it with their swords.”
Source: Al-Jawab Al-Kafi wa Ta’reekh Dimshaq 4475
قال ابن القيم وَيَقُولُ الْآخَرُ لَوْ عَلِمَ الْمُلُوكُ وَأَبْنَاءُ الْمُلُوكِ مَا نَحْنُ فِيهِ مِنَ النَّعِيمِ وَالسُّرُورِ لَجَالَدُونَا بِالسُّيُوفِ