By Aliya Vaughan
“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:Narrated by Abu Huraira. Ibn Majah (and Muslim, worded slightly differently)
‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'”
‘I can’t do that, ‘what if’ such and such happens?’
“If only I had acted differently, that wouldn’t have happened!”
In my youth, before I became a Muslim, these words were a constant. So much so, it either prevented me from taking action or I’d regret the action I took. Fear of the future or regretting disappointing outcomes would keep me stuck in my comfort zone.
I used to worry about everything; the future, what people thought of me, rejection, failure, sounding stupid, being overweight, looking ugly, public speaking, ghosts…
Phrases in my head would hold me back, like:
‘What if I don’t succeed?’
‘What if it causes an argument?’
‘What if I can’t cope?’
‘What if no one likes me?’
I would think up illogical reasons or excuses not to act and I imagined my actions having negative consequences. I’d lose courage or second guess myself and my ability, and thus thwart my own potential. I thought it was easier to bury my head in the sand and ignore reality, my responsibilities or problems, but this only made matters worse. To eliminate my anxieties (or so I thought) and avoid confronting uncomfortable issues, I would adopt unhealthy coping strategies. Most people today perhaps take it out on a loved one, drink alcohol, take drugs, self-harm, binge-watch Netflix, spend hours on social media, play video games or party all night. These behaviours can lead to addictions, obsessive compulsive disorders, guilt, anxiety and depression. Our reliance upon other than Allah are mere temptations and distractions, and their ensuing problems are endless, simply to avoid an inevitable reality, a problem or a future consequence.
My chaotic thinking and behavioural patterns began to affect my memory, my attention span and my focus. It eventually took its toll on my confidence, my mental health and physical wellbeing. My life became absent of any true purpose and meaning and I sank to such a worthless level of despair that I even contemplated suicide. Thankfully it was a fleeting thought but it was serious enough to make me realise I needed help. I knew I had to fight my inner demons, so I started to read…a lot! I absorbed nuggets from self-help books, I tried counselling, I wrote down my worries and feelings, I tried all the tips and techniques out there and they were really helpful. However, it wasn’t until I embraced Islam that I finally found the solution to many of my problems.
All my life I desperately wanted to be in control, but I finally had to admit my powers were limited in certain areas. When I understood that Allah is Al-Azziz, (the All Mighty) and only He has ultimate power and control, I felt liberated. Instead of being fearful of future events I accepted them as Allah’s Divine Will which is written in Qadar (fate and predetermination). Nothing happens unless Allah Wills it. Whatever was to befall me, I could not have avoided it, and whatever didn’t happen to me, I could not have made it to happen.
What I also perceived to be a ‘bad’ situation wasn’t necessarily the case. Some situations were, in fact:
· a blessing in disguise,
· an opportunity to earn Allah’s reward for being patient, tolerant, charitable etc,
· an expiation for my sins or
· an invaluable lesson (experience) for me to learn from and improve as a person.
“No calamity befalls on the earth or in yourselves but is inscribed in the Book of Decrees (al-lawh al-mahfooz), before We bring it into existence. Verily, that is easy for Allah.”
Surah Al-Hadid 57:22
Everything that happens is for a reason. Allah Knows what will happen before I have made my decision or taken action. Allah is aware of the wisdom behind the outcome even if I don’t know it myself. Worrying about the future is a natural human reaction but to panic is futile. If the outcomes of my actions are already written, I need to accept them -whatever they may be.
We all have to make tough choices in life even though they scare us half to death! If I didn’t say ‘yes’ to my husband’s marriage proposal I would have remained single and childless, an option that I didn’t want. So, I performed an istikharah prayer and made dua. Based upon my limited knowledge about my future husband, I placed my hope and trust in Allah that he was right for me and we would marry. It is still written in our qadar to be together many years on. Allah knew this but I did not. I ask Allah to protect all our marriages. Ameen.
When I understand Allah, is Al-Aleem, (The All Knowing), who not only has knowledge of the future, but also the unknown and the unseen, it means I don’t need to worry about these things anymore, as they are out of my control and beyond the realm of ordinary human comprehension. Instead, my mind is free to concentrate on only the things that really matter. Ghosts are not dead people coming back to haunt me but in fact, jinn living in their own dimension and not to be communicated with. This means I no longer waste my time and money with astrology, clairvoyants and fortune telling in a desperate attempt to predict and control the future. Instead my responsibility is to take action and I leave the future up to Allah.
Just recently I applied for a new job. The application process was laborious. I didn’t have the energy or confidence to apply for it but I realised I had nothing to lose. Allah may even open a new door for me. Three weeks past and I hadn’t heard back, so I assumed I didn’t get shortlisted. A pessimist would say I shouldn’t have bothered applying for it as it would have saved me a lot of time and effort, but nothing is ever wasted if our intentions are right. Whether I get the job or not, I don’t regret applying for it. I wouldn’t want to look back and wonder whether I got the job ‘if only’ I had applied for it. Instead I did apply for it and I did get shortlisted and I had my interview yesterday! It was tough but I did my research and preparation beforehand and I tried my best. I performed an istikharah prayer and asked Allah to bless me with the job if it is good for me or remove it from me if it is not. All I have to do now is wait until next week to see if the job is written in my qadar. If it isn’t, then I will apply for another job and see which direction Allah takes me. At least my C.V. is up to date which will save me time on my next job application. I’ve also gained valuable interview experience so I know how to prepare for my next interview, if needed, in sha Allah. So, my actions were never in vain.
As a Muslim I am now more decisive, take responsibility for my actions and I face eventualities head on. The future may be uncertain but whatever the outcome, I know it is already written in qadar and I need to accept it willingly. After all, my true submission as a Muslim is to Allah’s Divine Will, before my own.
“But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
Surah al-Ihsan 76:30
About the author: Aliya Vaughan has been a Muslim for 24 years. She lives in the UK with her husband and children. She is a qualified life coach and author. She has recently published her award-winning children’s story ‘A Race to Prayer’ with Kube Publishing.