May Allah guide me…
Trials, failure, forgiveness…this sometimes epitomizes the life of my teenage son and many others naturally. The world seems vastly challenging for him right now and much so in the past too. Often feeling grieved by his shortcomings at school, especially when it comes to post examination and reports. Recently, however he comes to me and says that he is a disappointment. Turned to him, understanding his frustration, I respond, “We are proud of the man you are. You are not a disappointment, the disappointment is in applying no effort, and understand that what you do from this point onwards is what defines you as a man. This is what you should know and remember, you are a Muslim man, a servant of Allāh. We are bound by the duty to do the best we can for the sake of Allāh. Pursuing knowledge and working hard at academics has to be driven by the intention to serve Allāh. And that, makes the difference. Academics is vital, and in its pursuit we have to do our best, this defines us as human beings and Muslims. We have to be the best version of ourselves at all times. All knowledge is sacred, as its derivative is Allāh. The application of this knowledge is what bounds us to either heaven or hell. It is with effort and striving towards goodness that we will achieve success”, walking away, head down and solemn, he understands.
Perhaps, my response might seem a little insensitive to some, but standing in front of him in that moment, I too needed to remember that I am raising a man, not a boy… However, like many discussions I have had with him before, I do rethink my responses and whether I have said the right thing or whether I should have shared some more but this particular conversation leads my thoughts to the trials of Prophet Muhammadﷺ and the challenges he faced.
The Prophet Muhammadﷺ was the best of Allāh’s creation, and he faced substantial adversities, not just from strangers, but within in his own family as well as his tribe. I thought about the torment the early Muslims faced and how it pales in comparison to what we consider hardship today. At least here in Cape Town, we have the freedom to be and practice Islam without being condemned. But, I also thought of the Muslims’ ultimate victory – the conquest of Makkah. On this day, the Prophet Muhammad entered this city riding a camel with his head down in prostration. Referring to this moment, Allāh revealed in Surah An-Nasr:
“When the victory of Allāh has come and the conquest, and you see the people entering into the religion of Allāh in multitudes, then exalt [Him] with praise of your Lord and ask forgiveness of Him. Indeed, He is ever Accepting of repentance”
The ultimate mission of the Prophetﷺ was to propagate Islam and gain victory over Makkah. He was a prophet and of the most beloved of all Allāh’s creation, but that moment that proved to be a turning point in history, was not just handed over to him. Before that very event he suffered immense trials, and it was after many years that he finally entered Makkah as a victor. And even upon this victorious and pivotal moment, Allāh commanded him to praise Allāh and ask for forgiveness.
We grieve when afflicted with loss, pain and sorrow and we turn to Allāh for forgiveness, but how often do we ask for forgiveness, even in gaining successes. We are surrounded by temptations consistently, the ability to fall into sin has become effortless, yet when we attain those victories, how often do we seek forgiveness. While we do our best to serve Him, there might have been those slightest moments when we think, “I did it!” and we are in an absolute state of euphoria of accomplishment. Yes, you did it, you made the effort, but also note, we are not, were not, and will never be in control. It is and always will be Allāh that is in control. It is this truth that compels us to kneel and implore forgiveness, because very often in our pursuits this slips our minds. Surah An-Nasr is a reminder of this, that no victory was and will be gained without His consent and will.
And in loss, understand that the purpose of our lives is to serve Allāh and strive to attain Jannah, and even with this being our priority, we want to attain success in this world. While there is nothing wrong with this, we need to bear in mind that with all worldly pursuits, we should remember our duty as Muslims first and our ultimate goal and purpose is to serve Allāh and with regard to our worldly pursuit, trust in Allāh and know that with perseverance, we will gain victory through His guidance and His permission, as long as it is in obedience to Him.
So, even in those victorious moments, seek forgiveness, because sometimes our hearts do forget.
Praise Him, thank Him, ask forgiveness.
In every moment, whenever the opportunity arises, repeat astaghfirullāh (I seek forgiveness from Allāh).
So, this lesson is what I push my son to follow. Learn for the sake of Allāh, pray for the sake of Allāh, and when you fail or even more so when you gain victory, praise Him and implore forgiveness and trust that He knows best.