Amidst the complex tapestry of our lives, we often find ourselves confronted with moments of profound doubt, despair, and uncertainty, leaving us feeling hopeless, disheartened, and emotionally drained. It is during these vulnerable moments that we seek reassurance, comfort and solace over and above reasoning, from our trusted ones. And, while that may help bring temporary satisfaction and relief, there is no guarantee that such conditions will not resurface time and again.
Interestingly enough, for us Muslims, there is an alternative approach to seeking comfort that can be learned by reflecting upon the inner strength (or resilience) embodied in the characteristics of our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. And, it was this very approach, that he relied upon when overcome by trials, tribulations, and difficulties - be they of physical nature or emotional distress - throughout his life. When consumed by such, he strongly believed that one is only capable of encountering a wellspring of strength, solace, and guidance when they build a sincere connection with Allah the Almighty, the Al Mujeeb, or the most responsive One. It is only as we seek His Divine support that we equip ourselves to navigate life's intricate challenges with grace; through the understanding that struggles are not inherently bad, but in fact, needed for growth and development.
As mentioned in a hadith, our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Paradise is surrounded by adversity, and Hellfire is surrounded by lusts.”
Leaning onto this wisdom, Muslim parents should embrace the profound lessons found in the accounts from the Seerah or life of our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as a means to instill these remarkable traits into our future generations.
Key Events in the Life of our Prophet
To grasp the essence of knowledge in cultivating resilience while maintaining the beauty in our relationship with Allah, it is pertinent to highlight some of the unrelenting calamities and tests that our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, faced and more notably his response in such situations.
1. Observing Patience in the Face of Adversity
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, endured immense suffering throughout his life, from personal losses to persecution and opposition. His unmatched patience in the face of such adversities serves as a powerful example for us. It teaches us the benefits of remaining grounded and composed during challenging times as an understanding that patience allows us to maintain our inner strength and seek solace with our Creator.
The Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj or the miraculous night journey of ascension to the skies, took place when our beloved, peace and blessings be upon him, was going through intense emotional suffering and pain. He had just faced Aam al-Huzn or the Year of Sorrow, during which he lost his beloved wife Khadijah and his uncle Abu Talib, may Allah be pleased with them, within a span of 40 days. The extent to which grief overcame him was so much that a number of the Companions narrated:
“After the death of Khadijah, we did not see Allah's Messenger smile for months on end.”
This not only indicates the pivotal role of these key relations in his life - in terms of providing reassurance, comfort and support - but also demonstrates the humanity of our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. He was Allah's chosen one, yet his feelings were as vivid as ours, if not more.
Concurrently, while the trauma lingered for our most beloved, peace and blessings be upon him, things only seemed to continue to go against him. On one side it was the Quraish, who continued to mock and humiliate him, and simultaneously the burden intensified when our disheartened Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, encountered ridicule at the hands of the people of Ta'if. There, too, he was rejected and tortured. According to Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, he narrated that the incident at Ta'if was the most difficult day of his life - being more difficult than the Battle of Uhud, where he was an arrow away from death. This indicates the severity of emotional distress and validates emotional pain as potentially a bigger hardship than the ferocity of war, as even Allah's Messenger acknowledged it.
Having gone through so much grief and suffering, the Prophet Muhammad was given a truly beautiful and comforting gift. He was transported not only to the Sacred Sanctuary and through the skies, but ultimately into the Divine Presence, the source of all comfort and hope, which teaches us one of the most important lessons of Al-Isra’ wal-Mi’raj, and that is:
“... with every hardship [there will be] ease.”
(Surah Ash-Sharh, 94:5)
2. Trusting the Decree of Allah
Prophet Muhammad's, may peace and blessings be upon him, unwavering faith in Allah's plan and Divine wisdom exemplifies the importance of placing trust in the Almighty, regardless of the circumstances. Despite facing extreme trials, he relied on Allah's guidance and accepted that there was wisdom in every trial. This teaches us to trust in the Divine will of the One and Only and have faith that our struggles are part of a greater purpose.
Evidence of one such pertinent occasion was when our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, lost his third son, Ibrahim. While Ibrahim took his last few breaths, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, kissed him, smelled him, and began to cry. Watching the response of our beloved, a close-by companion ‘Abdurrahman ibn ‘Awf remarked:
“‘O Messenger of Allah, even you are weeping!” To this, the Prophet replied, ‘O Ibn ʿAwf, this is mercy.’ He continued to weep and said, ‘Indeed the eyes shed tears and the heart grieves, but we will not say except what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! We are grieved by your separation.’” (Al Bukhari)
From a worldly aspect, humanity is unified in the notion that losing a child is the worst calamity that can befall a person, yet we see how the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, expressed his sentiments in a humanly yet composed manner. In fact, this was not the first trial of its kind. During his lifetime, Allah's Noble Messenger buried 6 out of his 7 children, and that too after losing both of his parents at a very young age.
3. Showing Perseverance and Determination
We know that Prophet Muhammad’s, peace and blessings be upon him, mission to spread Islam was fraught with numerous hurdles and setbacks, yet he was consistent in displaying perseverance and determination. This unmatched display of inner strength imparts a valuable lesson for us as Muslims as it teaches us the importance of resilience and serves as a poignant reminder to stay committed to what is right and confront challenges with determination by seeking Allah's mercy.
The Battle of Badr, another pivotal moment in history, stands as a resounding testament, demanding our contemplation and introspection in this regard. It is known that when the stage was set for the battle, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, spent the entire night (preceding it) supplicating to Allah. He prolonged his prostrations and beseeched Allah, aware that the outcome would determine the fate of Islam on Earth. And again, at the precise moments before the clash commenced, he once again turned to Allah, arms outstretched entreating:
"O Allah, fulfill Your promise to me. O Allah, grant me what You have promised. If this group is destroyed, You will not be worshipped on Earth…."
His supplications persisted until his upper garment slipped off, prompting his closest companion Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, to intervene and reassure him of Allah's fulfillment of His promises.
The series of these events demonstrate combining unwavering reliance on Allah with courageous actions. Our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was neither afraid to lead his army from the forefront nor of providing a shield of protection for his companions. In fact, it is known that witnesses marveled at how the intensity of the battle did not deter him from seeking solace in prostration, and calling out unto His lord for Divine support until He decreed victory for the Muslims.
4. Actively Seek Support and Counsel from Allah
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, had a consistent two-step process when faced with hardships and difficulties. Firstly, he would turn to Allah in prayer, confiding in Him. Secondly, he would seek counsel from trusted confidants who shared his vision. The unchanging order of this process reveals that a person's immediate response to an event reflects their mindset and understanding. It is noteworthy that the Prophet always prioritized turning to his Creator (in prayer) before seeking guidance from His creation.
The overwhelming incident at Taif, demonstrates several essential aspects of Prophet Muhammad's, peace and blessings be upon him, characteristics and his response in extreme situations.
It is known that when the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, arrived at ʿAqabah and finally found some shade to rest under, he began making one of the most profound duas or supplications ever recorded. It is important to note that the dua mentioned is often quoted in books and articles discussing the incident at Taif and the Prophet's, peace and blessings be upon him, response to adversity. However, it is not directly sourced from a specific hadith or Quranic verse and instead is generally transmitted through the works of scholars and writers who have reflected on the life of the Prophet Muhammad and his teachings. It is scripted as below;
“O Allah, to You I complain of my weakness and my humiliation before men. You are the Most Merciful of all those who have mercy. You are the Lord of the humble, and You are my Lord. To whom do you entrust me? To a stranger who receives me with hostility (i.e., the Chieftains of Ṭā’if), or to a close relative (i.e., the Quraysh) You have given power over me? As long as You are not angry with me, I do not care, but Your protection is easier for me. I seek refuge in Your Face by which all darkness is illuminated, and from which all the affairs of this world and the Hereafter are rightly guided. May it never be that I incur Your wrath or be subject of Your anger. It is Your right to criticise until You are content, and there is no power nor strength except through You.”
This beautiful yet profound and emotional dua made by Allah's most beloved, peace and blessings be upon him, showcases his unparalleled level of humility. Additionally, it also teaches us how to converse with Allah and establishes the etiquette of complaining to Allah. And, in it, it is worth noting how it differs from complaining to others, i.e. humans.
The supplication seamlessly demonstrates how the Prophet surrendered himself to Allah, expressing that he had no one to turn to, except Him. He had no foreseeable options except his enemies, but then he stressed that as long as Allah is happy with him, he had no concerns. However, the Prophet then went on to mention that if Allah were to make it easier for him, he would prefer that. This clearly shows us that asking Allah for ease is permissible and that one should not seek hardship. Over and above all, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, shows us that his priority was whether Allah is pleased with him, and his concern was not that he was bloody and bruised, but whether or not Allah was angry with him.
To conclude, let us remember that Allah the Most Merciful mentions clearly in the Quran:
"And your Lord says, 'Call upon Me; I will respond to you.'"
(Surah Al-Ghaafir, 40:60)
This should leave us in no doubt that our prayers will be answered, by the One: Al-Aleem (The All-Knowing), and As-Samee (The All-Hearing). For He is the greatest disposer of our affairs and the only One we can truly rely upon. Bi'ithnillah, with Allah’s permission!
Umm Ahmed is an early childhood educator and mother of three boys. Always on the quest to learn, she is passionate about seeking knowledge and passing it on to others. A writer in the making, she draws inspiration through deep conversations, laws of nature, and her own children. She and her family are currently living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.