How to Overcome Difficulties in Life

In the winter of January 2020, a gas heater caused a house to set on fire. The intensity of the fire was such that the bridal dowry of two sisters had been reduced to ashes. The cash that had been kept at home had also been burnt. In an attempt to save her disabled father, one sister’s face had burnt. Afterwards, the father stated that the wedding of one of his daughters was scheduled to take place in one and a half months’ time, and that he had saved very small amounts for a long time for the bridal dowry of his daughters. He did not know what would happen now. (Samaa News website, 9th January 2020)

Dear readers of the monthly Faizan-e-Madinah magazine, may the Lord keep us under His protection. In any case, as humans, we face times of ease and difficulty. Sometimes, financial prosperity, a pleasant atmosphere in the home, good health, accomplishment of ambitions, obedient children and other forms of happiness, enter one’s life. Conversely, sometimes, matters completely change in a way whereby issues such as financial difficulties, domestic discord, failure in examinations, work-related problems, illness, enmity within the family, false legal cases pursued against you and business-complications cause one’s life to be overtaken by bad days and be in ruin.

Three Types of People

We are different in our approach to dealing with times of difficulty. One group of people are those who do not get worried during the times of difficulty. They do not become nervous, but rather, they control their nerves with courage and bravery and overcome the difficulty.

The second group of people are those who get worried during the times of difficulty. They become afraid thinking of what will transpire. In this manner, such people create further problems for themselves. The nature of some of these people is like the rabbit in the jungle who began shouting out, ‘The sky has fallen! The sky has fallen!’ When the other animals looked up and saw that the sky was in its place, they asked the rabbit, ‘Where has the sky fallen?’ In response, the rabbit replied, ‘I was stood under a jujube tree, and that is where the sky fell onto my head.’ Upon investigation, the animals ascertained that a jujube had fallen from the tree and onto the rabbit’s head, and in his state of senselessness; the rabbit thought that it was the sky.

As for the third group of people, they are those who become frightened and lose courage. They may end up experiencing medical issues, such as a heart attack or high blood pressure. Some may even despair and commit suicide, an act that is forbidden and leads to Hell.

Two Types of Difficulties

Difficulties are also of two types

The first type is where there is a solution or alternative, for example, falling into mud, puncturing a bike tyre, losing a job, etc. The second type is where there is no solution or alternative: For example, the demise of someone from the household, such as a son, daughter or spouse; the ruining of crops; and goods being washed away by a flood. Action is required in order to address the first type, whereas a positive mindset is required to overcome the second type.

11 Ways of Handling Challenging Times

Dear devotees of the Prophet, there is no denying of the fact that only the one who is afflicted with a difficulty can truly understand it and not somebody else. But it is equally a fact that for as long as we are alive, we will have to continuously face problems. For this reason, 11 tips are being presented which will assist in dealing with problems:

1. Self-Control

Whenever we are faced with a problem, we react in two ways: Positively and negatively. A negative mindset afflicts us with great danger, worry, anxiety and anger. On the other hand, a positive mindset paves the way for tolerance, courage and a way out of the problem. Therefore, do not become a victim of anxiety or allow a negative mindset to overcome you. Someone has quite rightly stated that worrying during difficult times is the actual difficulty. We can reduce the difficulty of a situation by 50% by enhancing our self-control.

2. Remember Allah Almighty

 It is certain that the tranquillity of the heart is in the remembrance of Allah Almighty. Whenever trapped in a difficulty, remember your creator, Lord and nourisher of the universe, and your heart will find solace. If possible, recite,

اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَ اِنَّاۤ اِلَیْهِ رٰجِعُوْنَ

‘We belong to Allah and only to Him we are to return.’

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 156)

Mentioning the virtue of doing so, the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated, ‘Whoever recites اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَ اِنَّاۤ اِلَیْهِ رٰجِعُوْنَ at the time of difficulty, Allah Almighty will remove his difficulty, produce a positive outcome and grant a replacement with which he is pleased.’ (Mu’jam-ul-Kabeer, vol. 12, p. 197, Hadees 13027)

3. Some Difficulties are Imminent

Acknowledge that some sort of problems will always appear in a believer’s life. Our beloved and mighty Lord has said,

وَ لَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَیْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَ الْجُوْ عِ وَ نَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْاَمْوَالِ وَ الْاَنْفُسِ وَ الثَّمَرٰتِؕ-وَ بَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِیْنَۙ(۱۵۵)

And We will definitely test you with some fear and hunger, and with some deficiency of wealth, lives and fruits. And give glad tidings to those who are patient.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 155)

4. The Events of Destiny will Occur

The difficulty or calamity which has been written to occur will occur. By adopting this mindset, our belief in destiny will strengthen, as will the concept that this difficulty has come from my Creator, and He is the one who will remove it. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated, ‘A person cannot be a believer until he believes in destiny, its good and its bad, and until he believes that whatever calamity is to befall him will not avert him, and whatever is to avert him will not befall him.’ (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 57, Hadees 2151)

5. Not delving into what could have happened and what should have happened

Some people delve into what could have happened and what should have happened. For instance, someone may start thinking, ‘Only if I had sold my goods at such and such time, I would have gained a lot of profit; however, I made a mistake in selling it now so I had to incur loss.’ Someone else may say, ‘Had I not bought my son a bike, he would not have had an accident.’ Another may claim, ‘If we had taken the patient to such and such hospital, he would have remained alive.’ Uttering such sentences increases the feeling of one’s problem and adds to the grief. Discouraging this style of approach, our Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated: ‘If some difficulty befalls you, then do not say, ‘If I had done that, then such and such would have happened.’ Instead, you should say, ‘‘قَدَرُ الـلّٰـهِ ، وَمَا شَاءَ فَعَلَ’’ (Allah Almighty had ordained matters this way and He did whatever He wanted). For indeed, the word ‘if’ initiates the actions of Satan.’ (Muslim, p. 1098, Hadees 6774)

6. A greater calamity may have been averted

At the time of experiencing a calamity, one should also have the mindset that being afflicted by a lesser difficulty has perhaps averted a greater difficulty. For example, if your car’s tyre gets punctured while travelling, think to yourself that perhaps your car was going to be destroyed in an accident, and by having to deal with a punctured tyre instead, you experienced a relatively minor problem that averted the major calamity of having an accident.

Parable: Someone saw a wound on the foot of Sayyiduna Muhammad Bin Waasi’ رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه and claimed, ‘I feel pity for you because of this wound.’ He replied by saying, ‘I have been thanking Allah Almighty since I have had this wound that it has not appeared in my eye.’ (Ihya-ul-‘Uloom, vol. 5, p. 66)

7. One day, the difficulty will end

Being a Muslim, we should firmly believe that just as life in this world is temporary and short, so too are the problems and difficulties that befall us; if not today, they will end tomorrow. If you wish to see the proof for this, then look into your past and recall the significant troubles that occurred and alleviated after some time.

8. Taking responsibility

Instead of blaming someone else for the difficulties you are facing, make it your mindset to attribute sins as the cause for your difficulties and turn towards repenting with sincerity. It is stated in the glorious Quran:

وَ مَاۤ اَصَابَكُمْ مِّنْ مُّصِیْبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ اَیْدِیْكُمْ وَ یَعْفُوْا عَنْ كَثِیْرٍؕ(۳۰)

And whatever calamity befell you; that is because of what your hands have earned, and He pardons much.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (Translation of Quran)] (Part 25, Surah Al-Shoora, Verse 30)

9. Diverting your attention away from difficulties

When we ponder over something for too long, our heart and mind are overcome with it. Therefore, if you continue to ponder over your difficulties and worries thinking, ‘Oh I am misery incarnate, and problems have found their way to the door of my house’, then you will add to your mental strain. It is for this reason that our focus should be shifted towards something else. The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم  stated, ‘‘مَن کَثَرَ ھَمُّہ، سَقَمَ بَدَنُہ The one whose anxieties increase, his body becomes unwell.’ (Shu’ab-ul-Iman, vol. 6, p. 342, Hadees 8439)

10. Increase your morale

Adopt a mindset to advance towards the solution of problems; stimulate enthusiasm. To achieve this, glance at the biographies of noble religious personalities and how they had to face major difficulties in their lives, such as the following:

   *Sayyiduna Ibrahim عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was caused great problems by Namrood, the tyrant king. He even attempted to burn Sayyiduna Ibraheem عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام in fire.

   *Sayyiduna Ayyub عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was afflicted by a lengthy illness that tested his patience.

   *Sayyiduna Yaqoob عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام had to endure separation from his beloved son, Sayyiduna Yusuf عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام, for a very long time.

   *Sayyiduna Yusuf عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was wrongfully imprisoned.

   *Sayyiduna Yunus عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام remained inside the stomach of the whale.

   *Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام faced an unjust and tyrant king like Fir’awn who left no stone unturned in making his life difficult.

   *Sayyiduna Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, our beloved master, also experienced numerous difficulties caused by the non-believers.

However, these fine personalities epitomised patience and courage in tackling the difficulties that befell them.

11. Practical steps in tackling problems

Begin by making Du’a to your Lord. Next, seek advice from those who are experienced and well versed, and advance towards solving the difficulties.

Uth Baandh kamar kaya darta hay

Phir daykh Khuda kya karta hay

Stimulate enthusiasm! What are you afraid of?

Then see what you Lord destines for you

May Allah Almighty grant us protection from the difficulties of this world and the hereafter.

اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

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