When life weighs us down with lemons, let us take our lead from the lessons of both the past and the future. By Afia R Fitriati.
Here’s reality number one: Living as a Muslim is not particularly easy in this day and age. As an ummah, we are faced with enormous modern-day struggles: eradicating poverty, doing what we can to support everyone’s right to an education, and dealing with atrocities committed supposedly in the name of Islam – just to name a few.
As if these problems weren’t gigantic enough to tackle, in our daily life we are also faced with personal challenges: raising a family, taking school exams, and bread-and-butter matters. At an even deeper personal level, we also want to make time for our religious obligations and spiritual fulfillment. The list is endless. All in all, it can feel as if life is pulling us in different directions at the same time.
But reality number two is that as difficult as it can be, this is the only life that we are blessed with. The question is, then: On those days when the burden of the world seems too much for us to bear, how do we keep on going?
Perhaps the following story will help to inspire us:
More than a millennium ago, there walked a man on this planet who experienced some of the most heartbreaking trials ever known to mankind – all in his one lifetime.
He had never seen his father because the man had passed away before he was born. His mother died when he was still a child. While he was growing up and learning to fend for himself in a harsh society, he lost his guardian grandfather. That’s not all. In the most trying time of his life, he lost both his beloved wife and dear uncle. Then another loved one passed away – his baby son, who died in his arms
The man was accused of being crazy. People would cover him in dirt and filth. He was wounded with a sword and stoned in battles. Even children would mock and jeer him. Long after he has passed away, slander continues to be committed against him.
In spite of all the grief and violence that he experienced, this man also made some unparalleled achievements in his lifetime.
Despite being brought up only as a shepherd, this illiterate man successfully managed a thriving business, educated society and touched the hearts of many. There were times when his body was shaken by sorrow, but those moments didn’t prevent him from being a loving husband and father, as well as a caring neighbor, till his last days.
I’m sure you know who this person was. The good news is that, despite our life challenges, each one of us can sculpt our own success story just as this man, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), did. We need not look further than the Manual of Life that he passed down to us to find the means and directions that will guide us safely through the minefield of life’s challenges.
Among other things, The Book names two lifelines that will help us in our moments of despair: patience and prayer.
O you who have believed, seek help
through patience and prayer. Indeed,
Allah is with the patient
The surah also states that no soul is given a trial that exceeds his or her capacity. Furthermore, in case we need more guarantees that He will look after us, Surah Ash-Sharh verse 6 promises that with every difficulty, there will be ease.
Both the Qur’an and the story of our Prophet (pbuh) encourage us to be positive Muslims, even in the face of problems. Not to falter in the face of adversity; to have faith that good things will come; to believe in the goodness of people.
From now on, when another stumbling block comes our way, instead of throwing our hands in the air and blurting “Oh, no!”, let’s try a fresh new route of optimism. Let’s go with shouting, “Yippie! I have only one problem right here!”
As the old saying goes: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (you’ll need about 8 lemons)
- 3–4 cups cold water
- Lots of ice
- Heat the 1 cup of water and dissolve the sugar in it to make a syrup
- Add the lemon juice to the syrup in a jug or pitcher
- Add the cold water and serve with lots of ice
This article originally appeared in the November 2012 Happy New You Issue of Aquila Style magazine