A Way Beyond the Rainbow

#16 - On Hardships, Trials and Tribulations (Part II)

July 24, 2020 Aadam Ali and Waheed Jensen Season 2 Episode 4
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#16 - On Hardships, Trials and Tribulations (Part II)
Episode Introduction
Returning to Allah SWT with Sincerity and Humility
On Patience and Forbearance, "Patient Forbearance"
Some Wisdoms Behind Trials and Tribulations
Wisdoms from the Story of Musa PBUH
Wisdoms from the Story of Maryam PBUH
"With Every Hardship Comes Ease"
Wisdoms from the Story of Asiyah PBUH
Ending Remarks
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#16 - On Hardships, Trials and Tribulations (Part II)
Jul 24, 2020 Season 2 Episode 4
Aadam Ali and Waheed Jensen

We continue with our three-episode series on hardships, trials and tribulations, and in this second part, we talk about how struggles bring about sincerity, humility and patient forbearance, as well as many rewards from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. We also explore the notion, "With every hardship comes ease", as we present glimpses from the lives of Moses, Maryam and Asiyah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all, and contextualize our struggle with SSA in relation to these profound themes.

How are trials and tribulations a sign of Allah's love, and how do they teach us patience, humility and sincerity? Does Allah give us painful trials that we cannot bear? And why is it that, when Asiyah the wife of Pharaoh was being brutally tortured by her husband, she began to smile? These and other questions are discussed in this episode.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We continue with our three-episode series on hardships, trials and tribulations, and in this second part, we talk about how struggles bring about sincerity, humility and patient forbearance, as well as many rewards from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. We also explore the notion, "With every hardship comes ease", as we present glimpses from the lives of Moses, Maryam and Asiyah, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all, and contextualize our struggle with SSA in relation to these profound themes.

How are trials and tribulations a sign of Allah's love, and how do they teach us patience, humility and sincerity? Does Allah give us painful trials that we cannot bear? And why is it that, when Asiyah the wife of Pharaoh was being brutally tortured by her husband, she began to smile? These and other questions are discussed in this episode.

Waheed  00:38
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu and welcome to a brand new episode of “A Way Beyond the Rainbow”, this podcast series dedicated to Muslims experiencing same-sex attractions who want to live a life true to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Islam. I'm your host, Waheed Jensen. Thank you so much for joining us again in today's episode. Today is a continuation of last week's episode when we started talking about hardships and trials and tribulations. As you remember, last week, we talked about the problem of evil and suffering - why do we suffer? Why are we tested and tried in this life? We spoke about the story of Musa (PBUH) and Al-Khidr in Surat Al-Kahf, and we talked about how that addresses the problem of evil, and how we look at things from a specific eye, but Allah has the full picture, and we never know the good in all of these trials and tribulations that come to us. And we also spoke about how there are lots of tragedies and calamities in life, and we are tested, and there are lots of ups and downs. And we spoke about the story of Ayyub (PBUH) and his wife, and everything that they have been through until Allah alleviated the hardships that they were tried with, and all of those relevant themes. In today's episode, inshaAllah, we will continue our discussion. We will be talking about patience and perseverance, and we will be talking about humility and lots of gifts that come to us with those hardships that we go through, inshaAllah. And we will be talking about the wisdom behind trials and tribulations, the concept that “with every hardship comes ease”. And again, joining me in today's episode is my dear friend Aadam as a co-host, and we will be picking up the discussion from where we left off last week inshaAllah.

Aadam  02:43
Looking at the higher wisdoms of trials and tribulations - so, some of the things that trials and tribulations do for us in our lives, some of the qualities that they force us to embody or develop, and, you know, what the benefits of those things are, and in particular, in the context of a trial, because those are, by their nature difficult and challenging, and sometimes you can't see the woods from the trees as they say in English, when you're in the midst of it. And so it's important to sometimes just reflect on what happens as a result of a trial and a test from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, because there's so many benefits inside of them. And it's important that we talk about them and have a conversation, so that when we are tested in the future, then we can, you know, remember and hope, and remember what the tests are there for, but also to look for the lessons in the test. You know, and I want to start with talking about the idea of returning to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala with sincerity and humility, because tests and trials absolutely do that. Although we see them as misfortunes, they are in fact a wakeup call: they humble us, they shake us, they are reminders of how small we are and how great Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is. And in the way that they awaken us from, you know, the distractions of the Dunya. So, any sort of, you know, heedlessness that we have, not paying attention to life, maybe we've wandered off the path, or maybe we're just, sometimes to no fault of our own, deceived by circumstances and situations and people. Trials and tests are the path back to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They are the path back to Him. And in His infinite wisdom, He knows when those are necessary. And hardships strip away the veil from our eyes and help us to try and see things as they are. They are reminders of where we are, what we are, and where we’re headed. And a quote that comes to mind from sister Yasmin Mogahed is, “It's never easy to stand when the storm hits. And that's exactly the point. By sending the wind, He brings us to our knees, the perfect position to pray”, subhanAllah. And you know, Allah knows us well. He knows us better than we know ourselves, better than our parents know us, better than any human being can possibly claim to know us. And we're constantly in a state of need. Allah mentions this in the Quran and He says “O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy” (35:15). Allah directly references the weakness of humans and says, “And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak” (4:28). Allah understands the nature human beings, and one thing we should also remember when we think about trials and tribulations is, generally speaking, we are quite hasty and impatient. Again, Allah says in Surat Al-Anbiya’, “Man was created of haste” (21:37). So we're always constantly looking for the quick fixes, short cuts, the easiest things - it's not necessarily a bad thing, well, not all the time, but sometimes it can be unconstructive. To put it mildly, to be unconstructive. And you know, when we're in trouble, we are pushed to seek Allah’s assistance and that's essentially the purpose and design of tests. Why else would we seek the shelter if it was always sunny and nice? And, you know, we only really seek shelter with Allah when the storm hits, so to speak, and Allah SUBHANAHU WA TA’ALA sends it, because He knows that, quite often, that's the only way He's going to ever have His servants, us, turn to Him. And so He makes that situation, He generates the situation so that we do turn to Him and so that He can offer us His forgiveness, His mercy, His assistance. Quite often, when we do seek His assistance and because of our inherent impatience, we seek it in what's near and what seems like is easy, so we seek it in the things that we can hear and touch, a lot of it in the physical world, we might ask friends, we might Google things - living in the age we do we, we might do a number of different things before we actually turn to Allah, so the idea of looking for shortcuts.

Waheed  07:48
So the things closest to us, right? We seek help through them.

Aadam  07:50
Yeah. Right. We seek help in the creation and including our own selves. And like you said, the things that are the closest. And isn't that exactly what the Dunya is, though? What seems near. The word “Dunya” itself means “that which is lower, and that which is closer”. The Dunya is what seems closest, but, more often than not, that's only an illusion and there is something that's even closer. And if we think for a moment about what's nearest to us, if we're asked this question, many of us would say it's the heart and the self that are the nearest, but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surat Qaf, “And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than [his] jugular vein” (50:16). And I remember reading this ayah in the Qur’an for the first time, and it just really bewildered me. I just wondered and pondered what that means, and how that could be understood. And I know there's many interpretations of that, scholars have interpreted it, but just for me, it fascinated me, this idea that the jugular vein is, you know, in our neck. I don't know of anything that I could say is closer to you than that body part. And Allah is essentially drawing this comparison to say, well that thing is so close to you, probably one of the closest things, essential for your very life and living. But I'm closer to you than that. So it really puts it into perspective. And in this verse, Allah begins by showing us that He knows our struggles. There's comfort in knowing that someone else sees the struggle. He knows what our own self, our own mind, our thoughts call us to. But He is still closer. And He's closer to us than our own self and what it calls us to, and of course is closer to us than our very own jugular vein. And why the jugular? What's so striking about this part of us is that the jugular vein is the most important vein that brings blood to the heart. If it's severed, we die - pretty much straightaway. And it's literally our lifeline. But Allah is even closer than that subhanahu wa ta’ala. He is closer to us than the very life that we perceive, our very own self, our nafs, He is closer to us than that. And He is closer than the most important pathway to the heart in the physical realm. That's something to really think about, subhanAllah. And another important aspect of trials is that we realize the power of Allah's Lordship over us, that Allah is the “Rabb” and that we are the “Marboob” (the servant), and the nature of Lordship is that Lordship lords over us. We realize our abject servanthood and our complete state of resignation and brokenness before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And again, He says, “Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, "Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return" (2:156). And you know, we say this when someone passes away, as a reminder that nothing is forever in this physical realm. And these people, they admit that in the Dominion of Allah, they belong to Him. 

Waheed  10:52
We say “inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un”, which is in Arabic, what we say when someone dies. And it is indeed what happens also when something bad happens to us or a calamity strikes us, we say “Indeed, we belong to Allah and indeed, to Him, we will return” because that's a reminder that everything is from Him, and we return to Him. So that puts things in perspective. 

Aadam  11:13
Yeah, definitely. I remember a friend of mine, and he said this at university, and I can’t remember what happened. But it seemed out of context, something bad had happened, basically. But it wasn't bad enough, because in my cultural upbringing, and you know, Islam, like I generally only ever heard that being said when someone passed away, And he said that for something bad that had happened. And it just seemed so strange to me. But as I grew in my, you know, understanding and knowledge and experience of Islam, it started to make sense, why we would say that, even when there is some type of difficulty or calamity that we experience. And you know, ultimately we realize that there are things that we can control, the things that are set within our will, and then there's things that happen beyond our control and our will. And the illusion is that we're free and can do whatever we want. But then the calamity comes, and that delusion is taken away. So sometimes, when we overstep the mark and believe that we have complete control over things - and this tends to happen when we're in ease or comfort for a consistent period of time without tests, you know, we get complacent and we think that, because everything in the material world seems well and good, then it must mean that Allah is pleased with us, and that's when we tend to slip up - but that’s when the test comes in, and the test is there to really sort of yank you and say, don't get carried away. And remember that Allah is there. And you know, Allah says in the Qur’an, “And He is the subjugator over His servants. And He is the Wise, the Acquainted [with all]” (6:18). So ultimately, He overpowers His servants and to Him belongs the ultimate, ultimate will. So this idea of complete servanthood, and no matter what we do or what we think we can do or what we achieve, Allah is The One who allows that to happen. And if He so wishes, He can take that away. And I think with what's happening in the world at the moment in terms of the coronavirus, that's an excellent manifestation of this very thing, because this is an invisible force that we can't touch or feel or see even, but it has literally stopped the entire Dunya. And without the will of Allah, that wouldn't have happened. And who would have thought that something so tiny, like physically tiny, invisible to human eyes, would do that? It's fascinating. So you know, the signs of His power are everywhere, subhan Allah. 

Waheed  13:58
From the smallest invisible creatures to the largest ones, we just keep being reminded of His power and His Lordship over us. And speaking of being tested, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surah al-A’raf “…And We tested them with good [times] and bad that perhaps they would return [to obedience]” (7:168). And because we have nowhere to turn in putting off or kind of defending against the calamities except to Him subhanahu wa ta’ala, right? So a person who is sincere is the one who calls to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala without any shirk and the one who realizes that that there is no place of refuge from Allah, except to Allah. Normally we run away from people, but the only way that you can run from Allah is towards Him. And that's one of the beautiful things which is a state - that particular state is when we return to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, when we turn to Him, particularly in the times of stress and calamities, that's a great gift from, Him because it kind of puts us in a state of ikhlas, complete sincerity. And one of the ‘ulama [scholars] said that one moment of ikhlas in this world is enough to save a person, just one moment of ikhlas. And that is a huge, huge gift if we think about it. And when we are in that state, we realize deep down, wholeheartedly, that there's no source to depend upon in the removal of that calamity except Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. No one is able to remove that harm, except for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. 
And Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surat Yunus, “It is He who enables you to travel on land and sea until, when you are in ships and they sail with them by a good wind and they rejoice therein” and so they’re rejoicing and happy when they sail, “there comes a storm wind and the waves come upon them from everywhere”, so that disaster is about to strike and that moments is like ‘we’re going to die right now!’ and in the verse Allah says, “the waves come upon them from everywhere and they assume that they are surrounded, supplicating Allah, sincere to Him in religion, "If You should save us from this, we will surely be among the thankful"” (10:22). Like, it's that moment of brokenness, “Allah we have no one but to You to help us through that”. And so, in that particular state, there is nothing but sincerity. So if we think about this in our daily life, like how many times did calamities afflict us, and it actually led us to that state? That state of brokenness in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, to that point of being stripped of everything, and just kneeling or standing or prostrating in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and just calling to Him, saying, “Ya Rabb! You are the only One who can help me with this”. That is absolute sincerity, right? So we return to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, we are fervent in the desire of our Lord as He says in Surat Ar-Rum, “And when adversity touches people, they call upon their Lord, turning in repentance to Him” (30:33). In another verse, in Surat Al-A’raf, He subhanahu wa ta’ala explains, “And We sent to no city a prophet [who was denied] except that We seized its people with poverty and hardship that they might humble themselves [to Allah]” (7:94).

So if we look at it, one of the major lessons in this is humility. We humble ourselves in front of our Lord, and this purifies the human soul, so much that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala comforts the believers in the Qur’an and assures them that any pain they encounter is intended to do what? To elevate them and to honor them. So, for example, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surat ‘Aal-Imran, “If a wound should touch you - there has already touched the [opposing] people a wound similar to it. And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people so that Allah may make evident those who believe and [may] take to Himself from among you martyrs - and Allah does not like the wrongdoers” (3:140).

It is that kind of a battle, we say, it's a battle to purify oneself and that is in its essence, that is the upward path Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. The path to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala is paved with a lot of sacrifices that we have to make. And it is paved also with the sweat of struggle. This whole life is made of lots of struggles along the way, and lots of ups and downs we go through. And this path that we take to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, He Himself describes it in Surat Al-Inshiqaq when He says, “Oh mankind! Verily you are ever toiling on towards your Lord – painfully toiling – but you shall meet Him” (84:6).
So He knows that we are toiling towards Him and it is painful, but it is all worth it at the end, inshaAllah, because He is the source of the ultimate reward, and we are doing all of this for His sake. And as we said, you know, one of the points is humility, purification of the human soul. So, trials that we go through, our trials, they lead us to a humble state before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and they also lead to prayers to calling on to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, as He says in Surat Yunus, “And when affliction touches man, he calls upon Us” (10:12). in Arabic, it's “دعانا”. So he makes du’aa to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And there is also a hadith that Allah afflicts people He loves just to hear them call upon Him, because He loves it when people call upon Him. So imagine that Allah loves us and He loves that we call upon Him. So sometimes when we've lost that contact, when we’ve become so busy, or we have been taken by the Dunya, so He kind of sends us signals just to remind us to call upon Him. I remember, Sh. Hamza Yusuf, in one of his lectures, he said, a typical example is when you go to a dentist, you have a cavity, or you have to take a tooth out, or there's going to be a painful procedure. You go to the dentist willingly knowing that it's going to be painful, but you know it's going to hurt you for a second or a little while, it hurts for a bit and you let the dentist do it. Because you know that it's for your benefit, right? There is pain, but then it's over. And that's it. The same with teeth being pulled out. Whatever there is, it's like pain that is temporary and it just disappears afterwards because you're over that. And if we compare this to our life, well, if this pain of 70 or 80 years, whatever Allah has decreed for us to live, when we compare that to infinity, then it gets cancelled out, because anything compared to infinity is just zero. So Sh. Hamza says, there's no reason to complain, just sit back and relax. Like when you swim. They always tell you when you start swimming, just sit back, relax, try to float. Whereas we're panicking at the beginning, like how the heck do you want me to relax? I mean, I'm going to drown. Or how do I do this? And then they just tell you relax, and they help you and then you float. And that's Dunya. We're in the ocean of Dunya. And all we have to do is just keep afloat. You see a lot of people drowning, right and left. They're in a state of panic. So Allah says in Surat al-Ma’arij, “Indeed, mankind was created anxious: When evil touches him, [he’s] impatient, And when good touches him, [he] withholds [it], Except those who observe prayer - who are constant in their prayer” (70:19-23). So this is the exception. If we want to belong to the people who can float, and who can just relax in the presence of their Lord, He subhanahu wa ta’ala specifies it. He says, “except the people of prayer”. They're exempted from that state, because the people of prayer are constant in their prayer, they constantly call out to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. They're in constant contact with Him. So what saves us is that trust that we put in Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Those people of prayer, may Allah make us among them inshaAllah, we call to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in supplication, and He removes what we call upon Him to remove: that calamity or that tribulation or whatever is causing us harm or pain, if He subhanahu wa ta’ala desires. And by the same token, tribulations prevent us from arrogance and evil and pride and from tyranny. That's the problem with delusion, because people who are deluded, they don't see their delusion, they cannot really understand that. Arrogant people are often oblivious to their own arrogance. They see themselves as better than other people. And that's where arrogance comes from. That's a state of delusion. And as we remember, you know, arrogance, which is the takkabur or istikbar, it's the emblematic trait of Satan. We know that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala describes Satan as “أبى واستكبر وكان من الكافرين” in Surat al-Baqarah, when Allah ordered him to prostrate “And [mention] when We said to the angels, "Prostrate before Adam"; so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He refused and was arrogant and became of the disbelievers” (2:34).

 And one thing that I want to mention before we end this section is, subhanAllah, how many of us, in particular, individuals who experience and struggle with same-sex attractions - I have heard this countless times, and I remember you and I, Aadam, have been talking about this and it's just, it's an overwhelming theme in our lives - how many of us have known Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala particularly because we have struggled with SSA. Like had it not been for our struggle with same-sex attractions, probably we would not have been as close to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as we are right now. This is just so fascinating that even though this is a huge trial, and we are not undermining it in any way, it has been a source of so many blessings, one of which is our relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, our state of brokenness and humility in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and our constant supplication and connection with Him.

Aadam  24:58
Yes, absolutely. That's my story pretty much summarized. I started to seek Allah because of SSA, and then it was many years actually, over a period of many years, that journey evolved and developed. And I got to know Allah in ways that I had not known Him before. Studying Islam gave me a lot of hope and patience and peace and sort of contentment with what felt like was the trajectory of my life. But to that point, absolutely. I probably would not be as close to Allah had it not been for SSA. Subhan Allah.

Waheed  25:52
Alhamdulilah, and my story is the same. I wouldn't have imagined I would be, alhamdulillah, I wouldn't have imagined this would happen had it not been for SSA. Obviously Allah is the All-Knowing, so we never know how things would have turned out, but it is a huge, huge blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala if we look at it that way, alhamdulilah. And for lots of brothers and sisters, the same thing. So this is one of the major blessings, alhamdulilah.

Aadam  26:27
It goes without saying that showing patience (sabr), is a huge blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Think about all the times in our lives where we were not patient in the face of a difficulty, like it just seems so impossible, Allah says in Surat Al-Baqarah, “Indeed, Allah is with those who patiently forbear” (2:153). I firmly believe that to be true, because those were times when historically I would not have been patient, but for whatever reason, you know, I don't know how, I don't understand why, I don't know, there was just calmness and tranquility and somehow the ability to not be worked up in the way that I'd been in the past. And waiting for that type of opening or relief from Allah is an act of worship. And I think, quite often, we might ask the question, “How long do we sit in that state?” And we need to understand that that's not patience. Patience and forbearance are based on having understanding that we can bear things but patience includes “ihtisab”, where we do something while anticipating a reward from our Lord. And we believe that there's a reward coming from Him when we are patient.

Waheed  27:47
Right? You bear something just for the sake of it. Sometimes you bear it and you are very sour or bitter about what you're bearing. But with patience, it's like no, not only do we bear it, but we actually anticipate a reward from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. We do it with a sense of calmness and with a sense of ridha (acceptance), and we realize that this is all for Him, from Him and for Him subhanahu wa ta’ala, right?

Aadam  28:14
Yeah, absolutely. We know there's purpose and patience. In other words, we understand that the circumstance of life is hard, it's difficult, but we are prepared to show patience, knowing that there's going to be some benefit for us. Maybe not in this life. But we absolutely know there's benefit for us in some shape or form. And like we said in last episode, you know, not even the prick of a thorn is inflicted upon on a believer except that it acts as an expiation for the person’s sins. So what would that be? How would we then quantify or how does Allah quantify the patience that we show with difficulties versus the prick of a thorn? It’s almost unimaginable depending on what the test is, subhan Allah. So the patience and forbearance, they bring the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and abundant reward from Him. And Allah loves the patient ones, those that persevere with forbearance. By manifesting this quality of sabr, patience, perseverance, forbearance, we incur His love and His good pleasure. And one thing I mentioned just not long ago, in regards to patience, people often think of it as a passive state, a state where we give in or give up and just don't bother doing anything. And, you know, we just sort of resign ourselves to fate and decide that, you know, well, it's too difficult, so we’re just going to sit down and be patient. That's not the correct approach or understanding of sabr. Sabr is actually an active act. Well, it's an act, first and foremost. By that understanding, there's an action involved, there's something that we do when we’re patient. And then, you know, even though the circumstance of that situation might not be desirable, we don't wrestle against the reality of it, we can't change a thing that is or that has already happened. But what we can do is we can absolutely use what is in our control and in our power to change things, to address things, to deal with things in a way that we still are able to. Still exercising our influence, and any control that Allah has given us in that situation. Sometimes when people say “Be patient”, it's often like, “Oh, just sit down and be quiet and just, you know, don't show any pain and don't do all of these things”, but it's very much not that. That's not patience. That's just something else that's been misunderstood as being patient. 

Waheed  30:59
So you actually make use of the resources that He has given you, and you go about living your life even though that you're going through particular issues. But you show patience by, first of all, knowing that you are bearing this for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala so you're getting rewards for it. But at the same time, anything that is within your own willpower, and within your own capacity, you do it to the best that you can, and Allah will take care of everything else. So it's being active and going out there and doing the best we can because there's a life that we need to live for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It's not just as you said, you know, not just sitting down there and bearing this, but actually doing something to kind of alleviate the trouble, to the best of our abilities, or to making a difference or to building ourselves up and to make a change in the world. 

Aadam  31:49
Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree with that understanding. That is what sabr is. And if you look at the life of the Prophet (ﷺ), like think about all of the trials that he went through; had he taken the approach of just resigning to his fate, accepting the circumstances that he found himself in, and he just accepted the abuse of his abusers, he wouldn't have been able to achieve what he did. So we have to really understand sabr sometimes, for many people who have a misunderstanding, in a new way and not treat it as weakness. It's not weakness, it's probably the ultimate strength. And in Surat Az-Zumar Allah says, “Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account” (39:10). The people that show patience, they're given rewards without any reckoning, there's no limits defined in this verse. And similarly, in a hadith, it says, “Whoever strives to be patient, Allah will give him patience. And no one is given a bigger or vaster gift than patience.” And you know, subhan Allah, you're on one hand being patient, but you're also, on the other hand, persevering.

Waheed  33:00
It's kind of a station that we strive for, right? You're not born patient, actually, this is something that you develop and enhance, and you ask Allah for patience and He gives you patience, right? So this is beautiful. 

Aadam  33:14
Yes, absolutely, exactly. That's so true, because we are not born perfect. We are people, we have our own personalities, strengths and weaknesses. And there's some things that will be easier for us to do than others. And that's OK. That’s not a problem. And no one was given a blessing better or greater than patience, you know, “patient forbearance” if we bring them together. This is probably a more accurate translation in English. So in one way, trials and tribulations teach us patience, they teach us to forbear and persevere, anticipating the rewards of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and not just bearing hardship for the sake of it, as we've discussed. And if we reflect on the experience that we have, as people who experience SSA, and how we learn patience, it's quite extraordinary, because the trial we have in many ways is unique. Because not everybody experiences this.

Waheed  34:15
There are so many things in this particular trial that teach us patience. So, first and foremost, we're patient with our lusts, right? We deal with our lusts, we try to channel them in good ways, not to kind of express them as they want to be expressed. Whether it's through our thoughts or through our gazes or through our actions, right? The way that we deal, for example, with people close to us and colleagues and friends, particularly individuals from the same sex, it comes with patience when someone is really good looking and you can't help yourself but stare or try to fantasize or whatever, there is patience in that. The way that we deal with others through haya’ and not being sexually expressive or you know, dropping hints and whatever. Controlling our desires, especially in this particular time and age where the modern day paradigm tells you, “Oh, live your life the way that you want, and love is love, and just express who you are, and don't deny yourself that”, versus the Islamic paradigm, which is “Okay, I am tested with this, I need to stay steadfast”. So this is a HUGE test in patience. But also reflecting on what you were saying, which is, when we are patient, we don't just sit still and be like, “Okay, I'm going to sweat this out, and I'm going to just be patient”, but there are also things that we can do. So for example, people who are part of support groups who voluntarily sign up to be part of a support group, for example, to deal with SSA, this is part of patience, because you're taking the initiative to do something. People who have developed addictions let’s say, and sign up for, let's say, therapy, or people who have mental health issues that come with their SSA, be it anxiety or depression or OCD or even suicidality and personality disorders, whatever there may be - signing up for therapy to be able to deal with that, this is a part and parcel of patience, because “I know that I have to deal with this, so let me see the tools that can help me deal with this in an effective way”. So again, seeking therapy, support groups, reading books, talking to friends, having decent discussions, online or in real life, face-to-face support groups, whatever that may be. This is all part of patience, because, deep down, we're doing all of this for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and Allah doesn't tell us, “Just be alone. Fly solo”, no, we're part of a community. Again, “It is You we worship” (Al-Fatiha) - We worship You collectively as a community. So we are tested with this particular struggle, and we are asked to be patient, but we are also asked to take the necessary means to live a life in its utmost sense, in its most perfect sense, in line with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Islam. So just to clarify things that patience also involves taking the means to deal with whatever we have in the best ways possible, right? 

Aadam  37:19
Yeah, absolutely. I agree with that. 100%. Honestly, like, I mean, I say this all the time: I do none of this for the fun of it. This is not, you know, dealing with SSA is not a fun activity, or, choosing to be steadfast to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and Islam. That's not a fun activity. I don't mean to say it's horrible all the time. But what I'm saying is that it's a challenge.
Waheed  37:43
It's not easy. It's very challenging.  

Aadam  37:19
It's challenging. And there's so much barakah in what we do, day in and day out, subhan Allah, and we should reflect on that and feel a sense of pride, not in the deviant way, but I mean, just in the sense we are accomplishing things, that we're doing things, that we're making progress, that we are striving for Allah, to Him and, you know, we're doing everything that we can. 

Waheed  38:12
Exactly. And again, we are forbearing before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala who has afflicted us. And we remember how Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala described Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) in Surat Hud, He said, “Indeed Abraham was forbearing, grieving and [frequently] returning [to Allah]” (11:75). So forbearance means we forbear before Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, we turn to Him. And again, there are differences in the rankings of forbearance, based on the differences of the calamities, in their enormities and in their severity, whether they are great or small. So if we have forbearance that we show in times of great calamities, this is greater than any other type of forbearance. That in and of itself again is a gift from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. So, everything that we do is all a gift from Him. And it's all through His tawfeeq and barakah. 

And it's not just forbearance, but actually forgiving people who have done us wrong, and this is a very, very important concept. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in Surat Ash-Shurah, He says, “But whoever pardons and makes reconciliation - his reward is [due] from Allah” (42:40). The rewards are from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. So, when we forgive people for great calamities that they have caused us, it is better than any other kind of forgiveness. And again, reflecting back on us, individuals who struggle with and experience SSA, we have been hurt so much by either people's words or people's looks, or we have experienced abuse or neglect. A lot of us struggle with forgiving our parents for what they have done to us growing up. We struggle with, for example, forgiving our siblings, or our relatives or our friends or colleagues or teachers or even strangers and people on social media. We have been through so much, be it like full-fledged abuse or neglect or words that really pierce through us, mistreatment, all kinds of things. And it's not easy. It is very painful. It is very painful. No one is denying that. But then again, when you think about this, this is beautiful. Forgiveness is not for their sake, but for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And actually, it helps you more than it helps anyone else, because when you forgive, it's like you're letting go of all of that baggage that you're holding on to. The more we delay that forgiveness, the more we hold on to the grudge and hold on to the pain, the more that pain festers. And we know this, we know this, because we have experienced that pain and we have been struggling to let go. But once we actually let go of that baggage and let go of that grudge or pain or whatever that is, it heals. It really heals. But the problem is, if we hold on to that pain for a very long time, it becomes more difficult as time goes on. Right? 

And then there's another element, which is the pride element that comes in. Ether the Shaytan or the Nafs (the self). We always hear those whisperings, “It's not your fault. It's their fault. Who do they think they are? They should be the ones who apologize, don't they know who you are?” etc. We shouldn't worry about who they think they are; we have to worry about who we think we are. And the problem with the world nowadays is “who we think we are”. We kind of think that we are better than other people. That's the problem with a lot of relationships and a lot of dealings between humans. “Doesn't he know who I am?” There's a lot of pride and arrogance that comes with it. Again, we go back to humility, we humble ourselves in front of our Lord. We're not saying that it's very easy to forgive, of course not. But again, we're doing this for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And we're actually benefiting ourselves because we're just letting go of all of that pain. So, asking forgiveness from people is a great blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Whether we have wronged them, and asking forgiveness from people that's one thing, but also forgiving people who have wronged us is also a huge thing and it's a great blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And we're doing this for Allah, it comes with tons of rewards, and we will end up the ones feeling relieved and healed, inshaAllah.

Aadam  43:03
Yeah, inshaAllah. There was something I wanted to throw into the mix, on the topic of conflict with people. One of the things I learned to do was, if I'm in conflict with somebody, or some kind of relational breakdown, I ask myself the question, and it's not easy question to ask – “What have I done or said to create the situation?” And if we honestly answer that, more often than not, we will be able to pinpoint things that we could have done that were better, that were more effective, that were more loving, that were damaging perhaps to the situation. And it goes back to this idea of - this might not necessarily be applicable in all situations, because every situation has its own unique qualities and context, and I'm thinking about fall outs that I've had with people, like friends, or that type of thing, and sometimes feeling really enraged in the moment by something that someone said, and it's not easy to do this - but it's worth asking this question of yourself, but also asking to try and think about the other person's perspective, like what could possibly have driven or motivated them to behave in the way that they did? And trying to, you know, make the excuse for that person. I don't mean to say we excuse bad behavior, but I'm just saying from the Islamic perspective, in our Deen, we are encouraged to do this, this idea of making excuses. Now I understand that in the context of trying to not narrow in on the reason that most people do, which is “Oh, they were just pure evil!” As we have a tendency to make a person wrong, because they inflicted pain on us. We justify this by saying, “The only reason they did that was because they are wrong, and because they wanted to harm me and that was their intention from the get go and I knew all along.” All these types of things that we say to ourselves. And with us trying to shift that thought process is a good place to start. And it might be hard to start with, but I guess the more we do it, the easier it becomes.

Waheed  45:23
Exactly. And again, nothing is made easy unless Allah makes it easy for us. So, again we go back to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and we ask for His help and His guidance and support, and inshaAllah things become easier, or He gives us the strength to deal with them in the best ways possible. 

And again, going back to the topic of calamities, I remember Yasmin Mogahed wrote something very beautiful at one point, and she said, “One can only imagine a few calamities that are more painful than the loss of a child.” They always tell us that this is one of the worst imaginable things that can happen to a parent, losing their child. “And yet even this loss could happen to save us and give us something greater. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If the child of a servant of Allah dies, Allah says to His angels, “Have you taken the child of my servant?” The angels reply “Yes.” Allah says to them, “Have you taken the fruit of his heart?” They reply, “Yes.” Then Allah says to them, “What did my servant say?” The angels reply, “He praised Allah said “To Allah do we return [Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un]”. Allah tells them, “Build a home for my servant in Paradise and call it baytul hamd - the house of praise”.
Subhan Allah. Nothing goes unrewarded. Allah knows everything and He has a reason for doing everything. And even one of the greatest pains to a human being, losing a child, with patience and forbearance and being with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, He takes care of everything and He rewards us immensely. “So when Allah takes something as beloved from us as a child, it may be that He, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has taken it in order to give us something greater. It's maybe because of that loss that we are admitted into Paradise, an eternal life with our child. And unlike our life here, it is an everlasting life where neither we nor our child will have any pain or fear or sickness. That's not to underestimate the pain of loss, particularly that of a child. But everything happens according to His wisdom, His decree and His qada’ and qadar”. And that is one of the beautiful excerpts from Yasmin Mogahed’s writings. 

So, hardships test us, but hardships could also be a blessing and a sign of Allah’s love. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whenever Allah wills good for a person, He subjects him to adversity”. So, calamities and tests and tribulations and disasters and everything that happens to us in this life, they have different benefits based on the different ranks of people. Their ranks in relation to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. In Surat al-Muddathir, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “And none knows the soldiers of your Lord except Him” (74:31). Soldiers of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. So, if we take the metaphor of soldiers in an army, there are different ranks of soldiers. There are officers and soldiers and higher ranks and so on and so forth. So it's like different ranks within an army, and even those belonging to different ranks, they wear uniforms to show their ranks, right? Whereas in Islam, one’s ranks are hidden. We don't know another person’s station with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, only Allah knows that. One of the ‘ulama said, “Allah hid three things in three things. He hid his contentment in his obedience, He hid his wrath in His disobedience. And he hid His ‘awliya’ [saints] amongst His servants”. 

So again, “He hid His contentment in His obedience”, which means, so you never know what Allah might accept from you. It may be not a big act of obedience, but a small thing. Remember the example of the prostitute who was forgiven for giving a dog some water, on a very hot day, right? The dog was thirsty and he was about to die, she felt sympathy for the dog, and she gave him water, and Allah forgave her completely because of that one act. And the other thing is, “He hid His wrath in disobedience”. Remember, in contrast, we had that example of a woman who went to Hell, just for locking up a cat and denying her food and water and attention. That in and of itself, that act itself is an indication of that woman’s state. She was a cruel woman. She didn't have any mercy in her heart. So that's just an example. One act of disobedience, but that is actually a reflection of a person’s state. And that leads to Allah’s wrath. 

And the third thing which is, “He hid is His ‘awliya’ amongst His servants”. You never know who are His ‘awliya’. They could be those who are not even believers yet. Remember when Umar ibn Al-Khattab was not a believer at the time, and he was worshipping idols in Mecca, yet he was beloved to Allah. So, you meet people who might be better than you. You never know their state with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And that's actually another invitation to never judge people, because you never know where they will be or where they are with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and things might turn and God knows where we will end up. 

One question that comes to mind at this point is, “How is SSA a trial and a sign of love from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, with all of the pain and the shame and all of the issues that come with it, and it just gets excruciating at times, how the heck is this a sign of the love of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?” So, we know that it is a severe hardship and in this particular day and age, right, with everything that's happening around the world. You have all of these progressive movements and pro-LGBT movements and “love is love” and “just live your lifestyle”, so we're kind of pulled in one direction. And you have another direction which is the Muslim community that doesn't understand us, our families, our friends who don't understand us and they label us. And we are tested with temptation, especially nowadays, you have sexuality bombarding us right and left. We are tested with our patience, we are tested with our own selves and our own issues, and we are tested with our communities. Again, lots of hate and prejudice and so on and so forth, and it just seems so much to bear. But then we remember the harder the trial, the more the love from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and the more the rewards. 

And actually, there is one beautiful verse in the Qur’an in Surat Al-Baqarah, it is part of a verse, “Allah does not charge a soul except with what it can bear” (2:286). And there is the obvious meaning to that verse, which is that Allah does not give us a test that we cannot bear. But another meaning that follows rationally from this is that He knows we can handle this, even though, to us, at specific times, it might seem unbearable, but He knows our capacity. And the fact that He has given me this test means that He knows that I can handle it, you know, and so this kind of gives us a sense of warmth and love and relief. And so, taken in line with the Islamic teachings, this means that Allah knows how painful this struggle is for me. He knows what I'm going through. But He also knows that I can handle all of this. Of all people across centuries and millennia, Allah has chosen specific people for this particular test. And indeed, life is nothing but a few years, and the True Life is the one of the Hereafter. So, no matter how agonizing the struggle may seem, there will be an end to that. There are immense rewards and unimaginable blessings, both in this life and in the Hereafter, inshaAllah, when we stay true to Allah’s decree, and to struggle for His sake. Again, the harder the struggle, the greater the rewards, inshaAllah. So, we keep moving, we keep going, we know that we are all in this together, and we know that above all, Allah is with us, inshaAllah.

Aadam  53:48
SubhanAllah. Yes. I am a firm believer that there is goodness around us all the time, even in the most difficult circumstances and situations. And a large part of my test has been to open my eyes to that truth, and to see beyond the pain and the suffering. And I've said this before, life is not perfect, but it is beautiful, and it's possible for it to be imperfect and beautiful at the same time. And learning to see that despite difficult circumstances is… It's an amazing feat. It's something that demonstrates a spiritual resilience that is very challenging and difficult to attain. And I want to say that, in our case, I'd argue even more so, because we, as people who are experiencing SSA, we are questioning the fundamentals quite often about who we are, and why we're here, because how we feel, the emotions that we feel, the way that we feel it, it's real, it's not fake. It’s hard and it's confusing at times. And it seems conflicting with what we know from the Deen. But it's also hard to see other people in the world, saying that you can live a life that is seemingly wonderful and great if you just embrace who you are without restriction, and just live your life as you feel it to be appropriate to live. But to go against that and to go against the grain, so to speak, that is spiritual resilience, subhan Allah.

And I feel like we, as a community of people who have or experience SSA, rather, we don't acknowledge that often enough. We are in situations where we have to hide almost constantly. I mean, for a large number of us, we have to hide almost constantly. It's not that everybody's doing that all the time. But, for many of us, we've experienced that at some point in our lives, where we felt like we couldn't be who we were, or show up as we wanted to show up in life. And that doesn't mean that we were trying to do anything that was haram, but just showing the totality of who we are. 

And that's a very difficult thing to do, Subhan Allah. And may Allah bless us all and give us the spiritual resilience to face these challenges, and may He make it easy for us as we evolve. And I mean, if my experience is anything to go by, it does get easier. It goes beyond becoming easier, actually. You can enjoy the best of life. You can enjoy the best of what life has to offer, you can really thrive and be fulfilled in whatever way that you choose for that to manifest - living a life that's true to Allah and Islam. And you know on this topic, it brings to mind the story of Musa (PBUH). And this is a Prophet whose name is mentioned the most frequently in the Qur’an, and he is the one to whom Allah spoke directly, the one to whom the Torah was revealed, the one who saw the greatest miracles of Allah, and the one about whom Allah says, “I created you for Myself” (20:41). Like wow! What a statement!

Waheed  57:53
Exactly! I love that verse, subhan Allah!

Aadam  57:55
What I statement! I read that in preparation for this episode, and when I read that, I just thought about - and it might be selfish, but I just thought about myself and I thought, “Oh my God, I love You!” Because, I mean, I'm not saying Allah is talking to me here, but I'm just saying that it affected me in that way. And if it's bringing me closer to Him, then absolutely that's a good thing! It's not something to shy away from. And you know Allah says also about Musa (PBUH), “I showered My love on you so that you may be reared under My Watchful Eye” (20:39). I feel like, for so many of us who have experienced SSA and continue to experience it, Allah is there. I don't know about everybody else, and I don't know about you, Waheed, but I've always felt like there was something more to my life than just… I don't know how to describe it, it’s this really ethereal feeling of: there's something more than and greater to be achieved, there's something higher at work here, or there's something blessed about what you might end up doing in your life. And, you know, I can’t give you evidence for that. I can just tell you how it felt. And, you know, having that despite all of the usual experiences of a person who has SS, subhan Allah. Allah’s Mercy is infinite and His love is indescribable, subhan Allah. Going back to Musa (PBUH), his life was filled with trials and tribulations. And a few words about his life and trials: so he was born to a persecuted minority, as we know, and his mother throws him in a basket to the river, as she fears for him being killed. And he was picked up by Asiyah (PBUH), a woman beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, married to the tyrant of the time Fir’aun (Pharaoh). And Allah returns him to his mother as he refuses to be breastfed by anyone other than her, subhan Allah. So despite the fact that he was separated from his mother, Allah wills that they would come back together, somehow and in some way. And it happens. And in Surat Al-Qasas Allah says, “And the heart of Moses' mother became empty [of all else]. She was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the believers. And she said to his sister, "Follow him"; so she watched him from a distance while they perceived not.And We had prevented from him [all] wet nurses before, so she [his sister] said [to Pharaoh and his family], "Shall I direct you to a household that will take care of him for you while being sincere to him [[i.e., in his upbringing]?" So We restored him to his mother that she might be content and not grieve and that she might know that the promise of Allah is true. But most of the people do not know” (28:10-13). SubhanAllah. 

Waheed  61:05
This actually is very heartwarming, like every time I read this verse, it just melts my heart. Look at this love that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala did not want to break his (Moses’s) mother’s heart, so He brought him (Moses) back to her, in the most unexpected way, subhan Allah.

Aadam  61:19
Yeah, absolutely, it is really beautiful. And Musa (PBUH) is raised in the household of the worst tyrant of all time, and he is shown the ways of men, becomes strong, wise and brilliant. And he was raised in a place where he could acquire knowledge, strength and wisdom, even at a tyrant’s house. So that's actually a blessing: Musa was raised to be a leader in what was the home of a tyrant. But despite that fact, there was still benefit in that for him, subhan Allah. And then, if we fast forward years later, he finds himself persecuted and driven out of his own town without any money, belongings or companions. And he finds his way to a town where he helps two women who were struggling to get their share of water. And then calls out to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in a moment of need, brokenness and sincerity. And again, in Surat Al-Qasas, Allah says, “So he [Moses] watered [their flocks] for them; then he went back to the shade and said, My Lord, indeed I am, of whatever good You would send down to me, in need" (28:24). And Allah sends him a Divine opening, he is taken in by the women's father, marries one of the daughters and then starts a new family and a new life. Subhan Allah.

Waheed  62:32
Yes, subhan Allah. So in a moment of need and brokenness, when he had nothing and no one, and he just called onto his Lord and Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala opened things up for him. So yeah, it just goes to show that He is with us, and even in our lowest, He just comes and saves us and He opens things for us. We just have to be patient and trust Him, subhanahu wa ta’ala.

Aadam  62:54
Yeah, absolutely. And again, we see this happening in in the life of Musa (PBUH) years later after this event. Called by His Lord by directly speaking to him, he’s sent back to Fir’aun and his own people, Bani Isra’il, the Jews. And we know the story ends with the splitting of the sea and the drowning of Fir’aun. And the moment when the Israelites were about to be overtaken by Pharaoh’s army, we see ultimate submission and trust on behalf of Musa (PBUH). And in Surat Ash-Shu’arah, we see or rather we read, that Allah says, “And when the two companies saw one another, the companions of Moses said, "Indeed, we are to be overtaken!" [Moses] said, "No! Indeed, my Lord is with me; He will guide me." Then We inspired to Moses, "Strike the sea with your staff," and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain. And We advanced thereto the pursuers. And We saved Moses and those with him, all together. Then We drowned the others” (26:61-66).

Waheed  63:59
It all goes back to trusting Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and just submitting to Him, and He takes care of everything. He always does, right? He always does. He always takes care of everything, alhamdulillah. And actually, another giant that is worth mentioning here is Maryam (PBUH). You know, the mother of Jesus/‘Isa (PBUH). You know, one of the amazing women in history and a woman revered in the Qur’an. And it's an amazing fact that Jesus (‘Isa) is referred to in the Qur’an always as “’Isa Ibn Maryam”, Jesus the son of Mary, right? It's not that Maryam is honored by being called the mother of Jesus, which is something that's never mentioned in the Qur’an, but rather it is Jesus who is honored by the mere fact that he is Maryam’s son. So look at the beauty and the honor that is involved, that is just the beauty of that Subhan Allah. So, Allah tells us in the Qur’an that Maryam’s mother had made a vow to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and this is in Surat ‘Aal-Imran, “[Mention, O Muhammad], when the wife of 'Imran said, "My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing." But when she delivered her, she said, "My Lord, I have delivered a female." And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, and the male is not like the female. “And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah]." So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, "O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?" She said, "It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account"” (3:35-37). Subhan Allah. 

Such a beautiful, beautiful story. He, subhanahu wa ta’ala, saw to it that she would conceive without any male interference. So, perhaps this was His way of showing us His special love for Maryam (PBUH). Her love and devotion is only for Him and no one else, like, can you imagine this beauty? It's like when Allah says to Musa, “I created you for Myself”, this is a special, special rank with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And this woman was so special to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that she had a baby without male interference. But again, we're talking about trials and tribulations. Maryam (PBUH), too, had her own share of those. Like imagine being that person who is known for her piety and chastity in the community, and lo and behold, she becomes pregnant. Like this is a huge deal. And so Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala mentions in Surat Maryam, He says, “And the pangs of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "Oh, I wish I had died before this and were in oblivion, forgotten"” (19:23). Just imagine the pain and the misery at that point, the physical pain as well as the emotional pain. And she was a very pious individual, and she loved Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, but she was in so much pain in that moment that she wished she had died. We are all human, right? And in that particular moment, what does God do? God in those moments is always with us, remember, He is always, always with us. So He says, “But he called her from below her, "Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented. And if you should see any human being, say, 'Indeed, I have made a vow of abstention to the Most Merciful, so I will not speak today to [any] man'" (19:24-26).

So Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim (The Entirely Merciful, The Always Merciful) had better plans for Maryam (PBUH). He gave her a son, Jesus (PBUH), a Prophet of his time, and he is the Messiah, who will lead the forces of good into victory in the later days. And He Almighty left her a praiseworthy mention for all subsequent generations until the Day of Judgment. She is mentioned in the Qur’an 50 times, far more than almost all of the Prophets. And there is a special Surah, Surat Maryam, named after her in the Qur’an. And so, again, power to the women. We're talking about Maryam (PBUH), and we were talking [last episode] about the wife of Prophet Ayyub (PBUH). Wonderful, wonderful women. And we will mention another wonderful woman in a little bit. So take us to that Mr. Aadam.

Aadam  69:04
“With every hardship comes ease”. And this is from Surat Al-Inshirah, where Allah says “And, behold, with every hardship comes ease. Verily, with every hardship comes ease!” (94:5–6). And some reflections on this verse: hardship and ease are always intertwined with one another. And if you notice in this verse of the Qur’an, the two are paired with one another, they're not separate. And you know, we quite often don't see this when we're going through the hardships and when things are really difficult and tough. But if we reflect upon this verse of the Qur’an, there's always some type of opening that we have overlooked or not seen or recognized in that moment.

Waheed  69:52
And just a thing which is: it's not that after hardship comes ease, but rather that WITH every hardship comes ease, because we think that “Okay, after this hardship there will come ease”, but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “WITH every hardship comes ease”. So they're both coming together at the same time. 

Aadam  70:08
Yeah, absolutely. Exactly. So they come with one another. They're not separate from one another. And if I think about a situation in my life, the first person I told about experiencing SSA with, I was a really bad place before I confided in them. Leading up to it was so painful. I was in the worst place that I'd been in for, I would argue, my whole life. And it was painful, and it was excruciating (that’s probably a good word for the moment of going through that crisis). So essentially, what happened was I was working with this friend and he asked if I was okay, just as a casual question to ask. And in the moment, because I had bottled up so much of what was happening, and all these emotions, I saw it as a moment of escape from that. So I then obviously proceeded to confide. But before I began confiding, I had an absolute breakdown. I was in tears. I was literally wailing. Not even joking. But it was not a good experience in that moment. And this person was wonderful. He was amazing. He was understanding, compassionate, loving, all the things that you could want from somebody in that moment. And what happened was that, even though there was pain, all of that stuff had to come out. There was too much built up over a long period to the extent that I couldn't even have pinpointed specifically what the issue was, which sounds crazy, but I'm sure others have experienced that as well. You just feel overwhelmed. And the idea of the ease coming with the hardship was, as I was going through this, the ease was arriving at the same time, because I was then feeling less stressed. I was beginning to feel the opening, and this new lease of life. And like, “Finally somebody I can tell!” Someone I could confide in, someone who could potentially help. And this didn't happen after, you know, a day or two days or three days. This was happening in the moment of the experience. So I've experienced it to be true, and it's difficult sometimes in those moments of hardship, but, you know, Allah is so merciful, and we can often feel the ease arrive, especially in some of the worst experiences that we have. And a story that comes to mind is that of an incredible woman who is revered in the Qur’an. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says in Surat Al-Tahrim, “And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, "My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people" (66:11). And we've mentioned the wife of Pharaoh earlier on, but for those who are not maybe that familiar with her, her name is Asiyah, and she's the wife of Fir’aun of Egypt, who is mentioned in the Qur’an, and is arguably the worst tyrant. She was undergoing the most severe torture any person could imagine. And before this episode, I actually wasn't aware of this part of her story. And Pharaoh, as we know, was the greatest tyrant to ever walk the Earth. He wasn't just someone who ruled over her, he was also her husband. So can you imagine the mixture of those two dynamics and relationships if you'd like? And in her final moments, Pharaoh is known to have brutally tortured her. But something surreal and strange happened. Asiyah smiled. She was going through one of the worst and most severe hardships that any human being could possibly experience. Yet she smiled. And the question that we have to ask is, how is that? How is it that she could be tortured and be smiling at the same time? This is so bizarre. 

Waheed  74:31
Yes, exactly. This is surreal to the point that, okay, it doesn't make sense at this point. She was really struggling and she was tortured, so brutally, but she was smiling. Subhan Allah. 

Aadam  74:44
Yeah, exactly. So how do these two states, how do we reconcile and make sense of this? Why do some people who have nothing find no reason to complain, while others who have everything find nothing but reasons to complain? And how is it that sometimes we have more patience with big challenges in life than we do with everyday small ones? And one thing that we realize is that a calamity of any type is not hard to bear, because of the actual difficulty and calamity itself. The measure of ease or difficulty in a hardship is on a different scale, on a metaphysical or unseen scale. And whatever I face or we face in life will be easy or difficult, not because it's easy or difficult in and of itself, but the ease or difficulty is based only on the level of Divine help. Nothing is easy unless Allah makes it easy for us, and nothing is hard unless Allah makes it hard for us. And there's so many references to this principle in the Qur’an, in specific situations but also generically like we are mentioning. So be it an illness, torture, death of a loved one, our experience of SSA, anything at all… He is the One who carries us through all of it and makes it easy. And one of the great scholars, Ibn Ata’illah As-Sakandari, said it beautifully, “Nothing is difficult if you seek it through your Lord, and nothing is easy if you seek it through yourself”. And Yasmin Mogahed has a great quote from her book, when she talks about the story of Asiyah, and she says, “Asiyah was being physically tortured, but Allah showed her a home in Jannah. So she smiled. Our physical eyes will not see Jannah in this life. But, if Allah wills, the vision of our heart can be shown the home with Him, so that every difficulty is made easy. And maybe we too can smile, even in those times”. Subhan Allah. It's amazing. It's this higher spiritual state that, you know, we all would love to attain. And one thing that we learn from it is that the problem is not the trial itself, the problem is not the hunger, or the cold, or the illness, or the death, or the temptations that we experience with SSA, the problem is whether we have the provision needed when those trials come. And if we do, all of the other issues just won't matter, they won’t hurt. And we know Allah sends the trials through which we might be purified, that we might be strengthened and that, when we return to Him, we return to Him in the best states. But know for sure that with hunger, thirst and cold, Allah sends the food, water and shelter that we need in order to deal with those adversities in life. And with temptation, he sends patience and reminders. Allah sends the test, but with it He can and does send the sabr (patience) and ridha (contentment) to withstand all of the difficulty. And when He sends hardship, He sends ease with it, as we already established and spoke about. And so, yes, Allah sent Adam down  And I'm down to this world where he would have to struggle and face trials, but he also promised His Divine help. And Allah tells us this in the Qur’an is Surat Taha, “[Allah] said, “Descend from Paradise – all, [your descendants] being enemies to one another. And if there should come to you guidance from Me – then whoever follows My guidance will neither go astray [in this world] nor suffer [in the Hereafter]” (20:123).

Waheed  78:24
Ameen, ameen. And we actually remember when the Prophet (PBUH) was at At-Ta’if, he was physically abused, and he was rejected, and people threw stones at him, and he was bleeding and he was covered with wounds, and he called out to his Lord in a beautiful, beautiful du’aa (supplication). He said, “O Allah! Unto You do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness, and of my lowliness before men. O most Merciful of the merciful. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. Into whose hands have You entrusted me? Unto some far off stranger who receives me with hostility? Or unto a foe whom You have empowered against me? I care not, so long as You are not angry with me. But Your favoring help, that were for me the broader way and the wider scope. I take refuge in the light of Your countenance whereby all darkness is illuminated and all things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest You cause Your anger to descend upon me or lest Your wrath beset me. Yet it is Yours to reproach until You are well pleased. There is no power and no might except through You”. Subhan Allah. What a beautiful, beautiful du’aa! 

Indeed, Allah does test those whom He loves, and He tests in proportion to the level of faith and the capacity of the one tested to bear the test, as we said, but so too does Allah send His Divine assistance, whereby any test can be made easy and any fire can be made cool. Remember in Surat Al-Anbiya’, “Allah said, "O fire, be coolness and safety upon Abraham" (21:69). So too can Allah send his Divine assistance whereby a single glimpse of His light and our ultimate home with Him can make us smile, even in the midst of the flames of trial. 

With this we have come to the end of today's episode. We hope that you have enjoyed it and benefited from it, inshaAllah. And in next week's episode, we will wrap up the discussion on hardships and trials and tribulations, inshaAllah. Aadam and I look forward to talking to you next Friday. As always, you can listen to us on awaybeyondtherainbow.buzzsprout.com, where you will also find all our transcripts, and you can listen to us also on your favorite podcast apps. Until next Friday, please stay safe and healthy and we look forward to talking to you, inshaAllah, next week. This has been “A Way Beyond the Rainbow” with Aadam Ali and Waheed Jensen, assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta’ala wabarakatuh.

Episode Introduction
Returning to Allah SWT with Sincerity and Humility
On Patience and Forbearance, "Patient Forbearance"
Some Wisdoms Behind Trials and Tribulations
Wisdoms from the Story of Musa PBUH
Wisdoms from the Story of Maryam PBUH
"With Every Hardship Comes Ease"
Wisdoms from the Story of Asiyah PBUH
Ending Remarks