A Way Beyond the Rainbow

#17 - On Hardships, Trials and Tribulations (Part III)

July 31, 2020 Aadam Ali and Waheed Jensen Season 2 Episode 5
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#17 - On Hardships, Trials and Tribulations (Part III)
Episode Introduction
On Purification
Rewards, Self-Improvement, Gratitude and Contentment
Synthesis of All Themes - The Story of Yusuf (PBUH)
Ending Remarks
A Way Beyond the Rainbow
#17 - On Hardships, Trials and Tribulations (Part III)
Jul 31, 2020 Season 2 Episode 5
Aadam Ali and Waheed Jensen

In our third and last part of the three-episode series on hardships, trials and tribulations, we talk about how trials and hardships purify us, the rewards hidden in them and how challenges in life lead to self-improvement and the development of gratitude and contentment. We end this series of episodes by synthesizing all themes discussed and reflecting on the story of Prophet Yusuf/Joseph (PBUH).

How does pain purify us and bring us back to Allah? What is the difference between bearing things, being patient and being content and happy with tribulations? And how is the story of Yusuf (PBUH) a beacon of light for people struggling with SSA? These and other questions are discussed in this episode.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In our third and last part of the three-episode series on hardships, trials and tribulations, we talk about how trials and hardships purify us, the rewards hidden in them and how challenges in life lead to self-improvement and the development of gratitude and contentment. We end this series of episodes by synthesizing all themes discussed and reflecting on the story of Prophet Yusuf/Joseph (PBUH).

How does pain purify us and bring us back to Allah? What is the difference between bearing things, being patient and being content and happy with tribulations? And how is the story of Yusuf (PBUH) a beacon of light for people struggling with SSA? These and other questions are discussed in this episode.

Waheed  00:00
Assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta'ala wa barakauh, 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 me in a brand new episode. And again, joining me today is my dear friend Aadam as a co-host in this episode, and this episode is the third and last episode in our series talking about hardships and trials and tribulations. As you recall, in the last two episodes, we spoke about the problem of evil and suffering, we touched upon the story of Musa (PBUH) and Al-Khidr, we talked about the idea that tragedies and calamities, they affect all of us, and we spoke about the story of Ayyub (PBUH) and his wife, the concept that everything in life is a test, and Allah tests us in accordance with what we can bear. We talked about how trials and tribulations help us cultivate sincerity and humility, as well as patience and forbearance, or the term "patient forbearance". In addition to that, we spoke about the idea that tests and tribulations are a sign of Allah's love. And again, Allah tries people according to their capacities. We talked about the stories of Musa (PBUH) and Mariam (PBUH) the mother of Jesus (PBUH). And we spoke about the concept that with every hardship comes ease, and we finished last week's episode by talking about the story of Asiyah, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of Fir'aun. In today's episode, we're going to be touching upon the notions of purification, gratitude and contentment, and we will synthesize all of the concepts that we have presented in the last two episodes, as well as this episode, and talk about the story of Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) with everything that he had been through. So let's get started, inshaAllah.

Aadam  02:50
I think a good place to start is with the words of Mawlana Rumi, whom I have so much love and admiration for. He's known in the whole world, arguably he's the most famous poet to have ever lived, because the West has accepted him in ways that is, I guess not seen or unprecedented for someone who comes from, you know, the East. So, you know, people be quoting Rumi on social media all the time and they don't know who he is. And it's really funny though, because I sometimes think to myself, like, "Do you know who he is? Do you really know what he was about?" But you know, subhan Allah, that shows you the  blessings Allah gave him, because he's known and recognized amongst all of humanity, not just the Muslim community. In his words, he says, "When someone beats a rug with a stick, he is not beating the rug – his aim is to get rid of the dust. Your inward is full of dust from the veil of ‘I’-ness, and that dust will not leave all at once. With every cruelty and every blow, it departs little by little from the heart’s face, sometimes in sleep and sometimes in wakefulness". Such a beautiful metaphor for purification. And you know, people sometimes struggle as we've been discussing, about how can an adversity possibly be good? And, you know, many of us don't recognize that hardship is, in fact, a purifier, which brings us back to Allah like we already have discussed. What happens to the arrogant who are suddenly put in a situation they cannot control? What happens to a man who finds himself stranded in the ocean in the middle of a storm? What happens when the ship that is "unsinkable" becomes the tale of the Titanic, so to speak? 

Waheed  04:49
Right, exactly. 

Aadam  04:51
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that". Subhan Allah. I kind of paraphrased this earlier, this is just an amazing hadith, and it shows, like I said before, the trial of we as people who experience SSA and everything that comes with that, what would that weight be in the eyes of Allah? And obviously, He is the only one who can answer that question. But if you look at these comparisons or this list of things that act as an expiation for our sins, then subhan Allah, I have good hope and expectation in Allah's mercy that what we experience would be a significant part of that purifying process. Pain and adversity serve many purposes in life. Times of hardship can act as both, an indication as well as a cure for our broken relationship with Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And like we already said, so many of us turned and  Islam because of our experiences. You know, and again, like, sometimes we're lost in the Dunya and we give in to temptation and we lose track and we lose our path. And we're sort of wandering around blindly, subhan Allah. And, again, like I mentioned before, for me, the turning back was the crisis moment I've referred to, many of which I have had in my life. But what I would say is the original or the first one was in my teenage years. And that was the part where I made the du'aa to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, where I reached out in the most imperfect way, I should say: I didn't know anything about the etiquette of du'aa, I didn't know about sending salawat and salam upon the Prophet (PBUH), I didn't know about praising Allah. I didn't know any of it. Despite that, Allah listened and He answered, because I wouldn't be here if he hadn't, subhan Allah. Allah says in Surat Ash-shura, “And whatever strikes you of disaster - it is for what your hands have earned; but He pardons much” (42:30). And, see, what I've noticed in this verse of the Qur'an is that Allah is, on one hand, saying that if there's some type of disaster or situation in your life, for the most part, there's something that we've done that has influenced that, which goes back to that question I posed earlier, which was, "What have I done to create the situation?" But He follows it by saying "He pardons much". There's always a way out. There's always a "get out of jail" free card with Allah. The door is never completely closed. TImes of difficulty test our faith, our fortitude and our strength, and during these times, the level of our iman becomes manifest. Again, Allah says in the Qur'an, “Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tested? But We have certainly tested those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars” (29:2-3). So again, we have spoken at length about the purpose of trials and tests, and this is one element or aspect that we haven't spoken about - the veracity of our iman, like we say, "We believe", but, you know, when push comes to shove, as they say, how much is that belief showing up in our lives? And, you know, how do we behave? How do we react? And you know, sometimes we don't get it right, I know I haven't, certainly, I still don't, sometimes, but -

Waheed  05:19
We all don't. We all go through ups and downs, we all mess up, but we learn in the process, alhamdulillah.

Aadam  08:48
Yeah, we all do that. But the point is that, at the end of the day, at some point or the other, do you find your way back? You know, that door is always open, Allah's mercy is there to be embraced and accepted into our lives.

Waheed  09:16
Let's talk a little bit about the rewards that come with trials and tribulations, and how they lead to self-improvement and the development of gratitude and contentment. So Allah has prepared a lot of blessings and rewards in the Akhirah, based on our ranks in relation to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And this is also a blessing that He has prepared rewards for calamities that we bear with contentment. You know, as we said, there's a difference between bearing things just for the sake of it, and then being patient and knowing that we are bearing this for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and there are rewards that come with it, and then bearing it with contentment and being happy with it, because we know the wisdom behind all of this. So based on our different ranks when we deal with all of these calamities, and to what extent we are close to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, as we go through that, there are different rewards that come with this. And then, people who were content, this is a higher rank in Paradise than people who were patient. So there's a maqam [station] that is called the maqam of ridha, which is being content, and that is higher than the maqam of sabr [patience]. And so the maqam of sabr is when we are patient, you know, we bear things for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and we anticipate rewards. The maqam of ridha is a higher maqam than that - being content, not just being patient, but actually being content, being happy with the calamity. Imagine this! This is a whole different dimension: being happy with the fact that I am going through trials and tribulations, I'm not just patient (patience by this point is a given, right? I'm already patient but I'm happy), I'm so thrilled that I'm going through this, because I know that I am not only getting rewards for this inshaAllah, but I'm close to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, Allah loves me, I love Allah. It's like being content, just swimming in the ocean of love of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, if that makes sense. So again, the lowest station is bearing things, you know, we bear things, we might be bitter, we might be bitchy, we might be complaining all the time, but we bear it, you know, whatever, we just get through it. And then we are patient, which is a higher station, and then a station higher than that is the station or the maqam of ridha: I am content. I am happy. I am thrilled that this is happening. And then again, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says, “perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah puts therein much good” (4:19). So, in other words, there are lots of blessings that are hidden inside the folds of calamities that strike us. There's always benefits hidden in what we think are troubles. I mean, with time, just like we said, patience comes with practice and it comes with asking Allah to develop patience, and again, contentment, and realizing those blessings with time, you know, this takes practice and patience for us to get to that point. But if we enter into this state, with our experience of the world, and when things happen to us, we accept them and we are content with them, we will always find and see those benefits in those calamities. We know hundred percent that Allah will have those blessings for us. Just like there's an Arabic quote that says "في كل تأخيرة خِيرة" which means that "in every delay, there is a good thing", a discrete instance of khayr [good], and in another wording "في كل تأخيرة خِيَرة", which means that "in every delay, there's God's choice in it", a choice from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. So we realize that it's all from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and there's always good that comes from that. And in addition to all of this, tribulations give us the blessing of having true knowledge of the extent of well-being, right? We always hear that we won't appreciate well-being until we are sick. We won't appreciate having money until we are denied money. We won't appreciate having a specific thing until we're actually denied of having that thing. They always tell us, "It's better to appreciate it when you actually have it". And there's an Arabic proverb that goes like: "Health is like a crown on the heads of the ones blessed with health, something that is only seen by the ones afflicted with sickness". And so, when we are tried with trials and tribulations and hardships, we really end up appreciating well-being, rest, peace, and so on and so forth. These things resonate differently with us, and we learn to develop gratitude for the things that we have. And even as we're going through the calamities themselves, we tend to develop gratitude as we go through them. And again, going back to the state of humility in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. 

Aadam  14:32
Yeah. I just wanted to say something about appreciation and gratitude for the thing that we have and when it's not there, we miss it and long for it. I bear testimony to that, because I spent a long time depressed, anxious, worried... Oh my Gosh! Like in the most awful places that one person could be in terms of their mental health. And as I developed and grew out of that and continue to do that, I swear to you, if the only thing Allah was to grant me in life was just peace of mind and contentment, like just having peace of mind, being able to appreciate the small things in life, I would be happy. I remember being on holiday - I was on holiday, people! - but I was depressed, I was so depressed. And I was in a great city, it was a great place, and I couldn't enjoy it. Honestly, I could not enjoy it. I was constantly  anxious. I was constantly depressed. I barely spoke throughout the entire trip. I was with my family, I was with my brother and sister. And it was awful, subhan Allah. And I look back on that trip, I remember that time and the awfulness of it all. Regardless of the fact that I was out of my normal surroundings and situation, like that followed me wherever I went, and it was inescapable, subhan Allah. But I really, honestly and truly, I don't take that for granted anymore. And I don't think that I would have had that approach or appreciation for that, had I not been through that situation. Again, that literally is everything that we've talked about, in terms of the wisdom of all these trials, that when we come on the other side of it - there's some people that have stories I've heard, and they've been through such awful things, but there is a light that emanates from them that is indescribable. It's just, it draws you in. And I look at that and, you know, Waheed and I have spoken about this, I just want to be able to be that for other people in some way, because they are just so content, and it's like, the words and the wisdom they have for others is just light upon light, and the world just doesn't affect them anymore in the same way, because they've just excelled and sort of have gone past that. But that was never possible had they been living in comfort their whole lives. The best people are the ones who go through the worst things, subhan Allah. And, you know, we're going through really tough experiences as people who experience SSA, subhan Allah. So yeah, I wanted to share that, because I find it beneficial to hear from other people's experiences and bring some of this to life. So I just wanted to share it with my brothers and sisters who are listening.

Waheed  18:01
Thank you for sharing that. And actually going back to the idea that the nature of blessings is that we don't realize the extent of those blessings until we actually lose them, and it goes back to how Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala describes man as "ظلوم كفار" - oppressive to himself and constantly denying the blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. So it actually helps with reflecting on other blessings in our life that we experience. And then also, one thing that trials and tribulations help us develop in addition to everything that we have said so far is compassion towards people who are in tribulation, and not just compassion, but to actually help other people who are going through tough times. And this is something that we have experienced, subhan Allah, particularly when it comes to SSA, we know what pain feels like, we know when you are left alone. We know loneliness, we know depression, we know anxiety, we know fatigue, we know marginalization, we know all sorts of troubles, we know pain, we know suffocation, we know darkness, we know all of these things. So when other people go through them, we feel compassion towards them, and we want to help them. A hadith that comes to mind is, it was reported on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (PBUH) said: Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, Allah will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Resurrection. And whoever alleviates the need of a needy person, Allah will alleviate his needs in this world and the Hereafter. Whoever shields [or hides the misdeeds of] a Muslim, Allah will shield him in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah will aid His slave so long as he aids his brother… So there are tons of blessings in actually helping others going through tough times. This is a huge, huge blessing. And actually, one of the things that Sh. Hamza Yusuf said at some point: "There are two conditions that people have: one where you have well-being and 'afiyah in yourself and your family, but you get the problems of other people. And the other condition is when you have those particular problems". So that's the nature of the world, "ليبلوكم" - "that He (subhanahu wa ta'ala) might test you", either in ourselves or others. And what we do is we respond appropriately. That's why the tribulations of others are actually a blessing, because if they come to us for help, it's an opportunity to earn the closeness to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And that's one thing to think about, am I going through tests and troubles? That might be the case. Or I might be actually getting the troubles of other people who are coming to me for help, and that's a beautiful, beautiful blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. When should we be afraid? When we have been living in a state of tranquility and ease for a very long period of time, that's when we should start asking ourselves questions, "Okay, what is going on? Something is not right!" Jesus (PBUH) was reported to have said, "People are of two types: people of tribulation and people of well-being, so have compassion for the people of tribulation and show gratitude for well being". So if we are in good shape, we shouldn't complain. If we keep complaining, Allah would give us things to complain about. Let us be content with what we have, let us develop gratitude. Otherwise, we will start to reminisce and think about how good things were. "Man! We used to complain about that? What were we thinking?!" It's all too familiar. We complain a lot, as human beings, we love to complain. So let's kind of reduce that as much as we can, as it could really get worse. Let's show compassion to people who are going through tribulation. One thing, instead of complaining, I can say, "I've been there. I know what it is like". Let's show some compassion towards each other because we definitely need that. 

Aadam  22:20
Yeah, ameen, subhan Allah. It is so true. And if we bring everything together, the ideal state is where we are content with what happens in our lives, and it's no longer painful. Actually, this brings to mind a story of a woman, one of the pious predecessors (salihat), she stumbled and hurt her leg and she started to laugh. And normally people don't do that, some people might curse, some people might yell in pain or scream or something. I mean, normally people don't react like that. Someone thought she was crazy, and asked her why she was laughing when she'd actually got hurt, and she said, "I fell, and when the pain came, I remembered the Prophet's hadith, "A believer does not get a thorn in his foot except that it removes wrongs", and the sweetness of my wrongs being removed overwhelmed the pain". Subhan Allah.

Waheed  22:22
That's the maqam that we were talking about, the maqam of ridha/contentment, like she's content and so happy to the point that she's laughing with this calamity or pain. 

Aadam  23:38
Mm hmm. Yeah. And Sh. Hamza Yusuf calls this spiritual endorphins kicking in. Subhan Allah. And, yeah, that's the state that we strive for and that our entire life is spent in trying to achieve, and to be happy and glad about what's happening because of those benefits. If we look at the stories of the Salaf [pious predecessors], they used to be happy, or used to be as happy during calamities and tribulations as we are during times of abundance, you know, they were happy with it, not because the calamity was happening, but rather because of the rewards and the fruits that came with those trials. So they understood the benefit of trial. And just as someone who has great disease and illness who drinks the bitter cure, so whatever medicine that might be that removes the disease, happiness is because he's thinking of the benefit that comes with that bitter remedy and not the bitterness itself. Subhan Allah. I actually remember the scholars teaching us that the Sahabah [companions of the Prophet (PBUH)] would become really worried if they were not experiencing a trial, because they would then think that Allah was not pleased with them, because they perceived the trials, and obviously the Prophet (PBUH) had nurtured them and taught them that the trial was an indication that Allah loved them, and they would be worried if they were not experiencing that. Of course their station is a different one, but it just puts it into context for us. We're experiencing trials as people who are experiencing SSA on an almost day-by-day basis with just basic things in life that most others don't have to think about. And you know, that, by this understanding, is the constant reminder that Allah loves you. Like, that's the logical deduction, that you know, every time you feel that burn or that desire or you see something or someone that is tempting, or someone says something that's hurtful, or whatever it might be, you know, that's the sign of Allah's love, subhan Allah. So we know that, like I said, the Salaf were grateful for those trials, because of the benefits that were within them. And as another example, if you think about someone who's sick and requires an amputation of a limb, although that act itself, outwardly, it seems harmful, there's a real benefit, because without that amputation, the disease would have spread into other parts of the body and possibly have been fatal. So, you know, the doctors involved in that are ultimately benefiting the patient, subhan Allah. So in the same way, people who have tribulations from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala know that Allah only does these things to benefit them and help them grow and thrive in their lives. So it's contentment/ridha. You know, tribulations afflict the good and the evil amongst us, the good and the bad, and so whoever doesn't like it, that's on them, it's an undeniable, inescapable fact of life that we will be tested in some shape, manner or form. And the Prophet (PBUH) says, “Indeed greater reward comes with greater trial. And indeed, when Allah loves a people He subjects them to trials, so whoever is content, then for him is pleasure, and whoever is discontent, then for him is wrath”. Subhan Allah. So as we've said, whoever is pleased with it, he's pleased as he knows that Jannah (Paradise/Heaven) is better than anything that the Dunya has to offer. And if those tribulations are what it takes to get that person there, then, you know, they're content with it. They're content with the will of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And, you know, we could probably talk about this for much longer, subhan Allah, and we probably couldn't enumerate all of the blessings. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala make us amongst the Shakireen, the people who do Shukr (who are grateful) to Him for all of the blessings that He has bestowed upon us.

Waheed  27:54
Ameen. One very nice saying by Sh. Hamza Yusuf, he said something like, whining and complaining is the maqam of the Tifl (the little kid) and Rujula is maturity. Rijal isn't just restricted to males. I mean, in the general sense in Arabic, Rijal is men, but in this particular context, Rijal isn't restricted to males, but it's actually males or females who have reached a mature maqam. So it's a maqam of maturity, Rujula is maturity. Whereas the Tifl keeps on whining and complaining. Maturity is understanding the wisdoms behind this, being patient and forbearing, and being content with what we have and striving for our Lord. So may Allah make us all mature, may Allah make us develop this Rujula, inshaAllah. Ameen ya Rabb. Let us try and synthesize all of the themes that we have presented so far, when we talked about trials and tribulations and hardships. Everything that we have covered so far is included in the beautiful, beautiful story of Sayyiduna Yusuf (PBUH), Prophet Joseph. Let us reflect on those themes together as we go through his story. And this is all in Surat Yusuf in the Qur'an, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala describes to us in detail the story of Yusuf/Joseph (PBUH). As we know, he is the great grandson of Ibrahim (PBUH), God named entire Surah after Yusuf (PBUH) and He called it the "best of the stories" (12:3). He tells us that "Certainly were there in Joseph and his brothers signs for those who ask" (12:7). Now, who are those who ask? We are. We are the ones asking, we are the ones wanting to learn. And this is the most detailed and fascinating story in the Qur'an. It involves human weaknesses, such as jealousy and hatred and pride and passion and deception, intrigue and cruelty and terror, as well as beautiful and noble qualities like patience and loyalty and bravery and nobility and compassion. There's also trust and submission to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and the huge topic of chastity when confronted with temptation, as we know. So the story of Yusuf (PBUH) moves in a stream from the beginning until the end of the Surah, the substance and the form are equally coherent. It's a beautiful, beautiful Surah. It inspires us with a feeling for the depth of Allah's power and His supremacy and the execution of His ruling, despite human scheming and intervention. Allah says in the Surah, "And Allah is predominant over His affair, but most of the people do not know" (12:21). So let us summarize the story together. As we know in his early life, Yusuf (PBUH)'s brothers plotted to kill him out of jealousy. They eventually threw him into a well, then Allah revealed to Yusuf that he was safe and should not fear, for he would meet them again some day to remind them of what they had done. And recall the theme "with hardship comes ease", this was the beginning of his hardship, he was thrown into a well, they plotted to kill him. And with that particular hardship comes ease, Allah immediately interferes, He soothes Yousef, and He tells him, do not fear, you will meet them again to remind them of what they had done, which eventually happens at the end. And so, his brothers go back to their father Yaqoob/Jacob (PBUH) and they break the lie that a wolf had eaten Joseph. Deep down in his heart, Yaqoob knew that his beloved son was still alive and that his other sons were lying, but the father was brokenhearted, and he burst into tears. The boys brought upon Yusuf's shirt false blood, they faked the blood just to tell their father that a wolf had eaten him. And so Yaqoob said, "Rather, your souls have enticed you to something, so patience is most fitting [beautiful forbearance]. And Allah is the One sought for help against that which you describe" (12:18). So the father acted wisely by praying mightily for patience, which is free of doubt, and by trusting in Allah for help against what his own children had plotted against him and his own son. So again, we go back to the idea of trusting and submitting to the will of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. It doesn't mean we don't feel pain. He was brokenhearted. He was crying. But he turned to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and he said "Allah is the One sought for help against that which you describe".

Aadam  33:06
Yeah, absolutely. And the story continues with a caravan of merchants on their way to Egypt - one man among them lowers his bucket into the well and finds Joseph. His companions rushed to the well and helped him pull out the stranger, Yusuf (PBUH), holding onto the rope. Standing before them was a healthy, handsome young man, subhan Allah, beaming with an angelic smile. They saw in him a big prize, for money was all that they cared about. Immediately, they clapped iron shackles on his feet and took him along to Egypt, far away from his homeland where has was born, bred and brought up. All over the Egyptian city, the news spread that an unusually handsome, robust young slave was up for sale. People gathered by the hundreds at the slave market. The auctioneer had a field day as the bidding for Joseph went wild, each buyer trying to outbid the other. Eventually, the Aziz, the chief minister of Egypt, outbid all the others and took Joseph back to his mansion. Imagine being sold as a slave, as a young man. Not long ago were you living your life normally, probably had your own hopes, aspirations and vision for your future, and then you find yourself being sold as a slave. Subhan Allah. It is unfathomable to me and to most people, I don't know what that experience is like. It's something that the majority of people now will never experience. Subhan Allah. And so, he is faced with an uncertain future. Everything is dark and mysterious, but Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala reveals the substance of this long story from its beginning. In Surat Yusuf, Allah says, "And Allah is predominant over His affair, but most of the people do not know" (12:21). And so Allah is, you know, basically saying, don't worry, I've got your back, let this play out type of thing. You know, okay, it seems like it's not going away, but just wait. And by God, that promise really comes to fruition at the end of this story for those of us who know it. And so, everything that we've touched upon so far, you know, the idea that life is full of tests, that the tests, trials and tribulations are a sign of Allah's love and care. And if you remember the story of Al-Khidr, like you know, we shouldn't judge from the outside, and we should be sincere and turn back to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala with humility and patience, and that the tests and the trials in and of themselves are purification for us that help build strength and resilience and help us become calmer, kinder individuals - like all of these things, subhan Allah, are in this segment of the story of Yusuf (PBUH). So if we continue on the story, the chains of slavery have closed in on Joseph. He was cast into the well, deprived of his father, pulled out of the well, taken as a slave, sold at a market, and made the property of this man, the Aziz, the chief minister. The hazards followed in quick succession, leaving Joseph completely helpless. What we see as hazards and slander is the first step of the ladder on Joseph's way to the great station that Allah gives him. Allah is decisive in His action. His plan is carried out regardless of the plans of others and while theirs are still being made. They plot plots, but Allah's plot is the Ultimate Plot. Subhan Allah. And we see this in so many of the other stories of the prophets. So Allah frustrates their plan, and His promise is realized. Allah has promised Joseph prophethood. Love for Joseph was thrust into the heart of the man who bought him, and he was a man of no mean position. He was an important person, one of the ruling class of Egypt, essentially. So even despite the situation of being purchased by somebody to be a slave, Allah puts love in this person's heart, which could not have been predicted. Again, judging on the outside, we would have been like, "Oh, well, he's a goner!" But, lo and behold, Allah does what He does. Allah is the Owner of our hearts. And therefore, Yusuf (PBUH) was pleasantly surprised, as you would expect, when the chief minister of Egypt ordered his men to remove the heavy shackles from his feet. And he was also surprised when he told Yusuf not to betray his trust. And Yusuf (PBUH) smiled at his benefactor, thanked him and promised to be loyal. So Yusuf (PBUH) felt at ease, for at last he was sheltered, and he would be cared for well, you know, having gone through everything that he'd gone through up to this point. And he, as you would expect, thanked Allah over and wondered at the mystery of life, how did I end up here? And not so long ago, he'd been cast into a deep dark well with no hope of ever coming alive. And next, he's rescued, then enslaved in iron shackles, and now he's moving freely in a luxurious mansion, with enough food and all the other luxuries that come with it to enjoy. This reinforces the trust in Allah, knowing that, again, despite what the circumstances might be showing you as evidence for your situation, we are in the eyes of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala at all times and he's got our back. Always. And as we continue on with the story, we discover that Yusuf was made the personal attendant of the chief minister's wife, and as you expect from Yusuf (PBUH), he was obedient and attentive. And with his immaculate manners and his charming behavior, he won everybody's heart. His handsomeness became the talk of the town, and people referred to him as the most attractive man that they'd ever seen. And not once did he show any type of conceit at those types of comments. He was always humble and polite and showing humility at all times, not allowing the praise of people to inflate his ego, subhan Allah. And, of course, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala was facilitating that for him and giving him that humility and protecting him from arrogance or any pride. And as the days passed, Yusuf (PBUH) grew up, and Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says, "And when Joseph reached maturity, We gave him judgment and knowledge. And thus We reward the doers of good" (12:22).

Waheed  40:14
And, subhan Allah, when you talked about being humble, something else that we need to remember is when Allah opens the doors for us, like he was finally rescued, and he was given this beautiful chance, he didn't lose his humility and be like, "Okay, yeah, now I'm okay, I'm saved", he didn't develop pride, on the contrary, despite everything, he remained humble. So that's a wonderful lesson to actually learn at this point. But then, lo and behold, he was soon confronted with his second trial. Again, you know, the whole theme of life being all about ups and downs. So we go through our ups, and then we have the downs, and then we go up again, and now we go through another trial which is temptation in this case, the very famous story. The chief minister's wife could not resist this handsome boy, and her obsession with him caused her sleepless nights. She fell in love with him, and it was so painful for her to be so close to a man yet to be unable to hold him. This particular part of the story is relevant to us, men and women with SSA, particularly in this time and age where we are surrounded with temptation on a constant basis, even at the touch of a button. And this story is a beautiful reminder of protecting ourselves against temptation. It's about chastity, it's about going back to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala in those very, very hard moments, when we are tested with our desires. So, the Qur’an raises the curtain on the scene of this fierce and devouring love on the part of the lady. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says, "And she, in whose house he was, sought to seduce him. She closed the doors and said, "Come, you." He said, "[I seek] the refuge of Allah. Indeed, he is my master, who has made good my residence. Indeed, wrongdoers will not succeed" - master is in reference to her husband who gave him residence and treated him well. He wouldn’t betray his master. So these are great qualities: loyalty, integrity, maintaining the trust that he was assigned by that man. So in the Qur'an, Allah says, "And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her had he not seen the proof of his Lord. And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants" (12:23-24). The safest commentary for us is that there is temptation and resistance in the verse, Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala said, "And she certainly determined [to seduce] him, and he would have inclined to her..." (12:24). Temptation and resistance, meaning that she had tried to seduce him; had he not seen a sign from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, he would have given in (to her seduction). "And thus [it was] that We should avert from him evil and immorality. Indeed, he was of Our chosen servants" (12:24). So it's important here to note that, again, Prophet Yusuf (PBUH) is human at the end of the day, and like everyone else, he has needs and can fall prey to temptation. And this is a great, great reminder to us on our journey dealing with same-sex attractions. When we are confronted with a moment of severe temptation, in the case of Yusuf (PBUH), he was alone at a house, the other party that was seducing him was powerful, and the setting itself was ideal for something to happen, right? In that particular case, what did he do? He chose Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. That is very difficult. Who did he choose? Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. The easiest option, the most tempting option was to jump right in. But what did he do? He chose Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. He let go of everything for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And this is painful as hell, we know this, it is painful. But at the end of the day, what is worth it? Or rather, Who is worth it? Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is worth it. 

Aadam  44:24
Yup. And so, if we fast forward a little bit in this story, we know that this incident generates a lot of gossip in the town, and in reaction to what happened, the chief minister's wife sets up a banquet for the women of the town. And Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala relates the scene of the banquet in His own words, and He says in the Qur'an, “So when she heard of their scheming, she sent for them and prepared for them a banquet and gave each one of them a knife and said [to Joseph], "Come out before them." And when they saw him, they greatly admired him and cut their hands and said, "Perfect is Allah ! This is not a man; this is none but a noble angel." She said, "That is the one about whom you blamed me. And I certainly sought to seduce him, but he firmly refused; and if he will not do what I order him, he will surely be imprisoned and will be of those debased." He said, "My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. And if You do not avert from me their plan, I might incline toward them and [thus] be of the ignorant." So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing” (12:31-34). Subhan Allah. And I think what is really striking about this is that Yusuf (PBUH) even admits that he might be tempted. His humanity. really comes through here. And, you know, he's really seeking assistance from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to protect him from doing something that would displease Him. And I think that we should remember that in our day-to-day and our lives, that we are human beings, and we are imperfect, and we are not the prophets, right? We're not the prophets. And that regardless of whatever happens, the door of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is always open. He is always there, and we should get back up and move forward, regardless of whatever happens in our lives and not get stuck in the pain of a mistake, because Allah's forgiveness is just unfathomable. Subhan Allah. Sometimes, I really do ponder upon that. I say this because I hear from a lot of brothers and sisters who express a lot of despair at some mistakes that they've made. And unfortunately, they find themselves almost stuck inside of that guilt and shame of that mistake or that incident, and it starts to really take over their lives. And, you know, mistakes, absolutely we should feel remorse for them, but we should not let them become the thing that prevents us from progressing - ultimately, that's the way of Shaytan, he wants us to remain in that dispairing state. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala allow us and help us in the moments when we've made a mistake to get back up and to move forward and make amends and make tawbah [repentance] and just move on in our lives and do good works. But going back to the story, he seeks refuge in Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, he chooses a path that keeps him safe and in the company of his Lord, and even if that meant priso, subhan Allah. If we just take that in for a minute - if some of us were in his shoes, would we have necessarily made those same choices? Patience and perseverance and forbearance and steadfastness. We all have fears. But when we keep Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala front and center, nothing else matters at the end of it. We should always, always hold firm to that, even when everything else seems like it doesn't make sense.

Waheed  48:33
And even he was going to be sent to prison for something that he didn't do. But then he's like, "Okay, if this is gonna be the option to protect me, then I'm okay with it". So, subhan Allah, he chose Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala regardless of whatever happens to him, and everything else doesn't matter.

Aadam  48:51
Yeah, absolutely. And this is a phenomenal story, because the culmination of everything at the end is like, you couldn't even make it up! Subhan Allah. You know, the promise of Allah is true. And if we continue with the story, the chief minister knew that Yusuf (PBUH) was absolutely innocent, that he was a young man of honor, a loyal servant, and that was why he loved him. And it wasn't an easy decision for him to then throw an innocent man behind bars. However, he felt like he didn't have any choice. And he reasoned that Yusuf (PBUH)'s honor would also be safeguarded if he were to be kept out of his wife's sight. And that night, unfortunately, with a heavy heart, the chief minister sent Yusuf (PBUH) to prison. And this would become the third test of Yusuf (PBUH). And during this period, Allah blessed him with an extraordinary gift, the ability to interpret dreams. And despite all of the trials that he was going through, this didn't diminish his character or his kindness in any shape, manner or form. No, he used the time that he was in prison to call his prison mates to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala and interpret their dreams for them. So, you know, he was in prison doing da'wah [calling to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala], that's what he was doing. He was in prison working and making the most of what was in his grasp. And that's an excellent example, like, he was not resisting his reality. He had accepted that, for now, this is my fate. However, what can I actually do here? What good can I do here? How can I make the most of what is with me and with the people who are with me? Subhan Allah. Who knows how many people would have become believers in Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala at his hands in prison in that setting. And then if we fast forward years later, he gets out of prison, alhamdulillah, and the king of Egypt offers him a high position. And Yusuf (PBUH) is asked to be made the controller of the granaries, so that he could guard the nation's harvest and safeguard it during the anticipated drought season. And by this, Yusuf did not mean to seize an opportunity for personal gain, he was just trying to rescue hungry nations for a period of seven years, as per the dream of the king. It was sheer self-sacrifice on his part. Again, kindness and perseverance like we've been talking about. We are called to go beyond ourselves, and we are created to shine and to make a difference and benefit people are around us and use whatever skills and strengths that we have. And, you know, this example of interpreting dreams in prison is a perfect example. He's using what he has and just making the most of it, subhan Allah. And that's just so inspiring to see, and this is in the Qur'an. Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala is teaching us directly these things. It's amazing, subhan Allah.

Waheed  52:03
Absolutely. And in the meantime, as Prophet Yusuf's story was unfolding, there was another story that was happening in the background, which is the story of his father Ya'qub (PBUH). So as we know, he was also a righteous prophet of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. He is obviously not as central to the story as Joseph himself, but he is also someone we can identify with. And depending on where people are in their journey, we might find elements in Ya'qub's story that resonate more with us than Yusuf's story. So again, as we recall, when Yusuf's brothers faked his death and claimed he was eaten by a wolf, Allah says “And they brought upon his shirt false blood. [Jacob] said, "Rather, your souls have enticed you to something, so patience is most fitting [beautiful forbearance, فصبر جميل]. And Allah is the one sought for help against that which you describe" (12:18). So he immediately turned to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, even though he was heartbroken and devastated, he grieved the loss of his son so much to the point that he lost his vision. He became blind, because he was in so much pain and so much agony. And he was completely heartbroken. He became blind. Allah says in the Qur'an, quoting Ya'qub (PBUH), "Oh, my sorrow over Joseph," and his eyes became white from grief, for he was [of that] a suppressor” (12:84). So what do we learn from this? It's okay to feel pain. We are human at the end of the day, and things crush us. Things break us. It doesn't mean we are far from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. If we are broken, if we are in so much pain, it doesn't mean we are far from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. It might actually mean that we are the closest to Him. But what's important to realize is that, despite his pain, Ya'qub (PBUH), of course, never lost sight of Allah's plan. Even though he became blind, he never lost sight of Allah's plan. This is very beautiful, right? He prayed for patience, he prayed for beautiful forbearance. Again, فصبر جميل. He only complained to whom? To Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. And again, Allah says (on behalf of Ya'qub (PBUH)), “He said, "I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know” (12:86). He was always assured of God's wisdom and justice, that God would handle things in the end. And he said towards the end of the story, “O my sons, go and find out about Joseph and his brother and despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people" (12:87). So despite everything that was going on in his life, that is a perfect example of beautiful forbearance. He never lost sight of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, he was always with Him, despite his immense pain, his devastation, he cried to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and he complained to Him. And ultimately what happened?

Aadam  55:15
If we fast forward a couple of years from this point, Yusuf (PBUH) is reunited with his family, after he has the upper hand and is in a position of power. And Allah brings them together. He makes acquaintance with his brothers and he says, "Take this, my shirt, and cast it over the face of my father; he will become seeing. And bring me your family, all together" (12:93). Subhan Allah. And Allah continues and says, "And when the bearer of good tidings arrived, he cast it over his face, and he returned [once again] seeing. He said, "Did I not tell you that I know from Allah that which you do not know?"" (12:96). And this is Ya'qub (PBUH) saying this. Subhan Allah, he never lost faith and hope that Yusuf didn't die, and that he was still alive, and that they would come back together again, at some point. And Allah continues by telling us what they said (the brothers). Allah says, “They said, "O our father, ask for us forgiveness of our sins; indeed, we have been sinners." He said, "I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful"” (12:97-98). And this story began with a dream and it ends with the interpretation of the dream. And Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala narrates, “And when they entered upon Joseph, he took his parents to himself and said, "Enter Egypt, Allah willing, safe [and secure]." And he raised his parents upon the throne, and they bowed to him in prostration. And he said, "O my father, this is the explanation of my vision of before. My Lord has made it reality. And He was certainly good to me when He took me out of prison and brought you [here] from bedouin life after Satan had induced [estrangement] between me and my brothers. Indeed, my Lord is Subtle in what He wills. Indeed, it is He who is the Knowing, the Wise” (12:99-100). And if you consider his feelings now that his dream has come true, he prays to Allah and says, "My Lord, You have given me [something] of sovereignty and taught me of the interpretation of dreams. Creator of the heavens and earth, You are my protector in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous" (12:101). Subhan Allah. Like after going through all of that hell, quite literally, this is what he says.

Waheed  57:51
"Cause me to die a Muslim and join me with the righteous". May Allah make us among them inshaAllah, ameen! So if we want to summarize all the themes in the story, the relevant themes in the story: trusting Allah despite an uncertain future, from the beginning; submission to Allah and His Will; safeguarding oneself from temptation; choosing Allah's way; doing the required work, he did the work; believing in oneself and what we can do with the help and tawfeeq of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, of course; giving back to others; and ultimately, forgiving those who did us wrong, which is very difficult, but again, we do it for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala. He showed gratitude. He never complained. He forgave his brothers who wronged him. I mean, they're the ones who set the whole thing in motion, right? He forgave them. We struggle with forgiveness. Of course we struggle with that theme, but Joseph didn't think twice. He was calm, kind and content. He was sincere and humble and patient throughout the story. Pure and strong. He gave up everything for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, and Allah gave him everything. Those are the qualities that we've been exploring together during those episodes. 

And we would like to end this episode with a beautiful quote by Sh. Hamza Yusuf, who said at some point, "A child thrown in the air by his parent - " Imagine that image, a father throws his son in the air, he's playing with him. "For a moment, the child goes into a state of complete panic, and then once they go back into the parent's hands, they're laughing. That is Dunya. That moment, that is your life. You came from Allah, and you're going back to Allah. There's a moment when you're in a complete state of panic, but just relax. You are in good Hands". Thank you so much for listening to our episode. Thank you, Aadam, for joining me again as a co-host, Aadam and I look forward to talking to you next week, inshaAllah, and we will be discussing the theme of attachments and surrender. As always, you can listen to us on our website awaybeyondtherainbow.buzzsprout.com and on your favorite podcast apps, and you can email us anytime on [email protected] Aadam and I look forward to talking to you next Friday, inshaAllah. Until then, stay safe and healthy, and God bless. Assalamu alaikom wa rahmatullahi ta'ala wa barakatuh.

Episode Introduction
On Purification
Rewards, Self-Improvement, Gratitude and Contentment
Synthesis of All Themes - The Story of Yusuf (PBUH)
Ending Remarks