“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?” (Qur’an 29:2)
There are different ways that Allah (تعالى) can test a believer. He tests us with what is good and pleasing to us, and He also tests us with things that cause our hearts to ache and souls to grieve.
Looking at the Quran verse above, we can say that tests are an expected part of being a Muslim. And many times, these tests do not come in the form of ease, they come in the form of things that we see as hardships.
When we talk about pain and grief, the default human nature is that we do not want to experience it. No one likes things that hurt them to happen to them.
But the reality of life is that these things happen. We lose loved ones, a woman suffers a miscarriage, a newlywed husband loses his wife. We lose our jobs, homes, parents, children, homeland, we get sick, etc.
All of these life events bring with them pain and grief.
But how do we deal with them as Muslims?
Islam is a religion of balance. We were never told not to grieve or feel pain, but through the Qur’an and Sunnah, we have guidance on dealing with our pain.
Acknowledge the Source of the Trial
There is nothing that happens to us without the knowledge of Allah (تعالى). Not a leaf falls except that He is aware, and we should remember this whenever we are going through a painful trial.
Many times, humans find comfort in rationalizing their situations. We say things like, “oh, maybe this happened because I did this, or because this person doesn’t like me”, etc. While it is good to try to understand what happened to you and how it could have been prevented, also remember that the one who created you has decreed this trial to be so.
When you acknowledge the source of your trial, you know where to seek answers and relief, and this is important in the steps to dealing with pain and grief.
Allow Yourself Experience the Pain
One thing many people get wrong is having the perception that it’s a sign of a strong eeman to bottle up your feelings and put up a brave face no matter how much something hurts.
Yes, the Prophet ﷺ advised us to not wail and throw ourselves on the floor, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot express our pain. When he lost his son Ibraheem, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ expressed his pain.
Even years after the death of Khadijah, the Prophet ﷺ would express his love for her and the fact that he missed her.
It’s okay to talk about something or someone you loved and lost. It’s okay to feel sad that you no longer have them, it’s okay to feel the pain.
Where we draw the line as Muslims is that we do not curse ourselves, our luck, wail uncontrollably, or say things that are disrespectful to Allah (تعالى).
Even though we express our pain and grieve, we do this in a way that is befitting for a Muslim.
Find Things to Be Grateful For
Pain and grief often come with despair. They come with a feeling that you have all the bad luck in the world, or that Allah (تعالى) does not like you as much as He likes His other servants.
This is a trick of Shaytaan that can lead us to getting angry at Allah (تعالى), or denying every good in our lives.
There was a sister who had a miscarriage in the early stages of a pregnancy. One thing she would say whenever anyone tried to console her was simply “Alhamdulilah”. Everyone who visited found her calm, not crying, and not acting like she had just lost a child.
Eventually someone asked, “Aren’t you sad about losing the baby?”. The sister replied: “Allah (تعالى) gave me two beautiful daughters before taking this pregnancy away from me. Shouldn’t I be grateful for the ones He already gave me?”
SubhanAllah, this is a great way to look at your trial. Find something else to be grateful for in your life, that reminds you that Allah (تعالى) has been generous towards you, and you will In sha’a Allah find that your grief reduces.
No mother prays to lose a pregnancy, but even with the pain of a miscarriage, this sister reminds herself of the two daughters that Allah (تعالى) has already given her.
No matter how difficult the trial, how deep the pain, how consuming the grief feels, we can find something, anything, to be grateful for in our lives.
To be honest, expressing gratitude during pain is not the easiest thing to do. It may not come naturally to many of us, but you will find that it is one of the best ways to lessen the pain on the heart.
Use the Pain to Make Dua
Despair is an emotion that comes with pain. A person going through another round of chemotherapy with no signs of improvement will most likely feel only despair.
But the affairs of a Muslim is always good. If something good happens to us, it is an opportunity to show gratitude to Allah (تعالى) and recognize His favors in our lives.
If something bad happens too, we know that it can be an expiation for our sins and a source of goodness for us. For example, every illness that a Muslim feels wipes away some sins. Looking at our pain from this perspective, we should try our best to make dua during the pain.
Ask Allah (تعالى) for relief from the pain, for it to be an expiation of your sins, to be a source of you moving closer to Him, and for the pain to bring you happiness and comfort in the end.
It’s human to be hurt, to feel pain, and to grieve for whatever bad things that happen to us. Never feel that it’s wrong to express your sadness, but remember that as a Muslim, there is a beneficial way to express our grief in a way that brings us the best with Allah (تعالى).