By Samuel Gonzalez
Among the many beautiful names of Allah are the All-Knowing, the All-Seeing, the All-Hearing (Al-Aleem, Al-Basir, as-Samee), because Allah knows our tribulations, sees our struggles, and listens to our innermost vibrations. If there is even an atom’s weight of pain and suffering within our being, Allah is aware of it. Throughout the pages of the Noble Quran there are vivid and evident confirmations that Allah will respond to our prayers and liberate us from our afflictions, just as it was done with the prophets of old. With this knowledge and confidence that Allah hears us, here are seven duas that we can pray and reflect on that will help us through challenging times.
Oh Allah I seek refuge in you from the difficulties of hardship, the acquisition of wretchedness, ill-fate, and the enemy’s malicious rejoicing for my suffering. [Sahih Al-Bukhari #6347]
Sahih Bukhari is a collection of sayings and deeds from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – particularly, Bukhari’s collection is widely accepted to be the most accurate and precise collection of records. His methods were stringent and his collection is second to none. According to the narrator of this hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) would invoke Allah with this dua during times of calamity, before war, and when he felt destruction was near. Everyone is fighting their own demons, which is why we invoke Allah with the following formula before reciting Al-Fatiha throughout the day:
A’oodhu billahi min ash-shaytaan-ir-rajeem
I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the accursed.
Satan is wickedness and devilishness personified. He is long-lived, clever, conniving, and invisible, whispering into the hearts of humankind and jinn. Another hadith informs us that: “Indeed, Satan runs through the son of Adam as does blood.” These devilish whisperings circulate in us, influence our hearts and thoughts, and subtly push us to slide into disbelief by convincing us that we are not enough, that Allah has abandoned us, or that we will never amount to anything. These lies are not from Allah, but from the Satan. Recite the above dua to keep lies and falsehoods away from you and your community.
Indeed we have granted you abundant goodness, so pray and sacrifice to your Lord, indeed your enemy is the only one cut off from this goodness. [Surah Al-Kawthar; 108:1-3]
The smallest surah, Al-Kawthar or ‘The Generosity’, ‘The Bounties’, of the Quran is by no means the least significant or least weighty, despite only containing three little verses. It is one of the first to be memorized by Muslims as a result of its short length and rhythmic cadence that makes it both easy and pleasurable to recite during prayers. It speaks of the generosity of Allah and is oftentimes recited as an expression of thankfulness and gratitude for the bounties of Allah. However, this surah was revealed at a difficult time in the life of the Prophet (pbuh) – it was revealed to console Muhammad (pbuh) at the death of his son.
It is said that prayer is the mother of all good deeds, and that sacrificing the best of our goods and earnings is the mother of all charities. Hence, despite its short length, this surah provides the reader with an exhortation to give thanks whenever it seems like we have been stricken with calamity. Demonstrating thankfulness and gratitude is more than mere lip-service, it must be proven by way of thoughtful actions, intentional remembrance of Allah and his blessings, and by giving Allah the best of what we have, whether they be physical, emotional, or financial resources. If this surah was revealed as a consolation to our beloved Prophet (pbuh) after losing a son, then how much more should it console believers today as we navigate loss and calamity in our own lives? In Al-Kawthar we have more than a prescription and an easy surah to memorize – we have a direct link with a divine revelation that succeeded in consoling one of the most righteous men who ever walked the face of this earth.
There is no god except Allah, the All-Mighty, the Forbearing; there is no god except Allah, the Lord of the Mighty Throne; there is no god except Allah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the earth, and Lord of the noble Throne. [Sahih Al-Bukhari 8/154]
Praying the tahlil is a declaration of one of the major doctrines of our faith. There is no god except Allah. Many verses in the Noble Quran point towards Allah’s immense care towards Creation – so much so that much of it is preserved and improved upon in the Hereafter, where there will be rivers and gardens and fruit and vegetables. This divine care that Allah shows towards us is apparent in surah Ar-Rahman, which challenges the reader to look at the world and reflect upon gratitude. Despite the many times we slip up or feel like we’ve made shipwreck of our faith, Allah remains mighty, patient, and forbearing with us. Yet at the same time, our pain is also felt and understood, for Allah tells us:
“Now, verily, it is We who have created man, and We know what his innermost self whispers within him: for We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” [Surah Qaaf; 50:16]
“When My servants ask you concerning Me, then surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should answer My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 2:186]
If He has given us hardship, He has also given us a way out.
Hardship & Ease
Certainly with difficulty comes ease; yes, certainly with that difficulty comes more ease. [Surah Ash-Sharh; 94: 5-6]
It is crucial to comprehend that every hardship that we face in life is a preordained test on behalf of Allah. It may be a test of patience, devotion or trust. It may be a test that will end up in remarkable growth or development. With the neverending tests and challenges of life, we must implement this verse from Surah Ash-Sharh as a reminder that Allah does not burden anyone with any hardship in which they are physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually unable to bear. In the same way that extreme heat and pressure restructure the molecular composition of graphite in order to produce a gemstone, so, too, is Allah choosing to test you with that challenge because He knows that you can get through it and that it will make you stronger. Trust in the strength that Allah gave you. It may be that the sadness you are facing is an exhortation to drop a bad habit and replace it with a good one like exercise, prayer, cooking, acts of service, artistry, or learning a new skill. Because after the storm comes a rainbow.
Do not lose hope, nor be sad. You will surely be victorious if you are true believers. [Surah An-Nisa; 4:139]
It is no coincidence that the Prophet’s military and political careers have served as inspirations for leaders, entrepreneurs, visionaries, and administrators of all sorts. All of these positions, regardless of prestige and success, require moments of hard-work, suffering, and affliction. In positions where people are governing groups of people, emotions get thrown in the mix, are susceptible to the ups-and-downs of human relationships, and oftentimes affect the individual(s) in a negative way. The emotional ups-and-downs are part of what makes us human. By reciting this dua throughout the day, one is reminded that whatever happens to us is what was meant to happen and that no matter how far we stray from Islam or Allah, He will always be with us and wanting the best for us. Allah has ordained our victories and our losses, but the blessings will ultimately outweigh our hardship.
By the morning sunlight and by the night when it covers with darkness, that your Lord has not abandoned you, nor has He become hateful of you. And the next life is certainly far better for you than this one and your Lord will give to you, and you will be satisfied. Did He not find you an orphan and sheltered you? Did He not find you misled and guided you? Did He not find you needy and satisfied your needs? Hence, do not oppress the orphan or refuse the beggar – proclaim the blessings of your Lord. [Surah Ad-Duha; 93:1-11]
The fact that our Creator and Sustainer swears by the morning sunlight and the night indicates the merit of this surah. This surah was revealed during a difficult time in the Prophet’s life in which the divine revelations had paused for a while – his enemies jeered at him, his congregation was confused, and the Quraysh said that his Lord had abandoned him. This interruption of revelation, especially when a group of faithful believers were living in expectation of the next words of guidance from Allah, was a test confronted by the Prophet (pbuh). Would the Prophet (pbuh) be eager for this new message, willing to leave behind his leisure and encounter difficulties and hardship? Or will it be a breath of tranquility when his Lord relieves him of this preeminent duty? In this is a valuable lesson for those who are facing uncertainty, sadness, loss, and hardship.
However, the contents of the surah are no less powerful than its context. Allah takes an oath by the morning sunlight and by the night when it engulfs the darkness, swearing that He did not abandon nor hate His Prophet (pbuh) as claimed by the disbelievers. Indeed, the oath with these two matters points to three things:
1) The temporality of this present life
2) The blessings Allah has bestowed upon us in the past
3) A reminder of our duty to help others and serve the global community
In the same way that the morning and the twilight dance with one another to create a necessary balance for the flourishing of life, so too are our lives a dance between blessings and afflictions, gain and loss, life and death. In order to be joyful, you must first experience sadness. In order to feel the warmth of comfort, you must be in a state of mourning.
So which of your Lord’s favors will you deny? [Surah Ar-Rahman; 55:16]
Every person, whether religious or not, will be afflicted by the tests that come their way – given the chaotic state of our world and the increasingly stressful times we are living in, more and more people find themselves slipping into depressive states of mind, overwhelmed by pain and sadness. For some, it is easier to reflect on the possibilities embedded in the future, whilst for others, it is very difficult to escape these torments. Clinical depression is a very serious matter and our Lord desires to support us to help us feel recognized and loved during times of hardships. This verse is framed as a challenge to the one who is praying. Essentially it challenges the believer to reflect on prior blessings (it may be easier for some people to reflect on material blessings they have received, rather than on the blessings and treasures of the Hereafter) and on the many ways Allah has provided them with a way out, the network of support he or she has around them, or the relative comfort which he or she is enjoying during their affliction- such reflections have been shown to effectively facilitate the healing process.
Imam Adam’s Note:
Of course, even with all that exists in the Quran that can aid in our mental health, it is also important to seek the help of mental health professionals. This is something that we at Quranic do encourage, for those who require it.
What do you think? Share your reflections below!
- Sahih Bukhari, No. 6347
- Sahih Bukhari Book # 8, No. 154
- The Noble Qur’an