It was during this time that my father-in-law paraphrased a Quranic verse which made a life-changing impact on me. He was referring to the ayah in Surah Al Imraan, "They plan and Allah also plans. And Allah is the best of planners.” Although in the Quran this specific verse is spoken of in a different context, the overall concept is the same - Allah has control over all situations and we are not in control of everything. Things will not always go our way. This incident occurred over 4 years ago, and as life went on I came to realize that everything really does happen for a reason. It is just that we do not have the wisdom to realize this at the time of occurrence. More often than not we end up wondering, "Why did this have to happen?" We also have a tendency to feel that the grass is greener on the other side. Whatever we have is not enough, and what others have is what we would like to have. We don't realize that we don't really know what issues are going on in other people's homes. Rather than desiring other people's blessings, we should strive to focus on our own and be content.
If life didn't have its ups and downs then it wouldn't be life. It is only when we come to understand that we don't have complete control over our lives will we have inner peace, and we do this through believing that Allah (SWT) is "faa'il haqeeqi", as He has absolute control over all things. We need to rely on Him in all aspects of life. Fate has already decided our health, wealth etc, but that doesn't mean that we don't need to make efforts for the betterment of our lives. For example, it is not practical to be a "couch potato" and sit around at home doing nothing and expecting there to be wealth coming to your house without a real job. A lot of hard work goes into searching for jobs and hard work needs to be done in order to get anywhere in life. Similarly, if someone's health is deteriorating they should make an effort to improve it by looking for cures and taking medicine. Allah helps those who make efforts to help themselves. However, we need to be content in our lives if we make the effort and it still doesn't work out. Because Allah is the best of planners.
An example of this is one that happened back in my high school days. Quite an embarrassing one, I must admit, but it will help get the point across, iA. We had moved countries right when I had to start 12th grade, and the school system was completely different from my old one. To top it off, I was forced to study for 11th and 12th grade Chemistry in less than a year. Let's just say Science is not my type of subject. Yet I would study day and night about electrochemistry, reaction kinetics, stoichiometry and other stuff I do not remember anymore at all :) Those were some tough days and I couldn't wait to go to university so that I could choose subjects that interest me; English Literature, Journalism, and other Humanities courses. So I studied and studied and made loads of dua that I pass Chemistry with great results and move on with life. But things didn't turn out the way I wanted at the end of the year. I got my results at the end of summer, and I passed Chemistry, but I had only just passed. The results weren't good. I was devastated, thinking about all of the hard work I put into one year of my life and yet I didn't get what I wanted. I didn't think about it too much though since I had scored well in English and Literature and wanted to focus on those things for my university which I would soon start.
As I went to university to declare my major, I told them I want to go into Humanities, while showing them my English results of the past 3 years. That's when something strange happened. They told me to get out my Science results, as they were more concerned with those. I showed it to them while they told me that if I had good Science results then I might have to join that major as this was a new policy for the semester. I'm not sure why it was like that, but I just remember being so thankful to Allah that day about getting mediocre grades so I could major in what I was passionate about! Allah truly knows everything, we just need to realize this and believe in His Will. I'm sure you all have stories like this as well about things not going as you had planned and then working out for the better!
If something doesn't go our way, it is natural to feel sad. The problem arises when this feeling of sadness lingers on for an extended period of time. Instead of pondering on the incident for too long, we should have immediate faith in Allah and ask Him to help us through with the situation. We could even make dua for thawaab stored for us on the Day of Judgement for being patient. The bottom line is that we need to always be grateful for whatever we have. If we are ungrateful, it is a sign that we think that Allah is unjust in His division of things to people. Thinking about the gravity of the situation will inshaAllah help us to avoid being ungrateful and envious of others.
One step to increase our tawakkul or reliance in Allah includes giving charity. When we give charity we are giving up something for the sake of Allah. There are no immediate results of doing it, and this in turn leads to reliance in Allah. We also need to learn to increase our dua-making. In Islam we are taught to make dua even if something small happens, such as our shoelace breaks. Yet in this day and age people only turn to Allah when all other options fail and they don't have anywhere else to turn to. Turn to Allah even when you succeed. Make Allah your first option, not your last.
May Allah (SWT) help us in increasing our tawakkul in Him and living a life of contentment, Ameen.