Today I want to talk about losing a person, a relationship or something we love, whether it's via death or estrangement or any other situation. It is a reminder for myself and anyone else who has experienced loss on how to use the painful situation to improve ourselves and form a stronger connection with ALLAH (swt).
I see loss as a death in itself. It may or may not be the death of the actual person or thing but it is a death of a part of your heart that was attached to that person or that thing. It creates an empty space in your heart and at the initial blow, one can feel empty and torn.
The devil may tempt us to react with anger at the decree of ALLAH, anger towards others or anger at ourselves. He may tempt us to react with hate, apathy and self-hatred. This is when we may hear a devilish voice inside telling us that 'this is what we deserve' or that 'bad things always happen to me' or that ‘I should have done this or that’ but at this point we can remember the saying of The Messenger of ALLAH (salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam):
“A strong believer is better and is more lovable to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone, (but) cherish that which gives you benefit (in the Hereafter) and seek help from Allah and do not lose heart, and if anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, don't say: If I had not done that, it would not have happened so and so, but say: Allah did that what He had ordained to do. And your" if" opens the (gate) for the Satan.”
We may think these are pious thoughts but these are in fact thoughts from the devil who wants to add further pain to our pain. Yes, we make mistakes but for these we ask for forgiveness, we repent and then we graciously accept ALLAH’s forgiveness knowing that HE is the MOST MERCIFUL the MOST FORGIVING.
We don’t allow the devil to send us into self-hate and shame.
And because the heart is empty when we are struck by loss and we literally feel ‘at loss’ about what to, we have statements like 'Inna liLLAHi wa inna ilayhi rajioon' to say at the first point of affliction. It reinforces to us that we are helpless in front of ALLAH, we don't even own ourselves, we belong to HIM and it is to HIM that we return. It takes us from our state of shock or loss and grounds us in a truth that is bigger than us, an existence that is more eternal than us, a CREATOR that will always be there no matter what else we lose or have lost. It tells us that what we have lost belongs to HIM and HE is taking care of it and it also tells us that we who ‘have lost’ also belong to HIM and that HE is taking care of us also.
There is this ONE BEING that never dies, never sleeps and never leaves us, THE SAMAD, that we can lean on and rely on no matter what the situation, during our loss, after our loss and in our loss.
And so as loss strikes we take solace in ‘Inna liLLAHi wa innal ilayhi rajioon’.
Then once the initial loss and shock period is over with all its franticness and with all the different people giving you different advice about what you should do and shouldn’t do there comes another stage where we silently experience an empty space in our heart and even in our physical space where a person or thing that we have lost once was and this is the time when the devil can really tempt us to run to other 'fillers' to fill that void. People have or may turn to music, food, apathy and at worst drugs, alcohol and even haram relationships. We may even be tempted to go to halal 'fillers' as such to run away from our pain, take our anger out on others, busy ourselves with lots of ‘to dos’ (although it is more than likely that we need rest) and we may try to do anything that helps us ‘not’ feel it but it is at this point that it is important to feel the pain and use it as a channel to bring you back to ALLAH (swt).
This second wave of loss is when it takes more strength to stay connected to ALLAH, to constantly acknowledge and live with that empty space inside and slowly but surely fill it with the remembrance of ALLAH once again. It is of ALLAH's wisdom that he takes away people, relationships, items, health and wealth to test our faith, to test our sincerity and attachment to HIM. When we are out of balance in one particular area, when we rely on something other than ALLAH to make us happy or content or to act as a life saver, ALLAH removes the object of our love or attention to turn us back to HIM and so the success of the test can be measured by our level of turning to or away from HIM because even we ourselves during our life 'belong to ALLAH and to HIM we return'.
Loss is all a test of submission, from start to end. A submission to ALLAH's decree, an acceptance of what HE has written and a total giving in to and openness to the pain and to what HE has planned next.
Loss is also an awakening to the reality of ourselves and the reality of ALLAH, it reminds us of our finite selves in contrast to the INFINITE one, it reminds us of our mortality and eventual transition from this world that we have become attached to, whether it is an attachment to people, to things or to situations. It makes us question ourselves, our actions and our work:
Am I ready to die?
Am I ready to meet my LORD?
Are my actions today what I would want them to be if today was my last day?
Am I making the most of what ALLAH has given me in serving HIM?
If I died today, would I regret not taking action on that idea or plan that I was leaving till some day?
Am I attached to the right kind of people?
Is my work what I would want to be doing should today be my last day?
Ultimately, LOSS is a wake up call and a test of our devotion to ALLAH above and beyond all things, a test of our sincerity to HIM, a test of our level of submission and patience upon HIS decree when in pain or discomfort, a test of our belief and faith in HIM doing what is best for us in each and every moment of our lives, a test for us to assess whether we are on the right track or not.
Our behaviour and how much we turn to ALLAH with and through out pain is what determines whether we receive HIS salutations and mercy in that situation or if we become astray. The more we fill the empty space with the remembrance of ALLAH and say ‘Surely we belong to ALLAH and to HIM we return’ not only with our tongues but also with our hearts the more we receive mercy and salutations from ALLAH and our faith determines whether we become from among the guided ones or not, as in the ayat above.
May ALLAH grant us patience and pleasure with HIS decree, may HE keep us steadfast upon HIS path and may HE allows us use our pain to open our heart up even more to HIM and fill every void with HIS remembrance.