Life, as we understand, is, is essentially a test, this world is temporary, we live this life for x amount of years and then we depart, it was never meant to be our eternal home.
But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom, we often misunderstand these quotes that refer to life being a test and associate a bubble of negativity with it, leading to more anxieties and building negative links within your mind that makes you believe you’ll never be happy, that your hardships in life are here as a punishment, that you’re not worthy of happiness.
We place ourselves in a bubble of negative emotions and thoughts, where we magnify our misfortune, asking why it happens to us, it keeps us stuck and focused on that problem meaning you cannot find a solution.
We all go through hardship, mental and emotional, physical and spiritual. This life is not a life if you are not tested if you do not go through struggles and difficulties.
And essentially it all boils down to your mindset, the way you perceive the difficulties that are inevitable. As mentioned before, you could use them to push your negativity, to fall into a spiral of negative beliefs and this when combined with actual medically recognised mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, it becomes lethal. It’s like when you put coke and mentos together, it causes an explosion of sadness within, a sense of hopelessness and despair that follows you in every decision, in every opportunity you want to take.
Mental Health issues do exist, they are medically recognised, in contrast to often cultural beliefs, people do suffer even though they don’t want to, and we often confuse this and blame other stuff such as a lack of spirituality or associations with jinn or just making a scene and wanting attention. People need medicines to maintain a sense of sanity, they need emotional and physical therapy through a variety of exercises to understand and deal with their emotions and difficulties.
But essentially, grief and sadness, it’s a vital part of our life. Without sadness, we will never understand what happiness feels like, if this life was full of happiness, we would not be living a happy life, we would just be living a life because happiness is all we know, and I know it’s a bit philosophical, but through that you’re not really happy at all. So sadness is needed. It comes in various forms throughout our life, when we were younger it was not getting that PlayStation game, as we grew it became exam stress, trying to get into uni, making new friends, finding a social group, issues with social media, relationships, family problems, losing a loved one, there are a million reasons why sadness comes to us but also a million reasons to be happy. Waking up is a blessing, seeing your family, getting a good result on your exam, your football team winning, a new birth in the family, a child learning new things, watching something that makes you laugh, a fresh pair of trainers.
You have to understand that to be mentally strong, which means to be able to overcome these griefs and anxieties, to get past the burdens in life and make progress with your mental health, it means you need to let go of your bad mental habits.
It’s a lot like developed physical strength. The way you train your body, you need to train your body. You adopt healthy habits, such as going to the gym, drinking water, eating clean. You lose bad habits such as junk food and takeaways, or being lazy and thus we develop muscle, lose fat, we become stronger and we feel it both physically and mentally. With mental strength, we need to develop positive habits such as gratitude, being grateful for being alive, all the blessings in our life, the little things. We need to develop understanding, faith, belief, trust, humility, we try to escape the uncomfortable things in life but nothing worth having in life comes easy, and the only way to deal with those things is to get through them. We need to let go off negative habits such as overthinking, blaming others, losing hope.
We all get sad, and there’s nothing wrong with that, we all have moments where we feel low and you’re allowed to feel that, that’s your emotions and you have every right to indulge in that, don’t try to fight it, we are told we will be tested, but it’s about what you do afterwards and change your world. To get right back up and continue fighting, to use your grief to push you, to change and develop you rather than break you. We all have ups and downs in life and sadness is part of that journey, equally as much as happiness is. Never feel as though you aren’t allowed to be sad, sadness is different for everyone. We all react differently and we all have different levels.
Life is a combination of ups and downs, good days and bad days, and I know we can all relate to this, we have moments where we have this surge of energy to chase our dreams and minutes later were filled with this despair that nothing might ever work out. But what you need to remember is that your downs only come to make your ups feel greater, to humble you, to build you. Your hardships build positive energy, resilience and hope, it makes you mentally stronger. And remember, when you go down, the only way you can go is up.
I know this is so easy to say but so hard to believe, but it’s all gonna be okay. This sadness is just a phase, it’s temporary, it’s a chapter in your book, no it isn’t the end of your story and it’s not gonna defeat you as much as you believe. I know many people have told you it’s all gonna work out and it’s gonna be okay and to have patience and let time heal and every time you’re like ‘No it’s not, I’ve been waiting for so long and nothing seems to get better, it’s always gonna be like this’ etc. Trust me. Believe me. I know.
But the thing is, when we hear that everything happens for a reason or everything happens for the best, it’s difficult to trust in that, it’s hard to see forward and believe that whatever is breaking you right now, the loss of a loved one or failing that exam, will lead to a greater good. You will only ever understand this when you look back in life, you can connect the dots of how destiny or fate, or whatever you believe in, played its part in bringing you to wherever you’re meant to be. What’s written for us will always find us.
One beautiful analogy I use a lot myself is seeing hardships as a route to my prayers being answered. For example, if I asked God for forgiveness and at the present moment I am not worthy of that forgiveness, maybe he places that difficulty in my life, which thus becomes a blessing in disguise, and pushes me further towards God. Because I feel like many of us, when afflicted with difficulty, find a surge in our spirituality. Suddenly we’re praying more, doing more good so that God can give us good. And through that difficulty that pushes you to become closer to God, God finds an excuse to forgive you, to give you more good, to place more happiness in our heart. So never see your hardships as a punishment, see them as an opportunity, as God’s way of guiding you to your destination and answering your prayers.
And suddenly I found myself embracing difficulties whereas before I used to hate them, as it brought me back to a hadith, although I haven’t related much of this to Islam or God as a Muslim I’ll make reference to it, it took me back to a hadith which went along the lines of how the Sahabah used to worry if Allah didn’t bless them with hardships, in fear that Allah is angry with them. Allah truly tests the ones he loves, because it furthers our love and faith within Him, it makes us more grateful and understanding of his majesty and mercy. And I found myself wanting hardships, because going through hardships meant Allah might forgive me, and if he forgives me he might grant me greater good, for when he takes something from us, he replaces it with something better, so maybe me failing this exam, meant that another opportunity will come, or maybe next time I’ll get 10 more marks than I might have got this time, and it’s a domino effect, maybe it’ll get me into a better uni and the blessings go on and on. Life always gets better, there is always ease with your hardships, it’s all about how you understand your hardships.
Hardships are a mercy, a path for you to attain mercy, a path for you to understand yourself more as a person, it’s truly a blessing.
We have a limited time on this Earth, every second ticked is a second lost and I, am I’m sure you don’t wanna die and look back and see how your life was mainly spent being sad and depressed but now you’re dead and you can’t change anything. We’re all gonna die, nobody is gonna remember the embarrassing moments or the small things we both kill our minds because. In the face of death, our problems are nothing so stop worrying, live your life, it’s temporary just like sadness and depression. We are so enriched with fear we forget to live.
You need to develop self-love and belief, to understand that not everything in life has a solution or answers and that’s okay, you need to trust in the flow of life and where it takes you, to trust in the plan Allah has for you for it is far greater than whatever we have in mind for ourselves. Do not compare yourself, you are a unique individual, only compare yourself to the person you were yesterday, continue to grow and blossom and develop yourself.
We often overthink small situations that push us further into grief, we need to stop stressing over the small things in life. It doesn’t matter in five years’ time then it means don’t spend more than five minutes stressing over it. The little things in life, just accept them, understand why they may have happened and that it cannot be changed, and your worrying will only just make things worse. Most of us are young, we’re under thirty, we’ve barely lived. Many of us still have to go to uni, which may be the best part of your life, get our dream job, get married, raise a family, see our friends and family grow, there’s so much to live for, so much to be hopeful for, so much to fight for. We’re so stuck in the moment we forget the see the positives that lie just around the corner.
We are often our biggest judges, we need to learn to forgive ourselves, we need to be kind to ourselves and others. We need to trust our struggle, to have faith it is all for the greater good, that life will not always be like this.
I believe one reason why there is an increase in mental health issues within the ummah, especially within the UK is because we face a different type of difficulty compared to what difficulties and prevalent in other parts of the world. We have to be tested but we aren’t tested by poverty, or homelessness or war, the way people from all around the world are, because we live in Britain and it has a welfare system and Alhamdulillah most of us can survive, we can get food on the table etc. And therefore, we are tested with mental difficulties, with depressions and anxieties. And it’s hard to see the light or hope when you’re in that zone and people often make comparisons between the difficulties we face and the difficulties people in Gaza or Ghana face, but we all are tested, just in different ways, one’s test is not less than another. So these are the tests we are given, but with every test, there is always a solution.
There’s an example I’d like to share. A teacher once held out a bottle of water and he asked the class, ‘how much does this bottle weigh’ and some students shouted out answers, ‘500 grams?’, ‘600 grams!’ when the teacher replied, ‘we won’t know until we actually weigh the bottle’. And then he asked what would happen if I held the bottle for a minute and they replied nothing, he then asked what if he held it for an hour and someone said your arm will ache, he then asked what about 12 hours and someone said your arm will practically fall off. The teacher replied that the bottle represents your stresses, your hardships and pains, and no matter how much it weighs, the longer you hold onto it, the more it hurts. So we need to learn to let go, to move on with life, to let the past remain as the past and become optimistic about the future.
You need to have a positive foundation in your friends and family, having a good support system is vital, to be able to confide in someone and not keep your stresses inside of you, it’s okay to let it out and just having someone listen, just knowing that there is someone there for you definitely picks you up. Knowing there is a family, a brotherhood or sisterhood who can help and be there for you removes that fear of completely collapsing because you know there will be people to pick you up, to bring you back to your strength.
Now taking a more religious focused approach to this, with Islam, it’s a safety net, your faith is a net that captures you when you fall. Allah loves you more than your mothers, more than your closest friends, more than anyone could ever do in this world. Those people would never wish an ounce of sadness and pain upon you, so if Allah gives you hardships, surely, it’s out of love? Surely, it’s because he loves you enough and he wants you to return to him, he wants to find an excuse to give you forgiveness and more good, he wants more for you.
Islam is about submission, we need to submit ourselves to Allah, to have full faith in what he has written for us, what he gives us in life. Allah is the only one who is constant in our lives, he was there when we were born and will be there when we die, he knows what’s in our hearts when we cannot understand it, he knows what we feel before we even speak it. It’s all about small steps. Allah is calling you, go back to him and I promise you that your sadness and depression would get better. He is the most forgiving and his mercy is greater than your sin so forget about your past and whatever you’ve done, just put your head on the prayer mat and cry, he understands, he knows your pain, it’s all a test as life is a test.
If you look into history, people have been in your position before, not even history, look at elders in your community, elder brothers or sisters within your generation and how they got past everything, likewise you will too. You have to keep hope, to keep genuine hope within your heart.
Your gonna come across beautiful sunsets, the moon beaming in the sky, long drives on the motorways, new moments with your friends and family, food you haven’t tried, places you haven’t visited, love you haven’t felt, opportunities that haven’t come to you. There is so much to live for.
Don’t give up. Your life is worth something, you are precious, and your life is has meaning and purpose. The problems you face today will soon disappear and be replaced with another set of problems, but you’ll get through that too and everything else, your problems won’t stop but you’ll get stronger and each time you’ll become a better person, that’s life, life is a test and your real reward lies in the hereafter. Life is beautiful, and there are good things come for both me and you, stay strong, stay happy and most importantly, stay alive.
May God bless you all with happiness, love, prosperity, hope, meaning, purpose, good destiny and everything good that exists under the stars.
And if my words gave you even an ounce of hope, please remember me in your prayers, I need them just as much as you.
God bless and much love.