Archive for the ‘Wisdom’ Category

Importance of lineage to the Prophet (PBUH)

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

I watch YouTube a lot for talks and sermons by Sheiks (Muslim elders). I am learning that there is a group of scholars who trace their lineage back to the Prophet (swas). It seems to me that the link is the hand shake from sheik to his predecessor in knowledge up to the Prophet (swas). Am I correct that the link is almost an “apostolic succession” and not a blood link?

Be cautious with YouTube. It is free and anybody can put on clergy clothing and express his opinion and make it sound like it is the absolute truth. The merit of any talk is the evidence it cites and the logic it follows, not the man, his appearance, his credentials or his lineage.

I think when they say they trace their lineage back to the Prophet (PBUH), they are talking about being direct descendents of him, through one of his daughters. In Arabic, they are called Al-Ashraaf (the honored ones). In the Indopak I understand they are called Syeds (masters).

Being a descendant from the Prophet (PBUH) is indeed an honor, but it doesn’t make one particularly knowledgeable, pious or credible. Some Ashraaf are sinners or non-practicing and some are saint-like. Those who are saint-like are not that way because of their lineage, but because of their faith, piety, commitment, good deeds and constant learning.

I’m not sure you meant this, but if your observation of a handshake is a secret handshake :-), then they have a secret order not unlike the secret orders that have been created in other religions. Islam does not have a secret order. There are no special people in Islam entrusted with exclusive insights into the religion. There is no pope or guru whose uttering is infallible. There are scholars with various degrees of knowledge and insight. There may be ordinary folks whom you would not pay any attention to, who have more insight and faith than a Mufti, Imam or another dignitary. God grants knowledge and wisdom to people on the basis of their faith and good deeds, not on the basis of their rank in society or their lineage or connections.

What is Sunna and what is not

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

An article I read suggests that a congregational supplication after a prayer is discouraged, because neither the Prophet (PBUH) nor the Sahaba (his fellows) have done it.

They may not have done it, but the Prophet (PBUH) never said we couldn’t do it. There is a difference between “not practiced” and “forbidden.”

The problem with issues like that one is that the people who rule in such a way, do so out of concern that something which is not Sunna becomes a regular part of Islam in the minds of the masses. That would establish a Bid`a (novelty) in religion, which the Prophet (PBUH) warned us not to do. The solution to this problem, IMHO, is not to forbid what is not forbidden, but to ensure that it doesn’t become a novelty, by deliberately not doing it on a consistent basis.

Scholars have differed on what constitutes a Sunna (Practice of the Prophet). That’s because following the Sunna is a requirement of Islam. Therefore, knowing what is Sunna and what is not becomes of religious essence.

The Sunna is not simply everything that the Prophet (PBUH) said or did or approved or did not disapprove, but rather what he consistently said and did and encouraged us to follow him on. The scholars have attempted to differentiate between the two by classifying the latter as Sunna Mu’akkada (Emphasized practice). That’s fine. Then, what we are required to follow is the emphasized Sunna.

As usual you gave me the words to clarify the issue. Not practiced and forbidden. A world apart. It opens a new universe.

You may already know this hadeeth, but it illustrates the point very clearly. One day, Khaalid ibn Al-Waleed (RA) invited the Prophet (PBUH) and others to dinner. His aunt, Maymoona, had prepared for them a grilled porcupine! Everyone stretched their hands to grab a bite of it, except the Prophet. Khalid’s face paled like he saw a ghost. He said to the Prophet (PBUH), “Is it forbidden, O Messenger of God?” He answered, “No, but I find myself not agreeing with it!” Narrated by Khaalid and reported by Al-Bukhaari.

So, just because the Prophet didn’t do something is no reason for us not to do it. Only if he told us “don’t do it!”, then we will have to stay away from it. It seems obvious, but in these days of massive confusion and disinformation, the obvious needs to be stated!

That is why the world always needs teachers. They are know to excel in one thing: to repeat and repeat and repeat.

We have so much confusion. Our faith is ripe not with bida but cultural and nationalistic nonsense. Yet, the hadeeth of the simple woman who kept repeating her question to the embarrassment of the Prophet (swas) helps us. She wanted an answer, although it was intimate, she would not give up until she gained knowledge.

We need to simplify Islam. We have so much on the agenda. Let’s forget trying to save the universe and remember how to make salat.

On a personal note: Eid Mubarak. May Allah reward you immensely for your kindness to me. I have been given a trial which in turn seems to be a blessing. It has made me reach deep into my being. Kinda sorta letting go of a lot of pretenses in life, too. I heard a sheik relate a hadeeth about the Prophet (swas) telling some Sahaba (ra) sometimes our deen is like a hot coal in our hands. (I have always been the princess who felt the pea at the bottom of ten mattresses). Your kindness is akin to the cool of the fire for Prophet Ibrahim.

A blessed and happy Eid to you and your loved ones.

Thank you for your kind words.

How do you simplify something which both God and His Messenger have repeatedly said was already simple? By removing the fluff and pork that accumulated on it over the centuries. My blog is my humble way of doing that.

Brother,

All I can respond is to write “Blog on baby blog on!” It takes wisdom to understand simplicity. When endeavoring to resolve a complex problem the walls are everywhere. Once we have the solution it is so simple.

Likewise, our faith has been mingled with politics and men of various ambitions. The simple laity is lazy. We want the ends and care little about the means. For those of us who are foolish, we seek the means. It makes for a lonely road. (Cf. Zen/Sufism).

Your blog serves the purpose of giving the readers solutions without having to do all the homework. Blog on baby blog on.

(Trust me, I do take advantage of your wisdom…I am all over the universe in my thoughts and it helps to have some notion of being grounded).

There is no problem in taking a voyage in a hot-air balloon, as long as you can always land safely on earth 🙂

I guess I have a license, then, to keep blogging? LOL.

Is supplication futile?

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Please, what is the relationship between dua (supplicating to God) and the Hadith which says that after 120 days of a fetus development in its mother’s womb that four things will be written for the baby, and nothing will be added and subtracted from the four things? In other words, can dua change the four things? If it can, then there is a misconception of what the Hadith says about nothing will be added or subtracted.

The hadeeth you refer to is reported by Muslim and rated authentic. It was narrated by `Aamir ibn Waathila. What the hadeeth says is that an angel is commissioned by God, after a fetus is 42 nights old, to fashion its form, hearing, eyesight, skin, flesh and bones. Then the angel asks God, “O Lord, male or female?” God tells him. Then the angels asks God, “And its lifespan?” God tells him. Then the angel asks God, “And its provision?” God tells him. Then the angel leaves with the paper in his hand, having added nothing else to it nor left out any of it.

Thus, what the hadeeth tells us is that four things are ‘written” for each human before he or she is born: His or her physical appearance, his or her gender, his or her lifespan and his or her provision and sustenance.

Writing these things means they are already known to God. People have changed their birth gender, for example. But it is the new gender that was written. God has already known about the change.

It is also important to realize that this “paper” is withheld from us. Only God and the angel who wrote it down know its content. People keep trying to change their financial situation and believers are encouraged to ask God to bestow on them wealth. God instructs us in the holy Quran, “And ask God from His bounty, for God is of everything Knowledgeable” (4:32). Whatever financial situation we end up with is foreknown to God. It is what was written down before we were born. We simply don’t know it. By not knowing, we have to work for it! By not knowing, we may keep asking God to change it. If we were to know it, we wouldn’t even try to change it, would we?

People keep trying to extend their lives. In doing so, they pursue methods which will keep them healthy, fight deceases and avoid risky behavior. By not knowing how long each of us will live, we can do all that. If we were to know, we would give up trying any of it.

The lesson learned from the hadeeth is the wisdom of the Beyond (Al-Ghayb); why it is kept hidden from us. It is precisely because we don’t know it that we supplicate to God to grant us what we hope for. It is precisely because we don’t know the Beyond that we keep trying to improve our lives. Supplicating to God and working hard for our goals are two things that God loves for us to do. Neither would be practical if we already knew the outcome.

God says in the holy Quran, “And say [to people], ‘Work! For God will observe your work, as well as His Messenger and the believers. Then you will be returned to the Knower of the Beyond and the Presence then He will inform you of what you have been doing.'” (9:105).

And He also says, “And your Lord has said, ‘Supplicate to Me; I will answer you.'” (40:60) His answer is a fulfillment of what He has already written, but He wanted us to ask for it. This way, we keep remembering that He is the Source and He keeps showing us His Grace and that He listens.

To clear up any misconception, please go through the previous posts in the Fate category.

The perils of the wrong mindset

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Brother,

I understand that riba (usury) is wrong. I understand that riba is like gambling. I understand that there are many views on insurance.

But, I need to have a fundamental understanding of why speculation is wrong. I know we have to work for our money.

I need to have the sin explained to me. Trust me I have done my share of reading on the matter. Yet, I do not have the basic definition of the sin of riba and gambling and it seems that they share the same root.

Indeed they do, and the Quran calls it Al-Maysir. The word means tools for easy gain.

It is not the ease that is wrong though. It is the belief in it. The central point, IMHO, is what you alluded to when you said that we have to work for our money. The biggest problem with all games of chance, and speculation is one of them, is that they set the wrong mindset. They entice people to believe that there is a shortcut out there. That is contrary to the laws of God which state that means, not gimmicks, lead to results. Gimmicks may work sometimes, or else no one would have ever tried them. But they are short lived and cause more harm than good.

Even Wall Street knows that, or at least they used to. When you open a trading account, you have to sign forms that can fill a book. Forms to explain to you the risks involved, some may even exceed the value of the entire portfolio! When you open an investment account, on the other hand, there are far fewer forms to sign. That is because, even though investments too carry risk, they are natural risks, whereas speculative risks are random. The difference between the two is that investments involve an asset: property, product or service, while speculation is a bet on how such investment will do. In financial circles this is called a derivative. We all know from the global financial crisis of 2008, the extent of harm speculative derivatives can do.

That is the peril of the mindset that is convinced that there is a shortcut to riches that requires no work, no sweat, and no asset. There is no such thing, but speculators won’t accept that disappointing conclusion, just like a gambler keeps telling himself that the next time he will recoup all his losses.

Investments can be win-win affairs, while speculation is always a zero-sum game.

Usury fits that profile too. It stems from the wrong mindset that treats money as a commodity and thus finds what it thinks is a great business model: buy money cheap and sell it for more. That’s right; economists actually call interest the price of money! Money is price, it doesn’t, and shouldn’t have a price.

While you did not ask it, other readers may be wondering: how else can an economy run? How can banking be done without interest? How does an Islamic system finance start-up companies or real estate purchases, etc.?

The answer is quite simple: partnerships. A financier may decide to finance a project in return for a percentage of its equity and profits. But that also means sharing the risk. That is a natural mechanism in the law of God that makes a financier scrutinize the project like his networth depends on it. The result is that frivolous projects won’t find financing, but quality ones will. Mortgage lenders would never lend money to home buyers whom they are almost sure cannot repay the loan, which is what caused the foreclosure crisis of 2008. On the flip side, rich people will still put their money in worthwhile and promising projects, which by their nature benefit a lot more people than the stakeholders.

That, in a nutshell, is Islamic finance. It brings wealth to investors and far reaching benefits to society, advancement of the economy and, most important of all, the right perception of money and finance. It is not a game for clever quants to play, it’s life enhancement for millions of people.

I apologize for not having a MBA. Your response was detailed, as usual. However, I need to go to a simpler and deeper understanding.

My question thus becomes this: How does interest oppress those who are the meek and poor. How is usury a tool of the oppressor.

In other words how is this haraam (forbidden). On a grand scale I see the consequences of poor decision making, giving loans to those who do not have the means of paying back thus leading to bankruptcy. But break it down for me.

For example the issue of adultery is simple to understand as it does destroy the fabric of the family.

I am not trying to be stubborn or argumentative. I need to be able to place my finger on the essence of the sin of interest.

Many people question why adultery is a sin. If the reason is, as you stated, that it breaks up families, then divorce should also be a sin, because it too breaks up families. But it isn’t. It is only strongly discouraged.

Many scholars, past and modern, have attempted to find material reasons why adultery is a sin. Some postulated that it results in paternity uncertainty. If that’s the reason, then modern science can solve this problem with a DNA test. Would that make adultery OK? Of course not.

Some suggest that the reason is unwanted pregnancies. If that’s the reason, then foster homes can solve this problem. Does that make adultery OK. Of course not.

Some guess that the reason is sexually transmitted diseases. If that’s the reason, then immunizations and other protections can take care of this risk. Would that make adultery OK? Of course not.

The interesting thing is that God already told us why adultery is a sin. He says in the holy Quran, “And do not approach fornication; it is a debauchery and a wretched path.” (17:32). It sets a wrong mindset. It makes people view sex, women and marriage differently from God’s moral law. That is what makes it a sin. Sin is violation of God’s law. God designed His laws for maximum benefit to mankind. When man breaks God’s law, it is an objection to God. Adultery sets the sinner on an evil path because he is deviated from the Straight Path and is distanced from God and becomes an easy prey to Satan.

You will observe the same about other sins prohibited in the Quran. Intoxication and unearned gain are prohibited in 5:90. God explains why in the next verse, “Satan only wants to sew between you enmity and hatred with intoxicants and unearned gain, shun you from the remembrance of God and from prayer. Are you ceasing?” (5:91)

God doesn’t say that intoxication can ruin your liver, or that it may endanger other people when you drive drunk. God doesn’t say that gambling can wipe out one’s life savings. God doesn’t mention that both are addictions that are very hard to be free from. God’s reasons are moral. Other material reasons may apply, but they are not why something is a forbidden sin. Intoxication sets a wrong mindset. It makes a person “drink to forget” his problems, instead of heading them on and solving them, gaining strength of character and wisdom in the process. Unearned gain sets the wrong mindset. It makes a person view others as “marks”, to borrow from con artists vocabulary. The right mindset that Islam encourages is that others are fellow human beings, dignified, worthy of respect and care, and having full capacity to be good and contribute to positive human progress.

The sin of interest is that it sets the perception and belief that you can have your money work for you instead of you working for your money. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “None of you would eat better food than food he earned by the work of his hands. God’s prophet David, upon him be peace, did.”, narrated by Al-Miqdaam ibn Ma`dikarib and reported and rated authentic by Al-Bukhaari.

I find it fascinating that God quotes people who have argued that usury is like trading. He does not refute their argument! Instead, He states unequivocally that He made trading lawful and usury unlawful (2:275). God doesn’t want us to be distracted by arguments why something He forbade is bad for us.

I beg you to help me with this. Where do trust funds find themselves. And what is the difference in Islam between a trust fund and inheritance?

Trusts are called Waqf in Islam. The word means holding an asset from being sold or donated and dedicating its income and facilities to designated people or purpose.

Waqf has two types: (1) Waqf Khayri (charitable trust/endowment) and (2) Waqf Ahli (familial trust). The first type is very highly praised in Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) has famously said, “All the work of a child of Adam ceases with his death, except three: an ongoing charity, a knowledge that benefits and a righteous child who prays for him.” Narrated by Abu-Hurayra and reported and rated authentic by Muslim. This has motivated multitudes of Muslims throughout the ages to found thousands of charitable projects and endowments. The result was that nearly all needs of society were taken care of without the government having to do any of it! A stranded traveler knew that he can find a hostel where he could stay the night, warm and safe, at no cost. Orphans and widows didn’t have to be scared or hungry. Desert travelers knew there would be plenty of water wells they could drink from.

Waqf Ahli, on the other hand, has been controversial for a good part of a century now. It is banned by many Muslim countries, such as Turkey, Syria and Egypt. The reason is that they saw much abuse of it. They saw it as a way to concentrate wealth in a family, instead of letting it into the economy. Many people used it as a way to circumvent inheritance law. With familial trusts, they could favor some relatives over others, whereas inheritance law fixes heir eligibility and distribution amounts of an estate.

IMHO, abuse of a system is no reason to ban it, but rather is reason to regulate it. Waqf Ahli has been allowed, even suggested, by the Prophet (PBUH) when one has needy relatives, as has been reported about Abu-Talha dedicating his best garden to his poor relatives after he heard this verse, “You shall not attain godliness until you spend from what you love” (3:92). It is a good way to take care of one’s poor relatives while one is still alive, as well as after he, the trustee, dies. That is the difference between trusts and inheritance. The other difference is what I mentioned above about allotment of shares and designation of beneficiaries.

Nobody ever owns the asset under Waqf and the trustee’s heirs are supposed to carry on the upkeep of the trust. Perhaps that’s why many Waqf assets were neglected to the point of deterioration. That was another reason governments moved to ban them. It would’ve been better IMHO if governments took over the maintenance.

Finding “the center”

Friday, October 28th, 2011

I am having difficulty being centered. I am reading so much and it is messing with me. Your word is balance. I pray and read the Quran. I remeber Allah. I have everything except money and I know that is temporay. Why am I feeling a loss of balance. I am not unhappy. I count my blessings.
I do not know where I am on the Path. It is not a crisis..but a seeking..make any sense.

Yes. Getting to “the center” has been the goal of all thinkers and spiritual teachers throughout the centuries and they all said it was not easy.

But because God calls us to it, it is within our ability. The effort we exert to get there and stay there is a jihaad (strife); a strife of the soul and of the mind. One who lives life with deliberation is more likely to succeed in that strife than one who just lives. Your questioning your place on the Path means you’re on it.

Stay on it. What you read may cloud your thoughts. It may tempt you to take alternative routes. Don’t. The Prophet (PBUH) said that a parable for the believers on the Straight Path is like a man walking a narrow road with endless attractions on either side of the road calling him to check them out, but he turns them all down (I’m searching for the exact words of this hadeeth and its authentication).

How can you tell if what you’re reading is not something that you should follow? Examine it against the Quran. God and His Messenger have described the Quran as Al-Fasl (the Decisive) because it will tell you if a notion is true or false. Islam is simple, but many people think it has to be more complex! So they complicate it with their interpretations, assumptions and theories.

Extremes tend to appeal to emotion while the center tends to appeal to steadiness. No wonder centrist people are often called cool-headed. 🙂 Extremes divide while the center pulls together and reconciles. It leads to peace. That is what the word “Islam” means: peace through submitting to God’s will.

Always keep in mind what the Prophet (PBUH) has commissioned us to do, when he said, “This religion is easy! No one will play tug-of-war with it but it will defeat him. So, make things easy, do not make them hard. Tend to agree with people (“Saddidu”) and reconcile their views (“Qaaribu”). Spread the good news and do not repulse people.” Narrated in many versions by Abu-Hurayra and `Aa’isha (RA) and reported by Al-Bukhaari and Muslim and rated authentic.

Feel free to comment with whatever of your readings that you feel is throwing you off course.

How do we struggle “in God”?

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I enjoyed reading your posts about Sufism. I’m not Sufi, but I’m curious: You quoted 29:69, which says, “And those who struggle in Us…”. How does one struggle in God?

Thanks. Interestingly, God answers that question immediately after the phrase you quoted! He says, “and God surely is with benefactors.” (29:69)

Benefaction (Ihsaan) is to do beautiful things. The Arabic word has the noun root Husn which means beauty. So, benefaction is more than doing good, it is doing good in a beautiful manner. God calls every good deed Hasana (a beautiful thing).

The Prophet (PBUH) defined the difference between Islam (submission), Eemaan (faith) and Ihsaan (benefaction). He said that Islam is to do the five pillars of it: Shahaada (testimony of faith), prayer, fasting, Zakah (alms giving) and pilgrimage to Mecca if you can. He defined Eeman as belief in the six pillars of it: Belief in God, His angels, His scriptures, His Messengers, the Final Day (the Hereafter), and the Qadar (precision and wisdom of God’s timing and provision). Finally, he defined Ihsaan as follows, “That you worship God as if you see Him! While you do not see Him, He sees you!” That is the realization that causes a Muslim to be a benefactor: God is watching and appraising what we do and the angels are writing down in our eternal record of deeds.

Where lies the balance between the esoteric and exoteric life?

Friday, April 1st, 2011

If the esoteric is special knowledge granted to a select few, and the exoteric is general knowledge available to all, then the balance between them is the realization that they both come from God and cannot contradict His Revelation. I prefer to call esoteric knowledge esoteric understanding. I’ll explain shortly.

Seekers of spiritual wisdom throughout the ages have thought at some point or another in their quest that they finally got it; the meaning of it all. But the Quran tells us that “the Truth is from your Lord” (18:29). The truth is not granted to a select few, it is granted to those who commit to God’s teachings as He revealed them in His scriptures.

He tells us, “And those who struggle in Us – We certainly will guide them to Our paths. Verily, God is with benefactors.” (29:69). That verse is quoted a lot by Sufis, but often misinterpreted as allowing esoteric knowledge. It merely explains that deeper understanding of the same exoteric knowledge is available to anyone who tries to obtain it.

Another verse often quoted and misinterpreted in this context is, “He grants wisdom to whomever He wills, and he who is granted wisdom has been given much good.” (2:269) Who are those? They are the ones who adhere to the Quran and live by its teachings, not the ones who are on a hunger strike thinking it will lead them to enlightenment.

Why was Sage Al-Khadr privy to knowledge that Moses didn’t have, peace be upon them? Al-Khadr was not a prophet, yet God granted him special understanding, because he was eligible for it, that’s why. Recall that he kept reminding Moses that he will not bear his decisions, will lose patience and keep asking questions too early? That’s why that understanding had to be given to somebody else. Moses knew that God has wisdom in everything He does, even if that wisdom isn’t obvious to us, but He did not have the same understanding of that exoteric knowledge as Al-Khadr had. Moses could not learn it on his own.

The belief that there is some prized esoteric knowledge out there is what leads many Sufis to deviation, and to beliefs such as communion with God (Wahdat-ul-Wujood) and Dissolution in God (Al-Fanaa’), both contrary to the Quran.

The balance you’re asking about is the Quran, which God describes this way, “It surely is a decisive statement. It is not a jest.” (86:13-14)

A poem by Imaam Ash-Shaafi`i

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

I know you love poetry, especially by Imaam Ash-Shaafi`i, rahimahullah, so here is one:

عليك بتقوى الله إن كنت غافلا **يأتيك بالأرزاق من حيث لا تدري
وكيف تخاف الفقر والله رازق **فقد رزق الطير والحوت في البحر
ومن ظن أن الرزق يأتي بقوة **ما أكل العصفور شيئاً مع النسر
تزول عن الدنيا فإنك لاتدري **إذا جن عليك الليل هل تعش إلى الفجر
فكم من صحيح مات من غير علة **وكم من سقيم عاش حيناً من الدهر
وكم من فتى أمسى وأصبح ضاحكا **وأكفانه في الغيب تنسج وهو لا يدري

May God reward you well. Lovely poem. Here is its translation:

Commit to consciousness of God, if you’ve been heedless,
He will bring you sustenance from wherever you wouldn’t know.
How can you fear poverty knowing that God is Provider,
He provided for birds and the whale in the sea.
To whomever thought that sustenance is obtained by strength,
A sparrow wouldn’t be eating with eagles!
You depart the world [when you sleep] and you don’t know,
when night covers you, will you live till dawn?
How many healthy ones died without a sickness,
and how many sick ones lived for some time.
And how many a youth laugh night and day,
while their coffin in the Beyond is being sewn and he doesn’t know.

Let the beauty you seek be what you do

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

I’d like to share with you this poem by Rumi, of whom I’m a huge fan, may God bless his soul,

Absorbed in this world,
you’ve made it your burden.
Rise above this world;
There is another vision.
All your life you’ve paid attention to your experiences,
but never to your Self.
Are you searching for your Soul?
Then come out of your prison.
Leave the stream,
and join the river that flows into the Ocean;
It will not lead you astray.
Let the beauty you seek be what you do.

How beautiful! Rumi was indeed a genius poet. Thank you so much for sharing.

Her prayers have not been answered

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

When I was younger, God did help me when I called out to Him. Overall, He has blessed me with good things in this life. Recently that has changed.

Having the good things in life is what most people think is God’s blessings. But Islam teaches us that the good things in life are a contingent blessing! That is, if one thanks God for them by being good and faithful, then they are a blessing indeed. But, if one becomes occupied with them or does not thank God for them and starts to think that he deserves them, then they are a curse and not a blessing. Why? Because “the Hereafter is the life, if they only knew” (29:64). Thus, anything that does not improve our chances for Paradise is not a good thing even if it looks like a very good thing.

Likewise is hardship! Even hardship is contingent. If one endures it with faith in God that He will alleviate it, then it was a blessing in disguise! If one cannot bear them out and starts to feel discontentment or resentment, then it was a punishment. A test of faith they failed in.

I recently went through a very, very terrible heartbreak. My soul has not healed, and because I am grieving so badly my soul is still not healing. I am dealing with many losses.

Heartbreaks can be as wrenching as the loss of a loved one. When my father died, may God bless his and my mother’s souls, I honestly didn’t know how any day could pass. I felt constant torment and time wasn’t moving. Grief is legitimate and weeping for loss is allowed. But endurance and acceptance are the lessons to be learned from loss and hardship. The longer it takes for those lessons to be learned, the longer it takes the soul to heal.

People tell me to keep praying and things will turn around for me. I believe that, but at the same time I’ve never known it to happen to others. Its like I am looking for water in a desert.

Perhaps you are. Your grief is legitimate but it has put you in a box. You have predefined what God’s answer should be! If, on the other hand, you are confident that He has already answered your prayers, then you have freed yourself from that box. God’s answer is not always obvious.

Why doesn’t God answer my friend’s prayers? After all of her suffering and loneliness, why couldn’t God give her a nice husband and children, instead of a bad car accident and more loneliness?

Now you’re predefining what God’s answer should be for other people too. God does not forget anyone. He gives everybody what is best for them. We will see it all in detail and finally understand it on the Day of Settlement.

I ask myself…am I being unrealistic in praying for my own Zamzam (water well that sprung under Ishmael’s feet), so to speak? I have prayed for over 10 years for my Zamzam…a loving husband…healthy babies…joy in my life…

Not if you will recognize your Zamzam when it comes to you. This, of course, is easier said than done. That’s why faith, as Islam defines it, is not easy. It’s a balance between trust in God, acceptance of what He gives us, and working hard to achieve our goals. All are required!

and for a few brief months at age 39 I CAME CLOSE but it all fell apart. Has God given me my answer?

Not necessarily. One pitfall people fall into a lot is that they interpret things as God’s will and stop trying. Everything is by God’s will, and part of His will is that things follow the earthly laws He created and set in motion.

What I am having a harder time with is, if God did not want to answer my prayers, then why did He not give me peace in my heart, instead of a broken heart? And now that I have a broken heart and a terrible sense of grief over lost love and the lost opportunity to have a family of my own, why isn’t God repairing my broken heart so that I am content with what I don’t have?

It works the other way around! First, you accept and be content, then God grants you peace of mind. “He knew what is in their hearts, so He sent down tranquility upon them, and granted them a near opening” (48:18)

God answered your prayers, but you can’t see the answer just yet. You will in time.

What do you mean, by grief has put me in a box?
So should I accept that God has given me His answer — if so, doesn’t that mean that to obtain peace in my heart I have to stop praying for what (and for whom) my heart desires?

I mean that you are unable to think beyond the loss. That’s understandable for the time being. But if you start thinking beyond the loss, you’ll gradually accept it, open up other opportunities for yourself and get the wisdom of what happened. It takes time but it also takes initiative.

What is perplexing me is that I should accept that certain joys will bypass me, and instead I should wait patiently for death. But dying alone and unloved is a hard, bitter pill to swallow, especially when you are 40 and have (potentially) another 30 years to go!

No. That’s not it at all. You should see the bigger picture. How do you know that the marriage you didn’t get would not have been a curse that would ruin the rest of your life? Only God truly sees the whole picture.

My post was not an advice for you to wait! It was an advice for you to accept and be content, then move on. When you do that, the world opens up and you start to see what you couldn’t see before. Other opportunities start coming your way and, which is the best part, you actually see them when they come.

What do you mean, God answered my prayers? I just don’t know how to interpret that! When you say that I will see the answer in time….again this goes back to my heartrenchign question…do you mean, I will see the answer upon my death?

I mean that the answer has arrived though you cannot identify it just yet. You can’t in your current state of sorrow and confusion. However, if you start thinking that way, it will start to become clearer to you. That is an important ingredient of faith.

Am I presumptious in thinking that God will hold me as dear as the wife of Abraham, and grant me what I desire?

Are you as faithful as Haajar (Hagar), peace be upon her? When her husband left her and her baby in the middle of an arid, uninhabited desert of a foreign land, what did she say? She asked him, “Did God order this?” When he said yes, she replied, “Then He will not leave us!” Do you have the same level of faith? That God did not and will not leave you?

Did you work hard to achieve your goal? Haajar walked and ran seven times between the two hills of As-Safa and Al-Marwa looking for water or people or an oasis. Have you exhausted all lawful means available to you to achieve your goal?

If the answer is yes to both questions, then God holds you as dear as Haajar and your Zamzam will spring out when you don’t expect it!

Do I ACCEPT that the Zamzam I want is unattainable and instead focus on alternatives?

Not unattainable but may not be attained. Big difference. The former is despair from God’s mercy and the latter is pragmatic.