The Importance of a Strong Mindset

One important element of facing tests in life is mindset.

Allah (swt) makes people go through tests for a number of reasons – as a punishment, to remove sins or to raise our ranks.

I think the majority of believers (who fulfil the basic commands) fall under the second type: a test to remove our sins.

Therefore, below are 3 things to remind yourself when facing any difficulty:

1) It’s very likely a purification

Of course, one can’t be sure, but unless you’ve committed a number of sins recently, generally the trial you are facing is inshAllah a purification (unless you’re extremely pious!).

With this mindset, you’re trading your previous sins in life for some temporary pain. That should be a solace to the believer as accountability reduces in the hereafter.

Ali (ra) said:

“Don’t be happy with easy times and don’t be sad with difficult times, for indeed, Gold is tested through intense heat and the pious slave is tried through the pressure of tribulations” (Risaataul-Mustarshideen 1/51).

What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger inshAllah. Ride through the test and believe you’re being cleansed through this process inshAllah.

2) It can bring you closer to Allah (if you allow it)

Some people ask, what is the wisdom of the Prophet (saws) being tested as an orphan?

Shaykh Abdul Hamid Kishk (ra) illustrates to the effect;

“When a child is growing up and has a need, he will begin to call out ‘O my Mother, O My Father!. But as an orphan, when the Prophet (saws) had a need, he would call ‘O my Lord, O my Lord’!”

Yes, this is a difficult situation. But Allah sometimes may put you in a predicament where you actually gain proximity to him (swt).

Ibn ‘Ataa Allah says ‘Whenever he alienates you from his creation, realise that he wants to open for you the door of closeness with him’ (Al-Hikam/101).

Hence, ask yourself the last time you really beseeched Allah (swt) for a need? In many cases, it will be a time of such difficulty where your family, your friends – nobody – was able to help or guide you.

At that point, you realise it is only Allah! So you pray longer, you increase your Istighfaar and you make longer supplications.

This test may be painful, but you gain proximity to Allah as you seek his refuge.

3) Your Lord will not abandon you.

When the Prophet (saws) was verbally, emotionally and physically attacked in Makkah, Allah revealed Surat’l-Duha. The famous verse which gives solace to all believers was revealed;

‘Your Lord will not abandon you, nor does he detest you’ (93:3).

There is a popular story which reflects this about a famous ascetic – Hatim al-Assam (ra).

One day he wanted to go to Hajj, but his wife and children were trying to convince him to stay as they had little money.

Close to giving up, he sought permission from his youngest daughter who said ‘You go, Allah will look after us’.

He convinced everyone, put on his Ihram, left some provisions and travelled.

Over time, the provisions decreased and the family started to scold the young girl and blame her. She went to her room and made du’a to Allah –

“O Allah you are the truth, and your words are the truth. Whoever fears Allah, he will provide a way out. And provide him from places he cannot imagine”.

Soon after, the door knocks.

It is a soldier asking for a glass of water as the governor is travelling through the town. The mother prepares the water, and the guard gives it to the governor.

The governor enjoyed the water and enquired ‘Who’s house is this?’.

She said it is the house of Hatem al-Assam.

Seeing the situation of the family he throws a pouch of gold coins into the house and encourages the rest of his soldiers to follow suit.

The family are happy and ecstatic, but the small girl starts to weep. The mother says ‘What’s up with you, when we had little, you were fine, but now we have been given this money, you are crying!?’.

The girl responds:

“O my Mother, look what we received when this man (a creation of Allah) looked at us with an eye of mercy…

How about when Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, looks us at us with his mercy!”

Allah (swt) is more merciful to his slaves than a mother to their child. As long as we keep our connection to Allah (swt) with sincerity, our tests can ultimately draw us nearer to Him.