Holding On To Burning Coals
THE Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There will come a time of patience when the one who adheres steadfastly to his religion will be like one who holds a burning coal.” (Al-Tirmidhi, no. 2260, authenticated by Al-Albani)
Strange, strange times we are passing through. In one part of the world, a man may grow up in a land where he has never heard of anything except Islam; while in another place, a woman may struggle and face isolation while trying to adhere to this ‘never-heard-of strange’ religion. The former may spend his life praying, fasting and giving charity, while the other may die in persecution and violence. Most of us will lie in shades of gray between these two black and white realities.
Without doubt several Muslims around the world are going through severe trials. They are being pressured to accept beliefs, systems and lifestyles that other societies have termed ‘ideal’ instead of the Islamic ones. A man sporting a beard may become a terror suspect, women should remove their veils to either be ‘liberated’ or be part of a secular society, and youth cannot be ‘cool’ unless they drink in pubs and lose their virginity before marriage. What do you do when the world tells you to be ashamed of your identity and your path that you know with full conviction is true? What do you do when holding on to your faith is akin to holding on to burning coals?
First thing we should do when we face such – or any – trouble is turn to Allah for help. Address your du’a to him. He has heard us and answered our prayers in our most difficult times in the past, He provides us and has given what we didn’t even ask for, so to Him we need to turn – and expect – help.
Realize the futility of what is being propounded. Ideas, values, beliefs and systems keep changing in today’s world. What was good yesterday, is bad today; what is bad today, is good tomorrow! A fine example is that of the financial crisis. Yesterday, everyone in America was laughing at those who preferred saving and not taking loans more than their income. The ‘ideal’ thing to do then was take mortgage loans; spending went up to 135 percent of a person’s salary! Today, after the crisis has hit, people are saying, saving was the right thing to do!
Islam’s teachings always remain the same. Its principles never change. Any path that is different from that of Islam’s is bound to fail. In America, those who did not take interest-based loans and did not spend extravagantly are better off in the current crisis. In short, those who stuck to Islam, despite what people around them said during that time, have emerged victorious.
The examples are too many, but the point is: don’t be blinded into confusion during Fitan (trials). Be strong and stand firm, because, by Allah, you are upon the truth. At work, at social gatherings, your adherence to Islam may be questioned and ridiculed, but that should not deter you. Go back to the Qur’an and Sunnah, read them for comfort and your faith will automatically increase. Reflect on the verses of the Qur’an, reflect on the evidences Allah gives to prove the truthfulness of His Message. Is there any uncorrupted truthful divine book with so many miracles present today? Has anyone ever brought forth a book similar to the Qur’an?
The more you learn about Islam, the more your faith in it will increase In Sha Allah. In fact, Allah revealed the Qur’an in stages to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to strengthen his heart. Learning will not be so fruitful unless we practice the knowledge we have. So the product of our knowledge should be righteous deeds.
Remember that you’re not alone. People before you were tested, and severely tested.
Or think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near! (Qur’an, 2:214)
Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested.
And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allah knows all that before putting them to test). (Qur’an, 29:2-3)
Trying times are tests for us to check if we are true believers or hypocrites. Hypocrites will not be able to stand firm and their hypocrisy gets exposed when they waver and turn away from the truth. May Allah protect us all from tests and make us firm upon Islam.
During the Battle of Khandaq, when a huge and a large army were near the doors of Madina to annihilate Islam, and Muslims were very weak with their very existence being threatened, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prophesied that the world’s superpowers during that time – the Persian and Roman empires – will be defeated by Muslims in the future. Hypocrites mocked. Muslims not only won that battle, but some two decades after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), his prophecy came true. Persians and Romans were defeated.
Allah will of a surety make His religion victorious. This is His promise, if we are true believers.
“So, do not become weak, nor be sad, and you will be superior (in victory) if you are indeed (true) believers.” (Qur’an, 3:139)
What is required of us is to be true believers. When Allah and His Messenger have said something, we believe in it and follow it, because that is what makes us Muslims, even if the whole world thinks to the contrary. Remember, Islam doesn’t go against any established truth or scientific fact; it may go against some notions that are believed to be true. A simple clarification from scholars will prove those contradicting notions false.
In conclusion, try your best to seek knowledge, because knowledge will be your best weapon, be with in righteous company and utilize your time in inviting people to Islam. All afflictions of this world are temporary, but the life of the hereafter is everlasting and to be successful there, you have to choose the path of success here. May Allah guide us to the Straight Path and keep us steadfast upon it.