Bracing the Perfect Storm with an Air of Calm

How is it that some people are able to weather the roughest of challenges, the most difficult of climates and the harshest of situations all within the stride of calmness?

Others are not so eloquent in doing so and controlling their rage, their frustration, their hatred becomes a harsh climate of its own. When this happens, they end up in fighting a storm with their own torrential rains, lightning and thunder.

As Muslims, it is imperative that we follow in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as we will also follow the footprints of previous Prophets who were faced with adversities like no other.

The underlying key to their perseverance was having their only goal in pleasing God and if God was pleased with them, they had nothing to worry about.

Prophet Muhammad described his plight in Ta’if as the bitterest day of his life. He had traveled to Ta’if with Zayd ibn Harithah only to be pelted with rocks and stones by the children of the village.

The leaders of Ta’if continued to order their people to mock and jeer at them as they were bombarded by rocks until they bled profusely at their feet.

Upon reaching a place of safety however, the Prophet never once expressed rage or revenge towards those who had abused him – instead, he sought refuge in the Lord, invoking Him not for His displeasure.

How many Muslims are able to hold this type of calm during times of hardship?

{And your Lord says: Call on Me; I will answer your (prayers); verily those who are too arrogant to worship Me will surely enter hell abased,} (40: 60)

Every person knows of the perfect storm, the one that runs even the most-abled person off his feet into the pits of despair. Everyone is challenged at one point in life or another, and no matter how difficult those matters become, the resolve is always to turn to God.

Yet despite this Quranic directive, some people find it difficult to handle the situation, developing anxieties at every turn they take, fearing the uncertainty and longing for a light amidst the destruction.

Stress, as humans know it, is unavoidable throughout one’s life – and some forms of stress that are chronic, can lead to fatalities.

Although there is a strong directive to avoid bloodshed, violence sometimes cannot be avoided and it is seen in Prophetic history that deaths were inevitable even during the calmest battles in Islam. But even in the face of death, the most pious Muslims understood what it was meant to die for the cause of Allah.

Each perfect storm has been preordained. It says so in the Quran. It could be as simple as being harassed by a family member, losing a job, parting with a loved one or being oppressed by a tyrannical ruler.

Somehow, all these storms have been tailored to fit the needs, personalities and unique strengths of each individual. So with every message that comes a person’s way, there is a reason for good and promises of rewards are aplenty.

Even if a nation or an individual seems to suffer, God promises that there is a calmness that will set forth during or even after the destruction that is caused by a storm.

People from the Middle East are going through pivotal storm that is changing the landscape of their nations.

What were initial peace protests turned into a fair amount of violence and bloodshed, even for those who are caught in the cross-fire, they are able to remain calm and fight tyranny with sincere du’a, prayers and solidarity amongst their countrymen, regardless of their faiths.

Even in the worse of calamities, God provides relief, thus Muslims have to remember that with every hardship comes peace, with every perfect storm comes a period of calm that relaxes the angst and rewards the righteous – even if one has to wait for the Hereafter in order to accomplish the same – and that is a promise in the Quran that would never be broken.

In order to find solace amongst blood, violence and death, Prophet Muhammad narrates that du’a or invocations are the perfect way to counter strain and sorrow, as this would lead to intercession at the Hereafter, by Prophet Muhammad himself. Without du’a and resilience, Muslims have everything to lose.

But with invocations, God answers them and the same du’as fill a person’s due for intercession. Prophet Muhammad said:

“For every prophet there is one special invocation (that will not be rejected) with which he appeals (to Allah), and I want to keep such an invocation for interceding for my followers in the Hereafter.” (Al-Bukhari)

Unfortunately, there are many instances where believers forget to invoke God for His mercy. Even in the smallest calamity there are those who forget to be humble and find ways to draw closer to God. Discontent rises as stress takes a toll and tempers begin to boil.

Instead of finding constructive ways out of a situation that is causing discord, this type of person finds complacency through blaming the Lord for his sufferings. Within his anger, this type of person can also find disbelief in his Lord, instead of finding the calm that will help him convey his rage into positive energy that will work in lieu of the situation. God says:  

{And among mankind is he who worships Allah as it were upon the edge: if good befalls him, he is content therewith; but if a trial befalls him he turns back on his face (i.e. reverts to disbelief after embracing Islam). He loses both this world and the Hereafter.} (22: 11)

Many Muslims gravitate towards discontent in the face of undue stress and this is in everyone’s humanness to experience panic of uncertainty. However, screaming blasphemous allegations against the Lord leads to self-destruction as the virtue of patience is quickly forgotten.

Patience and calm are the perfect ingredients when invoking du’as to God as this provides a passport to a stronger faith and a more positive attitude when dealing with calamities in a storm. God commands patience even in the worse of scenarios and requests Muslims to accept their misfortunes as stepping stones towards greener environments.  

{And be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are the patient} (8: 46)

{Those who are in this world and are close to Allah will be raised in the highest of heaven: ’Peace be upon you, because you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!’} (13: 24)

Acceptance and gratitude are also needed in order to surpass the worst ordeals. It may sound ironic to find glee in misfortunes, but the fact that the promise of God still stands to reward those who are patient and adhering to the Lord, surpass any form of joy during moments of calamity.  

{Verily, with hardship there is relief} (84: 6)

The Prophets were known to be at the brunt of violence throughout their Prophethood, yet they lived to tell their tales, by invoking blessings and guidance from God no matter what came their way. Their level of patience cannot be contended with, but there is certainly no harm in emulating their calmness in the worst situations.

Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was cast into a fire by Nimrod to have him terminated forever. But the Prophet was saved through his own calm submission to God:  

{Allah said, O’fire! Be you coolness and safety for Ibrahim.} (21: 69)

It is certainly impossible for a raging fire to be cool, except if God commands for the same.

Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) invoked: {With me is my Lord, He will guide me.} (26: 62), when coming close to drowning – and while his life was at stake, he could only ask for guidance above anything else. The heart-wrenching story of Prophet Ayub (peace be upon him) also comes to mind, as Prophet Ayub is remembered as one of the most patient Prophets in Islamic Seerah – keeping his calm despite losing his wealth, his health, his family and all of his companions and coming close to death as a lonesome man:  

{And (remember) Ayyub when he cried to his Lord “Truly distress has seized me but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful} (21: 83-4)

All he could think of was God’s Mercy, despite his plight.

All Prophets, thus all Muslims, will weather their perfect storm – one that is befitting each individual’s perseverance. The key to finding the calm amidst the havoc and rising above the odds are patience, acceptance and gratitude. And the key to bracing that perfect storm with the air of calmness is to find God and ask Him for guidance. Prophet Muhammad said:

“Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity, and know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship.” (At-Tirmidhi)

This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.