Roadblocks of Mercy
If He opens a door for you, thereby making Himself known,
pay no need if your deeds do not measure up to this.
For, in truth, He has not opened it for you but out of
a desire to make Himself known to you.
(from the Hikam)
Since becoming a mother I’ve started to appreciate the incredible blessing of free time. (Or, as they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”:P) Busy with daily responsibilities, it’s almost impossible to maintain the same level of focus and time dedicated to worship and study as before. It can often lead to an overwhelming and frustrating feeling… but listening to a recent lesson on the Hikam has really helped me put things in perspective, and realize that being prevented from certain actions is not something arbitrary, but occurs purposefully, though it may be beyond our understanding. I also came across an extremely beautiful hadith the other day, which fits in almost exactly with this same lesson. The entire hadith is amazing, but the part that was particularly striking to me was the following:
“(Allah the Exalted says:) Verily, from amongst My slaves is he who seeks worship by a certain act but I prevent that from him so that self-amazement does not enter his heart. Certainly, I run the affairs of My slaves by My Knowledge of what is in their hearts. Certainly, I am the All-Knower, All-Aware.”
SubhanAllah. I think we often get caught up in trying to reach Allah through the way that we want, and forget that true seekers can only reach Him in the way that He wants. And that includes not just facilitation and opened doors, but also setbacks and obstacles on this Path (which may be for our own benefit). We get so attached to the act itself, that we forget that it is simply a means, and if Allah wants He can draw us close to Him through other means instead.
Here is some of what the shaykh, hafidhahullah, said in class in his explanation of part of Hikmah #8 (quoted at the beginning of the post):
When we face inevitable challenges and setbacks in our path, or encounter pressing needs or responsibilities that take us away from ‘amal [doing good deeds that bring us closer to Allah], this is an expression of some of Allah’s attributes (of His being al-Qahhar, al-Fa’aal, the One who does what He pleases, the Wise, the Just, etc). But oftentimes we don’t see it that way – we just get angry at not getting to do what we want to do and things not going along with our expectations. We have this reaction because we don’t see a manifestation of the attributes of Allah when things go wrong. If we are true seekers, this happening should help us internalize more about Allah – that there is nothing in this universe that happens without His control and will, the good things and the things that make us uncomfortable.
Allah orders Jibreel and the angels that for a special servant, when they are sick or traveling [or otherwise genuinely incapable of performing their normal good deeds], to record for them the same beautiful deeds they used to establish before they became occupied. This is with the condition that one understands that this too is a way of striving to Allah, and that one is in His obedience.
So don’t be disappointed if your external actions have diminished, as long as Allah has given to your heart and mind avenues to knowing Him, through witnessing His creation and His attributes. As long as you are in an internal state of awareness that He is being made known to you through what happens to you, and you accept [your inability to do something] as the Qadaa’ of Allah, then even if your pool of ‘amal diminishes, that should not worry you.
We know Allah not only through what we do, but through what we experience – through ease and prosperity, and through hardship and difficulty. You claim you want to know Him – yet this is a way of knowing Him. He is not only the One who expands, but the One who constricts. He is not only the One who is magnanimous and forgiving and loving, but also the One who calls one to task.
We often ask Allah, ‘Please make Yourself known to me’ – but then we have to be ready! because He will make Himself known in ways we may not expect or know.