By: Uzma Fareed

The Islamic approach to obstacles that makes life feel brighter and lighter.

Remember the time you were running late to work? From the glitchy alarm app, to the moody emo-toaster, to the empty fuel tank – everything seemed like it was all part of a secret mission to slow you down. Remember the dark thoughts clouding your mind and feelings of frustration coursing through your veins? Cursing obscenities at inanimate objects and weaving madly through traffic may have been a normal response of some individuals. Others may have acted cool and calm on the surface, but silently seethed all day – only to snap at their spouse for breathing too loudly at night.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

If we believe that life is unfair and we have terrible luck, then that is exactly what we will experience. In modern psychology, this is called a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we believe, deep down, that our life is a tragedy and are waiting for the next calamity to strike, then this pessimism will take over our perception of reality. Our minds will only focus on the negative and ignore the many positives we experience. Thus, we will continue to behave, expect, and experience more negativity in life. A simple burnt toast may remind us of past misfortunes and send us into a frenzy of rage. We may completely ignore the blessings that we have a fridge full of nutritious, alternative breakfast options and the ability to eat, enjoy, and digest them in good health. 

The Quranic Mindset

The Islamic teachings on this, however, are quite the opposite. Although there may be negative emotions being felt at encountering challenges, a Muslim’s foundational beliefs eclipse everything: 

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,
Allah said, ‘I am to my slave as he thinks of Me, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him).” (Bukhari 7505) 

“And whoever is mindful of Allah, He will make a way out for them, and provide for them from sources they could never imagine. And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He (alone) is sufficient for them. Certainly, Allah achieves His Will. Allah has already set a destiny for everything.” (Quran: 65:2-3)

Islam teaches believers to be optimists at heart and expect good from God. Even when things seem to be going wrong, they know that Allah is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. He is All-Powerful and He Sees and Hears everything that they are going through. They are certain that God is taking care of them with His Love and His Protection and that He will guide them through any difficulty. They put their trust in their Merciful God. This is not only a teaching, but a psychological tool that if practiced, completely changes the way they experience life. 

In God We Trust

If we use this positive mindset of belief and trust in The All-Powerful, The Most Merciful, Loving God, then our perception of that terrible morning changes completely. The alarm app’s unreliability may force us to download a better one today and may save us from missing anything in the future. The burnt-to-a-crisp Pop-Tart sizzling in our toaster made us choose a healthier, more fulfilling breakfast choice. The extra time it took us to fill up gas may have prevented us from getting into an accident on the highway. 

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