By Khalida Jalili
Let me tell you a short story about a teenage boy whose early life is possibly very similar to many of our own teenage lives:
Spoiled and wealthy, this young teen was the center of his mother’s attention and adoration. He lived a life of ample luxury because of his mother. He made one decision in his life, however, that completely overturned his mother’s affection towards him. She would tell him to give up the new change he had brought about in his life. She would even threaten to never eat or drink if he did not listen to her! And when he refused to concede, she too decided to make dramatic changes: she quit spoiling her son, thus depriving him of the luxurious life he once enjoyed. He was forced out of the house onto the streets in only one garment and left to figure out how to live life all on his own!
Before I let you know who this young man is, let me introduce you to another gentleman:
This young man loved his dad dearly and also cared a lot about his community. However, he too, like the teenager, was not treated well by his parent because of the lifestyle that he had adopted. His dad even threatened to stone him, demanding that he leave to somewhere far away from him, and the community he had well-wished for almost burned him alive!
You might have already guessed that this young man was Ibrahim (peace be upon him). And the teenager mentioned earlier was none other than a sahabah named Mus’ab Ibn ‘Umayr (may Allah be pleased with him).
Anyone who knows what it means to be spoiled and then deprived, or to be dearly attached to people and then hurt by them, could relate (at least to some extent) to these two cases. Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and Mus’ab Ibn ‘Umayr (may Allah be pleased with him) were both emotionally and physically abused by their loved ones just because they chose Islam as their lifestyle.
Allah knows best if these experiences were traumatizing for either of them, since the validity of such an assertion will depend on various determinants such as whether they felt emotionally overwhelmed or if they felt “a threat to life, bodily integrity, or sanity” (Pearlman & Saakvitne, 1995, p. 60). Nevertheless, these experiences would definitely prove to be traumatic for many.
Yes, Mus’ab Ibn ‘Umayr (may Allah be pleased with him) was forced to leave his mom despite his love for her; but he found another family whom he loved just as much – if not more – and who loved him back as one of their own: Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and the sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them all). And yes, Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was driven out by his father and community; but not only did he find a different home and community, he was also blessed with a family of his own along with a legacy his descendants remember until this day (Surah Maryam; 19: 41-50). SubhanAllah.
Regrettably, if you have ever experienced emotional trauma, you will know that it can be difficult to talk about your traumatic experience and to seek support, or even believe that you need support! Understand that you do not have to talk about anything that makes you uncomfortable; however, it is important to know that there are people out there whom you can trust. Of course, it is good to be cautious about whom you trust and to take necessary precautions, so do not think you are being paranoid if you find it difficult to trust others; but know that there are people who want the best for you. If you do not feel comfortable trusting a friend, family member, or teacher, try finding a counselor who is bound by law to keep your case information confidential (although, there are specific exceptions for safety and medical reasons, which they will explain to you).
Learning how to effectively deal with your fears, insecurities, and anxieties is important in maintaining your mental health. You cannot move past emotional trauma if you do not act. As tempting as it may be to stay within your own company, you need to connect with people who have the experience and knowledge to support you.
Ask yourself this: If you had a friend who was undergoing a rough time, how would you comfort him/her? What would you say to him/her? Would you be harsh with them, or gentle? You’d know that being harsh will only make the situation worse for them. Instead, you’d let them know that you are there for him/her. You would be compassionate to them and assist them in whatever way you can. Likewise, be compassionate to yourself.
In order to realize how best you can treat your mental and emotional illness, consider the physical illnesses that you face. When you have a cold, for instance, would you hope to get better just by lying in bed all day? Or would you get moving? Chances are you’d do the latter. You’d go to the pharmacy for medication and may even go the extra mile to try home-remedies or anything else that could cure you. This is how we should view our emotional health as well. The medicine is out there in the forms of counseling, joining a trauma support group, attending self-development workshops, and further educating ourselves on healing. Our medicine is there in the form of endeavoring to live a more productive lifestyle through salah, du’a, dhikr, exercise, healthy diet, and wholesome sleep.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “There is no one who is afflicted by distress and grief, and says:
اللِّهُمَّ إنِّي عَبْدُكَ ، ابْنُ عَبْدِكَ ، ابْنُ أَمَتِكَ ، نَاصِيَتِي بِيَدِكَ ، مَاضِ فِيَّ حُكْمُكَ ، عَدْلٌ فِيَّ قَضَاؤُكَ ، أَسْأَلُكَ بِكُلِّ اسْمٍ هُوَ لَكَ ، سَمَّيْتَ بِهِ نَفْسَكَ ، أَوْ أنْزَلْتَهُ فِي كِتَاَبِكَ ، أَوْ عَلَّمْتَهُ أَحَدًا مِنْ خَلْقِكَ ، أَوِ اسْتَأْثَرْتَ بِهِ فِي عِلْمِ الْغَيْبِ عِنْدَكَ ، أنْ تَجْعَلَ الْقُرْآنَ رَبِيعَ قَلْبِي ، وَ نُورَ صَدْرِي ، وَ جَلاءَ حُزْنِي ، وَ ذَهَابَ هَمِّي
Allaahumma innee ‘abduka ibn ‘abdika ibn amatika naasyati bi yadika, maadin fiyya hukmuka, ‘adlun fiyya qadaa’uk. As’aluka bi kulli ismin huwa laka sammayta bihi nafsaka aw anzaltahu fi kitaabika aw ‘allamtahu ahadan min khalqika aw ista’tharta bihi fi ‘ilmil-ghayb ‘indaka an taj’al al-Qur’aana rabee’ qalbi wa noor sadri wa jalaa’ huzni wa dhahaaba hammee
Oh Allah, I am Your Slave, son of Your slave, son of Your maidservant; my forelock is in Your Hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me if just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or taught to any one of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Quran the life of my heart and the light of my chest, and a departure of my sorrow and a release of my anxiety.
except that Allaah will take away his distress and grief, and replace it with joy.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)
Healing takes time, so be patient with yourself and the process. While we take all the means to heal, we should never forget that healing – whether physical or psychological – is ultimately in Allah’s Hands. He is Al-Shaafi, The Healer. And among Allah’s Most Beautiful names is Al-Jabbaar. The name Al-Jabbaar encompasses a very comprehensive definition, one of which is The Mender. Al-Jabbaar is the One Who can heal that bone fracture. Al-Jabbaar is the One Who can heal your heart when you feel hurt because of a bully, parent, child, friend, teacher, or stranger. He is the One Who is capable of healing your physical and psychological wounds.
May Al-Jabbaar mend you and your heart, dear reader.