A handicap in one area can be compensated for by excellence in another
(Consider it not a bad thing for you. Nay, it is good for you. (Qur’an 24: 11)
Most people who are remembered today for their greatness had to overcome many obstacles on their path: their perseverance was akin to obstinacy. They felt a weakness in one faculty or area that required compensation in another. Many great scholars of Islam were actually freed slaves, such as `Ataa, Sa’eed ibn Jubayr, Qatada, Bukhari, Tirmidhi and Abu Hanifah.
Many Islamic scholars, who in the vastness of their knowledge were like oceans, were afflicted with blindness Ibn `Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him), Qatada, Ibn Umm Maktoom (may Allah be pleased with him), Al-A’amash and Yazeed ibn Haroon, to mention only a few.
Among contemporary scholars, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraheem Aal-Shaykh, Shaykh `Abdullah ibn Humayd, and Shaykh Ibn Baaz are all blind.
Many great scholars were handicapped in one way or another. Some were blind, others were deaf, and yet others were bereft of a limb, and so on. Yet despite these handicaps, they influenced generations to come after them, and they were able to contribute to mankind.
…He will give you a light by which you shall walk [straight]… (Qur’an 57: 28)
A diploma from a prestigious University is not everything. Do not be down or despondent because you weren’t able to earn a University degree. Even without a diploma in your hand, you can still shine and contribute greatly to mankind. There are many famous and eminent people who do not have degrees. They made their way in life and overcame insurmountable obstacles with an iron will and a strong determination. Speaking of present day Islamic scholars, there are many prominent ones without degrees. Shaykh Ibn Baaz, Malik ibn Nabi, Al-`Aggad, At-Tantawi, Abi-Zahrah, Al-Mawdoodi, An-Nadawi all come to mind as examples, yet there are many more.
On the other hand, there are thousands of holders of Ph.D. degrees in the Islamic world who remain obscure and who have had no impact on society.
Can you [O’ Muhammad] find a single one of them or hear even a whisper of them? (Qur’an 19: 98)
You have a great treasure with you if you are of the type who is contented with any situation. The Prophet (bpuh) said in an authentic hadith:
“Be contented with what Allah has apportioned for you and you will be the richest of people.”
Be contented with your family, your income, your car, and your job. If you are contented with all of these, then you will have found happiness and peace. And in another authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
“Richness is the richness of the soul.”
He (bpuh) also said:
“O’ Allah, make his wealth be in his heart.”
A man related that he once entered a taxi at the airport and ordered the driver to take him to the city. He said, “I noticed that the driver was happy and good-humored. He would constantly praise Allah, thank Him, and remember Him. I asked him about his family and he said that he was the breadwinner for two families. Meanwhile, his monthly salary was a paltry sum of 800 riyals, and he and his family had to live in a run-down building. Yet, his mind was at peace because he was thankful for what Allah had allotted for him.”
The narrator then went on to say, “I felt amazed when I compared this man to others who lead a life of affluence with money, luxury cars, and large mansions. In spite of such opulence, they live such miserable lives, and upon reflection, I realized that happiness is not in wealth.”
I knew a tycoon who had hundreds of millions and a number of mansions. He was miserable in his relationships, always seething with anger and always brooding in a state of depression. He died estranged from his family, and he went through all of this misery because he was not satisfied with what Allah gave him.
After all that he desires – that I should give more; Nay! Verily, he has been stubborn and opposing Our Aayaat [proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc. (Qur ‘an 74: 15-16)
Centuries ago in Arabia, one would find peace by isolating himself in the desert. In the desert and far away from human activity, a poet said:
“The whine of the fox, I’ve developed a liking for it,
Then I heard the voice of a man and I almost flew away (from contempt for it).”
Sufyan ath-Thawri said:
“I long to be in an obscure valley without anyone knowing me.”
The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said in a hadith: “The time is near when the best wealth of a Muslim will be sheep, with which he follows the places of rain and the paths of mountains; he will be fleeing with his religion from trials.”
In times of tribulation (i.e. the struggles of Muslims among themselves), the safest option for a Muslim is to run away from them. When `Uthmaan was wrongfully murdered, Ibn `Umar, Usaamah ibn Zayd, and Muhammad ibn Muslimah all stayed away from ensuing trials, may Allah be pleased with them all.
I know people who have been afflicted with poverty, misery, and depression. In the case of every one of them, the’ cause of their downfall was that they were far away from Allah. You will find that one of them was rich, comfortable, and in a state of good health from his Lord. But then he turned away from the obedience of Allah. He was negligent in performing his prayers and he began to commit major sins. So Allah, the Almighty, took away his health and wealth and replaced them with the hardship of poverty, worry, and anxiety. He went from misery to misery, from low-point to a point that was even lower.
But whosoever turns away from My Reminder [i.e. neither believes in this Qur’an nor acts on its orders, etc. verily, for him is a life of hardship… (Qur’an 20: 124)
That is so because Allah will never change a grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their ownselves. (Qur’an 8: 53)
And whatever of misfortune befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much. (Qur’an 42: 30)
If they [non-Muslims] had believed in Allah, and went on the Right Way [i.e. Islam] we should surely have bestowed on them water [rain] in abundance. (Qur’an 72: 16)
If I were able to perform a miracle, I would remove off you your troubles and grief; however, being bereft of the ability thereof, I will suffice by prescribing for you a medical prescription that is given by the scholars of Islam. It is to worship the Creator (without associating any partner with Him in worship), to be contented with your provision, to be abstemious, and to decrease the level of your expectations for this life.
The famous American psychologist, William James, spoke these words that caught my attention:
“We, humankind, brood over what we don’t own and we don’t thank God for what we do own. We always dwell on the tragic and dark side of our lives, and we don’t look at the brighter side of our existence. We rue over what is missing in our lives and we are not happy with what is there.”
1f you give thanks [by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah], I will give you more [of My Blessings]…] (Qur’an 14: 7)
The Messenger of Allah (bpuh) supplicated:
“And I seek refuge in Allah from a soul that is insatiable.”
When one’s main concern becomes the Hereafter, Allah will make things well for him, and will make richness to dwell in his heart. And the world will come to him despite its unwillingness. And when one’s main concern becomes this world, Allah will scatter his affairs and will place poverty between his eyes; also, the world will not come to him, except what was written for him.
If you were to ask them: `Who has created the heavens and the earth and subjected the sun and the moon?’ They will surely reply: `Allah’. How then are they deviating [as polytheists and disbelievers]? (Qur’an 29:61)