by Alveena Salim
I’ve spent a significant part of my life planning. When I was 18 I had made a list of things that I needed to do i.e. do Hajj by 19, get my driving license by 20, graduate by 21, married by 22, start work at 22 etc
Even on a day to day basis, I prefer make ‘to do’ lists, that help me to organise what I need to do during the day or week. I also feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I tick things off my list. And alhumdullilah, for the most part, my life has always been according to my ‘lists’.
Recently, I’ve come to a place in my life where things are not going according to my plans. And I’ve come to realise that not everything can be planned for. Not everything turns out as planned and that we can plan all we want, but Allah also plans.
What’s interesting is that, we plan to be successful, we plan to be loved, we plan to be healthy and we plan to be rich or knowledgeable.
We don’t plan to be sad, we don’t plan to be hurt, we don’t plan to be scared and we don’t plan for our plans to be shattered.
Sometimes what we want and what we get are two different things. This is because, we’re only human. We like to think that we’re in control and that we’re in charge. But we’re not. Allah is in charge.
Sometimes we get trials and tribulations sent our way and we break, because we didn’t plan for them. We find it difficult to adjust to Allah’s plans because they were not in accordance to our plans.
Someone once told me that sometimes Allah sends difficulties our way, to shield away larger calamities. Sometimes He allows pain so that we can become stronger. Sometimes He allows illness so that we appreciate our health. And sometimes he takes something away from us so that we can appreciate the blessings that He has bestowed upon us.
Imam Ali (ra) once said “I truly recognised the power of Allah, when despite my best efforts at making something happen, it didn’t happen”. This shows us that, there is some power, some force that is so much stronger that our power that can stop things from happening. It doesn’t matter how much you plan for it. It doesn’t matter how much you want it. It doesn’t matter what effort you put into making it happen. Our plans will always pale in comparison to Allah’s plans.
However, instead of becoming despondent about this fact, the amazing thing to bear in mind is that, the Qur’an tells us that “Indeed, Allah is the BEST of Planners”. So, even though we like to think that such and such thing is the best thing for us and it may even look like the best thing. Ask yourself, how do you really know?
There may be 101 things wrong with your plan. However, our limited understanding may not be able to see what it is. Remember, Allah says in Sur’ah Baqarah “And perhaps you may hate a thing that is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows and you know not”. Exactly. We don’t know.
Take a moment to reflect on your past. Think back to a time that you really wanted something. Maybe it was a great job, someone that you wanted to marry or something monetary. And despite your best efforts at trying to acquire that thing, it didn’t happen for you. And now, when you look back, you know that not getting that thing was actually the best thing for you, because today you have something that is even better. I’m sure we can all think of such instances. This is just some of many examples of Allah knowing better than you. And the amazing thing is, for many of the things that didn’t happen for us because it was for the best, we won’t know until we’re in the hereafter. SubhanAllah! Allah protects us from bad things and most of the time, we don’t even know it.
Think about the example of Prophet Musa (as) and Khidr (as). When Prophet Musa (as) traveled with Khidr (as), he did things that were unconventional. Things that did not seem to have any goodness in them (such as murder and damaging property). Khidr’s (as) actions seemed so heinous that Prophet Musa (as) lost his patience with him. Only later did he learn, that what Khidr (as) was doing, was actually for the best.
Sometimes its difficult to look beyond the surface of things. All we can see is something not happening for us. A closed door. It takes great strength, will-power and wisdom to see the deeper truth, especially if we can not understand it at the time.
What we need to remember is that at every step of every way. Allah is with you. Protecting you. Looking after you and Loving you 70 times more than your own mother. He may be doing things, that seem so difficult to accept, however is actually the best thing for us. Sometimes, in order to save or protect us, something is taken away from us, or given to us in a way we don’t want.
So what we need to do is, trust Him. Be satisfied with whatever He decrees for us. And be patient with whatever trial or tribulation that comes our way.
By all means plan. Dream. Hope. Wish for the Best. But put your trust in the One that knows you better than you know yourself. And of course, plan as much as you want, but just remember Allah is the best of all Planners.