“He doesn’t listen to me any more”, he said as he hung his head in defeat. “I’ve asked Him, and asked Him, but He doesn’t help me.” I looked at him with sorrow and wondered at what point did this man start to despair of Allah. Was it before or after he met the dealer? Was it before or after the drugs wore off? Was it before or after he got caught out? I looked at my husband and said for the one thousandth time “Allah listens to all prayers, He answers all those who call on Him.” Jamal looked up in anger; “So why doesn’t He help ME?!”. We had been at this point many times over the years.
We had this conversation every time I had the strength to argue about Jamal’s drug use. Sometimes I pretended I hadn’t seen the rolled up bits of used foil or the dealers numbers on his call list. Sometimes I didn’t have the energy to question why he didn’t come home on time or why he couldn’t get up in the morning. But when I gathered my strength enough to challenge him, most conversations pretty much went in this direction. And would end with me saying “You are not helping yourself! You are not doing enough to stop. Why would Allah help you if He doesn’t see you try.”
Truth is, I don’t really know how hard Jamal tried. Only He and Allah know where the effort was put in and where he gave up too easily. The thing is, if anyone should be despairing at the situation not changing it should be me! It is me that has felt let down over and over again. It is me that begs and cries to Allah for Jamal to stop using drugs. I’ve been through this cycle as long as he has, only I have done it sober! I haven’t chosen to numb out the pain with substances. I have lived it, breathed it, put up with it, witnessed it, tried to change it and never given up. I have experienced rock bottoms – depressive states, high anxiety, loneliness and stress, financial loss, loss of friendships, mental sickness and migraines. But all along my journey I have remained constant in one thing – that Allah is listening to me and that one day all my prayers that have gone unanswered in this life will bear their fruits. One day, maybe in this world but hopefully in the next I will see the benefits of all my prayers and I will be glad that Allah saved them for me.
Tests and hardships in this life are what earns our place in Paradise. I know I have not been the most patient of Allah’s servants. Far from it. I am certainly not amongst the pious. I’ve got angry, I’ve lashed out and shouted, screamed and swore. But I’ve gritted my teeth and I have always known that Allah is with me, no matter how bad things got.
So when I see Jamal in this state, despairing of Allah and thinking He has abandoned Him I find no way to show him what I know – that Allah never abandons us, He is always there waiting for us, it is US that turns away from HIM! How can I put into words what I know in my heart. How can I make him see. What is it that stops him from seeing this as clearly as I do? The thing is, when Jamal is clean and not using, he sees this. He begins to build his relationship back up with Allah and feel good about himself again. But it is when he relapses and regrets that he thinks that somehow Allah should have prevented that from happening, or that Allah will stop the cravings and the urges and most importantly, that Allah would prevent him from succumbing to them. But isn’t that the whole point of this life? We all crave and sin in different ways. We all have our vices. Allah just wants to see, who will give in to them and who won’t. Allah says in Surah Mulk;
Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“Du’aa’s and ta’awwudhaat [prayers seeking refuge with Allaah] are like a weapon, and a weapon is only as good as the person who is using it; it is not merely the matter of how sharp it is. If the weapon is perfect and free of faults, and the arm of the person using it is strong, and there is nothing stopping him, then he can lay waste the enemy. But if any of these three features is lacking, then the effect will be lacking accordingly.”(al-Daa’ wa’l-Dawaa’, p. 35).
When we speak to Allah we need to have a strong heart that believes with firmness and confidence that Allah will grant us what we ask for.
Sometimes it takes time for us to see the fruits of our duahs. And in that we must be patient. Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“The du’aa’ of any one of you will be answered so long as he is not impatient and says, ‘I made du’aa’ but it was not answered.’” (al-Bukhaari and Muslim.)
The addict can sometimes become so consumed by what they are not getting, what has gone wrong, what is unreachable that they fail to see the blessings before their very eyes. Jamal would often tell me how bad things were for him when he could not see how actually Allah was making things easy for him. It was Jamal that was making life tough for himself! His belief that Allah was not listening to him only led him down a spiral of depression and self-pity. “Allah hates me. I am doomed for the Hell Fire.” He would say and thus would give up trying to be good. Shaitan had him in his trap.
Perhaps, it was on account of his duahs that Jamal had not lost everything to his addiction. That things could have been far worse had he have given up on his duahs all together. Sometimes when Allah does not answer our prayer, He diverts a calamity from our lives instead. But Jamal does not see this when the addiction takes over.
The belief that “Allah does not want me” can serve an addict pretty well sometimes because it gives them the excuse to just give up and give in to their urges. The false belief is “Allah rejects me” but the truth is “I have rejected Allah”.
Recovery is about turning that belief around, knowing with certainty that Allah wants you back and then not wanting to do anything that could cause Allah to turn away. Dua is the answer.
Dua helps us to build up that relationship with Allah again. To spend talking to him in our own language straight from the heart. We all slip and slide and come off from the Straight Path from time to time. Allah did not create mankind like perfect angels. He knew we would sin, because He loves us to repent and turn back to Him. He loves it so much! Dua is a step to coming back to Allah. Dua is the way we come closer to Him again. Never give up.