Monthly Archives: July 2015

“Oh Allah Why Don’t You Answer My Prayers?”

isolated-youth“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.allah.hate.sin 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 dua-weapon-believerpain 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;

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 “[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving” (Qur’an, 67:2)  
What I try to tell Jamal is – the harder the fight, the bigger the reward. Some people might argue that Jamal put himself in this situation. He chose to take drugs the first time. Yes, that is true, and Allah will judge him for that. But you do not have to be a social psychologist to know that the majority of people who take substances, or become addicts often have a bad start in life, or have unmet emotional needs. Studies show one in three addicts were sexually abused in their childhoods and more than fifty percent have been assaulted or exposed to violence. This does not excuse them from their choices and actions, but Allah is The All-Pardoning and He chooses to Pardon and excuse whom He Wills. This is all part of the test. It is what we then do with this experience.
People who have been abused or have difficult starts in life, dysfunctional families, economic disadvantage and so on are not handicapped by that experience. They have a wealth of knowledge that others, who have had a more advantaged start in life, will never have. Often recovered addicts go on to help other people who are going through tough times and help with crime prevention, drugs education and addiction recovery treatment. It’s just that when you are still stuck in that life, it is hard to see a way out. Positive thinking, and dreaming beyond the rut of here and now, gives addicts some hope. We all need hopes and dreams – addicts just often don’t allow themselves to do that because fear of failure keeps them living in their waking nightmares.
Which is where dua comes in. When we turn back to Allah, asking Him and begging Him for Help it helps make our hearts become more hopeful. One of the conditions of asking Allah is to have certainty (yaqeen) in the knowledge that Allah is listening and He will answer it.
We have to believe with all our hearts that Allah is listening. We have to know that even if we do not get what we want right away, Allah is preparing us for something even better.gr8ful

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.

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“Allah help me, I’m addicted to drugs and using in Ramadan!”

dua (1)Checking this websites dashboard today I was looking up all the search terms that people have been putting into google or other search engines that lead them to this website. One stuck out for me. “Allah help me I’m addicted to drugs and using in Ramadan”. Wow! The desperation of this statement – which is in fact a dua (prayer/supplication) to Allah – comes through tremendously. I can feel the pain of this individual. This person tapped out this prayer into the search engine and Allah guided them to this website. Who knows what that person will do next. Allah knows how helpful this website is to that person. It is Allah that surely Helps and Guides. Let us all just raise our hands right now, as you read this – yes, now – and say “Oh Allah guide this person, help them and shower them with Your Mercy and Forgiveness. Help this person and to overcome their addiction and help them to increase in those actions that build their faith. Fill their heart with eeman (faith) and taqwa (consciousness of Allah) and let them hate their sin and love to worship you. Ameen, thumma Ameen, Ya Rabb”.

So this led me to think about what do we need to do now in Ramadan if we are still using. Maybe we did not get off to the best start. Maybe we had great intentions but we fell, we relapsed, or things are not going as well as expected. Maybe we could not fast this year due to being on some kind of medication and we aren’t feeling the spirit of Ramadan and that is pulling us back. Here are a few steps to help us think about how we can make the most of what is left insha’Allah. Let us not give up so long as we have breath in our lungs.

1) Embrace the regret and then let it go regret

Regret is good. Regret is what lead that person to our page. Regret is what disturbs the soul and makes us think and stop and reflect. Let’s face it, in the passions of our addiction we get little time to stop and think. We use on the guilt to try and push it away before it becomes regret. I invite you to embrace regret. Give it the biggest bear hug you can because that regret is from Allah. The soul who sins yet does not feel sad before Allah is a very lost soul indeed. If Allah places regret in your heart that you are blessed because this is Allah calling you back to Him. So hold it and let it be the motivator for you to change. And then once you take those steps to change – Let it go! Hanging on to it for to long holds us back. Let it fulfill its purpose and then move on.

2) Make a firm intention never to return to sinfulness

hqdefault (1)Scholars say there are three conditions of making ‘tauba’ (returning back to Allah). The first is to sincerely regret what we have done. The second is to give up that action immediately and the third is to make a firm resolve never commit those sins ever again. As addicts, we have been here many times before. Crying to Allah, begging Him to help us change. We have been desperate, we have been humbled – but we have relapsed again and again and each time we feel more guilty and less hopeful that we will ever achieve sobriety. Never let shaitan take us to that state of thinking again! Some say Shaitan has not won when he gets us to sin. He has won when he convinces us that Allah will never forgive us. So we need to make those intentions again, firmly and with confidence that this time will be different. We make a promise to Allah thatsay-bismillah-and-believe-in-allah-1 we WILL do our best to give up on all those things that displease Allah. Western psychologists also state that a firm intention is the catalyst to change. So let us make it today. Renew our intentions. Let us do this for Allah and only for Him and then Allah will facilitate all the rest.

3) Do things differently

The chances are if we have relapsed or are still using in Ramadan then we are not doing enough. Ramadan is a time when the whole Muslim Ummah (world wide community) are trying to give up sins and become better people. We all have our addictions and vices in some ways. For some people its shoe shopping, back biting, working too hard, neglecting family, watching too much TV etc. In some shape or form most Muslims are striving to be better people. But isn’t going to happen if we don’t do things differently to how we normally do the rest of the year. It is all the new things we are doing that help to facilitate that change – going to the mosque, praying more, spending time with pious people, spending less time on social network, reading the Qur’an or listening to Islamic lectures. If we are fasting and all we are doing is abstaining from food and water, without changing our behaviours, then how do we expect to change? The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said;

“Perhaps a fasting person will gain nothing but hunger and thirst from fasting.”(Ibn Majah)

Ramadan is much more than just not eating and drinking it is about changing our whole lifestyles and that is what recovery is all about! The good thing about Ramadan is, that we have company while we do it! The rest of the family and community is also trying to change, to abstain to become better. That should make it easier for us, not forgetting the added bonus that shaitan is locked up so it is just me and you and our desires to handle.

So this is the answer – if we are using in Ramadan – do things differently. Increase in all those good actions that Allah loves. This is nourishment for the soul, cleanses the heart and distracts the mind – the greatest of relapse prevention rolled into one.

4) Seek help from Allah

“Allah help me” said that brother or sister that inspired me to write this post. If we are not asking Allah frequently for His Help, Guidance and Understanding how do we expect to get better. Dua dua dua! Keep asking and never stop. Allah guarantees us that He will answer every dua. He averts calamities that were destined for us on account of our making dua. That time we could so have easily bumped into a drug dealer or someone from the drug using community but Allah averted our paths – why? On account of our prayers! So many times it could have been so easy for us to have relapsed but Allah helped us, sometimes we may have been completely oblivious to what Allah has saved us from.

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“And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” (Qur’an 40:60). So let us ask!

5) Get help from the people

Recovery is not an easy thing to do alone and neither is just being an ‘ordinary’ Joe Bloggs Muslim. This Straight Path is not meant to be walked alone. We need help and support from people too. Ask Allah to guide you to good companions in this life. Our company is vital for living a good spiritual life. The Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, said “You are upon the way of your friends”. Your vibe attracts your tribe and vice versa. We need to seek out those people who are good for us, help us to remember Allah and live good clean and healthy lifestyles. We naturally gravitate to those people that serve our interests. Birds of a feather, flock together.  If we are just interested in getting high, we will naturally flock to those who do too. If we want to make the most out of what is remaining of this month – run to those who are! So if we have been shy of the mosque up until now, we need to get down there. Make an effort, give salam (Islamic greeting) to others and extend our hands to shake them. Confide in someone about the struggle you are having – we do not always need to go into details and reveal our sins but we can seek out people and ask them to knock for us, call us, or meet up for iftah (breaking of the fast). The wolf devours the lone sheep.

So these are just five tips to get us thinking about how we can kick start our belated Ramadan. We must not feel so downtrodden that we give up. It is not too late, so long as the death rattle has not reached the throat, the doors to repentance are wide open we just need to move our feet towards them. May Allah help all of those of us that are struggling with addiction and help us to reap the benefits of what is left of this beautiful month and help us to gain Your Forgiveness and Mercy, Ya Allah. We are in need of Your Help. Ameen”

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Lynne Ali-Northcott (Addiction Counsellor)