Roadblocks to Mercy

If He opens a door for you, thereby making Himself known,

pay no need if your deeds do not measure up to this.

For, in truth, He has not opened it for you but out of

a desire to make Himself known to you.

(from the Hikam)

Since becoming a mother I’ve started to appreciate the incredible blessing of free time.  (Or, as they say, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”:P)  Busy with daily responsibilities, it’s almost impossible to maintain the same level of focus and time dedicated to worship and study as before.  It can often lead to an overwhelming and frustrating feeling… but listening to a recent lesson on the Hikam has really helped me put things in perspective, and realize that being prevented from certain actions is not something arbitrary, but occurs purposefully, though it may be beyond our understanding.  I also came across an extremely beautiful hadith the other day, which fits in almost exactly with this same lesson.  The entire hadith is amazing, but the part that was particularly striking to me was the following:

“(Allah the Exalted says:) Verily, from amongst My slaves is he who seeks worship by a certain act but I prevent that from him so that self-amazement does not enter his heart. Certainly, I run the affairs of My slaves by My Knowledge of what is in their hearts. Certainly, I am the All-Knower, All-Aware.”

SubhanAllah.  I think we often get caught up in trying to reach Allah through the way that we want, and forget that true seekers can only reach Him in the way that He wants.  And that includes not just facilitation and opened doors, but also setbacks and obstacles on this Path (which may be for our own benefit).  We get so attached to the act itself, that we forget that it is simply a means, and if Allah wants He can draw us close to Him through other means instead.

Here is some of what the shaykh, hafidhahullah, said in class in his explanation of part of Hikmah #8 (quoted at the beginning of the post):

When we face inevitable challenges and setbacks in our path, or encounter pressing needs or responsibilities that take us away from ‘amal [doing good deeds that bring us closer to Allah], this is an expression of some of Allah’s attributes  (of His being al-Qahhar, al-Fa’aal, the One who does what He pleases, the Wise, the Just, etc). But oftentimes we don’t see it that way – we just get angry at not getting to do what we want to do and things not going along with our expectations.  We have this reaction because we don’t see a manifestation of the attributes of Allah when things go wrong. If we are true seekers, this happening should help us internalize more about Allah – that there is nothing in this universe that happens without His control and will, the good things and the things that make us uncomfortable.

Allah orders Jibreel and the angels that for a special servant, when they are sick or traveling [or otherwise genuinely incapable of performing their normal good deeds], to record for them the same beautiful deeds they used to establish before they became occupied.  This is with the condition that one understands that this too is a way of striving to Allah, and that one is in His obedience.

So don’t be disappointed if your external actions have diminished, as long as Allah has given to your heart and mind avenues to knowing Him, through witnessing His creation and His attributes. As long as you are in an internal state of awareness that He is being made known to you through what happens to you, and you accept [your inability to do something]  as the Qadaa’ of Allah, then even if your pool of‘amal diminishes, that should not worry you.

We know Allah not only through what we do, but through what we experience – through ease and prosperity, and through hardship and difficulty.   You claim you want to know Him – yet this is a way of knowing Him. He is not only the One who expands, but the One who constricts. He is not only the One who is magnanimous and forgiving and loving, but also the One who calls one to task.

We often ask Allah, ‘Please make Yourself known to me’ – but then we have to be ready! because He will make Himself known in ways we may not expect or know.

Shazia Ahmad

Shazia lives in Cairo, Egypt and is the mother of a two year old boy. She writes for and blogs at (reprinted with permission)

About Mahaez
  • Maha

    This is one of the most thought-provoking posts I’ve read in a long time. I will continue to think about it for many days I think… It is a beautiful perspective.

    I think mothers who were used to a more amped-up lifestyle in terms of activism and seeking knowledge can benefit from the contentment and release of anxiety that this perspective calls for, but at the same time it should not affect their striving in the least. What I got from this post is that I should not despair or be overly frustrated that I am unable to do certain things the way I would like, but that I should continue to strive and work very hard to seek Allah’s pleasure in every way I can. I can’t just say, “It’s not my time for knowledge/activism/teaching/dawah right now” and then sit back and feel content with that. It might be the striving, even though it does not produce the results we like, that allows us to stay in the company of those whom Allah is pleased with.

  • Shazia

    as salaamu alaykum,

    Jazaki Allahu khayran Maha! I agree that it can be taken to an extreme where a person can have a resigned attitude. What I got from the shaykh was that we should be cautious about getting attached to a particular *action*, whatever action that may be, when that attachment should actually be with Allah (swt) and getting close to Him, and there are other ways He will provide to get close to Him. This happens in many different scenarios, from the man who starts working full time to provide for his family, and who physically just does not have as much time and energy to dedicate to activism as he did when he was a full time student, or a mother of young children who also finds her time now very strained and busy. This also comes into play for things like wanting to pray when menstruating – there’s wisdom in it, though if we are not looking at it correctly we would consider it a ‘roadblock’, when in fact it can be an opportunity for advancement.

    Of course we should try our best to do what we can when it comes to actual involvement in the community and activism, but the pt. that I think he was getting at is that these other obligations are also a way and a means for us to get close to Allah if we consider them from the right angle and do them with the right intentions. So we shouldn’t feel bad about it or hurt. Allah preventing us from those ‘other’, more ‘glamourous’ deeds may actually lead us to doing other things that will bring us even closer to Him. I know at least for me that I felt some disappointment, especially in my first year as a Mom, when I wasn’t able to do things other people were able to do – for example, praying taraweeh in the masjid, attending an all day conference or overnight retreat etc.

    Allah knows best.

  • UmmOsman

    Jazak Allah khairun for this thought provoking article. Perfect timings:) Right now there are few things going around that can be considered Allah swt test, reading this article made me realise again that everything comes from Allah swt and how we react is what is important and can bring us closer to Him .

  • ummossama

    Beautiful post!!! I think it will bring some peace to many busy moms. JAK