We all have struggles and it isn’t surprising that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also had struggles in his life. If we examine the struggles of the Prophet (SAW), there are some lessons we can learn when dealing with our own.
Every time the Prophet (SAW) experienced hardships and difficulties in his life, Allah (SWT) would refer to incidents in the lives of the prophets that preceded him. The first prophet whose story was delivered in its entirety to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was Musa (AS) as there were many lessons to be learned in the numerous hardships endured by Prophet Musa (AS).
Some of the basic questions of life are why is there hardship in life and why do bad things happen to good people. There are two parts to these questions. One, sometimes difficulty is self-induced and we are the cause of our hardships like acting unjustly with others and so we shouldn’t be surprised that difficulties happen to us and that life isn’t all roses.
The other part of hardship is what our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and all the other prophets before him experienced.
The prophets faced difficulties, not from any injustice they have done, but out of the trials of life to bring out the best of your spirit. Life intentionally puts us under stress to bring out the best in us.
The best of the Prophet (SAW) was seen at the most difficult of times. From a very young age, he (SAW) suffered a great deal like being an orphan as a young child. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) stated if one wants Allah’s (SWT) mercy and compassion to enter his heart and has nothing else to give forward, a sincere pat on the head of an orphan would suffice to show that you care for them. This provides insight into what it was like for the Prophet (SAW) to feel the pain of an orphan.
As we know, the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) became a widower with the death of Khadija (RA), the love of his life. When she (RA) died, it is referred to as the ‘Year of Sorrow/Sadness’ in our history. It was a depressing period not only for the Prophet (SAW) but the entire Ummah.
Besides losing Khadija (RA), the Holy Prophet (SAW) buried six of his children one after another and facing the taunts from the society that you will never have children that will live because there is a curse upon you. But in the larger scheme of things, this is a blessing from Allah (SWT) even though this is heartbreak.
As Muslims, the struggles and hardships that we suffer from are momentary. Allah (SWT) tells us in the Holy Quran that “So, verily with every difficulty, there is relief” (Surah al-Inshirah, Ayat 5). In difficulty, there is ease and comfort that at times, we are not aware of. For every difficulty, there are two moments of Allah’s (SWT) compassion that reaches us.
The question might arise regarding the hardships faced by the Holy Prophet (SAW), is this because Allah (SWT) didn’t love him (SAW)? The answer is that the love of Allah (SWT) isn’t in giving us what is plentiful but sometimes restricting or taking something from us is also a sign of love because it places reliance upon Allah (SWT) in our hearts. Also, this makes us realize that both good and tragedy are solely controlled by Allah (SWT).
Another lesson from the Prophet’s (SAW) life that we learn is that all of us live and all of us will die. It doesn’t matter how long we live on this earth, eventually, we will die and return to Allah (SWT) who will question us about how we lived our lives. This is the eternal struggle of living a good clean life between us and Allah (SWT). Our life should be a testament to the good we have done to others and the generosity of spirit we have extended and we have undergone the trials of life with a belief that Allah (SWT) is good and loving. What we have suffered during the trials of this life has brought us closer to Allah (SWT).
One time a person asked Hazrat Ali (AS), how do I know if the difficulty I’m in is a punishment or mercy from Allah (SWT)? Hazrat Ali (AS) responded by saying that any tragedy or difficulty that brings you closer to Allah (SWT) is not a punishment but mercy from Him. However, the hardships that cause your heart to lose hope and feel anguish and malice about why Allah (SWT) is doing this to me then this is a punishment from Allah (SWT).
The life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) teaches us to love and enjoy life. A complete person is one who can handle the numerous ups and downs of life. Hardships of life should not result in feeling that life is not worth living.
Also, we should become more empathetic toward others. We can attain salvation by our belief in Allah (SWT) and being altruistic towards others. The Prophet (SAW) said, “you can save yourself from hellfire with half of a date.” This means small acts of charity/kindness in helping others can save us on the Day of Judgement.
The greatest quality of our Prophet (SAW) was that he was sent as an expression of Allah’s mercy and compassion to humanity. The Holy Prophet (SAW) teaches us that struggle is overcome not by ourselves but by helping others. Always look for an opportunity to help others.
Another lesson is never to be distant from Allah (SWT) and never forget repentance. Stay on the path of truth even if the majority is practicing corruption. It doesn’t matter what bad deeds or sins we have committed in life but repentance brings us back to Allah (SWT) and His mercy.