Between Faith and Pain
Imam Yahya Hendi
It was two in the morning when my brother called asking me to come to the Holy Land. My mother was gravely ill. By the end of the next day, I had arrived at the hospital in Jerusalem. As I came into my mother’s room, I saw her smiling. My family gave me the news that she was dying but I couldn’t believe it. She did not appear as a woman about to depart this world. As I bent down to give her a loving and warm hug, a tear fell from my eye. She smiled at me and told me, “My son, do not cry! God loves me. God is the Wise One and He knows what is good for me.”
I spoke with her doctor who told me, “Mr. Hendi, it was your mother’s faith that helped her to survive all these years of pain. Had it not been for her faith, she would have died ten years ago.”
The physician’s statement touched me deeply. Why you might ask? Because it reminded me of the very essence of what my mother used to teach me. She would often say, “God is the Greatest One in His dominion and His actions, One without similitude in His essence and attributes. My son, whoever does not have faith in God cannot survive the calamities of this world, nor is he/she able to stand on his/her feet firmly and strongly.”
My mother’s belief is based on the fundamental Islamic concept that God alone causes all things to exist. The Islamic scripture teaches that God sustains and maintains creation without any need from it or for it, and He is the sole Lord of the universe and its inhabitants without any real challenge to His sovereignty.
“God created all things and He is the One on whom all things depend.” (Qur’an 39:62)
My mother saw her life, with all its sweetness and bitterness, as a gift from God. She always told my brothers and sisters that adversities can improve our abilities and skills as we fulfill our responsibilities. What she taught me helped in the development of my strong faith and in the success I have so far achieved in my life. So thanks be to her!
My parents wanted me to study more than I thought I could. Sometimes they forbade me from playing with the kids next door, explaining that playing all the time would not help me to become a successful man. Only now do I feel that what seemed to be an outrageous plan full of pain was, indeed, an attempt to prepare me for a better future. Thanks be to my parents!
Once when I was younger, I became very sick. As I was crying and weeping, my mother gently told me that praying to God would help me to recover. She said that whatever is given to a human being, tests, purifies and prepares him as a candidate for eternal bliss in paradise in the same way raw materials are refined, purified and processed into silver, gold or diamonds. She reminded me that my Islamic religion deals with the most precious and most valuable of minerals - people. It takes us, kneads, improves and matures us, and refines us as gold is refined pure. This was the belief that enabled my mother to survive ten years of pain.
She always reminded me of the quality of sabr, the Qur’anic term for patience, as the best quality human beings can have. My mother survived ten years of pain with patience. She raised eleven children with patience. She offered food to every guest of our village; and although it was exhausting, she did it with patience. She believed that faith and spiritual richness have the most profound and positive impact on human life and survival.
I thank God for my mother, for she taught me how to face my sickness with a strong spirit and religious commitment. She also taught me how to go through the difficulties of my life with a strong faith in God. Of all her gifts to me, this is my most treasured and enduring.