Closed Doors and the Illusions That Blind Us


Yesterday my 22 month old sought to exercise his independence. After climbing out of his car seat, he wanted to shut the car door like a big boy, so I stood there watching over him. Realizing that if I left him to shut the door, his little head would have gotten slammed in the process, I lifted him away, and shut the door myself. This devastated him, and he broke down in tears. How could I prevent him from doing what he so badly wanted to do?

Watching the incident, a strange thought crossed my mind. I was reminded of all the times this had happens to us in life—when we want something so badly, but Allah does not allow us to have it. I was reminded of all the times we as adults felt this same frustration when things just wouldn’t work out the way we so desperately wanted them to. And then suddenly, it was so clear. I had only taken my son away from the door to protect him. But he had no idea. In the midst of his mourning, he had no idea that I had actually saved him. And just as my son wept in his naivety and innocence, so often we too bemoan events that have actually saved us.

When we miss a plane, lose a job, or find ourselves unable to marry the person we want, have we ever stopped to consider the possibility that it may have been for our own good? Allah tells us in the Quran: “…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (2:216)

Yet it is so difficult to look beyond the surface of things. It takes great strength to see beyond the illusions, to a deeper truth—which we may or may not understand. Just as my son could not understand how my depriving him of what he most wanted at that moment was in fact my looking out for him, we are often just as blind.

As a result, we end up staring indefinitely at the closed doors of our lives, and forget to notice the ones that have opened. When we can’t marry the person we had in mind, our inability to look beyond may even blind sight us from someone who is in fact better for us. When we don’t get hired, or we lose something dear to us, it’s hard to take a step back and notice the bigger picture. Often Allah takes things away from us, only to replace them with something greater.

Even tragedy may happen in this way. One can imagine few calamities more painful than the loss of a child. And yet, even this loss could happen to save us and give us something greater. The Prophet said:

If the child of a servant (of Allah) dies, Allah says to His Angels: ‘Have you taken the child of My servant?’

The Angels reply: ‘Yes.’

Allah says to them: ‘Have you taken the fruit of his heart?’

They reply: ‘Yes.’

Then Allah says to them: ‘What did my servant say?’

The Angels reply: ‘He praised Allah and said: ‘To Allah do we return.’

Allah tells them: ‘Build a home for my servant in Paradise and call it Baytul Hamd (the House of Praise).’ [Tirmidhi]

When Allah takes something as beloved from us as a child, it may be that He has taken it in order to give us something greater. It may be because of that loss, that we are admitted into paradise—an eternal life with our child. And unlike our life here, it is an everlasting life where our child will have no pain, fear, or sickness.

But in this life, even our own sicknesses may not be what they seem. Through them Allah may be in fact purifying us of our sins. When the Prophet was suffering from a high fever, he said: “No Muslim is afflicted with any harm, even if it were the prick of a thorn, but that Allah expiates his sins because of that, as a tree sheds its leaves.” [Bukhari]

In another hadith the Prophet explains that this applies even to sadness and worry. He says: “Whenever a Muslim is afflicted with a hardship, sickness, sadness, worry, harm, or depression – even a thorn’s prick, Allah expiates his sins because of it.” [Bukhari]

Or consider the example of poverty. Most people without wealth would never consider that a possible blessing. But for the people around Qarun, it was. Qarun was a man who lived at the time of Prophet Musa who Allah had endowed with such great wealth, that even the keys to his wealth was itself wealth. The Qur’an says: “So he came out before his people in his adornment. Those who desired the worldly life said, ‘Oh, would that we had like what was given to Qarun. Indeed, he is one of great fortune.'” (28:79)

But Qarun’s wealth had made him arrogant, ungrateful, and rebellious against Allah. Allah says: “And We caused the earth to swallow him and his home. And there was for him no company to aid him other than Allah, nor was he of those who [could] defend themselves. And those who had wished for his position the previous day began to say, ‘Oh, how Allah extends provision to whom He wills of His servants and restricts it! If not that Allah had conferred favor on us, He would have caused it to swallow us. Oh, how the disbelievers do not succeed!'” (Qur’an, 28:81-82) After seeing the fate of Qarun, the same people became grateful that they had been saved from his wealth.

But perhaps there is no better example of this lesson, than in the story of Musa and Al-Khidr that we are told about in Surat Al-Kahf. When Prophet Musa was traveling with Al-Khidr (who commentators say was an angel in the form of a man), he learned that things are often not what they seem, and that the wisdom of Allah cannot always be understood from the surface. Al-Khidr and Prophet Musa came upon a town whereupon Al-Khidr began to damage the boats of the people.

On the surface, this action would seem to have been harmful to the poor owners of the boats. However, Al-Khidr later explains that he was in fact protecting the people, and saving the boats for them. Allah tells us in the Qur’an: “[Al-Khidhr] said, ‘This is parting between me and you. I will inform you of the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience. As for the ship, it belonged to poor people working at sea. So I intended to cause defect in it as there was after them a king who seized every [good] ship by force.’” (18:78-79)

In damaging the boats, Al-Khidr was actually protecting the people by making the boats undesirable to the king who had been seizing them by force. And sometimes in life, that’s exactly what happens. In order to save us, something is taken away from us, or given to us in a way we don’t want. And yet to us—as it did to a 22 month old boy—it looks only like a closed door.

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  • Kadija

    Allah is great,by reading this massage i feel so sad.

  • Aisha

    Assalamu alaykum
    Masha Allah loved your post…it really got me thinking Subhan Allah at times we can be so selfish and are only concerned about getting whatever we want yet we seem to forget that Allah aza wa jal knows best and that everything Allah commands; there is wisdom behind it. Allah has said in the Quran that he shall surely test us all, so it don’t matter how strong a believer you are, you will be tested in some way or another. We just have to remember that it is from Allah and we should stay strong. If we lack ourselves because we are immoral or have a weak imaan then it is our duty to strengthen our relationship with Allah aza wa jal and increase in our acts of worship.
    May Allah guides us all and keep us on the straight path.

  • ;)

    i’ve been through this stage before and now at where im standing, i can nvr thank Allah enough. Thanks for this reminder.. every once in a while, we just need to look back to learn how to be thankful to Him.

  • Huma

    Dear sister Yasmin, salaam alaykum,
    I love reading your messages and this was no exception. I have to be honest though, this particular subject of hardships and why we suffer them, remains a grey area for me. Your example of your son was nice but I think it doesn’t relate to the problems and hardships many people endure. In your example, the consequences of slamming the door are obvious, although not to your son at this point of his life, non-theless it’s a pretty straightforward conclusion to make that your intervention was neccessary despite being undesirable to your son. However, I believe that certain hardships simply cannot be accounted for this way and the reason behind them may never be understood by us. Hunger to the point of dying of starvation can’t be explained as ‘good’ for us, Yes- the rewards in Jennah for suffering from this form of extreme poverty and deprivation are immense InshaAllah, but I wonder about the quality of life on earth, and why is it that that should be completely forsaken for the afterlife – not by making a conscious and free choice to forsake the dunya for the afterlife but in a way where a person never has a choice. Most people will say that this a ‘test’ and the rewards are immense, but I feel it may be more than that, as that answer alone hasn’t been able to satisfy me. I believe that illness, disease,poverty, famine, socioeconomic inequalities, and possibly all ‘hardships’ are either man-made or exacerbated by man’s inadequate response to other people’s hardships. Which makes us all accountable for the hardships of others.
    I do believe that in some cases, a divine intervention to protect us from our own desires which could be harmful does occur. Also some hardships are blessing and we often realise this later on in our lives, but I feel that if we solely focus on hardships being a blessing, we may fall into a trap of accepting anything and not trying harder, not getting out of a situation thats bad for us, not helping others. The example that comes to mind is of a woman in an abusive relationship, it does occur to some people, sadly that this is in some way good for her, that her sabr will be rewarded (inshaAllah it will) but there’s a lack of support and encouragement to get her out of such a situation.
    Another problem I have with believing that all hardships are a blessing, is that it contradicts a need for change and seeking a relief through dua. If hardship is good for us, then why should we pray for relief?
    Sister Yasmin, your post has made me think of how blessed I am and how ungrateful I can be and that is a good outcome as I can InshaAllah address some issues and seek repentance and I hope I’ve been able to make my uncertainties clear.

    • Anonymous

      Assalamu alaikum Huma,

      This piece is more about when things don’t work out the way we want. If you want something about hardships, this is a lecture I gave on the topic. And Allah knows best:


    • Aisha

      Assalam alikum Huma :)

      I read your comment and your question ” If hardship is good for us, then why should we pray for relief?” struck me and I just wanted to let you know what my view on that is ~

      I’m sure you’ve heard many times that this life is a test~ That we ARE placed on this earth not just to live a merry life without problems, but that we are placed to be tested~ According to the Quran:

      Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. (Surah Al-Ankaboot:Ayah 2)

      So from this, we learn that whatever trials and afflictions that we suffer in this life, no matter how small, each of them is a test from Allah~ Now with every test, there is an answer~ And the answer of course, lies only with Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala~ Our Most Merciful Lord, grades our test Not only on our answers, but Also on the way we performed in that test~ Were we patient during the entire test? Did we complain? Did we get fed up and question Allah? Did we sulk or get upset? Allah takes all that into account before our test is graded~

      Back to your question, specifically~ Every test is a test of faith, there is no doubt about that~ Allah sorts out and knows who are the Patient Ones, the Believers, the Hypocrites, the Disbelievers, etc~ So because of that, we must pray that the particular hardship can increase our ranks in the sight of Allah Azza wa Jal, that we can get the highest possible grades that will please Him~
      The greater the hardship, the greater our Iman must become during it, so that the sooner Allah will come to our aid. As Muslims, we have been blessed with the knowledge that while hardship seems like an awful thing, in reality it is a good thing because it allows us to increase our faith~

      Ultimately, the most important thing I believe, is that every hardship is another opportunity to gain rewards, to gain the Pleasure of Allah, to Return to Him for guidance, for help, and salvation, because there is really no one else besides Him who can come to our aid~

      And Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala Knows Best.

  • Saifsalih1

    May Allah bless you thanks

  • IAmJiggyH

    Alhamdulilah! May Allah have mercy upon you sister Yasmin. In sister Yasmin’s defense, she did the right thing because Insh’allah, her son will live to see another day and have plenty of time to open doors on his own, Insh’allah. And she did the right thing because preservation of one’s life is much more important than boosting someone’s confidence due to achievement. Much respect, all praise be to Allah

  • muhammad umair

    that is very impressive article. which extremely change my thinking process. inshAllah from today on words i will never feel regret if something happen which i dont want.

  • Abdmojeed

    this is a good article may Almighty Allah bless the author and grant us guidance, Amin

  • Banyes

    Subhannallah that was beautiful to read. Alhamdullillah.

  • Fazila Vhora

    Really loved it! Masha-Allah..your words have touched my heart.

  • Ozzy-o5

    Mash’Allah! Amazing. Just a small point-do scholars not debate on whether Hazrat Khidr was a Prophet himself or a Wali[Friend] of Allah?

  • Insh’Allah…permission to translate dear sis….

  • SUdan failrytale

    love your writing this one the rest but escp the one entitled ‘this is love’

  • Zubaida Abdul Aziz

    Masha Allah ! what a beautiful narration. May Allah bless you !

  • Hossam Shaaban

    May Allah have mercy upon you, sister Yasmin. Couldn’t agree more. May God bless and benefit our U’mmah with you.

  • Abuhaniffahenley

    D’abord, je vais vous donner le feu
    Je me tourne le feu dans un flux de sommeil
    Oui, maintenant je vous donner des cauchemars
    De votre horreur, je vais créer un rêve

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