From Our Resiliency Blog Series: The Science & Spirit Of Resiliency: Building A Stronger You (Full list of 8 blogs)
This blog explores some key teachings of Islam on the topic of resilience, including key Quranic/scripture verses, hadiths (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad) with examples, and short stories that illustrate these principles.
Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) teachings and actions offer valuable insights on how to develop resilience in the face of challenges and adversity.
Key principles and teachings from his life that can be considered a framework for resilience are:
Allah (God) says: “And upon Allah (God) let the believers rely.” (Quran, 3:122)
“Trust in Allah (Tawakkul) is not achieved except by means of surrender to His decree.” (Imam Ali, Nahj al-Balagha, Saying 110)
The Prophet emphasized the importance of placing trust in Allah (God) and relying on Him in all matters. This trust in God’s wisdom and plan can provide strength and resilience when facing difficulties.
Trusting in God leads to resilience – There are many stories in the life of Prophet Muhammad and his followers, demonstrating their unwavering trust in Allah and acceptance of God’s decree in life, even in the face of trials and adversities, which serves as powerful examples of resilience.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “If you trust Allah with due trust, He will provide you sustenance as He provides for the birds. They go forth hungry in the morning and return with full bellies in the evening.” (Tirmidhi)
This is mirrored in a common Islamic phrase “Tawakkul ala Allah” (trust in Allah). Muslims believe that while we must make efforts to achieve our goals and plans, the ultimate outcome is in God’s hands. As a result, when expectations are not met or uncertainty occurs, surrendering to God’s will becomes a life saver in avoiding despair and negative responses. This surrender then allows faith and hope to naturally arise in one’s thoughts and responses about the matter.
This trust in Allah’s (God’s) plan gives individuals resilience in times of uncertainty.
Allah (God) says: “And be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (Quran, 8:46)
This Quranic verse above points to a powerful boost to one’s resiliency – that when faced with difficulties, to remain patient acknowledging that God is the Knower of All and gives extra help to those who are patient.
Sabr is a central concept in Islam, referring to patience, perseverance, and endurance in the face of adversity. The Prophet Muhammad encouraged all people to practice patience in difficult situations and to trust that God’s plan is ultimately for the best.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” (Sahih al-Bukhari). In other words, the strong or resilient person is the one who has the ability to exert self-control in balance.
The story of Prophet Job (Ayub in Islam) is often cited as an example of extreme patience and resilience. Despite enduring severe physical suffering and loss of family, Job remained patient and never lost faith in Allah’s wisdom.
The well-known battle of Karbala, where Imam Hussain (the grandson of Prophet Muhammad) and his companions displayed immense patience and fortitude in the face of the overwhelming adversity of an oppressive and corrupt regime, is a poignant example of resilience at the highest level. Regardless of how outnumbered they were in their fight against an unjust government, their patience was the foundation of their ability to remain resilient amidst the chaos they encountered.
Allah (God) says: “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” (Quran, 40:60)
This verse connects to the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings on the power of prayer and supplication as a means of seeking strength, guidance, and assistance from Allah. In doing so and turning to prayer during challenging times, it can help one find inner peace and resilience.
“O God, grant me the patience to endure what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Zayn al-Abidin, Sahifa Sajjadiya)
This prayer from the supplications found in Sahifa Sajjadiya, a collection of prayers attributed to Zayn al-Abidin (the great- grandson of the Prophet), reflect the importance of turning to God in times of hardship and seeking strength through supplication – all of which support ones ability to remain resilient under pressure.
“Know that what has passed you by [and you have failed to attain] was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by.” (Hadith of Prophet Muhammad).
This hadith emphasizes the belief in Qadar (divine preordainment or destiny) in Islam. It teaches that everything in life is under the control and knowledge of Allah, and that what happens to an individual is part of a larger plan. It encourages us to accept the events of our lives with patience and trust in God’s wisdom and decree.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also said, “Nothing can change the Divine decree except supplication.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi). Believing in this statement for a Muslim offers them the platform to accept life’s tough conditions with grace and positivity. Acts of supplication then become an offering to connect to a higher power, God (Allah) and a higher reason to remain resilient. Islamic teachings in general strongly encourage making dua (prayers) during times of adversity, seeking God’s help and guidance.
Allah (God) says: “The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers.” (Quran, 49:10)
The Prophet emphasized the importance of building a supportive and caring community. Having a strong social support system can provide emotional resilience and help individuals navigate difficult times.
For example, Muslims are encouraged to come together to support one another during challenging times. For instance, the concept of compulsory “Zakat” (charity) encourages those who are financially capable to help those in need within the community, fostering resilience by ensuring no one is left behind.
Spiritual Support – The Prophet said, “The example of my Ahlul Bayt (the family/lineage of the Prophet) among you is like that of Noah’s Ark. Whoever boards it is saved, and whoever remains behind is drowned.” (Tirmidhi, al-Thaqalayn). Islam places a strong emphasis on the importance of the family and companions of the Prophet, as guides and sources of community support (education) to develop resiliency through learning and practicing his teachings and wisdom.
Surrendering is a key element of resiliency. Islam emphasizes surrendering to God’s decree, as exemplified by the patience and acceptance displayed by the Prophet Muhammad and many of his illustrious followers in the face of various trials and tribulations.
Allah (God) says: “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.” (Quran, 2:216)
This Quranic statement gives an individual the opportunity to experience higher meanings in both seemingly good and seemingly bad life events. In other words, that positive benefits can present themselves in due time, in situations that seem adverse and being aware that negative benefits can arise from something that seems positive or pleasurable.
“Destiny is like a snake, unless you let it go, it will not let you go.” (Imam Ali, Nahj al-Balagha, Saying 399)
This statement teaches the importance of letting go of trying to control destiny, ie. surrendering one’s will in certain situations that necessitate it, which serves as a key element for resiliency.
Accepting destiny is also exemplified in the story of Imam Hussain (the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad) and the tragedy of Karbala. Despite facing overwhelming odds, Imam Hussain maintained his commitment to justice and remained steadfast in the face of adversity. He accepted the destiny of God that was before him without judgement unequivocally. This served as a powerful driver of his resiliency in the matter of life and death.
When famine struck Medina, companions of the Prophet would bring food to those in need, displaying resilience through acts of kindness and charity.
Allah (God) says: “And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive.” (Quran, 76:8)
“The believers’ souls are held together in the Hand of Allah. They are helpers of one another, wherever they may be.” (Imam Baqir, Bihar al-Anwar)
Muslims believe in helping and supporting one another in times of need, even if it means giving up one’s own resources, which stems from the Islamic belief in the unity and oneness of humanity.
These teachings, Quranic verses, Hadiths, and examples emphasize that resilience in Islam is not just about enduring hardship but also about:
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Written by Cynthia Aisha Meguid
Well-Being – Author, Educator, Consultant & Coach