By Umm Isam and Alia Adil
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day, a small opening appeared – he sat and watched the butterfly for several hours, as it struggled to force its body through the little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther. Then the man decided to help the butterfly.
He took a pair of scissors and snipped the remaining bit of the cocoon. The butterfly then emerged easily. However, something was strange. The butterfly had a swollen body and shriveled wings. The man continued to watch the butterfly, expecting the wings to enlarge and expand at any moment to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened. In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and deformed wings. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the small opening of the cocoon are Allah’s (swt) way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings, so that it would be ready for flight, once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes, struggles are exactly what we need in our life.
If Allah (swt) allowed us to go through all our life without any obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as we could. Not only that – we would never be able fly.
Another important factor to realize is that Allah (swt) never places on us a burden heavier than our might. If life throws a challenge our way, we should be convinced in our heart that we can handle it; otherwise, we would not have encountered it. After all, Allah (swt) has created us and knows our level of strength.
Struggles are also a trial from Allah (swt) to test, which one of us loses hope and wanes away, and which one stands firm, praying to Allah (swt) earnestly and moving on with determination. They know that Allah (swt) is always on the side of those, who face struggles head on and fight with all the resources and courage they can muster, praying to Allah (swt) for help and triumph. “O mankind! It is you who stand in need of Allah. But Allah is Rich (Free of all needs), Worthy of all praise.” (Fatir 35:15)
Finally, Allah (swt) promises: “Verily, along with every hardship is relief…” (Ash-Sharh)
Another significant issue to understand is the concept of relief. To us, mortals, relief may mean regaining lost wealth, recovering from a terrible disease or winning back friends lost in a quarrel. In other words, returning to a previous state of life, which was disrupted due to a sudden change.
With His infinite wisdom, Allah (swt) views circumstances differently. He knows the unforeseen and thus decides, what is best for us, so long as we place our trust in Him, submitting to His will. This means that people may stay poor following a financial loss or die from a disease, or never patch up with lost friends. This may be relief from Allah (swt) – if our being rich or living, or socializing with certain friends would have led us to a disaster in this world and in the Akhirah (Hereafter).
Sometimes, relief comes in ways that benefits us instantly, the results of which can be witnessed, whereas at other times, relief cannot be comprehended immediately. We just have to pray to Allah (swt) to help us understand and be patient with His decision. Relief is always on its way – it is Allah’s (swt) promise!