Special features this issue
|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
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
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
“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
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