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God tasks no soul beyond its capacity

Reflections on the Night of Isra wa al Meraj in a time of difficulty

The month of Rajab 1441 has nearly passed us by. Communities across the world are panic stricken with uncertainty and fear at an invisible enemy that attacks and lays waste to the populace.

This blessed month, which is among the sacred months [2:217], is the one in which most Muslims commemorate the night of the Ascension, al-Isra wa al-Meraj. This sacred journey of the Prophet Muhammadﷺ to the Divine Presence came at the end of the year of sorrow, al 'aam al huzn, which was preceded by a boycott of the Muslim community by the Makkans.

The Boycott and the Year of Sorrow

Through the approximately three yearlong boycott, the Muslims faced great hardship. Deprived of food at times they resorted to eating leaves. Yet, they held steadfast, not leaving their faith. Of all the pillars of Islam, 'iman is the hardest. Belief in the unseen, a promise of the eternal over the ephemeral, is what we have given testimony to.

As the boycott ended in the 10th year of prophethood, the years of tribulation took their toll. Our mother Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her, passed away. She was the first of the believers, and dearest to the Prophet. Her passing left a vacuum in his life. Soon thereafter, Abu Talib, the Prophet's uncle and protector in Makkah,  passed away as well. Saddened, the Prophet Muhammadﷺ left for Taif to convey his message. The residents of Taif did not respond well to the call of Islam, sending their street urchins to chase the Messengerﷺ who pelted him with stones.

Bleeding, sorrowful, and dejected, he supplicated to the Lord in what is recorded in the Hadith as the Dua of Taif.
O Allah unto thee do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness,  of my want of resources, and of my lowliness before men.
O Most Merciful of the merciful, Thou art Lord of the weak...

The Ascension and its Gifts

Allahﷻ blessed the Prophetﷺ with the Isra and Meraj, a journey unlike any other. The journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and the ascension to the heavens is narrated in Surah Bani Israil (Surah Isra) and Surah Najm, and in various authentic hadith but is not the focus of this post.

Amongst the gifts received by the Belovedﷺ during this meeting with the Lord was the revelation of the closing verses of Surah Baqarah.

It is these words that inspired this post, a fitting coda to the year of sorrow. Allah, Most Merciful, ﷻ says:

[2:286] starts with the words "God does not task a soul beyond its capacity." The gift of salat received in this night is not beyond our capacity, but neither are the tests that we face on a daily basis. 

Just as the Prophet ﷺ faced difficulty in his life and received Divine assistance, we pray that we are guided through these difficult times with faith as our compass. We will continue to take all precautions as we are advised to do, but our faith in the outcome lies in the will of Allah ﷻ, for we are content in His Will, the sweetness, and the bitterness of it. 

We pray for the safety of all, secure in our belief that Allah is Sufficient for us, and an Excellent Guardian is He.