Navigating Uncertainty

Life is full of all sorts of uncertainties. Every single thing we do as humans in our life is a decision we have chosen to make no matter how mundane or exciting. For example, we wake up and we decide what to wear and what to eat for breakfast. Afternoon comes and we have to decide how to respond to an issue that we may encounter. By the time the evening arrives we’re faced with decisions such as what time to sleep or what show to watch during dinner time. However, it is true that before deciding on any action, we always want to choose the best decision without a doubt.

If there is one thing in life everybody wants, it’s certainty. Certainty is one of those things that delivers security and assurance to us. This is exactly the reason why we constantly check the weather outside, and why we always check our bank balances every day. Despite looking for certainty for tomorrows events, uncertainty is woven into the fabric of the universe by the infinite wisdom of Allah (swt). Everything in this life is subject to change EXCEPT for Allah (swt). Think about it for a second…The seasons, the colors of the trees, our age, our relationships, our financial state, and even our personalities to varying degrees. Only Allah (swt) is Everlasting and Permanent. Allah says,

And do not invoke with Allah another deity. There is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face. His is the judgement, and to Him you will be returned.

– Surah al-Qasas, Ayah 88

Allah (swt) constantly reminds us that He alone is All Knowing and has All Control over even the most basic things in our life.

“Indeed, Allah [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”

Surah Luqman, Ayah 34

Subhan’Allah the Majesty and power of Allah (swt) is something we often overlook in our lives. Our level of knowledge and information is equivalent to a drop in the ocean when comparing ourselves to Allah (swt). There are endless amounts of things we have no idea about. For instance, the date this world will end, where and when each of us will die, our economic fortunes, the means by which we are guided or misguided. These are all matters we can never achieve certainty in, regardless of all the scientific innovations. It is actually proven that the individual who can bear and tolerate uncertainty and is comfortable with whatever comes their way is much better suited to face life than the individual who craves certainty and control. This is simply because the individual who accepts uncertainty firmly understands and realizes that their not in full control of their affairs. This person does not stress over what they cannot dictate. The opposite would be the individual who avoids uncertainty and desires full control over the fine details of their life. This person will undoubtedly find perpetual errors and shortcomings over small things in their life they have no control over. This leads to a permanent state of worry, anxiety, and stress. Stress in fact is a direct response to situations where people feel uncertain.

Worrying and anxiety are two things that ultimately lead people to overestimate the risk of negative. Uncertainty and anxiety causes us to worry about not only today, but also future events that we have no control over. This ultimately creates a sense of hopelessness and negativity about the world. This kind of belief and mentality is entirely antithetical to the Islamic worldview.

The Islamic viewpoint on life discourages pessimism and anxiety and instead promotes and tells us to divert our attention to affairs and matters where we have control and to leave the other things to Allah (swt). Through this lens, we are able to work hard to increase the probability of success in our sphere of influence, while embracing the only certainty in life, which is Allah (swt), al-Haqq: The Truth. Allah (swt) is al-Wakeel, the one who we entrust our affairs. If we take a look at the other creation of Allah (swt) we’ll see that even they have high levels of uncertainty. For example, birds are entirely uncertain regarding when, where, and what they will catch when they leave their nests in the early morning. However, their uncertainty motivates them to go out and seek what has been decreed for them. This is the only thing they have power in, similar to us humans.

Another example we can draw from is from the life of our beautiful Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad (saw). He had no control over anything and was completely uncertain regarding so many things in his life. Yet, he continued to make dua’h and have faith in Allah (swt). He was keen on asking Allah (swt) to handle his affairs. The Prophet (saw) even commanded us to,

“Call upon Allah with certainty that he will answer you. Know that Allah will not answer the supplication of a heart that is negligent and distracted”

When the winds would blow strongly, our beloved Prophet (saw) would say, “Oh Allah, I ask You for its goodness and I take refuge with You from its evil.” Such is the example we need to emulate. Our lives are filled with uncertainty. We don’t know what’s going to happen an hour from now, let alone a minute from now. What we do know however is how to please Allah (swt) because of the guidance and Prophetic traditions we have from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Pleasing Allah (swt) will give us the most positive outcome in this life and the next. And Allah (swt) knows best.

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