Whether through death, loss, or disagreement, when we lose someone or something dear to us, we become overwhelmed by the pangs of grief; the pain of loss feels overbearing as though it would never end. Having to face the consequences of detachment can be a traumatic experience. All we can think of is the pain enshrouding our hearts and consuming our minds. With tears streaming down our faces, our faces contorted with emotion and our hearts too feeling as though a heavy burden has landed—the misery takes a hold of us and, blinded by our tears, we fail to see the light.
But there is a light; a light to behold even in the darkest corner of the earth, even in the murkiest depths of the ocean. We don’t have to drown in the quicksand of trauma. Nothing and nobody by Allah’s Will subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He) has the ability to overpower the underlying depth of:
Inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon.
Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return.
When we actually give some time and thought to reflect upon the words which constitute this statement, we come to realise that there is an extremely powerful and truthful message behind it—an answer to all our questions, grief and emotions.
This profound phrase captures the essence of our entire existence; it encapsulates where we came from and also where we are headed:
Understanding the statement has the ability to eradicate regrets and past events. It holds the key to finding contentment during those times when we think, ‘Why did that have to happen?’ We can become immersed in questioning, and drown in the misery of relentless searching for the answer…Or we can discover patience by asserting that regardless of whatever has occurred, we will indeed return to Allah (swt).
When we truly understand the meaning of inna lilLahi wa inna ilayhi raji`oon, we find that no sadness will last forever, and that we shouldn’t destroy ourselves by holding even the slightest bitterness or anger within us. By understanding that Allah (swt) is the One, the only One to Whom we belong, we should be able to move on from painful moments in our life (which we should assert as not being able to occur except that Allah (swt) Willed for it to be) and strive for our goal of meeting Him.
There should be no space for bitterness or anger when one truly comprehends the deep truthfulness of this phrase, and we should be able to forgive those who have intentionally or unintentionally wronged us because we know that Allah (swt) alone holds all sovereignty and that even our emotions belong to Him. By forgiving ourselves and others, by showing sabr(patience) in the face of death or loss, and by aspiring for Allah’s Mercy and Judgement, we open ourselves to a whole new level of understanding ourselves in the context of space and time. We can understand by His Will that Allah (swt) is all that matters, and everything else in this dunya (current life, world) is a means for us to reach Him because we want to be able to See Him at the end, for without a doubt we will have to return to Him.
‘Inna’ meaning ‘verily’ tells us that with certainty we belong to Allah (swt), that is, He Created us and bestowed on us our beginning without a doubt. ‘Inna’ occurs twice in this phrase, providing an emphasis on the certainty of Allah’s Ever-Lasting existence, emphasising the certainty of our beginning AND our end. So Allah (swt) is Al-Awwal (the Beginning, the First) andAl-Akhir (the End, the Last). Al-Awwal ul Akhir (The Ever-Lasting) is the source of light in every single moment of despair, hardship, and difficulty where our tears and grief blind us. Instead of allowing or hearts and souls to become blinded by the darkness of sadness, we can train ourselves in times of positive feelings and negative feelings to find contentment in Allah’s Decree, for nothing happens without His Decreeing it.
Allah (swt) tells us in Surah Baqarah, verses 155-156:
And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirun (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Verily! To Allah we belong and verily, to Him we shall return.” (Qur’an 2:155-156)
This is our Lord, the One Who Created us when we were nothing, telling us in His Divine Book—tanzil (sent down) to humans and jinn as a dhikr (reminder)—that He will definitely test us with trials, but that He has Promised reward for those who are patient.