My son, aged 10, was finding things hard at school. At first, I thought that he was slow learning to read because he was such an adventurous boy. Then, after some time, I decided he was the sort who had not developed an interest in reading. It would just take time. On went the excuses until I held him back a year, thinking that immaturity was the problem. A full year later, I was completely shocked by the news from the educational psychologist that my son has dyslexia. How did I miss that? It brought to mind the old adage “Couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” My child was failing at school, and I wasn’t fully aware of the problem. All of the emotions came: guilt, feeling like a rotten mum; worry, about what emotional damage he had suffered; confusion, about what to do now; and finally, a bit of self-pity – look at all the work that lay ahead. He was the last of my children, part of a twin set. When I delivered them aged 40, I was just relieved to see that they were both healthy. Had I forgotten my blessings?
Dyslexia is not a disease. It is a condition that approximately 15% of the population has and it often runs in families. It has nothing to do with a person’s intellect – a lot of dyslexics are average or above in this regard. It has everything to do with the way the brain processes information during the reading process because it is a language processing disorder. For dyslexics, words are not comprehended in the same way as your average reader. Many dyslexics are thought to be stupid or lazy, but actually they work many times harder to read a simple passage. They work so hard to read a word that by the time they finish the sentence or paragraph, they have no comprehension of it. Spelling is also affected as they are unable to retrieve the correct spelling of a word from their mind. My son can copy a whole sentence correctly, however, if you ask him to write a sentence it will be a jumble of letters. If you spoke to him, you would never know he had any problems. But this article isn’t just about dyslexia, it’s about how we respond to any shocking news. How do we look at the situation? What should our response be?
Tawhid has three aspects: belief in Allah’s oneness, His Lordship, and His names and attributes. It is understanding His names that so many of us fall short when we are faced with a challenge. When we look at the name Al ‘Aleem (the All Knowing), Al Hakeem (the All Wise), do we really comprehend the meaning of these beautiful names? One way to view wisdom is the placing of everything at its proper time and in its most suitable place. If you put something in the wrong place, that is unwise. If the timing isn’t right, that is also unwise. Since Allah’s knowledge and wisdom are absolute perfection, He decrees things to happen with full knowledge at the best time and the most suitable place. He gives us gifts in our lives – husbands, children, provision – exactly at the right time and exactly in the right place. This little boy’s place is with me, and now is the best time to solve his problems. I am the best mum for him, no matter how flawed I am and he is the best little boy for me. If I thought otherwise, then I wouldn’t believe that Allah (SWT) knows everything, but instead I would be challenging Him.
By having the correct belief, we have the true key to happiness and contentment in what Allah (SWT) has decreed. We will then have the confidence that whatever we are given, we are perfectly capable of handling it no matter the extent of the challenge and regardless of our age, financial situation or location. Understanding who Allah (SWT) is will help us to achieve true happiness.
“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do” (An-Nahl: 97)
There are two conditions for happiness in the ayat above: do righteous deeds and believe, i.e. in tawhid. We all say we are believers. We are all doing good deeds: praying, giving charity, making dhikr, du’a and helping people, so why are we filled with doubt when trouble comes our way? It is because there is a problem with our belief. If Tawhid is the essence of belief, then knowing the Names of Allah I is an essential part of belief. How can I understand Allah’s decrees if I don’t understand Him? I can’t. The more we know Allah (SWT), the better we can act upon that knowledge and live our lives according to His names: trusting in Al Hafeez to keep me safe, relying on Ar Razzaq for my provision, knowing Al Mumin will never break His Promise and that Al Hadi will always be there to guide me, even if I can’t see the path properly. In my case, I realised that it was Al Hadi who has surrounded me with the best people: the teacher who first noticed the problem, the psychologist who diagnosed him and the special sisters in my life. I asked them for information and support, and I got an abundant supply. Sisterhood in Islam has never let me down; it warms my heart every time I think about it.
When we realise what true submission to Allah (SWT) is, when we submit sincerely at all levels, including belief in His names and attributes, we will find happiness in this life and the next, bi’idhnillah, whatever tests we face.
Ann Stock has been a Muslim for 26 years. She lives with her husband and three youngest children between Egypt and Jeddah. She has 7 children and 8 grandchildren.