What does pain feel like? It’s hard to put a measurement or description to it; it stings, it crushes, it reminds, it sickens but most of all, it consumes. We all feel it at some point in our lives for different reasons, but perhaps one of the most painful experiences one can go through is that of betrayal.
What is betrayal? One definition is ‘To turn on someone you trust, or to have someone do the same to you.’* In order to understand what true betrayal can mean, read the word translated into the scenarios below.
• Jameelah concluded her husband was having an affair when he would secretly talk on the phone late into the night and avoid interaction with her. He didn’t deny nor confirm it when she asked him outright, but then he didn’t need to when he left her life a few days later.
• Anisah was stunned into shock when the police came knocking on their house one night wanting to arrest her teenage son for drugs and robbery. Jamal was upstairs studying for his GSCEs like any other ‘good’ son.
• Ahmad’s face contorted with rage as he stared at his wife. “You told your friends I was ‘weak’ and ‘unsatisfactory.’ You shared our most intimate bedroom secrets with a bunch of women. You humiliated me at every level. Now tell me how I can begin to face people knowing something like that?
• Yasmin would never forget the day when the bailiffs came knocking on their door asking for her husband. Unbeknown to her, he had declared them bankrupt after taking a huge loan out. She had seen no evidence of the loan nor its expenditure, so what had he taken it out for? He had now ruined their chances of getting the house she had dreamed of living in one day.
• The dreams haunted Hamidah, and every so often her repressed memories would resurface. Seven years old and feeling painful hands on her, travelling here, travelling there. After 20 years, she still felt the same terrifying sickness that froze her whenever she saw her uncle.
All the above examples have one thing in common: a violation of trust. All the situations would have had a degree of trust and hope in the perpetrator, and it was abused. A sad fact of life is that there will be times where our trust will be challenged and broken by the ones we love most. That’s why it’s a betrayal. That’s why it hurts all the more. It’s a painful experience for the betrayed one and can make us really question everything we believed to be true and everything we held dear. It can throw us in a state of despair because betrayal is such a bitter pill to swallow.
The Prophets Lut (AS) and Nuh (AS) were no exception. They were both betrayed by the ones who should have supported them the most: their wives.
“Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.” (At-Tahrim:10)
It has been agreed that none of the wives were unchaste; rather, they didn’t believe in their husband’s cause, which in effect meant they didn’t believe in what Allah (SWT) had commanded. Nuh (AS) was mocked by his own people for his teachings and building an Ark. By that stage, his wife and son Yam, who also betrayed him, should have been convinced that his words were very real and that the command of Allah (SWT) would come to pass. Yet, they persisted in their ignorance and sided with the people. It was a deadly, foolish decision that cost both their Dunya and Akhirah.
The same applied to the wife of Lut (AS). She should have been understanding and supportive of his efforts to end the transgressions of his people. She refused to believe that a huge calamity would befall them, and it is said that she was the one who alerted the town’s people that they had beautiful guests in their house that would interest them. The people came and pounded on Lut’s (AS) door, demanding that they see the guests. Lut (AS) realised that somehow his wife had conveyed the news. (Stories of The Prophets Ibn Kathir):
“So we saved him and his family, all, except an old woman (his wife) among those who remained behind. Then afterwards, We destroyed the others. We rained on them a rain of torment. How evil was the rain of those who had been warned. Verily, in this is indeed a sign, yet most of them are not believers. Verily! Your Lord, He is indeed the All-Mighty, the Most Merciful.”
What should we do when we have been betrayed? We should try to do what the Prophets did: let go. What did the Prophets Nuh (AS)and Prophet Lut (AS) do when their very own wives betrayed them? Did they curse them to the bitter end? Did they go back to try and seek revenge? No. They let it go. Yes they were extremely hurt, but they saw the bigger picture and let it go.
Likewise, we need to learn to let go of that which hurt us. Turn your heart away from the action and release the pain, the pain that binds you. It’s easy to say forgive and forget, but sometimes, that is the only remedy to overcoming the pain. Don’t let it fester in your mind and consume your whole being. Allah (SWT) knows the pain you felt – do not think it has remained unnoticed. It was put in your path to shake you, to almost break you, yet make you come out wiser and emotionally stronger.
This is dependent on the situation and to the extent of betrayal of course. Some things, understandably, may be impossible to forgive, such as rape, abuse or sexual abuse, but don’t let it break you. You are stronger than your emotional setbacks, because Allah (SWT) granted you the strength to deal with it. Believe in that wholeheartedly.
Memories are just that: memories. Once a situation has gone, it cannot touch you unless you allow it to consume your thoughts. Take whatever practical measures you can to deal with the situation, whether it means financial or professional assistance. Speak to learned people and good friends whom you can trust. If necessary, seek counselling to help you come to grips with your emotions.
Remember we were not created to be crushed by others forever, so let the painful aspect in your life go and know that there is indeed an all Merciful, Just Lord who shall exact retribution where necessary. In the end, you will come to realise that creation can be of no avail to us. Creation will always disappoint or crush us at some point. Even our own shadow leaves us, so call upon Your Creator. Call upon Allah (SWT) for everything. Remember Allah (SWT) in your moments of intense pain and supplicate with the following du’as:
Rabbi innee lima anzalta ilayya min khayrin faqeerun.
“My Lord! Truly, I am in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!” (Al-Qasas:24)
Rabbana atina min ladunka rahmatan wahayyi lana min amrina rashadan.
“Our Lord! Bestow on us mercy from Yourself, and facilitate for us our affair in the right way!” (Al-Kahf:10)
Finally, remember that Allah (SWT) is the one who placed you in the situation, so Allah (SWT) alone is the one who will see you through it. Allah (SWT) is the best disposer of our affairs and a sufficient Guardian – so let it go and move on.
Miriam Islam lives in the UK with her three children and husband. An aspiring novelist, she spends her time studying and writing for Discover and SISTERS Magazine.