Sometimes the people with the worst past create the best future.”

-Umar ibn Al-Khattab (RA)-

 

Is your past affecting your present? Despite friends and family edging you to move on, are you trapped in the past, constantly replaying those dreadful memories in your mind?

 

Whether the experience was a minor embarrassing moment or a tragic chapter in your life, Allah (SWT*) tests those He loves. What happened yesterday is not here anymore. Even the moment you finish reading this sentence, it’s in the past. Allah (SWT) dedicates an entire Surah on the vanishing nature of time: “By the fleeting of Time. Verily, humankind is in loss.” [Surat Al ‘Asr, 1-2]

 

Maybe you have a bitter resentment towards a family member. Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months turn into years, but nothing changes. If you remain fixated on being right at the expense of an old argument, you lose out on all the possible happy moments you could have shared in the future.

 

Just as you do not wash clean clothes in dirty water, you cannot expect a healthy mindset with a toxic thinking environment. But who strives to cultivate that harmful atmosphere? Who is the one that keeps fuelling and reminding you of those untended wounds from the past? Allah (SWT) reveals that we need to be on constant guard from Shaytan: “If there comes to you from Shaytan an evil suggestion, then seek refuge in Allah.” [Surat Fussilat, 36]

 

Recognizing that there is an active participant edging you towards your downfall is a giant step forward to reclaiming the God-given power you had in you all along. Shaytan will keep dragging you down to the pit of despair again, and again, and again. But no matter how many times people shun you away for your mistakes, or give up on you, remember that Allah (SWT) will always be there for you: “And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near.” [Surat Al Baqarah, 186]

 

Let us look at the everlasting mercy of Allah (SWT) through the story of Yusuf (AS). His brothers mistreated him and had a warped view of love towards their father. Their twisted actions led to young Yusuf (AS) being unjustly taken as a slave and imprisoned for a false crime, and made their father’s eyes turn white from grief. When the brothers reunited with Yusuf (AS), Allah (SWT) records their conversation: “They said, “By Allah, certainly has Allah preferred you over us, and indeed, we have been sinners.” [Yusuf] said, “No blame will there be upon you today. Allah will forgive you; and He is the most merciful of the merciful.” [Surat Yusuf, 91-92]

 

Allah (SWT) can make miracles out of your mistakes. By focusing on creating a better future and taking things one day at a time, those setbacks turn into comebacks. Acknowledging that the errors made in the past contribute to the person you are today, you begin to set yourself free from the shackles of guilt and remorse. We all have our stories – carving out a bright future from a dark past can be your remarkable tale.

 

SWT = Subhanahu wa ta’ala (May He be glorified and exalted)

AS = Alayhi al-Salaam (Peace be upon him)

 

*If you’d like a stress-management consultant’s perspective, Stop Thinking, Start Living by Richard Carlson offers simple ways to let go of negativity and discover lifelong happiness.