How to console a person who was afflicted during childhood
Fatwa No: 270832

Question

Assalamualaikum, sometimes when people are faced with trials and hardships they tend to become bitter, and deviate from Islam, so as a fellow muslim, we try to console them and explain that these trials are for the better, a reminder for them to turn to Allah, or are part of a greater plan, for Allah is the best of planners. My question is; how would one console as such, or attempt to explain from an Islamic perspective, a calamity, such as rape, to its victim, or a friend who was sexual abused as a child. I can not use the word 'trial' to them, as they would say: 'what could a child need to learn from a trial like that?' I do-not question Allah's Plan, but once for example the victim of a child sexual abuse case grows up, how would we renew their faith, when they would feel like Allah has abandoned them?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

It is important that a Muslim stands by his Muslim brother and give him support. If one's brother is facing a calamity, one comforts him and tries to alleviate his pain and grief. This is what brotherhood in Islam entails. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allaah that you may receive mercy.}[Quran 49:10]

Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he must not wrong him or hand him over to harm. Whoever fulfills the need of his brother, Allaah will fulfill his needs; whoever removes one of his brother's troubles, Allaah will remove one of his troubles on the Day of Resurrection; and whoever covers up the fault of a Muslim, Allaah will cover up his fault on the Day of Resurrection." [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

It is also important to remind the afflicted person of the importance of holding onto faith and that Allaah is the Creator and Controller of the universe. He alone has sovereignty over the universe and full control of the creation and all beings. He disposes of the affairs of His creation as He wishes with His infinite wisdom and might; nothing and no one can ever resist His decreed will, repel or delay His judgment. His actions are never in vain, never unjust, and never superfluous; He disposes of all affairs out of His great wisdom and all-encompassing and absolute knowledge. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {And you do not will except that Allaah wills. Indeed, Allaah is ever Knowing and Wise.} [Quran 76:30]

This verse indicates that the divine will of Allaah, the Exalted, stands upon His knowledge and wisdom. Therefore, we are enjoined to submit to His divine will whether we know the wisdom behind His decrees or not. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allaah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.} [Quran 33:36]

The verse means that faith in Allaah should be the foundation for the submission to His divine decrees. Whoever is not convinced of that will not be convinced even if given thousands of justifications. Whatever Allaah does is done out of His great wisdom, which is not necessarily known to us. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Indeed, those upon whom the word of your Lord has come into effect will not believe, even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful punishment.}[Quran 10:96-97]

There is no doubt that there is great wisdom behind the affliction that may befall children, and that wisdom might not be peculiar to children only but rather may be an affliction for others as well. Al-Qurtubi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote: "Just as (Allaah) bought from the adult believers who are of age of responsibility (their selves and their wealth), so has He also bought (those things) from children; their pain and sickness are for the best of their interest and as a trial for the adult believers to reflect and learn lessons. The adult believers are most righteous and least corrupt when afflictions befall their children. The parents are rewarded for the pain and worries they experience as well as for their striving in raising and taking care of their children. Moreover, Allaah, The Exalted, compensates those afflicted children in the Hereafter. This can be likened to hiring a worker to construct a building and carry dust. This tiring labour causes him physical harm and pain; however, this is permissible because of the benefits reaped by his work and the reward he earns." [Tafseer Al-Qurtubi]

For more benefit, please refer to Fatwa 83577.

The matter of sound faith in Allaah and the benefits the afflicted children reap in the worldly life and Hereafter are among the best sources of solace and comfort for the person who was afflicted with calamities in his childhood. One should also be reminded that it is not reasonable or wise to be arrested by something that happened in the past as remembering it is of no benefit. On the contrary, it only brings about pain and grief. Hence, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, advised the afflicted person to let go of the past and look forward to the future with no regrets. Abu Hurayrah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: "The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allaah than the weak believer; and in each there is good. Strive for that which benefits you, seek the help of Allaah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, 'if only I had done that, such and such would have happened', but rather say 'Qaddara Allaahu wa ma shaa'a fa‘al (Allaah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does)," for (saying) 'If only' opens the door to the work of Satan.'" [Muslim]

Allaah Knows best.

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