We all want many things: we want that job, we want that scholarship, we want that promotion, we want to marry that person, we want to buy that house, we want to own that car, we want to have a child, we want to have a better child, and the list goes on and on. Our wants are endless.
The thing is, we might think that the thing that we want is what's best for us, but in reality it might not be. We are short sighted in how we see the world.
No matter how hard we try to predict how the future would be like, we still have no idea what will happen tomorrow or an hour from now or even a minute from now. That knowledge is Allah's domain, not ours.
But still, Allah encourages us to plan as a form of effort, not as a form of sealing the deal. We don't seal anything. We might think that if I have this thing, then my future would be better. But do we know that for sure, without a hint of a doubt?
In any type of human prediction, there's always doubt. For example, weather prediction has some of the most complex and thorough analyzing method I've ever seen. The data that is collected and analyzed is mind boggling. But still, even with that level of sophistication, we can't reach a 100% accuracy. There's always a margin of error; there's always a doubt.
We don't plan as if we know the future and we don't sit back and do nothing. We plan our lives as a form of effort and rely on Allah for what would be a better plan. That's the balance.
So if you want something, then go get it. Find the most honest way to get it. But if you don't end up getting it, then know that it might not be good for you.
We have to remember that du'a is not a demand, it is a request. We request Allah for something and He decides the outcome. We believe, or should believe, that whatever the outcome, that would be what's best for us - even if we may not understand it at the time.
At the same time, we are asked to try and try and try. Maybe we can try again getting that same thing or maybe we can try getting something else. If you ask me to conclude what is expected of us in one word, this is the word I'll use: try. Try your best, try sincerely, and you'll be rewarded. That's where the reward is: in your effort, not in your result.
Our effort is not lost and our request is not ignored. Allah listens to every dua and Allah rewards every sincere effort. Most importantly, Allah gives each individual not what the individual wants, but what is best for the individual.
It is not wrong to want something and to work for it. That's what we should do. But we do it with the mindset of acknowledging that even though I want this thing so badly, in the end only Allah knows if it is best for me or not.
Like a kid who wants to play with fire, not everything that we want is good for us, even though we might think and believe that we want is good for us. So when a parent stops the kid from playing with that fire, it’s natural to assume that the kid will retaliate, thinking that what’s good from him has been taken away.
But in reality, it’s the opposite: what’s bad is being taken away and what’s good is being given. We might not see it at the moment the thing that we want is being taken away from us, but with time and growth, we will see it and we will look back and say, “Thank God my parents never let me play with fire.”
Thank God. Thank God that He doesn't give us everything we wanted.