Don’t Look Back


Keep your gaze fixed firmly ahead and do not cast even a single backward glance; for surely anguish over what has passed you by will not bring you any joy at all in what is yet to come. 

Don’t look back. Don’t live in regret. Don’t dwell on the past and don’t let it consume your life. It’s easy enough saying all of that. But how to actually put it in practice and implement it? That is the really hard part.  :/ The following are thus some guidelines as to what we can possibly do in order to achieve that.

1) Say often: ‘Qaddarallahu wa maa shaa’a fa’ala – Allah is the One who decrees (all matters), and what He wills, happens.‘ This is the Prophetic advice as to what we should say when thoughts of regret regarding past events overcome us. What has happened has happened, and it was determined by Allah ta’ala Himself millions and millions of years before that event came to pass. His decree is absolute and immutable, and there is no other option befitting for us as His slaves but to accept it. It is difficult no doubt, but this is our test – to be content with the Divine Decree.

2) Don’t think: “If only I had done that, this might have occurred…” or “Maybe if I had done that, this would have happened…” or “Perhaps I should have said this, rather than that…“. All of these are destructive thoughts and they lead down a dark and dangerous path. The hadith describes it as “opening the doors of shaytaan“, and by Allah, it is a gateway to self-torture. These kind of thoughts serve only to renew and intensify your agony and pain and regret, and bring no benefit or comfort at all. So whenever these ideas surface in your mind, catch yourself immediately and stop yourself from entertaining them any further. Instead, repeat that dhikr mentioned above and remind yourself of the fact that this is what Allah ta’ala wanted to happen.

3) Remember the story of Khidr ‘alaihis salaam and how he killed the young boy. The tafsir of this incident mentions some of the views as to how he did this: it is said that he slit his throat with a knife; or that he ripped his head off with his bare hands; or that he smashed his skull against a wall. In whichever way it was done, it was a gruesome death. So picture the scene then, of when those parents saw the corpse of their beloved child. How much grief and sorrow and hurt must they not have experienced!? They couldn’t possibly have regarded that event as being anything other than a calamity and misfortune. And yet, what does Allah ta’ala say? Does He say that He decreed this for them as an ‘adhaab (punishment) upon them, or because He was displeased with them? No. Rather, He says that it was rahmah (mercy) from Him towards them, and that He decreed this because He desired khair (good) for them. Subhanallah! Imagine that: such a harrowing and painful torment, and yet it was pure rahmah! In the same way then, at the time when we experience some difficulty, we might not be able to see any good in it at all at that point in time. But we should always try and have this thought in mind: that perhaps it is best for us, even though right then we might not be able to comprehend how that could possibly be.

4) Reflect on the ayah: “Wa ‘asaa an tuhibboo shai’aw wa huwa sharrul lakum. Wallahu ya’lamu wa antum laa ta’lamoon – And perhaps it is that you love something, while it is bad for you. Allah knows, and you do not know.” We might desire something and have a good intention in wanting it, believing that it will be something good for us and help strengthen us in terms of our deen. And because of us having that good intention, we then can’t understand why it would be that we are deprived of that. Why would our Lord withhold from us something that would make us better believers and strengthen our imaan? But this is simply an indication of the limitations of our knowledge. Just because in our mind we see that thing as something good, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it would be such, were we to have been granted it. Thus we should acknowledge and accept Allah ta’ala’s superior and infinite knowledge and wisdom, rather than relying on our limited intellects.

5) Recall the hadith: “Rufi’atil aqlaamu wa jaffatis suhuf – The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” What has passed you by has passed you by, and there is no possibility at all of acquiring it. What has afflicted you has afflicted you, and there is no possibility at all of escaping it. Simply accept this and move on – don’t keep on despairing over that which has gone. Even if it were possible for you to go back in time, and even if you were to do so a thousand times, each time events would play themselves out exactly as they transpired the first time round. And if this is the case, why keep on beating yourself up about that which has gone?

6) Maintain a good opinion of your Lord, and expect and hope for khair from Him in the future. Think that perhaps He has something even better in store for you than that which He has withheld from you. If we are deprived of something we desire and we then constantly keep on remembering and thinking about it, it leads to us becoming bitter and jaded and resentful. And how are those praiseworthy and beautiful qualities to have? How is that a good state of heart to be in? So leave it off and try and remain positive in your outlook. Don’t allow yourself to feel hard done by. And don’t let the creation and the temporal things of the dunya cause you to become discontented with your Lord, the Creator of all existence.

7) All that matters, in the end, is our relationship with Allah ta’ala. If He is happy and pleased with us, then that’s all that should matter to us, no matter what hardships and difficulties we might be experiencing at that time. This was the attitude and mindset of the Prophet , and we should try and make it our mindset as well. And Allah ta’ala’s depriving us of certain things, or His causing us to go through certain hardships, is not necessarily an indication of His being displeased with us. We might think that this is the case, but in actual fact, it isn’t so. Rather, He withholds from whomever He pleases and He gives to whomever He pleases – to both the good and the bad among His slaves. Don’t you see that He caused His most beloved of all creation, Rasulullah , to go through the most severe hardships? And the most difficult day in the life of the Prophet  was when he was scorned and rejected by the people of Ta’if. At the end of that day though – despite the aching limbs caked with blood, and the grieving heart filled with sorrow – he  said the most beautiful dua, which indicates towards the most beautiful of inward conditions. So in our own personal times of difficulty, we should let his dua be our dua, in the hope that his condition becomes our condition. His only thought in mind when raising his hands to his Lord, was:

إن لم تكن غضبان علي فلا أبالي

“If You are not angry with me, then I don’t care…”

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One Response to Don’t Look Back

  1. May Allah (swt) grant us this level of Iman! Ameen!

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