In real fact, I am not. I am just like everyone else. I cry when things go beyond my control. I cry when trials just kept on coming over and over again. I cry when I feel helpless in the battle I face.
I remembered, when my doctor first broke the news about my disease back in December 2008, I was in a lost as to how should I convey the news to my mom, back home in Malaysia. I was in the mosque, having just performed my Asr prayer. From the main praying hall, I made my way to one of the area inside the mosque where no one was around. I called home, and as soon as my mom picked up the phone, I could hear from the background that my mom was trying hard to keep her tears. Apparently my brother, who found out about the news earlier, had told mom in advance before I made the call. Hearing mom crying broke my heart. Tears started to run down my face, I could barely say anything. Whose soul wouldn't break apart having heard the tears of his/her dearest mom?
Even after I hung up, I just couldn't stop crying. I told myself,
"Cry Afzal, cry. Let it out."
There I was at a corner inside the masjid, wiping over my tears. That, admittedly was one of the most emotional moment in my life. Not because that I found out I have cancer, but because I felt so bad that the person I love so much in my life would have to hear such news, and not being able to hold my hand, and offer me a hug, as we were thousands of miles apart.
A few minutes later, I got up, picked up a Quran from the shelf, and started reciting one of the chapters in the Holy book. I was looking for a source of strength, and I looked at none other than Allah's beautiful words for it. Not long after, I managed to gather myself, and started to make plans of how I should encounter my latest trial in life.
It's ok to cry. Natural it is for a human being to feel sorrow over times of hardship. The heart doesn't have to be dead or numb. The act of crying does not necessarily denotes that one has not got the strength of patience and fortitude. Our beloved Prophet cried over the death of his son, Ibrahim, yet he is the epitome of strength in the face of trials and tribulations.
As long as crying doesn't turn into wailing, or sobbing loudly, as if we are venting our anger to the One who has decided on our destiny. Our Rabb. And that we don't remain trapped in this pool of sadness, acting like someone who is totally paralyzed by what has happened, as if it is the end of the world. Ibn al Qayyim, a respected scholar in Islam, beautifully describes how Prophet Muhammad cried over a sad situation;
"As for the weeping of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) it was in the same degree as his laughter. He wouldn't sob loudly and raise his voice, just like his laughter wasn't loud. However his eyes would fill up with tears, until they flowed out, and you would hear the sound like that of a whistling kettle coming from his chest. He would weep out of mercy for the dead, out of fear and compassion for his ummah, out of deep fear of Allaah (سبحانه وتعالى), upon listening to the Qur'aan. And it was a weeping of longing, love and exaltation, accompanied by fear and khashyah".
The important thing is how we reacted after we cried. The mistake that a lot of people often fall into is when they start to whine over the calamity that afflicts them, saying things like "Why has Allah allowed such a difficulty on me?" or that when they were supplicating, they would complain, " Why have you not answered my wish and prayers O Allah?". You might think that you won't fall into such traps, or utter such sayings, but believe me, the heart tells you to do and say all the strangest of things when you feel helpless or stressed up.
So a person with seemingly strong character does not necessarily mean that (h)she never shed tears over a calamity. Rather, after letting his/her heart out, there is a positive reaction that succeeds the sadness. That should be the attitude of every Muslim. In life, there will definitely be a day when you might fall down. You cried because you have a cut on your knee, or that the ankle is bruising up. But it isn't the injury or the nature in which you fell that matters, but it is how you get up from it.
And that, is the character of STRENGTH. To get up, when you have fallen down.
To cry over something that saddens you is a mercy which Allâh puts in the hearts of His servants. And verily Allâh shows mercy to those of His servants who are merciful. Insha Allah.