Understanding God’s Plan (Gems by Ustadh Usama Canon)

Today I heard a wonderful lecture by Ustadh Usama Canon filled with real reminders and practical advice on how to understand the events of your life. My notes are brief (it’s a lecture that should be experienced on its own) and I’m posting it here as a reminder to myself first and foremost. To support Taleef Collective, where Ustadh Usama teaches, please see here)


  • Like all of you I’m on a journey. I’m on a journey to try and know myself, understand the world around me and through that to understand reality and my Creator. And everybody’s journey is different.
  • Before the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him prays for anything, he affirms Allah’s reality. See this in the dua of Taif. When you say to someone who is generous that they are generous, you are asking them for something. When you mention to someone that the gift they gave you is really nice, you’re asking them for another gift.

  • Think about the beautiful words of the dua of Taif..”and my insignificance before mankind”
  • Allah is the only one who loves to hear your complaint.  One of our problems is we complain too much. We complain just to complain. Allah is the only One who loves to hear you complain.
  • Prophet is saying: You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak.
  • The summary of the dua is If you’re not mad at me, I don’t care.” – That’s understanding God’s Plan.
  • Story of Ibrahim alayhis salaam in the catapult – think of all the times we say, “what did I do to deserve this?” Ibrahim just had laa ilaha illa Allah.
  • When Jibril asks Ibrahim alayhis salaam whether he can do anything for him, Ibrahim alayhis salaam says, “not from you.” Its enough for me to not even ask, but that Allah Knows what is going on with me. In other words, he is so at peace with Allah, he is so submitted to the realities of Allah, that he doesn’t need to ask.
  • The glass is half full or half empty – we get to choose. And things will be how we see them to be. But we often measure things incorrectly. We see a new job, new car, new house as things going well, getting sick, losing the job, losing money (God forbid) as things going badly, and then ask ourselves questions, am I being tried? What did I do to deserve this? But in reality, Everything is a tribulation. The whole thing is a test. Life and death are a test to see which of you is better in action. The foundational reality of the world is tribulation.
  • Either outwardly well or outwardly afflicted but in both being tried. If outwardly well, Allah will send people to us who need help and if you do not help them, you will become afflicted.  Allah creates people that He Created for other people’s need. People will run to those people when they have need, and these are the people that will be safe from Allah’s punishment. May Allah make us of those people!
  • When we lose something we ask, “is Allah disgracing me?” He’s the One who gave it to you in the first place!
  • Give glad tidings to those when they are afflicted with an affliction say, Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon.
  • Umm Salamah when her husband Abu Salamah passed away was told to recite this verse  and make this dua, “Allah reward me in this affliction and give me that which is better in it.” And she said who could be better than Abu Salamah? But she said, “I’ll say the dua anyway”. And she was married by the best of creation, peace and blessings be upon him.
  • In the most difficult situation, realize that Allah is in control.
  • Imam al Haddad said “I’m constant in having a good opinion of Allah, so husn al dhann, this good opinion of Allah is my best friend.  And it’s also my ally. And the one who brings me a feeling of intimacy.  And I sit with husn al dhun all night and all day.
  • (Why do you need an ally? Because there’s a battle going on).
  • What does this mean? It means you’re always going to see the glass as half full. Even when I can’t make sense of it, going to have a good opinion of Allah
  • No deed better than having a good opinion of Allah and a good opinion of His servants. (Hadith)
  • Even when you can see wrong in somebody, try and interpret in a good way.
  • What good does it do to judge other people? To think you’re better than other people? It will only bring kibr to your heart.
  • It’s about us understanding Allah is in Control
  • Story of Jesus alayhis salaam walking with companions and they passed by the carcass of a dog that smelt very badly. And they spoke to him of the terrible smell. And Isa alayhis salaam said “look how white his teeth are.” That’s what they call the silver lining. Can you find something that is good? Can you find something to be grateful for?
  • So it’s more about submitting to, navigating ourselves and having good adab with God’s plan than it is understanding it. And the glass is always half full, but we have to work really hard to see it as such.

Question Period

  • Allah doesn’t need us to do things, He Created a world with asbab, means. And it’s good manners with Allah to take the means. If we don’t do anything, nothing will happen.
  • When people are doing good work, lead, follow or get out of the way.
  • Don’t busy yourself with what other people are doing.
  • Something in psychology called a fundamental attribution error where we assume the best of ourselves and the negativity of other people.
  • When look at people, challenge that erraneous tendency by assuming best of pepole.

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