Crying was your first sign of being alive. If you didn’t cry, doctors made sure you did because you were supposed to live. Cry to live. You had to learn to cry before you were supposed to learn to smile.
As babies, we used to cry to communicate anything and everything. Then with time, we learned to express ourselves with words instead of tears. But until now, when words fail to express feelings bursting inside, tears replace them. When feelings are beyond words, tears take over.
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Extreme joy, suppressed anger, helplessness, sorrow, loneliness, regrets, repentance, pain, stress, loss, disappointment, empathy, smothered tears etc; all can result in crying. Human beings cry for all sorts of reasons. They are not a sign of weakness. Just a mode of communication. A silent one. True weakness isn’t acknowledging your emotions by crying: it’s hiding from them.
Too often, we feel ashamed, silly, or weak when we cry in front of anyone. Perhaps it’s because we feel vulnerable when we don’t want to. Though havoc, the unacknowledged feelings may wreak is greater than feelings of vulnerability. In reality, we are simply connected with our feelings. It’s also an opportunity for people to become closer. If we cry in front of someone, chances are we either feel attached to that person or will eventually be attached.
Which is why shedding tears for the sake of Allah brings us closer to Him. Tears in sujood (prostration) or tears in du’a are one of the most beautiful feelings.
Tears are our way to connect to Allah in the closest manner possible.
And those are the tears that make us feel afloat above all our burdens. It feels like this was the reason why Prophet ﷺ was ever smiling even when his life had hardships upon hardships. He shed tears and it didn’t make him any less manly. He just knew how to blow away the heavy load with the power of tears. Smiling is sunnah and so is crying (not equivalent though). Hence, it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
…Allah does not punish for the shedding of tears or the grief of the heart, but punishes or bestows mercy for the utterances of this (and he ﷺ pointed to his tongue). [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
So next time when you try to suppress your tears, let them flow. Fall in prostration and let them reach Allah. What others can’t understand and sometimes not even you, Allah will. Tears will strengthen you instead of making you feel weak. So let them flow – Your body is working *for* you….
Remember Prophet Yaqub السلام عليه who cried so much at the loss of his son Yusuf السلام عليه that he lost his sight. He wasn’t sad for a day. Or a month. Or a year. He was distraught for decades. His tears flowed so intensely that his eyesight was depleted. His tears did not mean his belief in Allah was weak or his trust in Him wavered.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ missed Khadija even 10 years after her death. He ﷺ cried at his mother’s grave decades after her passing, too. It didn’t diminish the strength of his belief. He ﷺ wept as he held his dying son, and it didn’t decrease his trust in Allah’s wisdom.
know that despite the negative ways others may make you feel, Allah is the One to Whom you can be vulnerable. Where we can shatter. Where we can show every insecurity and know that we are still worthy. So when people say, “Hasn’t it been long enough?” Let them know: For the Prophets, sometimes it was longer. And yet the Prophets السلام عليهم have shown us that even when others do not understand, even though with your amount of worship the struggles of life are incredibly overwhelming – with Allah, you always have a safe space.
Benefits of Tears:
According to the HeartySoul, crying is one of the best ways to channel and filter out the thoughts and events that cause us worry or grief. Bottling up your emotions by holding back the tears can lead to long-term psychological damage. When we cry, we are releasing negative tension that builds up from our day to day lives, allowing us to feel comforted and recharged so that we can pick ourselves back up afterward. Crying is the transformation of distress into something tangible, and the process itself reduces the feeling of trauma. The important part of it is that you are acknowledging your emotions and confronting them head on. Not facing negative feelings can risk leading you down a dark path; alcoholism, depression, anxiety disorder, drug abuse or any kind of unhealthy compulsive behavior can stem from a refusal to face one’s emotions.
Those who accept sadness when it stares them in the face allow others to do the same. So, the next time you feel the dreaded waterworks approaching, don’t repress the feeling. Let those tears help you to grow socially, mentally, and spiritually.
If you’re a parent, then know that this message starts at a very young age! So we need to know how to deliver this message across to them that tears are not a sign of weakness!
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Whenever the kids start crying at something that seem like such a manageable emotion for most of us adults, we say thing like:
‘Stop crying! There’s nothing to cry about!’
“Don’t be silly”
“Shh, everyone is looking at you”
“Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about!”
We’ve all said it, or at least thought about it. And did you hear these words as a child too? Which still makes you afraid of crying because you think it’s a weakness? When we dismiss or minimize our children’s feelings, we actually make our job harder. We very RARELY succeed at making them stop anyway, and it’s more likely that they will need more support from us in the future rather than less. So the idea is to help them regulate their emotions and direct them the right way.
1) So one of the things you can say instead of stop, is that it’s ok to feel the way they are feeling.
2) Repeating what they are upset about helps them feel reassured as well. This is called mirroring. It helps the other person give you more information without you asking much. I learned this in the course I took on Negotiation skills.
3) and of course, a hug of empathy has no better replacement when emotions feel overwhelming! Remember that the Prophet ﷺ even hugged a tree when it was crying, so imagine what a child would need!
Generally, you can let the child know that the Prophet ﷺ prohibited from:
1) harming yourself in the process (by shaving your head, slapping your cheeks, or tearing your clothes, wailing (or shouting in anger while crying) etc.).
2) harming others in the process
أَنَا بَرِيءٌ مِمَّنْ حَلَقَ وَخَرَقَ وَسَلَقَ
“When Abu Musa was close to death, his wife started to scream.” They said: “He woke up and said: ‘Did I not tell you that I am free from what the Messenger of Allah is free?” They said: “He used to narrate that the Messenger of Allah said: ‘I am free from the one who shaves his head, rends his garments or raises his voice in lamentation.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 1863]
The word سَلَقَ comes from root letters: سَ لَ قَ which means to hurt with one’s tongue (hurt by words), to ascend/rise. Salaaqa means violent language.
You may convey to the child that screaming while crying makes it hard for you to understand what he/she is saying (and that you can only solve a problem once you fully understand it). I usually use this phrase with my kids: “Ama is just a human being. Only Allah knows the feelings of your heart. To let ama know, you will have to use some form of expression. The more clear you are, the better I’ll be able to understand”. Our grief is an experience that we are allowed to feel and express as long as we are not hurting our dunya or aakhirah (by saying what displeases Allah). Of course this won’t reach your child if they are in the middle of intense-crying session.
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In short, simply LISTENING to your child can help A LOT. Because sometimes – yes! the kids are crying at something completely ridiculous and you’re lost as to how to even respond!
So if you’re in that situation, simply listen to them and let them figure out what is making them upset! It gives them the control and also some sense of responsibility that their emotions are in their control and they CAN regulate them by deciding what to say and not to say from their tongue even if their eyes can’t control the tears.