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OnIslam.net

Hope

By Dr Ahmed Adam
Medical Physician, Counselor, and Writer — S. Africa
Hope

Introduction

Life on this earth is a period of trials and challenges. Physical life is only temporary; the spiritual life continues beyond the physical realm. Life is a series of problems— that is the definition of life. One cannot wish for a life without problems; the only place where there are no problems is Jannah—but we have to earn our seat for that abode. The other extreme is where there are continuous problems and difficulties— that is, Hellfire. For that also, one has to earn one’s ticket for Hellfire. Between these two extremes is our life on this earth. The problems that we are faced with are sometimes easy to manage, while other problems seem so huge and insurmountable that we give up all hope of finding a solution. The laser weapon to smash problems is a characteristic called hope, while the absence of such a quality is called despair or hopelessness. This short article examines this quality of hope and how we can apply it in our daily lives and thereby attain a sense of inner peace and tranquility, while at the same time anticipating the challenges of tomorrow with the memory of the failures of yesterday.

Definition of Hope

Hope = having anticipation, belief, desire, expectancy, light at the end of the tunnel; aspiring toward something; looking forward to something; being optimistic, assured, reassuring, confident.

Hope is usually described with metaphors of light, such as a ray of hope, a glimmer of hope, light at the end of a long dark tunnel, a beam of sunshine through the stormy clouds, a silver lining in a cloud.

Examples of Typical Problems

When faced with life’s challenges, one needs various tools to equip oneself to cope with these challenges. In one’s everyday life, one is typically faced with some of the following problems. The way to deal with these problems depends on one’s outlook on life, whether it is negative and filled with despair, or positive and hopeful.

Financial

Category

Remarks

Outlook: Despair

Outlook: Hope

Economy looks bad; crime is high; business is down; no future in the country; people don’t have liquidity and cash flow anymore.

Gloomy, hopeless, worried, concerned

Persevere; try something else; look for opportunities.

 

Religious

Global onslaught against Muslim countries (such as Afghanistan , Palestine,  Iraq , Chechnya , Kashmir ) and verbal or physical humiliation and assault on Muslims by other communities

Frustration at media bias and manipulation; anger at global Muslim apathy; helplessness at observing the massacre of Muslims; feeling of hopelessness and despair at the condition of children in Afghanistan , Palestine and in vast areas of poverty-stricken Africa

Take action; educate oneself; strive and pray to Allah Most High; rectify misconceptions about Islam.

Marriage

Couple have regular arguments and fights; many times the families have mediated to solve the problems but to no avail.

No hope to save the marriage

Look for the good in both partners and search for win-win scenarios.

Illness and sickness

Doctors have diagnosed terminal illness.

Situation looks bleak and hopeless.

Never give up hope.

Children

Influence of TV, music, drugs, fast cars

What kind of future is there for our kids? What kind of leadership are we training?

Educate our children and the community about the dangers of immorality; have workshops and leadership summer camps.

Intellectual

Children are more interested in video games, TV, and sport than in reading, school, and university.

Situation is worrying; is there any hope that we can inculcate a culture of learning?

Inculcate a love for reading among our children.

Global

Muslim apathy at the onslaught against Muslims

Some Muslim “leaders” have become lovers of this material and temporary physical world with its illusion of riches and gold.

Inspire ourselves and others for individual, local and global Islamic revival.

Palestine

Homes are being demolished daily; curfews being imposed with impunity; death; suffering; malnutrition; torture; brutality; detention without trial; are all being done in full view of the “civilized” world.

Is there any hope for peace or is the situation hopeless, bleak, and despairing? The suffering has gone on for more than 50 years with no end in sight; Palestinian land has been stolen and 5 million have become refugees squatting in shanty towns.

Study facts and create awareness about the current plight of the Palestinians and other Muslims; logical, hard facts work better than emotion and anger.

Suicide bombings

Young intellectuals are willing to sacrifice their lives to attain their freedom.

Is this an act of despair and sheer desperation?

These are not acts of despair but hope.

Exams

Exam was very difficult; child did not prepare sufficiently.

Outcome looks hopeless.

Study to the best of your ability, then keep hoping for a positive outcome.

Spiritual

We commit sins daily, both major and minor, both intentionally and unintentionally

Outcome is both fear in Allah Most High’s punishments and hope in His mercy.

Pray to Allah Most High and keep hope for His forgiveness and mercy.

Getting married

It is very difficult to find a suitable marriage partner. Who will our children marry? We only pray for their happiness, yet we are worried.

Situation looks worrying and hopeless. How do you reduce the worry of opening this surprise package (lucky packet) and ensure a better outcome?

Look for piety and a good heart. Marriage requires patience, perseverance, and lots of hope.

Physical

Try to lose weight; tried out different diets and exercise and machines

Situation looks hopeless; weight is simply not coming down.

Focus on the positive; visualize a fitter and healthier body.

Drugs, gambling

If your children, parents, or other loved ones are addicted to these evils and despite many attempts they still continue indulging in drugs and gambling

Situation looks hopeless; the people who care for you and love you get sick with worry and despair and hurt.

Keep hope alive that the loved ones in your life need your love and compassion; be kind to them; send to drug rehabilitation.

What Is Hope?

Hope is a way of thinking about the future. You cannot hope over something that has already happened—that is a memory. A memory is about a past event. You cannot change the past.  Memory can be either a good memory or a bad memory or a memory filled with regret—but there is nothing that you can do to undo the events of yesterday, except learn from the past. On the other hand, the future has not yet happened. Hope is the desire that you keep inside of you while waiting for the results or outcome of an event. It is the thoughts that you keep in your mind that anticipate an outcome (positive, good, pleasant, rewarding, relieving, happy outcome) that you want. Hope is your dream. Hope is obtained with confidence, optimism, looking for solutions where others see only problems. Hope is our desire to excel and to achieve, despite all odds. Hope is the only choice that we have to function effectively as human beings. Without hope we have nothing.

In the absence of hope we have hopelessness, despair, gloom, and doom. Hope inspires us to try once more with patience and perseverance, while despair and worry weaken us to give up too soon. Hope fills our lives with the dreams and visions of a better tomorrow, while  despair, worry, and hopelessness fill our lives with nightmares of terrible calamities. There are numerous verses in the Qur’an making reference to this quality of hope and how we can inculcate hope in our daily lives. Furthermore, the entire life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is a living example of the quality of hope in action. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) patiently persevered despite insurmountable odds and hardships, in the face of enemies numerically larger and stronger. Yet despite all of this, he (peace and blessings be upon him) never gave up hope of victory of establishing the religion of Islam. It was because of his single minded focus on hope and his trust in Allah Most High that he did not even consider the possibility of failure. The following few verses and quotes give insight into the application of hope in our lives.

Hope Under Difficult Circumstances

Whenever we are faced with any difficulty or problem, there are several ways in which to solve it: We can talk to a friend or colleague, or delegate the problem to someone else who has knowledge about these matters (an expert such as a doctor, a scholar, an engineer, plumber, etc.). Maybe we will read a book or ponder over the problem by ourselves. Whichever method we use, the main key to solving any problem is to first have a deep understanding of that problem, for every problem contains within it the seeds of its own solution. The only way to dismantle a problem and lay it bare is to have hope, patience, perseverance, and a determination born out of a steel furnace. Hope is that mindset that says “I can do it,” “everything will work out fine.” Hope is the mindset that envisions a positive outcome, a successful outcome, and then focuses all your energies in making that anticipated possibility a reality.

Too often, our own potential for success is weakened by negative people and negative news (radio, TV, newspapers) around us who tell us all the time “don’t even try, there is no hope” or “there is no future in this country,” or “what is the use of trying” or “the future is very bad.” These are the messengers of doom and gloom and the best advice is to stay away from them. Take charge of your own life and fill your mind with possibility-thinking and hope and place your trust in Allah Most High. Allah Most High did not send us to this world to fail. He Most High did not send us to this world so that we must lose all hope and fall into despair. On the contrary, Allah Most High has made us the best of Creation and He has given us faculties and powers at our disposal and He has given us Guidance through the Qur’an and the Sunnah forever showing us the straight path. This is the religion of hope. It therefore follows that the followers of this religion must also be visionaries of hope and patiently persevere in all their activities according to the wisdom of the Qur’an and the Sunnah. It is only in this way that we can arm ourselves against the  fluctuating vicissitudes of life and get a deeper understanding of our mission here on earth.

Condition of Those Without Hope

Some of the unbelievers cannot envision the future. They do not believe in the accountability in the Hereafter. They have no hope that one day they will be meeting with Allah Most High and giving an account of their life here on earth. These people are left without direction in their trespasses, for a while:

[We leave those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, in their trespasses, wandering in distraction to and fro.] (Yunus 10:11)

These people are lost and have no clear direction regarding their mission and purpose in life. Hence they will pursue activities that give temporary pleasures and material gains irrespective of whom they harm or hurt in the process. They will commit sins and evil openly and knowingly because they are a people without morals and guidance. If they cannot get what they strive for, they become despondent, full of despair and unhappiness. Yet there are some believers, as well, who, out of ignorance or wrong direction, pursue other creations of Allah Most High (soothsayers, hakims, and fortune-tellers) to get from them good news and hope. Yet, Allah Most High clearly says:

[What is the matter with you, that ye place not your hope for kindness and long-suffering in Allah?] (Nuh 71:13)

Those people who are fooled by the illusion of this temporary world and are deceived by the temptations and whisperings of Satan, are followers of false hope. They are the losers:

[Those who rest not their hope on their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present, and those who heed not Our Signs —their abode is the Fire, because of the (evil) they earned.] (Yunus 10:7–8)   

Those who are pleased with the life of the present are only deceiving themselves by thinking that this world is all there is. Little do they realize that this world is only a small amount of time compared to the Hereafter. People who strive for the pleasures for this world and forget about their encounter with Allah Most High in the next world, are living on false hope and disillusionment. They are in a state of denial:

[Leave them alone, to enjoy (the good things of this life) and to please themselves; let (false) hope amuse them: soon will knowledge (undeceive them).] (Al-Hijr 15:3)

Hence, it is clear from the above verses that the first primary requirement for leading a moral and righteous life is to have an unequivocal belief of the hope of meeting Allah Most High on the Day of Accountability, where all deeds and all our actions (those that we did and those that we failed to do) will be revealed. Without this hope being at the forefront of one’s psyche, one will lose sight of one’s mission and purpose as a Muslim.

Meeting With Allah Most High: Hope and Fear

Once it is clear that everyone—whether you are a believer or an unbeliever, whether you are black or white, male or female, Jew or Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, young or old, literate or illiterate, prince or pauper, employer or employee, husband or wife, mother or father, and whether you like it or not—all of us, individually, past, present, and future, will be meeting Allah Most High without doubt. This meeting with Allah Most High will be in a state of fear and hope: fear about Allah Most High’s punishment for the sins that we committed knowingly and unknowingly, and hope for the mercy of Allah Most High and for His forgiveness and compassion.

I heard Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, “Verily Allah created mercy. The day He created it, He made it into 100 parts. He withheld with Him 99 parts, and sent its 1 part to all His creatures. Had the non-believer known of all the mercy which is in the hands of Allah, he would not lose hope of entering Paradise, and had the believer known of all the punishment which is present with Allah, he would not consider himself safe from the Hell-Fire.” (Al-Bukhari, hadith 8.476; narrated by Abu Hurayrah [may Allah be pleased with him])

No one knows what his or her ultimate fate will be. You can pray five times a day, go on Hajj, pay your zakah, and fast. But that by itself is no guarantee of safety from Allah Most High’s punishment. On the other hand, some people think that they can skip prayers and fasting and as long as they do “good deeds” then they are safe from Allah Most High’s punishment. Only Allah Most High knows the cleanliness of our hearts. It is not our job to look at another person’s actions and behavior and predict whether or not he is a Muslim or kafir (unbeliever), or whether he is going to Paradise or Hell. Allah Most High alone, has knowledge, supreme, and knowledge of everything. Hence, in this state of uncertainty, we must continue having a state of both fear of Allah Most High’s punishment as well as hope in His mercy. Our hope must never diminish, for Allah Most High is the Most Gracious, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful and the Most Generous.

[Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord in fear and hope.]            (As-Sajdah 32:16)

[They hope for His mercy and fear His wrath: for the wrath of thy Lord is something to take heed of) (Al-Israa’ 17:57 )

Our deeds by themselves do not guarantee us safety from the Hellfire. It is only through Allah Most High’s mercy and forgiveness that we will be saved from His punishment and enter Jannah.

[It is He Who doth show you the lightning, by way of both fear and of hope.] (Ar-R`ad 13:12)

[And among His Signs, He shows you the lightning, by way both of  fear and of hope, and He sends down rain from the sky and with it gives life to the earth after it is dead; verily in that are signs for those who are wise.] (Ar-Rum 30:24)

In the above verses, ‘lightning’ is a metaphor both for fear and for hope. When there is no hope left, then there is utter darkness, doom, and despair. Through this darkness comes a ray of light—this light removes the darkness. In the above verse, this ray of light is not a gentle light like the ray of the sun, but is a light (lightning)  that has tremendous energy and power and can cause death and is only momentary. This phenomenal power thus evokes fear in the observer. But at the same time, this same power removes the darkness to show the way, and it heralds the rain that gives life; hence it inspires both fear and hope, but the hope is greater than the fear (i.e., the benefits outweigh the risks). Similarly, our spiritual fears and hopes of meeting Allah Most High inspire within us these opposing feelings. Just as we cannot run away or hide from the fear of lightning and pretend that it will go away (and yet hope to get its benefits), so, too, we cannot run away or pretend that we will not have to meet Allah Most High. Hence it is an event that we dread out of fear, but at the same time it is an event in which we have hope of Allah Most High’s mercy and kindness. Our level of hope and love must be greater than our level of fear, and this hope is given nourishment by the following saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):

Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When Allah completed the creation, He wrote in His book which is with Him on His throne, ‘My mercy overpowers My anger.’” (Al-Bukhari, hadith 4.416; narrated by Abu Hurayrah [may Allah be pleased with him])

Furthermore, the mercy of Allah Most High extends far and wide, and He is the Protector, Sustainer, and Nourisher of everything in the entire universe.

[He is the One That sends down rain (even) after (men) have given up all hope and scatters His mercy (far and wide). And He is the Protector, Worthy of All Praise.] (Ash-Shura 42:28)

How to Keep Hope Alive

The balancing emotions of hope versus fear, together with the overwhelming mercy, compassion, and kindness of Allah Most High, do not mean that we can do as we like. On the contrary, this should inspire us to strive to do as much good as possible and then place our trust in Allah Most High. Hope comes from an expectation that one has followed the right path to the best of one’s abilities. There are numerous verses in the Qur’an that enjoin the believer towards good and abstaining from sin. It is only by rehearsing the Book and implementing the guidelines that one is then in a position to have one’s hopes raised to awaiting a pleasing reward—as you reap so shall you sow:

[Those who rehearse the Book of Allah, establish regular Prayer and spend (in charity) out of what We have provided for them secretly and openly, hope for a commerce that will never fail.] (Fatir 35:29)

The above verse makes it quite clear that we first have to rehearse the Book, establish regular Prayer, and spend in charity, and then only hope for a good outcome. Furthermore, the best example to follow is that shown to us by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him); It is through following the Qur’an and the Sunnah that our hope in Allah Most High’s mercy and kindness is increased:

[Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day and who engages much in the praise of Allah.] (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Furthermore, Allah Most High says:

[Whosoever follows My Guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.] (Al-Baqarah 2:38)

The religion of Islam is a religion of peace. It is a religion of hope. It inspires hope in the believer and not despair:

[Allah made it but a message of hope for you.] (Aal `Imran 3:126)

Furthermore, Islam is a perfect religion. We have been blessed with the two sources, the Qur’an and the Sunnah. These two sources of knowledge and wisdom shed light in our darkest hours. They bring a ray, a glimmer, a floodlight of hope when there are only despair and confusion. No other source is required or necessary for all eternity to come, for the religion has been perfected:

[This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.] (Al-Ma’idah 5:4)

How the Unbelievers Plot and Plan and Try to Dash Our Hopes

The Muslim world currently is undergoing many trials and tribulations and much turmoil. The suffering in Palestine has reached unimaginable proportions. There are daily detentions; bulldozing of homes; loss of life and limb; ongoing savagery, brutality, and torture. There are more than 5 million Palestinian refugees living in squalor. Afghanistan has been bombed and many thousands have been killed and many millions have become refugees. Iraq has faced more than 10 years of sanctions with loss of life through malnutrition, starvation, and lack of medical supplies, and is currently facing another beating. The beautiful scenic land of Kashmir and its people are bleeding. There is devastation in Chechnya , Indonesia , Somalia , Ethiopia , Sudan , and Malawi . The majority of the world’s population (80 percent) is living in poverty, while 1 billion is living in abject poverty, with many hundreds of millions of these being Muslims. The pious followers of Islam are being labeled as “terrorists” and “fundamentalists,” and their activities are being documented and monitored as “suspect.” Women in hijab are being ridiculed in some areas, and men with a beard and a topi (turban) with Muslim-like names are being targeted in some countries. Many Muslims are being held in detention without trial or access to lawyers, where their basic civil rights are being violated. Palestinians are being tortured daily in the Israeli cells, while the Muslims held in Cuba in Guantanamo Bay are being treated worse than animals—no animal rights organization, be it the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or the Global Protection for Animal Rights will ever condone the same treatment to animals.

All the above is openly evident to the entire world, yet the only response is weak rhetoric from heads of states who delude themselves that they are leaders. The most shameful silence is not the silence of the human rights organizations, nor the silence of the freedom-loving people of this world, nor the silence of the truth and justice seekers of this world; but the most shameful and humiliating silence is the silence from the Arab and Muslim world and the apathy among the majority of Muslims.  There are only a handful of Muslims, a small handful, who keep the flames of hope burning and inspire us with their action and their unshakeable faith in Allah Most High. These are the ones who drink deep and long from the following verses:

[And slacken not in following up the enemy: if ye are suffering hardships they are suffering similar hardships; but ye have hope from Allah, while they have none.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:104)

[Those who believed and those who suffered exile and fought (and strove and struggled) in the Path of Allah they have the hope of the Mercy of Allah; and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.] (Al-Baqarah 2:218)

[Remember how the unbelievers plotted against thee, to keep thee in bonds, or slay thee, or get thee out (of thy home). They plot and plan, and Allah too plans, but the Best of planners is Allah.] (Al-Anfal 8:30)

We should not become despondent by the unbelievers planning and plotting, for Allah Most High is the Master Planner. Furthermore, the way to ignore their mockery of Islam and Muslims is by striving against them, and if we are not in a position to do so, then to celebrate the praises of Allah Most High:

[We do indeed know how thy heart is distressed at what they say. But celebrate the Praises of thy Lord, and be of those who prostrate themselves in adoration. And serve thy Lord until there come unto thee the Hour that is Certain.] (Al-Hijr 15:97–99) 

The believers have to place their hope and trust in Allah Most High, for Allah Most High is the One to help and the One to protect:

[Allah is your Protector, the Best to protect and the Best to help.] (Al-Anfal 8:40)

[So put thy trust in Allah: for thou art on (the Path of) manifest Truth.] (An-Naml 27:79)

Despite what the unbelievers plot and plan, and no matter how bleak the outlook appears, the believers are filled with the hope from the following:

[So lose not heart nor fall into despair : for ye must gain mastery if ye are true in faith] (Aal `Imran 3:139)

[The Believers must (eventually) win through.] (Al-Mu’minun 23:1)

Furthermore, Allah Most High promises that the unbelievers’ plans will eventually fail:

[Never think thou that the Unbelievers are going to frustrate (Allah’s Plan) on earth: their abode is the Fire, and it is indeed an evil refuge.] (An-Nur 24:57)

It is important to note that the believers can only win through action. Apathy is the opposite of action. The believers have to strive and struggle and persist patiently and persevere despite all odds, and only then will they win through. But if the believers are apathetic, and if the wealthy Muslim nations, with all their wealth, are focused on material gain and material riches, then we have already lost the battle. We have to wake up from our slumber and apathy, and strive and struggle to earn the pleasure of Allah Most High. This responsibility is on each and everyone individually and collectively. Each one of us has to strive in his or her own way, no matter how little that striving is, as long as it is ongoing. Allah Most High encourages us to strive, and the struggle will be something within our capabilities, even if we do not think so:

[On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear.] (Al-Mu’minun 23:62)

It is only by patiently persevering and keeping hope alive that one can lead a full life in this world, our temporary abode:

[So patiently persevere: for verily the promise of Allah is true: nor let those shake thy firmness who have (themselves) no certainty of faith] (Ar-Rum 30:60)

When you see the unbelievers in their pride and arrogance and their strutting about like proud peacocks and the blatant lies and media propaganda that they disseminate, don’t become discouraged:

[None can dispute about the signs of Allah but the unbelievers. Let not then,  their strutting about through the land deceive thee!] (Ghafir 40:4)

Have Hope in Allah Most High’s Forgiveness

All of us commit sins intentionally and unintentionally. When we forget to do something that we know that we should, we become despondent and discouraged. Despite these mistakes on our part, we should never give up hope in Allah Most High’s mercy. Allah Most High is the One to Forgive. If He does not forgive us, then we are surely lost. We therefore have to strive within our individual capacity, to learn and understand this wonderful deen (religion) and then apply it to our own lives and teach others. Our understanding will always be far from perfect, and being frail human beings, we will continue to make errors. Because of this inherent weakness within ourselves, our constant battle between our nafs and our conscience, Allah Most High has given us hope in the form of sincere repentance:

[O ye who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: in the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills and admit you to Gardens beneath which rivers flow.] (At-Tahrim 66:8)

We should keep this hope alive at all times, that on the Day of Accountability Allah Most High will forgive us our faults.

[And Who, I hope, will forgive me my faults on the Day of Judgment.] (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:82)

For Allah Most High is the One to forgive:

[For Allah is One that blots out (sins) and forgives (again and again).] (Al-Hajj 22:60)

Hence believers keep their hopes alive by remembering Allah Most High often and following the Guidance that He has sent to us:

[Then do ye remember Me; I will remember you.] (Al-Baqarah 2:152)

[Whosoever follows My Guidance will not lose his way, nor fall into misery.] (Ta-Ha 20:123)

Man’s Incessant Hope

As stated earlier, hope is a state of mind that looks forward to a positive and favorable future outcome. For example,

You have studied hard for your exams and you are hopeful that you will pass.

You have found the girl of your heart and you are hopeful that she will agree to marry you.

You have prepared a business plan and you are hopeful that you will get funding for it.

You have opened a new business and you are hopeful that it will succeed.

You are hopeful that one day Palestine will be free, the land will be returned to its rightful owners, and the refugees will return home to the land of their birth.

In this way, man spends his whole life in hope. It is in this state of hope that death eventually overtakes him, meaning that at the time of death, for many of us, there will still be a lot of things still left to do; our “in-tray” will still be full.

I heard Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) saying: “The heart of an old man remains young in two respects: in his love for the world (its wealth, amusements and luxuries) and in his incessant hope.” (Al-Bukhari, hadith 8.429; narrated by Abu Hurayrah [may Allah be pleased with him])

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) drew a few lines and said: “This is (man’s) hope, and this is the instant of his death, and while he is in this state (of hope), the nearer line (death) comes to him.” (Al-Bukhari, hadith 8.427; narrated by Anas ibn Malik [may Allah be pleased with him])

Hope and Death

When a person dies, then all good deeds come to an end except those deeds that continue earning blessings even after the person has died, such as a well from which people drink water, or a Qur’an that has been bequeathed, or a mosque that has been built, or a child that prays on behalf of the deceased. In this manner, a person  has hope in the mercy of Allah Most High that he can continue doing good deeds for others even though they are dead:

A man said to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “My mother died suddenly and I thought that if she had lived she would have given alms. So, if I give alms on her behalf, will she get the reward?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied in the affirmative. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 2.470; narrated by `A’ishah [may Allah be pleased with her])

In this manner, if sons or daughters feel regret that they have not done enough for their parents while they were still alive, they have the opportunity to do good deeds on their behalf and have hope for Allah Most High’s mercy and forgiveness.

Hope to Be With Those You Love

Your life in the Hereafter will be spent in the company of those whom you love, and you should have hope for such company:

A man asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about the Hour saying, “When will the Hour be?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “What have you prepared for it?” The man said, “Nothing, except that I love Allah and His Messenger.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “You will be with those whom you love.” We had never been so glad as we were on hearing that saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Therefore I love the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) and `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), and I hope that I will be with them because of my love for them though my deeds are not similar to theirs. (Al-Bukhari, hadith 5.37; narrated by Anas ibn Malik [may Allah be pleased with him])

Give Hope to the Sick

When you visit a person who is in ill-health, cheer the person and give him or her good news and hope. Don’t tell the person that his or her condition is terrible or that he or she is a “goner”:

Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “When you go in to visit an invalid, express a hope that he will live long. That will not avert anything, but it will comfort him.” (At-Tirmidhi, hadith 1572; narrated by Abu Sa`id [may Allah be pleased with him])

Furthermore, any difficulty or hardship that one suffers is an expiation for sins:

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor hurt, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he receives from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” (Al-Bukhari, hadith 7.545; narrated by Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri and Abu Hurayrah [may Allah be pleased with them])

Hope and Prayer

Having hope in Allah Most High means that one should seek His forgiveness and pray often to Him. Supplications and seeking the help of Allah Most High is the way of keeping hope alive, since Allah Most High is the Best of Helpers. However, in seeking His help, one should show forbearance, patience, and perseverance. Surely Allah Most High hears the call of everyone and He is, indeed, near to us:

[When My servant asks thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them); I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me.] (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The invocation of anyone of you is granted (by Allah ) if he does not show impatience.” (Al-Bukhari, hadith 8.352; narrated by Abu Hurayrah [may Allah be pleased with him])

The significance of the above is that one should never give up hope nor despair of the mercy and help of Allah Most High. It is our own sense of weakness and impatience that we cannot understand why the help of Allah Most High does not come immediately. We often wonder why there is so much poverty or suffering in Palestine and other parts of the world; or we wonder why our prayers have not been answered. The above verse and the hadith shed light that Allah Most High is the Best of Planners and His help will surely come. It is up to us to keep that hope alive in our hearts and never despair.

Hope and Religion

Religion is a vast subject with many rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts and yet at the same time it is meant to be easy. Allah Most High does not want to put us through unnecessary hardships. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised us to follow the path of moderation and not be extremists in whatever we do. If we expect excessive acts of worship from the believers, then we may inadvertently chase them away from the religion. Instead, we should inspire them with hope and optimism, and motivate them so that they come to love the religion and not run away from it:

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Facilitate things to people (concerning religious matters), and do not make it hard for them and give them good tidings and do not make them run away (from Islam).” Al-Bukhari, hadith 1.69; narrated by Anas ibn Malik [may Allah be pleased with him])

With Every Difficulty There Is Relief

[So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: verily, with every difficulty there is relief.] (Al-Inshirah 94:5)

The above verse is full of hope that inspires and motivates us and shows that there  is always a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Whenever we are in any difficulty, the above verse inspires us to patiently persevere in our efforts and place our full hope and trust in Allah Most High. Allah Most High is the Best of Planners, and during times of difficulty as well as during time of ease, we should always remember Allah Most High. When we patiently strive in the path of Allah Most High, then we open ourselves to His kindness:

[And Allah is full of kindness to those that serve Him.] (Aal `Imran 3:30)

In addition, Allah Most High in His mercy and kindness, has appointed angels to protect us and to pray for our forgiveness:

[But verily over you (are appointed Angels) to protect you, kind and honorable, writing down (your deeds).] (Al-Infitar 82:10–11)

[The Heavens are almost rent asunder from above them (by His glory): and the Angels celebrate the praises of their Lord and pray for forgiveness for (all) beings on earth. Behold! Verily, Allah is He the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.] (Ash-Shura 42:5)

Relief comes after difficulty when one is striving in Allah’s path; one should have a goal and set one’s sights on that goal. With every striving there will be obstacles— success does not come easy. But patience and perseverance, together with an unshakeable belief in Allah Most High, gives one the impetus to carry on despite the difficulty and despite the hardships, with the knowledge that this, too, will end and this striving will bear fruit:

[Man can have nothing but what he strives for. That (the fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight.] (An-Najm 53:39-40)

Continuous striving is the only way to overcome obstacles. It was only through striving, persistence, and perseverance that apartheid in South Africa was dismantled when many people thought it impossible. Similarly, it was only through the same striving and surmounting huge obstacles that the Berlin Wall came crumbling down, and that Communism failed. And so, too, will all oppressors come tumbling down, including the oppressive regime of the apartheid Zionist State of Israel . The will of a people inspired by freedom and return of their land together with hope as their rocket fuel, will propel them to continuously persevere against the oppressor, because their only hope is victory in life or victory in death. Allah Most High has promised that His religion will prevail:

[Allah has decreed: “It is I and My Apostle who must prevail.] (Al-Mujadilah 58:21)

Hope That the Unbelievers and the Oppressors Will Eventually Fail

Many believers all over the world are being mistreated and tortured simply for their belief. They are suffering various forms of difficulties and hardships:

[And they ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed in Allah Exalted in Power, Worthy of All Praise!] (Al-Buruj 85:8)

The oppressors parade the earth with brutal arrogance, racism, and discrimination, regarding one race or nation more worthy of respect than another and having total disregard for fairness, justice, mercy, compassion, and a sense of fear of Allah Most High. Yet, their time will come soon and they will face a humiliating punishment. Media blackouts, propaganda, lies, and conspiracies will not help them on a day when all will be revealed:

[The unbelievers think that they will not be raised up (for judgment). Say: “Yea, by my Lord, ye shall surely be raised up; then shall ye be told (the truth) of all that ye did. And that is easy for Allah.”] (At-Taghabun 64:7)

[Those who resist Allah and His Apostle will be humbled to dust, as were those before them: for We have already sent down clear Signs. And the Unbelievers (will have) a humiliating penalty.] (Al-Mujadilah 58:5)

[Those in sin used to laugh at those who believed] (Al-Mutaffifin 83:29)

[But on this Day the Believers will laugh at the unbelievers.] (Al-Mutaffifin 83:34)

These verses inspire us and fill our hearts to the brim with hope.

Action Plan and Way Forward

  1. Always keep hope alive.

  2. Patiently persevere in pursuing your goals.

  3. Understand the nature of the problem you are faced with. Either plan and strategize or get expert help.

  4. Make adequate plans and preparations and only then place your hope and trust in Allah Most High; that is, “tie your camel then place your trust in Allah Most High.” For example, don’t expect to pass your exams by not studying and falsely believing “Oh, I will just pray to Allah Most High and hope that I will pass.”

  5. Success does not come to you while you are in your armchair. It is easy to be an armchair critic and criticize the attempts of others. Rather, get up and do something. Strive hopefully.

  6. Every effort counts, no matter how small. Oppression and suffering will end only if we are willing to strive in the path of Allah Most High. We should not be complacent with our comfort level but rather think of our fellow Muslims in all parts of the world who are undergoing various forms of hardships.

  7. Inspire our youth with hope for the future. We cannot leave them with a world filled with despair and hopelessness. We have to inculcate in them the love for this wonderful deen, so that they can become hope-filled leaders of tomorrow.

Conclusion

[Verily the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present] (Ad-Duha 93: 4)

We all face hardships and difficulties in our lives. These can be related to our own personal lives and our individual goals, as well as difficulties pertaining to collective problems faced by society, our community, or the global Ummah. Whatever the nature of the problem, the main criterion is to have hope for a better outcome. Hope gives us the energy and drive to continue despite insurmountable obstacles. Hope gives us the link between this temporary abode and our final abode. Hope is the fuel that motivates, inspires, and challenges us to go the extra mile and to motivate others to stand up once again from the dust and fight one more day. Hope is the antithesis of despair and failure. Hope drives one upward on the ladder of success in any endeavor.

When all hope is lost, then all energy also dissipates. All problems seem bigger than they are when we wear the spectacles of despair (making mountains out of molehills). All problems seem much smaller than they are when we wear the spectacles of hope. Our life in this world is temporary. We need to sow the seeds that will reap the rewards in the Hereafter. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is a champion of hope. He never faltered or wavered in his mission to establish the Law of Allah Most High on earth. Despite difficulties, hardships, perseverance, and loss of loved ones, he never fell into despair and gloom. He always maintained his hope and he always placed his trust in Allah Most High. He continually strove against all odds when lesser men would have easily given up, and it was through his fortitude, patience, perseverance, and unshakeable belief that victory came to him. May Allah Most High guide us to the straight path and fill our lives with peace, contentment, bliss and hope.

Ameen!

Dr Ahmed Adam is a medical doctor by profession. He has four university degrees in the fields of science and medicine.

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