Monthly Archives: May 2012

The art of happiness – Pause to reflect

Do not be sad. If you are poor, then someone else is immersed in debt. If you do not own your own means of transportation, then someone else has been deprived of his legs. If you have reason to complain concerning the pains of sickness, then someone else has been bedridden for years. And if you have lost a child, then someone else has lost many children, for instance, in a single car accident.

Do not be sad. You are a Muslim who believes in Allah, His Messengers, His angels, the Hereafter, and Preordainment both the good and the bad of it. While you are blessed with this faith, which is the greatest of blessings, others disbelieve in Allah, discredit the Messengers, differ among themselves concerning the Book, deny the Hereafter, and deviate in their understanding of Divine Preordainment.

Do not be sad, because if you are, you disturb your soul and heart, and you prevent yourself from sleeping. One of the Arab poets said:

“How often is the young man overcome with despair when afflicted, and with Allah is the way out,

The situation becomes unbearable, and when its rope tightens, it snaps, and throughout, he never thought that he would be saved.”

Being sad is not encouraged in our religion

So do not become weak [against your eneml J, nor be sad… (Qur’an 3: 139)

And grieve not over them, and be not distressed because of what they plot.
(Qur’an 16: 127)

Be not sad, surely Allah is with us. (Qur’an 9: 40)

Referring to true believers, Allah informs us that:

Upon such shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Our ‘an 2: 38)

Sadness enervates the soul’s will to act and paralyzes the body into inactivity. Sadness prevents one from action instead of compelling one towards it. The heart benefits nothing through grief the most beloved thing to the Devil is to make the worshipper sad in order to prevent him from continuing on his path. Allah, the Exalted, says:

*Secret counsels [conspiracies] are only from Shaytaan [Satan], in order that he may cause grief to the believers. (Qur’an 58: 10)

In the following hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:

“In a company of three, it is forbidden for two to hold secret counsel to the exclusion of the third, since doing so will be a cause of sadness for him.”

Contrary to what some believe (those who have an extreme ascetic bent); the believer should not seek out sadness, because sadness is a harmful condition that afflicts the soul. The Muslim must repel sadness and fight it in any way that is permissible in our Religion.

There is no real benefit to sadness; the Prophet (bpuh) sought refuge from it in the following supplication:

“O’ Allah, I seek refuge in you from anxiety and grief.”

Grief is coupled with anxiety in this hadith. The difference between the two is that if a bad feeling is related to what is going to happen in the future. Then one is feeling anxiety. And if the cause of this feeling concerns the past, then one is feeling grief both of them weaken the heart, causing inactivity and a decrease in will power.

Despite what has been mentioned above, grief may sometimes be both inevitable and necessary. When they enter Paradise, its dwellers will say:
All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has removed from us [all] grief.
(Qur’an 35: 34)

This verse implies that they were afflicted with grief in this life, just as they were afflicted with other forms of hardship, both of which were out of their control. So whenever one is overcome by grief and there is no way to avoid it, one is rewarded, because grief is a form of hardship, and the believer is rewarded for going through hardship. Nonetheless, the believer must ward off grief with supplication and other practical means.

As for the saying of Allah, the Almighty:

Nor his there blame] on those who came to you to be provided with mounts, and when you said: `I can find no mounts for you, ‘ they turned back, while their eves overflowing with tears of grief that they could not find anything to spend. (Qur ‘an 9: 92)

They were not praised for their grief in itself, but for what that grief indicated and pointed to namely, strong faith. This occurred when they remained behind during one of the Prophet’s expeditions, due to their inability to find the necessary resources needed to make the trip. The verse also exposed the hypocrites, because they did not feel grief when they remained behind.

Therefore the good kind of grief is that which stems from missing out an opportunity to do a good deed or from performing a sin. When one feels sad because he was negligent in fulfilling the rights of Allah, he shows a characteristic of a person who is on the right path. As for the hadith,

“Whatever befalls the believer in terms of anxiety, hardship or grief, Allah will make it an atonement for (some ofd his sins,”)

It indicates that grief is a trial with which the believer is afflicted, and through which some of his sins are atoned for. However, it does not indicate that grief is something to be sought after; the believer should not seek out means of finding grief, thinking that he is performing an act of worship. If this were the case, then the Prophet (bpuh) would have been the first to apply this principle. But he didn’t search out for misery; rather, his face was always smiling, his heart was content, and he was continually joyful.

As for the hadith of Hind, “He was continually sorrowful,” it is considered to be unsubstantiated by scholars of hadith, because among its narrators is someone who is unknown. Not only is the hadith weak because of its chain of narrators; it is also weak because it is contrary to how the Prophet (bpuh) really was.

How could he have been continually in grief when Allah had informed him that he was forgiven for everything (guaranteeing his entry into Paradise) and had protected him from feeling grief over matters pertaining to this life: for example, Allah forbade him from feeling grief over the actions of the disbelievers? How could he have felt grief when all the time his heart was filled with the remembrance of Allah, and when he was at peace with Allah’s promise? In fact, he was always pleasant and his teeth were always visible due to his constant smiles. Whoever delves deeply into his life will know that he came to remove falsehood and to eradicate anxiety, confusion, and grief. He came to free our souls from the tyranny of doubt, disbelief, confusion, and disorder. He came to save our souls from destruction. So many indeed are the favors that were bestowed upon mankind through him (Blessings and Peace be upon him).

And as for the alleged hadith, “Verily, Allah loves all sad hearts,” the chain of its narrators is unknown, so it is not an authentic hadith, especially in view of the fact that the basic principles of our religion are contrary to its import. Even if we were to suppose the hadith to be authentic. Then its meaning would be that sadness is one of the hardships of life imposed upon the worshipper as a form of trial. And if the worshipper is tested by this trial, and if he perserveres through patience, then Allah loves him. As for those who have praised melancholy and have lauded its many virtues (while claiming that our religion encourages it) then they are very mistaken. In fact, every text from revelation that touches upon sadness forbids it and orders its opposite: namely, that we should be content with the mercy and blessings of Allah, and happy with that which has been sent with the Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him).

Those who incline towards extremes in asceticism also relate the following narration:

“If Allah loves one of his slaves, He makes that slave’s heart that of a weeper. And if he hates one of his slaves, then he places a flute in his heart (thus making him constantly light and happy).”

First, we must note that this is an Israelite tradition, which is claimed to be found in the Torah. Nevertheless, it does have a correct meaning since, truly, the believer feels grief due to his sins and the evildoer is ever playful and frivolous, light and joyful. So if the hearts of the faithful grieve, then it is only due to opportunities lost in terms of righteous deeds or because of sins committed. This is contrary to the sadness of the evildoers, whose grief is caused by losing out on physical pleasure or worldly benefit. Their yearnings, anxieties, and sadness are always for these ends and for nothing else.

In this verse, Allah says of his Prophet Israa’eel (Israel):

And he lost his sight because of the sorrow that he was suppressing. (Qur’an 12: 84)

Here we are informed of his grief over losing his beloved son. Simply informing about something does not in itself signify either approval or disapproval of that thing. The fact is that we have been ordered to seek refuge from sadness, as it is a heavy cloud that hangs above its victim, and is a barrier that prevents one from advancing to higher aims.
There is no doubt that sadness is a trial and a hardship, and is in some ways similar to sickness. However, it is not a stage, level, or condition that the pious should actively seek out.

You are required to seek the means of happiness and peace, to ask Allah to grant you a good life, one that gives you a clear conscience and a mind at peace. The achievement of this is an early reward, a point that is underscored by the saying of some, “In this world is a paradise, and whoever does not enter it shall not enter the Paradise of the Hereafter.”

And we ask Allah to open our hearts to the light of faith, to guide our hearts to His straight path, and to save us from a miserable and wretched life.

Do not be sad — Never lose hope of Allah’s mercy

Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.
(Qur’an 12: 87)

[They were reprieved] until, when the Messengers gave up hope and thought that they were denied [by their people], then came to them Our Help… (Qur’an 12: 110)

And we delivered him from the distress. And thus we do deliver the believers.
(Qur’an 21: 88)

And you were harboring doubts about Allah. There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking. (Qur an 33: 10-11)

Do not grieve over the hurt that is inflicted upon you by others, and forgive those that have ill-treated you.

The price of jealousy and rancor is enormous; it is the price that the revengeful person pays in exchange for his malice towards others. He pays with his heart, flesh, and blood. His peace, his relaxation, and his happiness – these he forsakes because he desires the sweetness of revenge and because he resents others.

Jealousy and rancor are illnesses for which Allah has given the cure and remedy:

[Those] who repress anger, and who pardon men… (Qur’an 3: 134)

Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish [i.e. don’t punish them]. (Qur’an 7. 199)

Repel [the evil] with one which is better [i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly], then verily! He, bettiveen whom and you there was enmity [will become] as though he was a close friend. (Qur’an 41: 34)

Do not grieve over that which has passed you by in life, for indeed you have been blessed with much.

Contemplate the many favors and gifts that Allah has bestowed upon you and be thankful to Him for them. Remind yourself of Allah’s many blessings, for Him, the Almighty, said:

And if you would count the graces of Allah, never could you be able to count them. (Qur’an 16: 18)

And [Allah] has completed and perfected His Graces upon you, [both] apparent [i.e. Islamic Monotheism, and the lawful pleasures of this world, including health, good looks, etc.] and hidden [i.e. One’s Faith in Allah (of Islamic Monotheism) knowledge, wisdom, guidance for doing righteous deeds, and also the pleasures and delights of the Hereafter in Paradise, etc.]. (Qur’an 31: 20)

And whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah. Then, when harm touches you, unto Him you cry aloud for help.} (Qur’an 16. 53)

Allah said, establishing His favors upon man:

Wave we not made for him a pair of eyes; and a tongue and a pair of lips? And shown him the two ways [good and evil]? (Qur’an 90: 8-10)

Life, health, the faculties of hearing and seeing, two hands and two legs, water, air, food – these are some of the more visible blessings in this world, while the greatest of all blessings is that of Islam and correct guidance. What would you say to someone who offered you large sums of money in return for your eyes, your ears, your legs, your hands_ or your heart? How great is your wealth in reality? By not being thankful, you do not render justice to Allah’s countless favors

The past is gone forever

By brooding over the past and its tragedies, one exhibits a form of insanity – a kind of sickness that destroys resolve to live for the present moment. Those who have a firm purpose have filed away and forgotten occurrences of the past, which will never again see light, since they occupy such a dark place in the recesses of the mind.

Episodes of the past are finished with; sadness cannot retrieve them, melancholy cannot make things right, and depression will never bring the past back to life. This is because the past is non-existent.

Do not live in the nightmares of former times or under the shade of what you have missed. Save yourself from the ghostly apparition of the past. Do you think that you can return the sun to its place of rising, the baby to its mother’s womb, milk to the udder, or tears to the eye? By constantly dwelling on the past and its happenings, you place yourself in a very frightful and tragic state of mind.

Reading too much into the past is a waste of the present. When Allah mentioned the affairs of the previous nations, He, the Exalted, said:

That was a nation who has passed away.  (Qur’an 2. 134)

Former days are gone and done with, and you benefit nothing by carrying out an autopsy over them, by turning back the wheels of history.

The person who lives in the past is like someone who tries to saw sawdust. Of old, they used to say: “Do not remove the dead from their graves.”

Our tragedy is that we are incapable of dealing with the present: neglecting our beautiful castles, we wail over dilapidated buildings. If every man and every jinn were to try jointly to bring back the past, they would most certainly fail. Everything on earth marches forward, preparing for a new season and so should you.