The Prophets' Hopeful Characters
As with everything else, the prophets are the best exemplars of trusting in Allah and remaining hopeful when faced with any difficulty. They took only Allah as their friend, were sincerely bound to His laws, and lived entirely for Him. At every instant of their lives, they trusted in and depended upon Him, for they knew that His help was near at all times.
Given this, those believers who struggle to imitate their beautiful character should take them as models of how to be hopeful. Their resulting behavior, responses, and decisions will be healthy ones, and thus will influence the people around them, who then will try to show the same attitude.
Throughout history, many prophets were oppressed by their peoples' leading unbelievers and prevented from advocating the good character that Allah wills. The unbelievers prepared all manner of plots in line with their goals, and slandered and persecuted the prophets.
However, the prophets met this great oppression with patience, trusting in Allah, and knowing that He is always with them. Thus they never despaired, and resumed their struggle with even greater enthusiasm and resolve. Their determination caused good character spread among their people and made the unbelievers' efforts come to naught.
On the following pages are some examples from the Qur'an of their lives.
Prophet Musa (as)
One prophet whom the unbelievers tried to undermine was Musa (as). While his people were struck with fear and driven to despair by their enemies, he never became hopeless or forgot that Allah would be with them. In response to his sincerity and submission, Allah helped them with a great miracle: He parted the sea in order to make a path for them.
And when the two hosts came into sight of one another, Musa's companions said: "We will surely be overtaken!" He said: "Never! My Lord is with me, and He will guide me." So We revealed to Musa: "Strike the sea with your staff" and it split in two, each part like a towering cliff. (Surat ash-Shu'ara, 61-63)
Prophet Ayyub (as)
Even though he was afflicted with a serious disease, Ayyub (as) showed no sign of sorrow or hopelessness. Rather, he turned to Allah with a deep attachment and asked to be cured. He saw a benefit in his sickness and thus was patient. His excellent example of hopeful patience is expounded in the Qur'an, as follows:
Remember Our servant Ayyub, when he called upon his Lord: "Satan has afflicted me with exhaustion and suffering." [So he was told], "Stamp your foot! Here is a cool bath and water to drink." We gave him back his family and the same again with them as a mercy from Us, and a reminder for people of intellect. [We said] "Take a bundle of rushes in your hand and strike with that, but do not break your oath." We found him steadfast. What an excellent servant! He truly turned to his Lord. (Surah Sad, 41-44)
We responded to him and removed from him the harm that was afflicting him. We restored his family to him, and the same again with them, as a mercy direct from Us and a reminder to all worshippers. (Surat al-Anbiya, 84)
Prophet Ya'qub (as)
Ya'qub (as), the father of Yusuf (as), is praised and used as an example because of his beautiful character and devotion. In response to the deceptive plan that his other sons devised against Yusuf (as), he did not lose hope in Allah but rather turned to Him in complete sincerity and asked for Yusuf (as) to be returned:
He said: "I complain about my grief and sorrow to Allah alone, because I know things from Allah that you do not know. My sons, seek news of Yusuf and his brother, and do not despair of solace from Allah. No one despairs of solace from Allah except for people who do not believe." (Surah Yusuf, 86-87)
Prophet Ibrahim (as)
Throughout history, all of Allah's prophets and messengers commanded people not to lose hope in His mercy. The messengers who came to give the good news to Ibrahim (as) that his wife would bear a child displayed the same attitude:
They said: "We bring you good news of the truth, so do not be among those who despair."(Surat al-Hijr, 55)
Allah praises Ibrahim (as) in the Qur'an. However, his people failed to appreciate and recognize his sincerity and truthfulness. They even tried to burn him alive. His attachment to Allah in the face of all these events has always made him a great example for Muslims.
Despite the rejection of his people, Ibrahim (as) showed a great devotion to Allah by never losing faith in Him, and by relying on His mercy and submitting to his destiny. By making the fire cool, Allah allowed no harm or pain to touch him.
The only answer of his people was to say: "Kill him or burn him!" But Allah rescued him from the fire. There are certainly Signs in that for people who believe. (Surat al-Ankabut, 24)
We said: "Fire, be coolness and peace for Ibrahim!" (Surat al-Anbiya, 69)