People can be divided into two groups based on how they respond to difficult events. The first group denies Allah's Existence and gets caught up in this worldly life. Whenever its members meet with any difficulty, distress, physical or spiritual affliction, they suddenly become aggressive and display unexpected and rebellious behavior. This despair affects their whole lives, for it destroys their enthusiasm and fervor and gives way to great defiance. They see every hardship as a calamity, and so cannot respond in a mature and balanced fashion.
The people who despair of Allah's mercy are those who do not believe in Him or the afterlife. Allah makes it clear in the following verse that only those who reject Him despair of His Mercy:
Those who reject Allah's Signs and the meeting with Him, such people have despaired of My mercy. Such people will have a painful punishment. (Surat al-Ankabut, 23)
Prophet Yaq'ub (as), one of the prophets praised in the Qur'an, advised his sons to maintain their hope in Allah and reminded them that only those who reject faith lose hope in His mercy, as follows:
O my sons! Seek news of Yusuf and his brother. Do not despair of solace from Allah. No one despairs of solace from Allah except for people who do not believe. (Surah Yusuf, 87)
Abandoning hope in Allah's mercy means that one is not aware that He has power over all things. Those who do so show an exceedingly vast ingratitude, for every member of humanity owes everything to our Lord. Allah created humanity and endowed its members with sight and hearing, and the ability to think, walk, and run; He causes people to breathe and smile; gives them good health; and provides for them and presents to them that which they love. Given all of the above facts, those who abandon any hope in Him in effect disregard all of these gifts and benefits. In particular, Allah is not pleased when people fall into despair after He withdraws one or more of His bounties from them.
When We bless man, he turns away and draws aside. When evil touches him, he despairs. (Surat al-Isra, 83)
Ungrateful people, who disregard the fact that Allah provides all of this bounty, lose all hope once that bounty is withdrawn from them and suddenly go into great shock. Such ingratitude and hopelessness are among the negative characteristics of those who live far from the Qur'an.
When they forgot what they had been reminded of, We opened up for them the doors to everything, until, when they were exulting in what they had been given, We suddenly seized them and at once they were in despair. (Surat al-An'am, 44)
Until We open to them a gate to a harsh punishment, in which they will at once be crushed by despair. (Surat al-Mu'minun, 77)
The unbelievers' weak and base nature is mentioned in another verse, as follows:
Man never tires of praying for the good, and if evil touches him, he despairs and loses hope. (Surat al-Fussilat, 49)
Allah makes it clear to believers that they should not befriend unbelievers, who do not believe at all in the afterlife and have lost all hope in the hereafter. In fact, such people are behind all illicit activity, from murder to stealing. They oppress people without hesitation and make a lifestyle out of unlawfulness and deceit, for their lack of any belief in the hereafter and hope in the hereafter means that they have no fear of Allah. This is why the following verse advises believers not to befriend such people:
O you who believe! Do not make friends of people with whom Allah is angry, who have despaired of afterlife as the unbelievers have despaired of the inhabitants of the graves. (Surat al-Mumtahana, 13)
Hopelessness is one of the most definitive differences between those who do not believe and those who do. Since unbelievers do not live according to the desire to obtain Allah's good pleasure, they do not carry the peace that believers acquire by accepting whatever happens to them as Allah's will. And so they worry even about the second after this one, and get caught up in the assumption that all events will develop against them.
Even if they get hopeful for a second, whenever something does not turn out the way they planned, they immediately fall into despair. For believers however, the exact opposite is true. Faith is the greatest favor a person can possess in this world, and a believer has "grasped the firmest handhold" (Surat al-Baqara, 256).
The One Who makes existent what was not and raises to life what was dead; Who heals one after sickness; Who makes one eat, drink, and grow; and Who brings out of the darkness into the light is Allah, and believers have faith in Him alone and do not associate anything with Him.
Faith protects people from factors that cause physical and spiritual harm, such as falling into despair, sadness, worry, stress, anger, anxiety about the future, fear, and nervousness. Instead of all of this, faith causes people to be exceedingly joyous and peaceful. In short, only faith can liberate people. As a matter of fact, those that try to hold onto anything other than faith will never find peace. Even if they reach their goals, they will see that they cannot find happiness.
In times of sickness and especially when they reach old age, people see that those things or people to whom they had dedicated their lives have not remained faithful to them. As they realize that the years went by for nothing and did not do them any good, they become dejected. The ideals, expectations, friends, and loved ones that kept them on their feet until now have all vanished.
For the people of faith, however, their bodily changes and the losses around them and in their own lives do not lead to sadness or depression, because they are not so attached to this world. The esteemed Islamic scholar Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, who spent his life struggling in the way of Allah, explains how faith was sufficient for him, and how it was an inexhaustible source of hope:
And so the light of belief was sufficient for me and all my sorrows arising from old age and the pains of separation; it gave me an inextinguishable hope, an unassailable faith, an unquenchable light, unending solace. Belief then is certainly more than enough for you in the face of the darkness, heedlessness, sorrows and griefs of old age. In reality, the old age, which is utterly black and lacking in light and solace, and the most grievous and terrible separation, is the old age and separation of the people of misguidance and the dissipated. Experiencing the belief which affords such hope, light and solace, and its effects, is possible through adopting a consciously worshipful attitude, worthy of old age and appropriate to Islam. It is not possible by trying to imitate the young, plunging one's head into heedlessness, and forgetting old age. (Risale-i Nur Collection, The Twenty-Sixth Flash, http://www.bediuzzaman.org/flashes/f26.html)
For those who are happy and joyous that Allah's bounty is present in their lives, changing their whole personality when it is withdrawn or falling into a great state of despair and anxiety is completely degrading and base. It is a sign that they do not have true faith in Allah or the hereafter, and also a sign of lack of wisdom and deficient understanding.
As Allah bestows and removes bounties, one of the believers' most important characteristics, one that distinguishes them from all others, is the favorable morality that they display in such a situation. Their most fundamental feature is their complete submission to Allah, thinking and acting according to the Qur'an that He sent to humanity, and their adopting only those solutions that are in accord with the Qur'an's mentality, model, or perspective.
Those without faith, on the other hand, base every dimension of their lives on a model that goes against the Qur'an. Some of this model's features include ridicule, oppression, worry, fear, distress, deceit, a fear of death, worldly ambition, and sadness. Hopelessness is found in practically all unbelievers, because they have not based their life's goals and lifestyles on a solid foundation, namely, faith in Allah and servitude.
Therefore their lives, capabilities, and perseverance are as weak as cotton thread. They are in a spiritual state that is, at all times, prone to ruin and desolation.
In order to have an enthusiastic hope that is neither exhausted nor extinguished, people need to have complete faith and trust in, as well as devotion to, Allah. People live in hope, as required, only if they are friends with Allah. Those who do not believe in Him will not know true hope, that is, a hope that does not depend upon worldly conditions. They will dwell on negative possibilities and thus evaluate events negatively. Their lack of trust in and reliance upon Allah will give them innumerable and endless reasons to worry, for they think that everything is random and happens as a result of coincidence. Under these circumstances, even potential natural disasters are a major source of distress for them.
The universe contains much detail that, under the most sensitive of balances, creates harmony. When one part of this balance is upset by the slightest amount, a major catastrophe can result. For instance, a strong earthquake can devastate everything on Earth's crust. The crust is like a membrane swimming on hot magma, which boils and bubbles at temperatures of thousands of degrees, in which the hardest metals exist only in solution. It is very easy for this membrane to rip apart in many places, and for the crust to turn to ashes from the boiling lava. Even those places on Earth considered to be the safest are not free of this danger, for no calculations carry any certainty and therefore are only estimations and suppositions.
At the same time, the world is spinning at the most incredible speed through the void of space, and thousands of meteors are passing by it at various tangents. There is no guarantee that one day a meteor will not hit Earth. A meteor just 1 km across is large enough to threaten life on Earth by upsetting the climate's balance. A large explosion on the Sun, and the resulting energy and radiation released, may end life on Earth in an instant. These are only a few examples, and there are thousands of alternative possibilities.
If people are aware of such things and yet have no faith in Allah or have not submitted to Him, they will feel great terror and unease. On the other hand, people of faith know that the universe, including their own bodies, are under His control. They have submitted completely to His will and knowledge. The fact that the universe is based on a sensitive balance increases their faith and strengthens their bond to Allah, as well as their wonder.
In his own uniquely sincere style, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi compares the peace of Muslims to the hopelessness experienced by unbelievers in the following extract:
And so all material and spiritual events in series in the universe assault, threaten and terrify the faithless people of misguidance. They unsettle their spiritual strength, putting it into disarray. As for the people of faith, let alone threatening or scaring them, these events are a source of happiness and joy, companionship, hope and strength. Because, with their faith, the people of belief can see that that endless series of events that appear one after another like the wagons of a train, a physical and spiritual train, and the mobile universe are being administered to and are sent by a Wise Creator, with perfect order and wisdom to carry out their duties. They do not deviate from these duties in the slightest degree and they do not infringe upon one another. By giving us spiritual power they make us see that they are subject to the perfect artistry and manifestations of beauty in the universe, and faith is depicted as a sample of eternal happiness… (Risale-i Nur Collection, Hutbe-i Samiye)
Unbelievers will fall into the greatest despair on the Day of Judgment, the day on which all people will be raised and called to account. Upon seeing themselves come face to face with a difficult day, they finally will meet with the truth that they denied all their lives, and will feel an untold regret because they never approached faith while on earth. Remembering Allah's promises, they will realize that they are going to be thrown into Hell. Their despair at that exact moment and from then onward is the endpoint of despair. In fact, their feelings of regret will not be like those felt on earth, for nothing is comparable to it in severity. Allah expresses their desolation on that day, the beginning of the hereafter, as follows:
On the Day the Hour arrives, the evildoers will be in despair. (Surat ar-Rum, 12)
It is also clear that the punishment of those who willingly reject faith after being invited to it by the Qur'an will be very severe and unending. The related verse reads:
It will not be eased for them. They will be crushed there by despair. We have not wronged them; it was they who were wrongdoers. (Surat az-Zukhruf, 75-76)2009-11-23 13:44:38