Optimism versus skepticism

Tuesday, May 8, 2012



As for those who believe, it has increased their Faith, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease [of doubt, disbelief and hypocrisy], it will add suspicion and doubt to their suspicion, disbelief and doubt, and they die while they are disbelievers. (Qur'an 9: 124-125)

When faced with a difficult or harsh situation, the righteous Muslims from the early generations of Islam were positive in their attitude, positive that though they were facing difficulties, there was benefit to be had, harm to be warded off, and ease to be met with when rounding the corner of time:

...and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. (Qur'an 2: 216)

Abu Darda (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

"I love three things that are hateful to people: I love poverty, sickness, and death. I love them because poverty is humility, sickness is expiation for sins, and death results in a meeting with Allah."

Some of the Arab poets were extreme in their hate for poverty, as can be discerned from the following line, wherein the poet claims that even dogs hate poor people:

"On a given day, if it sees the poor and indigent one, it growls and shows its teeth in mocking."

Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) said concerning being imprisoned:

`O' my Lord! Prison is more to my liking than that to which they invite me. (Qur'an 12: 33)

As for death, there were many among the righteous who welcomed it. Mu'aadh (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

"Welcome death - a beloved one has come in time of need. And the one who regrets (his sins during his lifetime) is successful."

Others, though, fled from death and cursed its approach. The Jews, for example, are the most covetous of people when it comes to life. Allah, the Exalted, says of them:
Say, [to them]:

Verily, the death from which you flee will surely meet you... (Qur'an 62: 8)

Being killed in the way of Allah is a dream and pleasant wish for the righteous:

Some have. Fuf lled their obligations [i.e. have been martyred], and some of them are still waiting... (Qur'an 33: 23)

Meanwhile others hated death and fled from it. A Desert Arab said:

"By Allah, I'd hate to die while being on my bed, so how can I be expected to seek death out in the frontlines."

Say: Avert death from your ownselves, if you speak the truth. (Qur'an 3: 168)

Say: Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would certainly have gone forth to the place of their death. (Qur 'an 3: 154)

The story throughout history is one: it is merely the actors who change.