Faith and hope are closely related; a true believer is the most hopeful and the most optimistic person among people, and the farthest one from pessimism, complaining, and dissatisfaction. This is because true faith indicates the belief in the power of Allah that controls this universe. Faith also indicates the belief in infinite might, boundless mercy, and unlimited bounty. Allah is Mighty and Merciful. He responds to the distressed one, when he calls Him, and removes evil. It is Allah Who gives with generosity, pardons sin, accepts repentance from His servants, and forgives misdeeds. He is more merciful to His servants than a mother is to her child. He even is kinder to His creatures than they are to themselves.

Allah stretches out His hand during the night so that one may repent of the misdeeds one has committed during the day, and He stretches out His hand during the day so that one may repent of the misdeeds one has committed during the night. Moreover, Allah’s pleasure at the repentance of His slave is much more than that of the lost person when he finds the way; more than that of the absent at returning home; and more than that of the thirsty when he quenches his thirst. Allah rewards for a good deed with ten times or up to seven hundred times its value, or even more; while the misdeed is regarded by Him as only one, and He even may forgive it.

Allah calls the one straying from His path and receives the one coming to Him. He Almighty says in a hadith qudsi, “I am just as My servant thinks I am [i.e., I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him] and I am with him if he remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I, too, will remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I will remember him in a group that is better than them; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I will go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I will go to him running” (Al-Bukhari).

Allah Almighty alters the fortunes of days: He bestows peace after fear, grants strength after weakness, and shows ease after any adversity, deliverance from any distress, and relief with any hardship.

A true believer leads a hopeful, happy, and optimistic life. He trusts and seeks refuge with his Lord, Allah, the Beneficent and the Most Merciful, the Exalted in Might and the Wise, the Oft-Forgiving and the Ever-Affectionate, the Owner of the Throne and the Glorious, Who does what He wills. The believer, therefore, looks at life cheerfully, and faces its challenges smiling, not frowning or with a gloomy face.

Thus, when the true believer fights, he is confident of victory, for he adheres to Allah’s commands and thus Allah would always be with him. And since he is devoted to Allah, Allah always supports him, as stated in the verse [And verily Our word went forth of old unto Our bondmen sent (to warn). They verily would be helped, And that Our host, they verily would be the victors] (As-Saffat: 172-173).

When he falls ill, he never ceases hope in recovery. Rather, he recalls the verses [Who created me, and He doth guide me, And Who feedeth me and watereth me. And when I sicken, then He healeth me](Ash-Shu`araa’: 78-80).

Furthermore, when he commits a sin, he never gives up asking forgiveness, no matter how great his sin is, for Allah’s pardon is much greater. Allah Almighty says, [Say: My slaves who have been prodigal to their own hurt! Despair not of the mercy of Allah, Who forgiveth all sins. Lo! He is the Forgiving, the Merciful] (Az-Zumar: 53)

If he falls in hardship, he keeps hoping for relief, for Allah states, [But lo! with hardship goeth ease. Lo! with hardship goeth ease] (Al-Inshirah: 5-6). This verse plants the seeds of hope and confidence and emphasizes that after the rain comes the sunshine. Ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “If hardship enters a hole, relief will surely follow it.”

Moreover, when the believer is afflicted with calamity, he expects with great hope that Allah will reward him for such affliction and will further give him what is better than the affliction he has suffered. Allah Almighty says, [Who say, when a misfortune strikes them: Lo! we are Allah’s and Lo! unto Him we are returning. Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. Such are the rightly guided] (Al-Baqarah: 156-157).

Even in his disagreements or quarrels, the true believer keeps closer to reconciliation and peace, hoping for rapport to return, and assured that Allah may change feelings to the best. [It may be that Allah will ordain love between you and those of them with whom ye are at enmity. Allah is Mighty, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful] (Al-Mumtahanah: 7).

When falsehood rises and truth diminishes, the believer’s confidence can never be shaken. He is certain that falsehood is destined to be defeated, and truth will soon prevail and triumph. [Nay, but We hurl the true against the false, and it doth break its head and lo! it vanisheth. And yours will be woe for that which ye ascribe (unto Him)] (Al-Anbiyaa’: 18) [as for the foam, it passeth away as scum upon the banks, while, as for that which is of use to mankind, it remaineth in the earth] (Al-Ra`d: 17).

When the true believer grows old, and gray hair spreads on his head, he keeps hoping for a life of eternal youthfulness without any senility, a life without death, and happiness without any interrupting misery. He looks forward to the [Gardens of Eden, which the Beneficent hath promised to His slaves in the Unseen. Lo! His promise is ever sure of fulfillment. They hear therein no idle talk, but only Peace; and therein they have food for morn and evening] (Maryam: 61-62).

Materialistic people observe only the norms they are accustomed to and the superficial factors and causes; they never see what is beyond. Believers, on the other hand, perceive what is below the surface. They perceive Allah’s power that manages all affairs. He, the Almighty, creates causes and consequences. Then why do people not resort to Him when crises reach their peaks, when they are besieged with problems and are entrapped within vicious circles? If they do, they will surely find refuge with Him when they are in distress, intimacy when they feel lonely, and help when they have no one to support. It is toward Allah that the person afflicted with an incurable disease should direct himself, asking for recovery. To Him also the anguished one should turn his face, asking Him to bestow patience and satisfaction upon him and to reward him for all he has lost. The oppressed one also appeals to Allah waiting for the day when He will take revenge on the oppressor, for there is no screen between Allah and the supplication of the oppressed. In addition, the one who has no children invokes Allah to grant him good offspring. Each of these kinds of people has great hope that Allah will answer his request, for this is not difficult for Allah.

For instance, Abraham (peace and blessings be upon him) asked Allah to grant him children saying [My Lord! Vouchsafe me of the righteous] (As-Saffat: 100). Allah fulfilled his wish and sent to him some angels in the shape of people who said to him, [Lo! we bring thee good tidings of a boy possessing wisdom. He said: Bring ye me good tidings (of a son) when old age hath overtaken me? Of what then can ye bring good tidings? They said: We bring thee good tidings in truth. So be not thou of the despairing. He said: And who despaireth not the mercy of his Lord save those who are astray?] (Al-Hijr: 53-56).

After that, he praised his Lord saying [Praise be to Allah Who hath given me, in my old age, Ishmael and Isaac! Lo! my Lord is indeed the Hearer of Prayer] (Ibrahim: 39).

Another example was Jacob (peace and blessings be upon him), who lost his son Joseph for a very long time. Then he was afflicted with another disaster when Joseph’s brother was taken after the incident of the king’s bowl. Yet Jacob never lost hope; rather, he said, [(My course is) comely patience! It may be that Allah will bring them all unto me. Lo! He, only He, is the Knower, the Wise] (Yusuf: 83).

When Jacob showed sorrow for losing his sons, the rest of his sons blamed him saying [By Allah, thou wilt never cease remembering Joseph till thy health is ruined or thou art of those who perish!] (Yusuf: 85-86).

Full of confidence and hope, Jacob replied, [Go, O my sons, and ascertain concerning Joseph and his brother, and despair not of the Spirit of Allah. Lo! None despaireth of the Spirit of Allah save disbelieving folk] (Yusuf: 87).

Zachariah (peace and blessings be upon him) sets another example of hope and confidence. Allah Almighty says, [A mention of the mercy of thy Lord unto His servant Zachariah. When he cried unto his Lord a cry in secret, saying: My Lord! Lo! the bones of me wax feeble and my head is shining with grey hair, and I have never been unblest in prayer to Thee, my Lord. Lo! I fear my kinsfolk after me, since my wife is barren. Oh, give me from Thy presence a successor. Who shall inherit of me and inherit (also) of the house of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, acceptable (unto Thee)] (Maryam: 2-6). His hope was not vain. [(It was said unto him): O Zachariah! Lo! We bring thee tidings of a son whose name is John; We have given the same name to none before (him)] (Maryam: 7).

Job (peace and blessings be upon him) was no exception. [And Job, when he cried unto his Lord, (saying): Lo! adversity afflicteth me, and Thou art Most Merciful of all who show mercy. Then We heard his prayer and removed that adversity from which he suffered, and We gave him his household (that he had lost) and the like thereof along with them, a mercy from Our store, and a remembrance for the worshippers] (Al-Anbiyaa’: 83-84).

Similarly, after the whale had swallowed Jonah (peace and blessings be upon him), he said what is mentioned in this noble verse: [And (mention) Dhun Nun, when he went off in anger and deemed that We had no power over him, but he cried out in the darkness, saying: There is no God save Thee. Be Thou glorified! I have been a wrong doer. Then We heard his prayer and saved him from the anguish. Thus We save believers] (Al-Anbiyaa’: 87-88).

Moving on to Mosses (peace and blessings be upon him), we find that he departed by night along with his people to save them from the Pharaoh and his soldiers, but the Pharaoh was informed of his departure and gathered great numbers of soldiers to overtake Moses. The following noble verse describes the scene: [And they overtook them at sunrise. And when the two hosts saw each other, those with Moses said: Lo! we are indeed caught] (Ash-Shu`araa’: 60-61).

It was really a dilemma; the sea was in front of Moses and the Children of Israel while the enemy was behind them. In such hard moments, Moses did not fear the situation nor did he feel desperate; rather, he said, [Nay, verily! for lo! my Lord is with me. He will guide me] (Ash-Shu`raa’: 60-61). And Allah did not let him down. [We inspired Moses, saying: Smite the sea with thy staff. And it parted, and each part was as a mountain vast. Then brought We near the others to that place. And We saved Moses and those with him, every one; We drowned the others. Lo! herein is indeed a portent] (Ash-Shu`raa’: 63-67).

Finally, in the Hijrah (emigration from Makkah) Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companion Abu Bakr As-Siddiq sought protection in the Cave of Thawr. The polytheists followed the traces of their feet and the tracker said, “Surely, Muhammad did not pass this place walking; he has either ascended to heaven from here or descended to earth.” Meanwhile, Abu Bakr becomes very anxious lest the Prophet, the bearer of the message of Islam, should be harmed. Abu Bakr wept and said, “If anyone of them should look under his feet, he would surely see us.” The Prophet said to him, “O Abu Bakr! What do you think of two (persons) the third of whom is Allah?”

The fruit of this situation was described in the Qur’an: [If ye help him not, still Allah helped him when those who disbelieve drove him forth, the second of two; when they two were in the cave, when he said unto his comrade: Grieve not. Lo! Allah is with us. Then Allah caused His peace of reassurance to descend upon him and supported him with hosts ye cannot see, and made the word of those who disbelieved the nethermost, while Allah’s word it was that became the uppermost. Allah is Mighty, Wise] (At-Tawbah: 40).

These are the facts of history. The materialists may deny some or all of them because they are strange. However, true believers know for certain that usual causes could never limit Allah’s absolute might. Moreover, such causes are not unchangeable facts, for had scientists and inventors stopped at whatever people were acquainted with, knowledge would not have advanced at all, and we would not have reached the atomic age and space age.

By Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi