In the day of Hudaibiah, when the prophet (SAAW) came to perform Umrah in Makkah, many messengers of Quraish were sent to negotiate a deal with the prophet (SAAW), but matters did not work out between the two sides. When Suhayl the son of Amr came, the prophet (SAAW) said, “Ease for your matter has come.”[1]  He (SAAW) saw ease in the name of Suhayl which means in Arabic, ease and joy. The prophet (SAAW) was optimistic and hoping for something good to happen, and he saw the sign in Suhayl’s name.

Optimism is based on the positive feeling about how Allah will treat you in this life and in the Hereafter. The prophet (SAAW) said in the holy Hadith that Allah (SW) said: “I [God] am as my servant thinks I am.”[2]  The more you have trust and faith in Allah’s mercy and forgiveness, the better chance you have to enjoy it. The prophet (SAAW) also said: “The positive assumption of Allah is in the excellence of worshiping Allah.”[3]  This positive feeling is connected to how much you really know of your Lord. The more you know about Allah (SW), the more you trust in Him, and the more you trust in Him, the more optimistic you are.

Reflecting on some of the 99 names of Allah (SW) such as Al-A’del, the all Just; Al-Hakeem, the all Wise; and Al-Walii, the Patron, lays the foundation of how we understand being optimistic. You know that Allah (SW) is ever just with all matters of life for all that happens is for your benefit by His infinite wisdom, and indeed you feel safe even if all waves of hardships are shaking you in fear because He (SW) is your Patron.

When Adii Ibn Hatem saw how Muslims were weak and vulnerable, the prophet (SAAW) said: “Probably O Adii, what prevents you from entering this religion is what you see of their necessity! By Allah, money is almost to be immersed among them until no one will be found to take it! And probably what prevents you from entering in it (Islam) is what you see of their enemy’s large number and their little number! By Allah, you will almost hear of a woman leaving from Qadisiyyah on her camel until she visits this House (Kaabah) with no fear! And probably what prevents you from entering it (Islam) is that you see the dominion and authority in others! By Allah, you are about to hear the white castles in the land of Babel are opened to them (under their control). Adii said: ‘So I accepted Islam’.[4]  In this Hadith, we can see how the prophet (SAAW) was optimistic about the future of Islam even during the times of hardships.

In Islam there is no place for pessimism. The prophet (SAAW) said: ‘(There is) no (place for) pessimism and I like the [Fa’le] righteous optimism. They said: and what is the Fa’le, O prophet of Allah? He said: The nice word, the gentle word.’[5]  A good example on this issue would be the type of words you choose when visiting someone ill. Even if you know this person’s illness is terminal, you should still use good, gentle and optimistic words of hope. The prophet (SAAW) said: “If you enter to an ill (person) breathe (postpone by using optimistic words) for him in Ajal (appointed term of death); although it does not prevent things (of fate) but it soothes the sick’s soul.”[6]

The prophet (SAAW) spoke of the liability of those who are pessimistic. “If a person says people are perished, then he is the most perished of them.”[7]

Being optimistic helps you stay strong. It was narrated that when Imam Ibn Taymiyah was in prison at the time of Tatar, he said to his students: ‘You shall be victorious’. His students said: Say insha Allah O imam! He answered: ‘I say insha Allah in assurance (تحقيقا) not in possibility (تعليقا). He meant the word insha Allah can be used to refer to what you do not know of the future as well as to what is known for certain because of what Allah had ordained to prevail.

This was seen also in the words of Moses (Musa) when the companions of Moses said: {Then when the two multitudes saw each other, Moses’ companion said: Indeed, we are, most surely [doomed to be] overtaken! He said: No, indeed! Most surely, my lord is with me. He will guide me.} 26:63

Being optimistic helps you repent. Satan will always use the sins you have committed to drag you into more sins as he tries to convince you to give up and to be hopeless. Allah urged people to be optimistic and remember Allah’s mercy and forgiveness when they fall into sin. He said: {Say [O prophet: God declares to humanity]: O my servants! Those [of you], who have committed [sins in great] excess against their own souls; never despond of the mercy of God! For, indeed, God forgives sins, one and all.} 39:53

If someone felt pessimistic, this is what the prophet (SAAW) advised:

  1. The prophet (SAAW) said: “In the believer are three habits (to overcome), for each habit he has an exit from it. Pessimism, envy and bad assumptions. His way out of pessimism is not to halt him [from doing things], and his way out of bad assumptions is not to verify, and his way out of envy is not to transgress.”[8]
  2. You should rush to Dua when you feel you are pessimistic. The prophet (SAAW) said: “If someone saw what he hates let him say: O Allah, no good deeds will be brought but by You, and no harm will be prevented but by You, and no power or strength only through You.”[9]

May Allah always help us to keep the light of optimism alive in our hearts even through the darkness of hardships. Ameen.

By Sh. Kifah Mustapha

[1] Bukhari

[2] Bukhari

[3] Ibn Adii

[4] Ibn Katheer

[5] Bukhari

[6] Tirmizi

[7] Muslim

[8]Baghawi

[9] Abu Daoud