Despair?

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"I can take no more." "I am totally frustrated." "I have lost hope." "Would there ever be an end to my problems?"

Such statements and cries of despair are heard almost daily. Due to many difficulties such as illness, financial problems, domestic disputes, family conflict, crime, disasters, etc., people sometimes slip into misery, hopelessness and depression. It is in such circumstances that a person often asks in utter desperation: "What must I do?"

Before dealing with what one can do, it is important to bear in mind a fundamental reality of life. Life in this world is never a place of absolute bliss, nor a place of only difficulty. Absolute bliss is only in Jannah. Likewise, no matter how severe one's condition may be, it cannot be compared to a fraction of the torments of Jahannum. In this world there is a combination of pleasure and pain. After all, it is a place of test. Hence, every person will experience some difficulties and hardships in some form or another. In fact this is a promise of Allah Ta'ala in the Qur'an that "We will certainly test you with some fear, hunger and loss in wealth, lives and crops. And give glad tidings to those who are patient" (S2: V: 155). Thus, difficulties will come. Nevertheless one can adopt any permissible means to remove one's problems.

 

"CRACK OF THE WHIP"

While hardship and difficulties do come as a test, they also come as a punishment for sins. In our sinful state, we should unhesitatingly acknowledge our transgressions and regard what befalls us as a very small "crack of the whip" from Allah Ta'ala as a reminder for us to return to His total obedience. Often we exclaim: "What sin have I committed to deserve this?" Consider that Allah Ta'ala alone is our Creator, Sustainer and Nourisher. He alone has granted us all our limbs and faculties. He alone has showered upon us countless bounties. In the light of the above, the slightest disobedience of our Creator deserves the severest punishment. In actual fact, if we were given what we really deserve, Allah forbid, we would have been completely destroyed. Allah Ta`ala declares: "And if Allah were to take the people to task for their actions (by giving them the full punishment of their actions) no creature would remain on earth (all would be destroyed)." (S:35, V:45)

Therefore, we must acknowledge that we are guilty. Having accepted our guilt, we should now make amends.

MAKE AMENDS

In order to make amends, the first step is taubah (sincere repentance). The taubah must be sincere, not just a taubah of convenience like that of the mushrikeen (idolaters) of Makkah Mukarramah. Allah Ta`ala says regarding them: "And when a wave engulfs them like a canopy (and they fear that their ships will sink and they will drown) they call unto Allah . . . . . and they commit shirk." (S:31, V:32)

Thus our taubah should not be merely "to get to the shore". It must be for all times. Sincere taubah and istighfaar (seeking forgiveness) brings down the mercy of Allah Ta`ala. Hazrat Nooh (A.S.) said to his people: "Seek forgiveness from your Rabb (Lord), then repent unto him. Verily He is the most forgiving. He will shower abundant rains upon you and assist you with wealth and children." (S:71, V:10-13)

The month of Ramadhaan especially is a month to continuously make sincere taubah and to turn earnestly to Allah Ta`ala. Hence, this mubarak month must be dedicated towards sincere taubah. This is the first step towards solving one's problems and difficulties.

 

ADOPTING SABR

The second aspect is adopting sabr (patience) and engaging in dua. Just as one patiently undertakes hardship for the sake of worldly gain, adopt sabr over any difficult conditions with the full hope of great reward in the Hereafter. Have the firm conviction that Allah Ta'ala is most aware of what is best for us. This conviction will make it easier to adopt sabr and to be pleased with the decree of Allah Ta'ala.

 Adopting sabr upon any difficulty earns one limitless rewards. Allah Ta`ala declares regarding His true servants: "Verily the patient ones will be given their limitless rewards" (S:39, V:10). Allah Ta'ala is with the patient ones. Thus never despair. A Mu'min always has complete hope in Allah Ta'ala.

MOST EXCELLENT WORSHIP

Also, engage in earnest dua. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: "Nothing changes fate except dua." Dua is the weapon of a believer. One should never tire of begging from Allah Ta`ala. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: "Ask Allah for His favours and mercy for verily Allah loves to be asked. And the most excellent worship is to (patiently) wait for relief (from distress and anxiety) (Tirmizi)."

Nevertheless, one should bear in mind that while the dua will bring the help of Allah Ta`ala, one should not create a barrier of sins which will prevent the mercy from reaching one.

 

MASHWARAH

The third aspect to firmly adhere to in any problematic situation is mashwarah (consultation). One should never take arbitrary decisions in any situation, especially when there is a problem. Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is reported to have said: "He who performs istikhara will not fail and he who consults will not regret." One should therefore adopt an experienced Aalim or a muttaqi (Allah-fearing), righteous and able person as a guide. Thereafter, refer to him for advice in all situations. Insha Allah there will be tremendous barakah in the consultation and, Allah willing, one will find a solution to one's problems.

May Allah Ta`ala protect one and all from the difficulties of both worlds. Aameen

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