Shaykh Faraz Rabbani reminds us of one of the sunnas of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, which is that he never lost hope, had complete trust in Allah, and His plan.
One of the key sunnas of our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is that our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, was always positive. He was always full of hope in Allah Most High. It didn’t matter what was happening to him; what was happening around him; the Prophet’s hope and positive attitude was unconditional.
The reason for this is that the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, is the hope that Allah Most High has commanded believers to have. It is not a home based on your hopefulness of whether things will work out according to your plans, according to your means, according to your facilitation.
Normally when we hope is when we think things are going right – that I’ve got things in order, so I’m hopeful. You prepared so you say, “I am hopeful that this will work out.” This is worldly hope. But the nature of dunya is that things are not in your control. Zubayr may want to marry Zubayda, but it’s not in his control. Uncle Jamil’s involved. And there’s a big problem of Zubayda herself.
As the poet said, “I went mad and madly in love with Layla, but she went madly in love with someone else.” And the most difficult of madness is her madness. And you feel you are going to lose hope, because why are things not working out according to my plans? They’re not working out according to my circumstances.
In our times when so many things around us are so distressful that we want our communities, not just in the West but also in the Muslim lands, to be communities of faith, communities of Mercy, communities of excellence, communities that embody the good that the Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him, has come with of the religious good. But also spreading that mercy and beauty and excellence that is the embodiment of the prophetic way.
Though we see much that is not the way we want it – not the way that we would hope – and then distressful things happen. Syria is happening. Iraq is happening. The Rohingya situation in Burma. What’s going on in Congo. What’s going on in Sudan. Name a country and there’s problems. What is going on in India with Muslim rights being under threat. What is going on with the rise of Islamophobia in Canada.
We were hopeful for a while there: “Trudeau’s in power and this and that. Everything’s “fine.” So we had hope as things seem to be going well, but then all these things happen and “Oh, what’s going on?” People lose hope. This is all from shortsightedness of the Sunna of our beloved Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him.
The True Nature of Hope
The reality of hope that Allah Most High has called us to have – the hope of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him – is not a hope that’s dependent on ourselves. It’s not a hope that is dependent on our circumstances. It’s not a hope dependent on whether things are going according to our plans and the way things appear to us. Our hope is in Allah Most High and the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him.
We can’t even begin to imagine the states of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Ima al-Ghazali said that “No one knows a prophet in reality except a prophet.” What makes a prophet a prophet is the fact, the reality, that they receive revelation from the Lord of the universe. That’s what prophethood is. That this person is being directly granted revelation from beyond creation, from the Lord of the unseen.
How can any one who doesn’t experience that reality truly comprehend what is a prophet? We see some shadows of what the prophetic reality is in his teachings, in his guidance, in his example. But what is his reality? As one of the Sahaba said, “My eyes never had their fill of The Messenger of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him. We never gained everything that we could from him.”
The Prophet’s hope, blessings and peace be upon him, is in his Lord and his Lord is beyond limits – beyond limitation. Allah Most High has called us to place our hope in Him. He has called us to place our trust in Him. He has called us to seek from Him. But He has also made promises that He is the sufficiency; that He will fulfill the hope of all those who place their hope in Him. That he will take care of those who trust in Him. That he answers the call of those who call upon Him.
Three Basic Realities
These are three basic realities that we can never forget. That Allah has commanded us to have hope in Him and promised us. That He will fulfill the hope of those who place their hope in him. He will take care of all who trust in Him. That He answers the call of those who call upon Him. “Whoever places their trust in Allah, He is their complete sufficiency.” (Sura al-Talaq 65:3) And His promise is a reality. “Allah does not go against his promise.” (Sura Aal Imran 3:9)
We believe this, so our hope, that hope that we see manifest in our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, is not a contingent hope. It is not a hope dependent on ourselves or on anything in creation. Our hope is in Allah Most High. Our trust is inAllah. We don’t trust based on our taking of means. The key for that is our dua.
Many people make grave mistakes when they make dua, that “Will Allah answer my dua?” This is not permissible to think. It’s not permissible to think because Allah Most High tells us, “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” (Sura al-Ghafir 40:60) Our beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Call upon Allah with complete certainty (yaqin) in His response.”
It is actually a point of aqida. If you look at in the classical works of Islamic beliefs of Ahl al-Sunna, [this is] one of the principles they mention – so this is not just a matter of fiqh. It’s not just a sunna to make dua. It’s a point of aqida. Imam Ibrahim al-Laqqani in Jawharat al-Tawhid, says: “The truth is that dua benefits.” This is a point of belief.
Allah tells us: “And your Lord says, ‘Call upon me. I will indeed answer you.’” Allah Most High also tells us: “If my servants ask you regarding Me, I am indeed near. I answer the call of those who call upon Me when they call.” (Sura al-Baqara 2:186)
We believe this. It is manifest truth. So we should uphold this. Are you feeling hopeful about your own faith? Are you feeling hopeful about your family, your children? Are you feeling hopeful about our community? Are you feeling hopeful about the Umma of the Beloved of Allah, blessings and peace be upon him? If your answer is not “Absolutely!” then your hope is misaligned with the hope that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, has taught us.
Because our hope is not in ourselves. Our hope is not in others. Our hope is not in circumstances. Our home is in Rabb al-‘alamin, the Lord of all existence. And who is the Rabb? Even the meaning the word Rabb – we typically translate it as Lord. But Rabb has the meanings of mercy. He is the caring, the cherishing, the nurturing, the loving.
Rabb Is of the Names of Mercy
When we say, Allah, this called lafdh al-jalala: the Name of Majesty. It is the absoluteness of Allah. But Rabb is from the Names of Mercy. The ulama tell us that when we make dua from the dua of the Qur’an and the Sunna – when we say, “Allah,” the predominant meaning is of awe of Allah and of our neediness before Allah. But when we say, “Rabb” – “Rabbana atina fi al-dunya asana, wa fi al-akhira asana, wa qina min adhab al-nar,” for example – Lord, we say this with hope and with a sense of Allah’s mercy. That is why it is better to translate Rabb as “the merciful Lord, the cherishing Lord, the caring Lord, the loving Lord.”
This is where our hope lies. Our hope is in Allah. “Upon Allah, let trust those who place their trust,” as Allah Most High tells us. (Sura Ibrahim 14:12) Our master Umar, Allah be pleased with him, relates that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Were you to trust upon Allah as He deserves to be trusted,” with a sense of whom are you placing your trust in, because even in worldly life most people aren’t that trustworthy but there are some people that, if they give you their word, you know they’ll do it. So we trust them, but what about the One who’s sustaining all existence? If He makes you a promise and He has told you to trust in Him and everything tells you that this is true?
“Whoever places their trust in Allah then Allah is their sufficiency.” To the extent that you place your trust in Allah, to that extent He will be sufficient for you. So we should not feel at all afraid about the way things are. We should not lose hope [asking] “What will happen to my din? What will happen to my family? What will happen to my children? What will happen to my community? What will happen to the Umma?
Our responsibility is to have hope. That’s why the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, though full of concern was always positive and cheerful. Even in Mecca when people were being oppressed, even his own Companions, he would be unerringly positive, blessings and peace be upon him. He would promise the Sahaba that a day will come and tell them of how things would be in the future. Why? Because he has absolute trust in Allah Most High, absolute hope in Allah. We should be wary of losing hope. Of fearing things around us.
Trust in Actions Is Misplaced
One of the great scholars of our din Ibn Ata’illah says, in one of the great works of Islamic spirituality, [al-Hikma], which is explaining the sunnas of the heart of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him: “From the signs that you are relying on actions is losing hope when downfalls occur.” When disliked matters occur.
From the signs that you’re relying on actions, whether it’s your actions or the actions of others. – What will my children do? What will my family do? What will my community do? What will the Umma do? – Are you relying on them? If you do then here’s a basic principle: The dunya disappoints. You’ll be disappointed.
Rather we are commanded, we are obligated, to hope in Allah, to trust in Allah, and to seek from Allah. The test of that is when distressful things happen does it shake your hope, your reliance, your trust, and it shouldn’t, because the giver is not you. The giver is not people. The giver is Allah Most High.
The test of hope though is what Allah Most High tells us in Sura al-Kahf 18:110, “Whoever hopes for the meeting with their Lord, let him work righteousness.” So you have that hope that I want to meet Allah in a good state. I want to meet Allah and he is pleased with me. I want to meet Allah. with him accepting me amongst his beloved servants. You have that hope.
Our responsibility is not to worry, is not to be concerned. Our responsibility is to act with excellence. Like they say in the service industry, “you don’t ask what is going on. Your responsibility is service with a smile.” Keep smiling and keep serving, and you get paid. It doesn’t matter if the company is making money. It’s not my business. You’re working for the Lord of the universe. There is no loss in the business of being a servant of Allah. This business is lasting until the Last Day, so don’t worry.
The other part of worrying is, who makes things happen? Some people get so distressed: “Oh my God, what happened in London?” Yes, we are saddened, angered, upset, at what happened. But insofar as this is wrong, and this is not what we should do, and this is something that we have to say has nothing to do with our religion, has nothing to do with our Prophet, has nothing to do with what we accept. But taking it beyond that to being worried about what’s going on in this world? Guess what? Allah is the Creator of everything.
What You Don’t Have to Worry About
Everything happens by Allah’s decree. There’s a wisdom in it. You don’t have to worry about that part. What you do have to worry about is: “Let them do works that are righteous, that are good,” so when distressful things happen it’s not your business. Why are they happening? Did you do it? No. If you did you have to repent and redress and so on. But that’s your action. If you didn’t do it why you feeling responsible for it?
Your responsibility is, what can I do about it? So what do we do? Renew your hope in Allah. Renew your trust in Allah. Ask Allah for the good. No amount of news will change things. If anything it will put you more down, make you more fearful, make you more hesitant and less trusting. Rather, renew your hope in Allah, renew your trust in Allah, and ask Allah for the good. If it’s a test you are facing, ask Allah for the good for yourself. If it’s a test happening elsewhere, ask Allah for the good in that situation.
Many people say, “Oh my God, what’s going on in…?” Name the country. Even if you answer that question does it make things better? No, so you ask Allah for the good. That is hope. It is seeking the good from Allah and then taking the means for that good yourself. So you say, “Okay, there are people who are misguided. Individuals in our communities with wrong understandings of religion. Whatever caused them to be instigated, to be alienated, there’s no justification for the wrong, because our religion then teaches us that we are people of principle. Our Messenger is a Messenger of principle. So even if someone else is doing wrong, even if others are doing wrong ,it does not allow us to do the wrong.
Read how the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, entered Mecca after two decades of being wronged, then abused and attacked and opposed and derided. That is what we take as our standard. We only respond with the good or that which is better.
So you asked for the good and then wonder, What can I do about it? Now you might not be able to do something about what happens in London. You may not be able to do something about what happens in Iraq. Say, Well there is something I can do? There are wrong understandings of religion being promoted. I want to promote good understandings of religion. These people who have bad impressions of Islam. I want to be involved in our own community to spread sound perceptions of Islam. How? Just uphold the Sunna. Feed people. Give gifts to people. Thank people.
The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was nursed for a brief period of time by sayyida Halima al-Sa‘diyya, and of course he was nourished when he was a child. Five decades later, more than fifty years later, in Madina, if anyone from her tribe would come to Madina, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, would honor them. Why? He taught us that “Whoever does not express thanks to people does not thank Allah.”
We don’t do good in the community, in the society, for public relations. We do it because we are followers of the Beloved Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him. Thank people. We live in a society where so many things work well. Have we thanked the garbage collectors? Have we thanked the people who are putting salt on our roads so the cars do not slip? There are so many things that happen well in our community, in our society.
Thank people. Give respect where respect is due. Be part of good initiatives because – that’s the question for us – we don’t have to fear, we don’t have to be scared, we don’t have to lose hope. Rather, the believer, our hope is in Allah. We ask Allah for the good and then we take the means to it. And that’s it.
A Beautiful Reminder
We’ll close with a beautiful example of the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, Allahe be pleased with him, had prepared for the Hegira in advance. He knew that it that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was most likely going to migrate too. And the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, told him to hold back. So he was hopeful that he’ll be the one who traveled with the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He hadn’t asked explicitly, but he’d already purchased his mount and the mount for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, a month in advance.
This is action. Abu Bakr, Allah be pleased with him, did not worry. “Who will I travel with? Who will the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, travel with? Oh, my goodness, what’s going on?” You place your trust in Allah, but you take the means with excellence. When they left on the Hijra – of course the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, paid for his own mount, even though much of his wealth had been misappropriated by the Meccans. He paid for it in full. It is one of the miracles of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Where did he pay from for things when you didn’t have money?
When they headed out sayyidina Abu Bakr was doing something really strange because he was concerned. Sometimes he’d walk ahead of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. He’d be looking around. Sometimes he’d walk to the right of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes he’d walk behind the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. Sometimes to his left and then back to the front.
The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, smiled and said, “O Abu Bakr, why are you walking in this way?” He said, “O Messenger of Allah, when I think that they may attack I walk ahead of you. When I think that they may catch up to us from the back, I walk behind. What if they try to ambush us from left or right? I stand on that side.” The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, was just smiling. Why? Because his trust in Allah. Review the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him. We should all connect to it.
In the cave, sayyidina Abu Bakr, out of his overflowing love and concern for the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, he was taking the means, but his heart was, at that time, a little overwhelmed. According to some narrations he ripped his own clothing, as much as he could, to plug the holes in the cave, and he stuck his toe, it is said, in some narrations, and he was getting bitten by the scorpion. And his face was changing but he made no noise, because he didn’t want to disturb the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, when he was resting.
When they saw that the enemy approaching, he said to the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, “They just have to look towards their feet and they will see us!” What the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said then is something that applies for eternity. It is an eternal eternal truth.
When he says to his Companion – sayyidina Abu Bakr is the Companion of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, by the word of the Lord of the Heavens – “Fear not. For Allah is with us.” (Sura al-Tawba 9:40) This is the message. Don’t be afraid of all these things. Allah is the Lord of the world. We place our hope in Allah. We place our trust in Allah. We asked Allah Most High and He said, “Call upon Me and I will answer you.”
So don’t worry about your faith, in this sense take, the means. Don’t worry about your children. Don’t worry about your family. Don’t worry about your community. Don’t worry about the Umma. Ask Allah for the good, but then take the means, with excellence, to fulfill it.
And always remember, “Fear not. For Allah is with us.”
This article was transcribed and edited from a Friday khutba delivered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani in March 2017 at the Jame Masjid Oakville, Noor-ul-Haram.