O You Muslim, Do Not Despair!

Imam Atif Chaudhry & Duston Barto

There is so much strife and misery in the Muslim world, from Gaza to Burma; from China to Philippines, from Iraq and Syria to Somalia and Libya. There is much chaos in the world and Muslims everywhere are affected by it.  As a people of one ummah, we feel the pain of our brothers and sisters around the world.

Often it can be hard to see this chaos and many Muslims around the world fall into despair and depression from seeing such hardship and misery. We approached Imam Atif about this subject and asked him to advise the community, what follows are the words of Imam Atif Chaudhry:

Of course we feel sympathy towards our brothers that are suffering but remember that despair and hopelessness is not something you learn from the religion because the Prophet (SAWS) taught us never to lose hope. The verse in the Qur’an that illustrates this best is from Surah Al-Zumar 39:53 “Never despair from the mercy of Allah (SWT).” All of this hardship in the world, it’s a test from Allah (SWT). If you get upset, if you lose hope and if you get really aggressive because the test is difficult then you are missing the point.

When a person feels hopeless, it’s because this he thinks there is nothing he can do and that his goal is just to fix the whole problem in one go but that’s not possible. It’s not realistic. What a person needs to do is when he sees these things, he needs to work on himself first and if he can fix his heart, if he can fix his direction, if he can fix his own character and then it’s that one step, that one person, that one drop of water, where one grain of sand in the vastness of the desert that can truly make a difference when you have different people doing that all together.

As a community right now, we’ve seen so many traumas that we’re in shock. We don’t know how to get out of that shock and we need counselling. We need people to counsel us. We need people to help us back on our feet and how do you do that? Well, you do that by getting close to the deen; getting close to the beautiful, beautiful pearls of wisdom that we have in the Qur’an that teaches us the exact opposite of how we’re reacting right now.

Maulana Rumi wrote the most beautiful and eloquent of poetry and essays praising Allah.

When he was writing that, the Muslims were under attack by the Mongols who completely destroyed everything. They killed scholars, common folk. They burned libraries, masajid, whoever and whatever stood in their way; they’re destructive beyond anything that we can fathom. In fact, I believe that historically they killed more people than in any war or any other major loss of life in recorded history. Maulana Rumi, if you read his works, not a single place has he mentioned any hopelessness or despair. It was all positive; it was all in seeking Allah (SWT). Find solace in this connection as being the servant of Allah (SWT) and do good deeds and being a good Muslim and then look forward to what you have in store for you in Paradise.

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”  –  Rumi

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