Satan plays the part of our friend all the while encouraging us to run toward our own destruction. Satan is the original hater:
Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy. He only invites his party to be among the companions of the Blaze. (Quran 35:6)
And this enemy of ours wants nothing more than for us to lose hope, lose patience, and sink into despair and bitterness because without hope we are lost. Our resistance to Satan is to do the opposite, to actively choose positivity.
The life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is what positivity as an act of resistance looks like. This was a man who lost his parents at a very young age; a man who lost six children, his first love, his uncle, and his home.
The Prophet (PBUH) lived and felt deep pain and sadness. But he clung to hope and patience and resisted despair and bitterness. He remained positive as an act of resistance against his enemy.
We learn his story and the trails of other prophets, so we can see how it is done, so we can be inspired by their struggles and victories. And even today, there are people among us who are still being inspired by the prophets. There are still those who practice positivity as an act of resistance.
Refusing to Give Up
When Jessica converted to Islam, she knew life would be tough. The only Muslim she knew lived far away. And most of the people she knew were suspicious of Islam.
She converted anyway, knowing it was the right thing for her life. And she started wearing hijab soon after and discovered that converting and living Islam was going to be harder than she imagined.
Her roommates openly mocked her. Every time she left her house she would hear people laughing and whispering about her. Friends, family, and coworkers were combative no matter how kind and well-mannered she tried to be.
Jessica eventually lost her job, was estranged from her family, and her friends stopped calling.
She felt herself falling into despair. But every time a thought of giving up hope crept into her head, she actively decided that trust and patience were better. She clung to God’s advice:
So lose not heart, nor fall into despair, for you will be superior if you are true in faith. (Quran 3:139)
Every time she started feeling sorry for herself, she reminded herself it’s ok to be sad, but it’s not ok to be bitter, it’s ok to feel hurt, but it is not ok to live in the pain. She actively pushed herself to remain positive, to hope for the future, to trust in God and remain patient.
One day she read something in the Quran that made her know that Allah (SWT) understood what she was going through:
Indeed, those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed. And when they passed by them, they would exchange derisive glances…. (Quran 83: 29-35)
She wept from joy as she read, knowing that Allah (SWT) was her Guardian, her Guide, the Most Capable.
Jessica wouldn’t give up.
Pessimism as Post-Disaster Positivity
Shayanne and Sammi married young and had hopes of becoming parents.
They prayed on their wedding night that God would give them a righteous child. But they did not conceive that night. They didn’t conceive for months and began to worry. Until one day Shayanne found out she was pregnant.
The couple was overjoyed with the news. But it wasn’t long after feeling so ecstatic that Shayanne felt horrible pains in her abdomen. She and her husband wept when they found out she had miscarried.
But they refused to give up hope. The couple intensified their prayers and begged God to give them righteous children. This became a heart wrenching pattern for Shayanne and Sammi.
They would pray. For many months they would not conceive. Then she became pregnant only to experience another miscarriage.
Despite all of this, Shayanne and Sammi refused to give up hope in Allah’s (SWT) plan for them. They asked for righteous children. And thanked God for protecting them from the trial of a child who would grow to cause them great pain and even lead them away from Allah (SWT).
The couple encouraged each other to think of all the tests God must be protecting them from. They turned what could have been pessimism before the fact into positivity after their pain.
They refused to focus on what they don’t have or how they thought their life should be. Instead they remembered the hadith:
If anything happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such and such, then such and such would have happened.’ Say instead, Allah decreed and what He wills happens, for ‘If only’ opens the door to the Shaytaan.
It Was Never Meant For Me
When Adam was still a teenager, his mother passed away. Stricken with grief, Adam’s father died shortly after his mother.
To make matters worse, since Adam was so young, he had to settle for low paying jobs trying to make ends meet until his parents’ estate was settled and he could receive his inheritance.
This was definitely a trying time, but Adam knew that his parents belong to Allah (SWT) and to Him they had returned. He felt grateful to have had them for the time he did. And he refused to lose sight of God being the best of planners even in the face of his deep sadness and loneliness.
Finally, the day came that the inheritance would be distributed. But Adam found that some of his relatives cheated and lied to steal most of his inheritance.
But still Adam didn’t sink into despair or bitterness. He repeated to himself often:
The reality of faith is knowing that what has passed you by was not going to befall you; and that what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. (Tabarani)
Despite everything, he worked hard and became self-sufficient. Adam remains patient holding onto the fact that Allah (SWT) will right all wrongs and exact justice on those who abuse orphans.
As we see from these stories, remaining positive is an active mental exercise. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t experience pain and sadness. Quite the opposite. These are normal human emotions that must not be ignored.
But sadness and pain must be given their proper place and not allowed to go to the excess of despair and bitterness.
Remaining positive means changing the dialogue in our minds when Satan starts to whisper to us to give up. It means reminding ourselves to have hope, to be patient, to trust God – to resist the whispers of Satan with positivity.
(From Reading Islam’s archive.)