(So do not become weak [against your enemy], nor be sad...) (Qur’an 3:139)
(And grieve not over them, and be not distressed because of what they plot.) (Qur’an 16:127)
(Be not sad, surely Allah is with us.) (Qur’an 9:40)
Referring to true believers, Allah informs us that:
(... upon such shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve.) (Qur’an 2:38)
Sadness enervates the souls’ will to act and paralyzes the body into inactivity.
Sadness prevents one from action instead of compelling one towards it. The heart benefits nothing through grief. The most beloved thing to the devil is to make the worshiper sad in order to prevent him from continuing on his path. Allah, the Exalted says:
(Secret counsels [conspiracies] are only from Shaytan (Satan)], in order that he may cause grief to the believers.) (Qur’an 58:10)
In the following hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
“In a company of three, it is forbidden for two to hold secret counsel to the exclusion of the third, since doing so will be a cause of sadness for him.”
Contrary to what some believe (those who have an extreme ascetic bent), the believer should not seek out sadness, because sadness is a harmful condition that afflicts the soul. The Muslim must repel sadness and fight it in any way is permissible in our Religion.
There is no real benefit to sadness; the Prophet (bpuh) sought refuge from it in the following supplication:
“O’ Allah, I seek refuge in you from anxiety and grief.”
Grief is coupled with anxiety in this hadith. The difference between the two is that if a bad feeling is related to what is going to happen in the future, then one is feeling anxiety. And if the cause of this feeling concerns the past, then one is feeling grief. Both of them weaken the heart, causing inactivity and a decrease in will power.
Despite what has been mentioned above, grief may sometimes be both inevitable and necessary. When they enter Paradise, its dwellers will say:
(All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has removed from us [all] grief.) (Qur’an 35:34)
This verse implies that they were afflicted with grief in this life, just as they were afflicted with other forms of hardship, both of which were out of their control. So whenever one is overcome by grief and there is no way to avoid it, one is rewarded, because grief is a form of hardship, and the believer is rewarded for going through hardship. Nonetheless, the believer must sward off grief with supplication and other practical means.
As for the saying of Allah, the Almighty:
(Nor [is there blame] on those who came to you to be provided with mounts and when you said: ‘I can find no mounts for you,’ they turned back, while their eyes overflowing with tears of grief that they could not find anything to spend.) (Qur’an 9:92)
They were not praised for their grief in itself, but for what that grief indicated and pointed to – namely, strong faith. This occurred when they remained behind during one of the Prophet’s expeditions, due to their inability to find the necessary resources needed to make the trip. The verse also exposed the hypocrites, because they did not feel grief when they remained behind.
Therefore the good kind of grief is that which stems from missing out an opportunity to do a good deed or from performing a sin. When one feels sad because he was negligent in fulfilling the rights of Allah, he shows a characteristic of a person who is on the right path. As for the hadith,
“Whatever befalls the believer in terms of anxiety, hardship or grief is a trial with which the believer is afflicted, and through which some of his sins are atoned for. However, it does not indicate that grief is something to be sought after; the believer should not seek out means of finding grief, thinking that he is performing an act of worship. If this were the case, then the Prophet 9bpuh) would have been the first to apply this principle. But he didn’t search out for misery; rather, his face was always smiling, his heart was content, and he was continually joyful.
As for the hadith of Hind, “He was continually sorrowful,” it is considered to be unsubstantiated by scholars of hadith, because among its narrators is someone who is unknown. Not only is the hadith weak because of its chain of narrators; it is also weak because it is contrary to how the Prophet (bpuh) really was.
How could he have been continually in grief when Allah had informed him that he was forgiven for everything (guaranteeing his entry into Paradise) and had protected him from feeling grief over matters pertaining to this life: for example, Allah forbade him from feeling grief over the actions of the disbelievers? How could he have felt grief all the time his heart was filled with the remembrance of Allah, and when he was at peace with Allah’s promise? In fact, he was always pleasant and his teeth were always visible due to his constant smiles. Whoever delves deeply into his life will know that he came to remove falsehood and to eradicate anxiety, confusion, and grief. He came to free our soul from the tyranny of doubt, disbelief, confusion, and disorder. He came to save our souls from destruction. So many indeed are the favors that were bestowed upon mankind through him (Blessings and Peace be upon him).
And as for the alleged hadith, “Verily Allah loves all sad hearts, “the chains of its narrators is unknown, so it is not an authentic hadith, especially in view of the fact that the basic principles of our religion are contrary to it import. Even if we were to suppose the hadith to be authentic, then its meaning would be that sadness is one of the hardships of life imposed upon the worshipper as a form of trial. And if the worshipper is tested by this trial, and if he preserves through patience, then Allah loves him. As for those who have praised melancholy and have lauded its many virtues (while claiming that our religion encourages it) then they are very mistaken. In fact, every text from revelation that touches upon sadness forbids it and orders its opposite; namely, that we should be content with the mercy and blessings of Allah, and happy with that which has been sent with the Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace be upon him).
Those who incline towards extremes in asceticism also relate the following narration:
“If Allah loves one of his slaves, He makes that slave’s heart that of a weepers.
And if he hates one of his slaves, then he places a flute in his heart (thus making him constantly light and happy).”
First, we must note that this is an Israelite tradition, which is claimed to be found in the Torah. Nevertheless, it does have a correct meaning since, truly, the believer feels grief due to his sins and the evildoer is ever playful and frivolous, light and joyful. So if the hearts of the faithful grieve, then it is only due to opportunities lost in terms of righteous deeds or because of sins committed. This is contrary to the sadness of the evildoers, whose grief is caused by losing out on physical pleasure or worldly benefit. Their yearnings, anxieties, and sadness are always for these ends and for nothing else.
In this verse, Allah says of his Prophet Israa’eel (Israel): (And he lost his sight because of the sorrow he was suppressing.) (Qur’an 12:84)
Here we are informed of his grief over losing his beloved son. Simply informing about something does not in itself signify either approval or disapproval of that thing. The fact is what we have been ordered to seek refuge from sadness, as it is a heavy cloud that hangs above its victim, and is a barrier that prevents one from advancing to higher aims.
There is no doubt that sadness is a trial and a hardship, and is in some ways similar to sickness. However, it is not a stage, level, or condition that the pious should actively seek out.
You are required to seek the means of happiness and peace, to ask Allah to grant you a good life, one that gives you a clear conscious and a mind at peace. The achievement of this is an early reward, a point that is underscored by the saying of some, “In this world is a paradise, and whoever does not enter it shall not enter the Paradise of the Hereafter.”
And we ask Allah to open our hearts to the light of faith, to guide our hearts to His straight path, and to save us from a miserable and wretched life.
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