AVERTING EXCRSSIVE SADNESS:
Know that the heart of a person of sound mind cannot be free of sadness, because they always remember their previous sins. If a heart is devoid of sadness, it will become desolate. Just as a house becomes desolate if no one resides in it.
This is the sadness of the righteous, sadness for their sins. It is different to excessive sadness that causes one to grieve for the things of this world. One should not dwell excessively on things that they do not have or have ‘missed’. When one focusses excessively on the things of this world, the fear of the Day of Judgement leaves their heart.
The best of cures for sadness is to know that one cannot bring back what one has missed, and that by feeling sad, you are only adding to your misfortune, making two misfortunes rather than one. If you can free your hearts from this type of attachment, you can free yourself from the sadness of the things of this world.
Ibn Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “If Allah takes something away from you, get busy with anything that will make you not think about it.”
Remember that with every suffering comes ease. If we focus on the coming ease, it can help us get through the pain of the present. Whatever Allah gives you to replace what He has taken away, will be better. Allah knows what is best for us and we don’t. It may be that a thing that we love is not good for us, and a thing that we dislike has good in it that we cannot see. And Allah is Al-Alim, the All-Knowing, and Al-Hakim, the All-Wise.
Know that what calls to sorrow and sadness is Hawa, or the desires, and not the mind, simple because the mind does not call to that which is not useful. One of things that makes excessive sadness disappear is to believe in the greater reward for patience when facing a trial, and to remind yourself of those afflicted with worse misfortunes than yours.
AVERTING GRIEF AND WORRY:
Grief, in Arabic ghamm, occurs due to misfortunes that happened in the past, whilst worry, in Arabic hamm, occurs when one expects misfortune in the future.
When we have a feeling of grief in regards to our past sins, this feeling is of benefit to us and we will be rewarded for it. If we worry about a good deed that we wish to do, our worry will benefit us as well. However, if we grieve excessively for something that is lost in this world, then we should remind ourselves that what has been missed will never return, and that this type of grief only harms us.
A resolute person should protect themselves from what brings about grief, and that is losing objects that they love. If we have many objects that we love, our grief will increase if we lose them, but if we decrease our love of objects, we have less to lose. Someone might say, when I have no objects to love I still feel grief. This is true, but your grief over not having them is less than the grief of having them and then losing them. Just as the grief of the one who does not have a child is less intense than the one who has had a child and lost it.
When we be accustomed to things which we love for a long period of time, they take over our hearts and we feel reluctant to be parted from them. This will cause us to cling onto the life of this world, rather than desiring the next one.
The cure for these affliction is to remind oneself of the Qadr of Allah and that whatever He has predestined is going to happen. Know that this worldly life is founded on distress, all constructed buildings shall eventually be ruined and all gatherings shall eventually depart. Nothing is permanent.
Try and imagine what it would be like if what has befallen you were ten or one hundred times worse, this should make the suffering feel easier. It is the habit of smart porters to put something heavy on top of what they are carrying, and then, after taking a few steps, they remove that object so that the load feels lighter.
If we are in a time of prosperity, we should expect that tribulation will befall us, and when it comes we should focus on what we have remaining of what we had before, not what is lost.
AVERTING FEAR OF DEATH:
Fear in matters is related to the future. A resolute person is the one who prepares for what they fear before they face it. They avoid excessive fear of what must inevitably befall them, because this type of fear cannot bring them benefit.
If it is illness that you fear, know that it will inevitably befall you at some point in your life, and fearing the inevitable may actually increase the harm. If it is death that you fear, know that death is inevitable and caution will not avert it. Know that Allah is able to make it death easy if He Wills, and what come after death is more disturbing than death itself. We should remember that death is a mere bridge to the Hereafter. Where will our bridge take us to?
If the thought of leaving this life saddens the heart, then the cure is to know that the world is not a dwelling of satisfaction, therefore it is not something we should compete to possess. Pleasure and satisfaction should be found in departing from this world to the eternal abode. Thus a wise person is saddened at the thought of leaving this life only because of the good deeds they will be unable to perform having left it.
Know that when death befalls a person, it is an hour of serious suffering, because it is a moment of intense pain and sorrow at leaving all the objects of one’s love. Added to this are horrors of the throes of death. At this time Shaitan comes and attempts to make the slave of Allah discontent with his Lord. He says: “Look at you! What made you die? Is it painful? You are leaving your wife, your children and you will be laid under ground!” This might cause one to become discontent with his Lord, hating Allah’s decree. In that minute Shaitan tells his assistants: “If you miss him now, you will never catch him again.” The Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, used to say:
“I seek refuge in You that Shaytan flounders me at death.”
[Recorded in Abu Dawood]
As for the cure for these trials, we should remember that whoever remembers Allah in good health, Allah will protect them in sickness. Ibn Abbas, RadhiAllahu Anhuma, narrated from the Prophet, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam:
“Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him in before you. Know Him while in prosperity, He will know you in distress.”
[Recorded in At-Tirmidhi]
Remember the story of the Prophet Yunus (Jonah), peace be upon him, and that his previous good deeds enabled him to be released from the trial of the belly of the whale. Allah, may he be exalted, said:
“Had he not been of them who glorify Allah, He would have indeed remained inside the belly (of the fish) till the Day of Resurrection”
(Surah al-Saffat 34:143-144)
It is never too late to repent and we should use every opportunity to do this even if we are very ill, so that we meet Allah pure from sins. Know that your sickness, your suffering and even the throes of death are all purification for your soul. If we possess true belief, we should hold out hope for the everlasting Paradise and not be sad, because very the promise of Allah is true. We can take comfort from the fact that the Prophet Muhammad, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said, three days before his death:
“None of you should die except while expecting the best from Allah.”
[Recorded in Muslim]
Mu’adh ibn Jabal, may Allah be pleased with him, said on his death bed:
“O Allah! You know that I did not love this world and living long in it for the beauty of the flowering rivers or for planting trees. Rather for fasting hot days, forbearing in acts of worship for hours and joining scholars in circles of Your remembrance.”
SubhanAllah! May Allah enable us to reach this lofty station. Ameen.
IDENTIFYING OUR OWN FLAWS:
Know that we love ourselves dearly, and as such, it often difficult to see our own flaws. They are like internal diseases that the doctor does not know of, and so cannot prescribe medicine for.
So how can we identify our flaws?
1) We can ask the wisest, most prudent friend that we have to tell us about them, and in so doing they will be doing us a great favour. We should not feel sadness at what they tell us, but rather encourage them not to hide anything from us.
2) We should ask our family, friends and neighbours to tells us what our strengths and weaknesses are.
3) We should consider what our enemies say about us. By taking this into consideration we will be able to benefit from our enemies more than our friends because they will seek to highlight our weaknesses whereas our friends will seek to hide them. After this we will definitely avoid these flaws.
4) We should imagine that someone else has our character and see what we would admire and despise in them.
5) We should reflect on the consequences and fruits of our different characteristics so that we come to know the good that results from our good characteristics and the bad results that come from our objectionable ones. Honest reflection is both very powerful and insightful.
6) Measure all your deeds by the Shariah, measure them in the scale of justice and have them reviewed by insightful people. Only this can distinguish what is better and what is worse.
7) Read the stories of those who acted upon their knowledge and measure your actions against theirs.
SubhanAllah. This is truly confronting, challenging, sincere advice. How many of us take the time to ponder our shortcomings? How many of us question our own intentions and actions? How many of us take offence at the slightest comment made about our nature? Nowadays we think we know everything and that we are always right.
There were wise people who came before us who would actually consider their own selves to be the enemy on their path back to Allah. The path of Islam calls for self criticism and critical self reflection, skills that are rare in our times. I ask Allah to give us the strength to put this self reflection into practice, and to call ourselves to account before we are called to account.