Book of Life
Abu Rajab Muhammad Asif Madani
Once, Sayyiduna Isa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was sitting when he saw an old man digging the ground. He عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام supplicated: ‘O Allah! Take away his hope.’ The man immediately dropped the shovel and lay down. Moments later, he عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام had just finished supplicated, ‘O Allah! Return his hope,’ when the old man stood up and continued digging. Sayyiduna Isa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام asked him about this, to which he said, ‘I was working when a thought came to my heart: You have become old, for how long will you work? This is why I put the shovel to one side and lay down. Then a thought came to my heart: You have to get by somehow as long as you are alive! So, I stood and took the shovel,’ (Ihya-ul-‘Uloom, vol. 5, p. 198)
Hope; the element that is as essential to life as the very blood that runs through us. The death of hope is followed quickly by the death of aspiration, the motivation to work, and the determination to succeed in education; perhaps the age-old adage about ‘the world standing upon hope,’ was inspired by this evident reality.
When a person gives hope and then does not follow through!
When we experience hope, we find the desire to live, the strength to face life’s challenges, and the direction to success. Yet, hope causes worry when someone else fails to meet your expectations. For example, they may say to you:
* Whenever you need something, contact me and I will get it for you. I am here for you!
* Don’t worry about the money, I will pay your unexpected expenses.
* It is your daughter’s wedding; she is my daughter too. There is no need for you to worry, I will bring all of the bridal gifts and other things.
* You are in financial difficulty, but don’t worry, I will deliver the monthly provisions to your house. Your brother is still here yet!
* I will pay your debt.
* Don’t allow this engagement to take place; I have many better suitors.
* I will pay for your trip to Madinah, get ready.
* You just study hard; I will pay your fees.
* Leave this job. Hand in your resignation and meet me; I will find you a better job than this.
* What is there for you in being employed! Come, we will both do business together; I will give all of the money and we can split the profits 50/50.
We place all of our hopes in a person in response to such offers, but when the time arrives, the person may make excuses and cease all contact with us.
Such incidents occur in our society daily. For example:
1. An acquaintance told me that his wife was due for an operation. The physician emphasised that we should make arrangements for blood. Her blood group was O negative, which is rare. After much effort, I found an individual who had the same blood type and was ready to donate. He said that when the need arises, I should call him. Up until the day of the operation, I was in contact with him. However, before the operation took place, the doctor requested blood, so I contacted the man but he did not answer. Even after trying numerous times, there was no response.
In the meantime, the operation had started. I laid down the prayer mat and engrossed myself in Zikr, supplicating to Allah Almighty. In the end, by the grace of Allah Almighty, there was no need for the blood during the operation. Nevertheless, I learnt a powerful lesson from all of this: no matter how much hope a person might give you, always have a backup plan.
2. An Imam described how his brother travelled from Punjab to Karachi, hoping to find employment. He contacted many places but to no avail. Before he could travel to another area to look for work, someone he knew called him from Rawalpindi and said that a job was ready for him there and that he should come immediately. He confirmed this several times, insisting that there is no reason to worry.
The Imam’s brother left Karachi for Rawalpindi. After travelling an arduous 22 hours, he arrived in Rawalpindi. The man, who proposed the job, was quick to make excuses after excuses as to why the job cannot start immediately, as promised. He continued to mislead the Imam’s brother for nine days, making him stay in Rawalpindi without any source of income. With each day, there was a new excuse. Eventually, reality dawned, and the poor man returned to his home in Nankana, Punjab.
3. A postgraduate student from Karachi University states that he had to pay the 107,000 rupee tuition fee by December 2020. Naturally, he was distressed. Somebody he knew offered to pay half of the fees. However, when the time came, he continued to make excuses until eventually, the deadline passed.
You, or a loved one, may have faced similar ordeals. Experiences like these are full of life lessons. Here are 14 tips for people who give hope to others and for those who are on the receiving end:
1. Those who promise to help generally fall into three categories: (i) Those who have nothing to offer except empty words, and have no real intention help out; such people are guilty of breaking their promise; (ii) those who honour their promise to help - such people are praiseworthy members of society; (iii) those who, despite genuinely wanting to help, cannot honour their promise later on because of extenuating circumstances. - such people should inform the other person beforehand so that they can make alternative arrangements. Ask yourself: do you fall into the first category? If we cannot support others in difficult times, we should at least not exacerbate their worries.
2. Sometimes a person sees the dire state of someone else and intends to help them. In such a case, it is better for you to only disclose your intention to the other person if you are truly capable of helping them.
3. If you can, hasten to assist your fellow believer even before they ask you; Allah Almighty will reward you immensely.
4. Be precise about the extent and type of help you are offering, lest the other person put all their hopes in you.
5. Instead of generic statements such as ‘If you are in any sort of need, if you need anything then I am present, just tell me,’ make an effort to find out exactly how you can be of assistance. Unless you prompt the other person, they are unlikely to open up and share their needs with you.
6. If the one you have promised to help comes to your home or office, or phones you when the time arrives, then meet him and answer the call. If you cannot meet up or answer the call due to some reason then contact him as soon as you can. If you disappear when he needs you, he is sure to become even more worried and anxious. People do not forget the one who supports them in times of difficulty and the one who abandons them in times of difficulty.
7. Even if you have not promised to help someone, you should still aid people facing hardships, without them having to ask you. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘A Muslim is the sibling of another Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor disgraces him; whosoever fulfils the need of his brother, Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ fulfils his needs, and whosoever removes a difficulty from a Muslim, Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ will remove one worry of his from the worries of Judgment Day,’ (Muslim, p. 1069, Hadith 6578).
8. You helping someone should be driven by a desire to please Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ. Never commit the crass mistake of reminding others of your favours, help, and financial aid that you may have given to them. Allah Almighty states:
یٰۤاَیُّهَا الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا لَا تُبْطِلُوْا صَدَقٰتِكُمْ بِالْمَنِّ وَ الْاَذٰىۙ-
‘O believers! Do not invalidate your charity by boasting of favours and by causing anguish.’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 03, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 264)
The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘The one who reminds of his favours, the one who is disobedient to his parents and the one who drinks alcohol habitually will not enter Paradise,’ (Nisai, p. 895, Hadith 5683),’ implying that these people will not be worthy of entering Paradise first. (Mirat-ul-Manajih, vol. 6, p. 530)
Those who place their hopes in others:
9. When you are offered help, maintain your dignity by politely refusing while extending your thanks, as the offer of support may just be a gesture of formality and not genuine.
10. If you are in a dire situation whereby you will be unable to survive unless you accept the offer, you should still not pin all of your hopes on the other person, reminding yourself that extenuating circumstances may prevent this person from seeing their promise through. The future is unpredictable; therefore, make sure you have alternative arrangements, so that your worries are not aggravated should this person fail to honour their promise.
11. If the person does not answer your call when you need them, don’t quickly dub him a liar or a fraud. Instead, earn rewards by maintaining a good opinion of him; after all, he may have been occupied.
12. Sometimes we put our hopes in a person even if they do not offer, waiting for him to help us without us having to explicitly ask. This is foolishness because it is possible that he is not in a position to help us which is why he never offered to do so in the first place. Baseless hopes such as this will only throw us deeper into worries.
13. Receiving financial aid from others is not the only way of being relieved of worries; a person can borrow money if required; keep this option open too.
14. If possible, set up an emergency fund at home and add money to it every month, being resolute that you will only use these funds in an emergency. You will see the benefits of adopting this method, اِنْ شَــآءَالـلّٰـه.
May Allah Almighty grant us well-being, comfort, and ease.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم