Don’t be sad

My brothers and sisters, we are living in difficult times which are testing us in ways that at least I had never imagined. On the one hand Allahﷻ has kept us and our families safe and well in this land. On the other hand, we are seeing every day what is happening to Muslims and other innocent people in country after country. That can’t leave us unmoved and uncaring. I am always at a loss to answer a simple question when someone asks, ‘How are you?’ I say Alhamdulillah I am well, but my heart is heavy. This sign of a heavy heart which I know I share with all of you is the sign that our hearts are still alive. Because it is the ability to feel pain, not pleasure, which is evidence of life. So, we thank Allahﷻ that we feel the pain of others and make dua for relief for them. However, that makes the heart sad. That is the topic of this Khutba – Don’t be sad. The Muslim is one who complains only to Allahﷻ and he tells only Allahﷻ about his fears and seeks help only from Allahﷻ and lives to please only Allahﷻ. That is why he can rely on help from Allahﷻ because he is constantly connected to Allahﷻ.

The word (الحزن) sadness does not appear in the Qur’an except in the form of forbidding it, as in where Allahﷻ commanded:

وَلَا تَهِنُوا۟ وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا۟ وَأَنتُمُ ٱلْأَعْلَوْنَ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

A’al Imraan 3: 139   Do not falter or grieve, for you will have the upper hand, if you are ˹true˺ believers.

Or in the form of negating, as when Allahﷻ said about people of Jannah:

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا ٱللَّهُ ثُمَّ ٱسْتَقَـٰمُوا۟ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

Ahqaaf 46: 13  Surely those who say, “Our Rabb is Allah,” and then remain steadfast—there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve.

The reason for this is because there is no benefit of sadness in the heart. Rasoolullahﷺ sought the protection of Allahﷻ from worry and sadness.

اللهمّ إني أعوذ بك من الهم والحزن

Ibn Al Qayyim رحمه الله said, “Sadness weakens the heart and diminishes determination and wanting to go forward.” For this reason, be happy, optimistic and always think well about Allahﷻ. Have trust in what Allahﷻ can do and depend on Him alone. That is Tawakkul which Allahﷻ gifts to those who live a life of Taqwa. Tawakkul is the reward of Taqwa. Allahﷻ created us with a nature that seeks certainty and dislikes ambiguity and uncertainty. That is what anchors and is the fount of all laws, rules, government, order, culture, manners, which form the fabric of society. Without the drive for certainty, we would have anarchy and chaos. But Allahﷻ didn’t give us knowledge of or control over our future. That produces worry, anxiety, fear, sadness, even despair. And that is Haraam.

Ibn Al Qayyim رحمه الله said, “Don’t ruin your happiness with worry, and don’t ruin your mind with pessimism. Don’t ruin your success with deception and don’t ruin the optimism of others by destroying it. Don’t ruin your day by looking back at yesterday. If you think about your situation, you will find that Allahﷻ has given you things without asking, so have trust in Allahﷻ that He doesn’t prevent anything you want except when there is goodness for you in that prevention. You could be sleeping, and the doors of the Heavens are being opened with duas being made for you. SubhanAllah: perhaps from someone poor whom you helped, or someone sad whom you brought joy to, or someone passing by, and you smiled at him, or someone in distress and you removed it. So don’t ever underestimate any good deed.”

One of the righteous predecessors said, “When I make dua to Allahﷻ for something I want, and if He gives it to me then I’m happy once but if He doesn’t give it to me then I’m happy ten times because the first was my choice and the second was Allahﷻ’s choice.”  Shaikh Saadi Shirazi (رحمه الله), the great Farsi poet and one of the most influential thinkers, scholars, and philosophers of all time, the author of Bostaan and Gulistaan, said, very simply, “Life is short so don’t shorten it with worries, grief, and sadness.”

The cure for sadness is to reflect on the Sunnah of Allahﷻ. Think about when Allahﷻ helped the best of His creation, His chosen Prophets and Messengers. Take the case of Ibrahim (AS). When did the help of Allahﷻ come, when he was put into the cup of the trebuchet? When did Allahﷻ’s help come for Ismail (AS) when he was being slaughtered? When did the help of Allahﷻ come for Yusuf (AS) when he was thrown into the well by his brothers? When did the help of Allahﷻ come for Musa (AS) when he was in danger of being killed by the soldiers of Firawn? When did help come for Isa (AS) when they wanted to crucify him? When did the help of Allahﷻ come for our own beloved Prophet Muhammadﷺ at Ta’if, and when he was in the cave of Thaur? When did the help of Allahﷻ come in Badr? When did it come in the Gazwatul Ahzab or Khandaq? So, have faith in Allahﷻ and know that if we are on the right path, the help of Allahﷻ is certain. When that help will come depends on the One who knows what the best time is. As they say, timing is everything. Allahﷻ acts for maximum impact. So, make Istighfaar and Tawba and connect to Allahﷻ and keep asking Him.

Seerah teaches us that life is going to be full of problems. Piety will not make your life easy. Seerah teaches us that feeling pain, anxiety, depression are not signs of lack of Iman. They are signs that we are human and reminders for us to connect to Allahﷻ. As another of the Salaf said, “To some Allahﷻ gives what they ask immediately. For others Allahﷻ delays it because He likes the way they ask and wants to hear their voice again and again.”

maayus saayil ne jab ghar ki raah li, aankho me aansu thay, thi jholi khaali, itane me rahamat jhunjhalaa ke boli, maayus jaataa hai kyun haath khaali
saayil idhar aa, phir maang, phir maang. (Amjad Hyderabadi)

(When the seeker was returning with his hands empty and tears in his eyes, sad and despairing, Allah’s Mercy called out to him and said, ‘Why are you returning sad and empty handed? O Seeker, come here and ask again and again.)

Let us do our job, keep asking. And let Allahﷻ help us as He promised. The Qur’an and its demonstration through the Seerah teach us how to deal with pain by remembering that we all belong to Allahﷻ and to Him is our return. By remembering that even if we had received what we wanted, we would have to leave it behind, but if we behave with Sabr and Waqar, patience and dignity in the face of loss, then Allahﷻ will reward us for it in this world and the next. Allahﷻ taught us how to deal with difficulty and loss. He said:

فَٱذْكُرُونِىٓ أَذْكُرْكُمْ وَٱشْكُرُوا۟ لِى وَلَا تَكْفُرُونِ – يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ ٱسْتَعِينُوا۟ بِٱلصَّبْرِ وَٱلصَّلَوٰةِ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ – وَلَا تَقُولُوا۟ لِمَن يُقْتَلُ فِى سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ أَمْوَٰتٌۢ بَلْ أَحْيَآءٌ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تَشْعُرُونَ – وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَىْءٍ مِّنَ ٱلْخَوْفِ وَٱلْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَنفُسِ وَٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ وَبَشِّرِ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ – ٱلَّذِينَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُوٓا۟ إِنَّا لِلَّهِ وَإِنَّآ إِلَيْهِ رَٰجِعُونَ – أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ عَلَيْهِمْ صَلَوَٰتٌ مِّن رَّبِّهِمْ وَرَحْمَةٌ وَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُهْتَدُونَ

Baqara 2: 152 – 157   Remember Me; I will remember you. And thank Me, and never be ungrateful. O believers! Seek comfort in patience and prayer. Allah is truly with those who are patient. Never say that those martyred in the cause of Allah are dead—in fact, they are alive! But you do not perceive it. We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops. Give good news to those who patiently endure— who, when faced with a disaster, say, “Surely to Allah we belong and to Him we will ˹all˺ return. They are the ones who will receive Allah’s blessings and mercy. And it is they who are ˹rightly˺ guided.

The biggest asset and resource of the Muslim in dealing with loss, tragedy and bereavement, is to remember the Aakhira. To remember that whatever it is, good or bad, beloved or hated, beneficial or harmful, will end.

مَا عِندَكُمْ يَنفَدُ وَمَا عِندَ ٱللَّهِ بَاقٍ وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ صَبَرُوٓا۟ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ

Nahl 16: 96    Whatever you have will end, but whatever Allah has is everlasting. And We will certainly reward the steadfast according to the best of their deeds.

Nothing is forever, except the connection with Allahﷻ and His Messengerﷺ. And to Allahﷻ is our return. That is where we will meet the fruits of our labor. May Allahﷻ make that the best day of our existence. For those who remain steadfast, Allahﷻ promised:

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا ٱللَّهُ ثُمَّ ٱسْتَقَـٰمُوا۟ فَلَا خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا هُمْ يَحْزَنُون

أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلْجَنَّةِ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا جَزَآءًۢ بِمَا كَانُوا۟ يَعْمَلُونَ

Ahqaf 46: 13-14  Surely those who say, “Our Rabb is Allah,” and then remain steadfast—there will be no fear for them, nor will they grieve. It is they who will be the residents of Jannah, staying there forever, as a reward for what they used to do.

I remind you that this is a conditional statement. It depends on steadfastness. That means in the face of difficulty and tests. That is the test of steadfastness and Allahﷻ tests everyone, so that they will be witnesses for or against themselves on the Day of Judgement. But He helps those who seek His help.

And Allahﷻ spoke about the ending of those who remain faithful to Him and steadfast on the path of His Messengerﷺ. I ask Allahﷻ this for us all:

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ قَالُوا۟ رَبُّنَا ٱللَّهُ ثُمَّ ٱسْتَقَـٰمُوا۟ تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ ٱلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا۟ وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا۟ وَأَبْشِرُوا۟ بِٱلْجَنَّةِ ٱلَّتِى كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ – نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَآؤُكُمْ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَفِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِىٓ أَنفُسُكُمْ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ – نُزُلًا مِّنْ غَفُورٍ رَّحِيمٍ

Fussilat 41: 30 – 41:32    Surely those who say, “Our Rabb is Allah,” and then remain steadfast, the angels descend upon them, ˹saying,˺ Do not fear, nor grieve. Rather, rejoice in the good news of Jannah, which you have been promised. We are your supporters in this worldly life and in the Hereafter. There you will have whatever your souls desire, and there you will have whatever you ask for: a welcome from the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful (Allahﷻ).

There will come a time when every one of us will meet Malakul Mawth, no matter how powerful and immortal we may imagine ourselves to be today. On that day what is the value of this help from the Only One who can help at that time? What is the value of being given the assurance that we will be forgiven and granted Jannah. That is why it is worth working for.