Negativity and pessimism engulf many of us today. It’s like air we breathe. Starting your day with the newspaper at the breakfast, headlines of murder, war, terrorism, domestic abuse, and automobile accidents vie for your attention. You end your day with the evening news flashing images of death, destruction, recession and crimes on the TV.
Throughout the day, you are bombarded with anxieties, which may include: How am I going to submit my project on time? How long will I be able to keep my current job? Do I have enough money to pay my rent this month? How can I save enough for a Hajj trip? How will I support my aging parents? Have I spent enough quality time with children this week? How many people “liked” my facebook posting? How will I be able to find time and space to offer prayers with my hectic work schedule? Have I taken care of my personal health and fitness?
All these anxieties add up overtime and kill your optimism. It’s easy to get stuck in the realities of this life, become depressed, and loose sight of the bigger picture.
Ten Reasons for a Muslim to Stay Positive
1. God offers a futuristic vision
Throughout the Quran, Allah reminds people about the transient and temporary nature of this life and that the real goal should be fixed on the next life through sound belief and actions. The real success is in the hereafter. Regardless of how easy or difficult your situation is today, it won’t last long.
Through the grand depictions of paradise (Jannah) and hellfire (Jahannam), Allah encourages you to focus on the bigger picture. Moreover, even when Allah describes the unfortunate end of the evil people in the hereafter, He often concludes those passages with the opportunity for believers to repent, to make Tawba, and to change their life so they can achieve salvation in the hereafter.
2. God promises to make a way out
If you bear the difficulties in life with patience and remain conscious of Allah, He promises a way out for you: “For indeed, with hardship comes ease.” (94:5)
Moreover, when Allah addresses the issue of divorce, which is perhaps one of the most painful times one would ever have to face, in the chapter named at-Talaq (The Divorce), Allah offers words of comfort to the parties involved:
"...And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out. And will provide for him from (ways) where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him...." (65: 2-3)
3. Optimism is the attitude of a believer (Mumin)
The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "Strange is the affair of the Mumin (the believer), verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (Sabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mumin." [Muslim]
4. Muslim’s reaction to every situation is gratitude
The Prophet, peace be upon him, encouraged you to thank Allah when you hear a pleasant news as well as when you witness a bad news.
When he received good news, he would say, “Al hamdu lillaahi al-adhee bi-nimatihee tatimmu as-saalihaat.” (All Praise is for Allah by whose favor good works are accomplished.)
When he received disturbing news, he said, “Al hamdu lillaahi alaa kulli haal.”
(All Praise is for Allah in all circumstances.)
5. Positive thinking is the way of the Prophet
Prophet Muhammad’s personality was a fountain of optimism. Despite his own trying financial situation and the verbal insults hurled at him throughout the Makkan period of his prophethood, he remained extremely positive. He was constantly looking for ways to bring relief to the persecution of the first group of believers.
As soon as he realized there was an opening, he asked his companions to migrate to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), where a just Christian ruler would offer them refuge. This marked freedom of religious expression for Muslims for the first time. A few years later, the Prophet wanted a more permanent solution for the Muslim community to live and grow in a positive and peaceful society. Thus, he directed his believing community to migrate to Madinah to establish the first peace sanctuary of Islam, ending over a decade of persecution and negativity.
The Prophet was optimistic about the state of even his worst enemies. He was constantly praying for their guidance and asked Allah to strengthen His Deen with the help of these influential leaders. As a result, Omar ibn al-Khattab, Khalid bin al-Waleed and others embraced Islam. Based on the Prophet’s futuristic outlook, we witness him proactively making alliances with various tribes across Arabia and with nations beyond Arabia.
Prophet Muhammad’s optimism, peace and blessings be upon him, and trust in Allah was highlighted during his dramatic journey to Madinah as he and Abu Bakr finally decided to migrate from Makkah. While the Prophet and Abu Bakr hid in a cave on the way to Madinah, their Makkan pursuers got to the mouth of the cave looking to capture them. At this point, Abu Bakr, turned to the Prophet in anxiety saying that they would be killed if the enemies peeked inside. The Prophet responded to his companion with calm and optimism, as recorded in the Quran, “Don’t worry. Verily Allah is with us.”
6. Prophet Muhammad urged us to spread good news
“Give glad tidings, and do not scare people away; make things easy, and do not make things difficult.” (Abu Dawud)
7. Optimism is the legacy of the Companions
If you read the lives of great Companions of the Prophet, they are replete with examples of positive attitude and focus on the bigger picture. From Khadija’s profound words of comfort to the Prophet when he was overwhelmed by the first ever revelation, to Aisha’s incredible acts of generosity to the poor despite experiencing pangs of hunger herself, to Jaafer bin Abi Talib and Musab bin Umair’s struggles to present Islam to new, often, hostile communities, to Abdullah ibn Umm Maktum’s commitment to attend prayers in the mosque and making the call to prayer (Adhan) in Madinah despite being blind, to the enslaved Khabbab bin Al-Arat and Bilal ibn Rabah’s public profession of Islamic faith despite the unimaginable cruelty they suffered from their “masters”.
Long before the advent of Islam in Makkah, Khabbab bin Al-Arat, being the first slave and seventh person to accept the Prophet’s message, would bear all the hardships reminding himself, “After every darkness, comes dawn.” When he witnessed the first rays of hope in the light of Islam, he embraced it with full confidence and optimism.
8. An optimist is an achiever
As Winston Churchill once aptly described, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Focus on solutions, not problems. Look for opportunities, not excuses. A results-driven, positive attitude is the mark of an achiever in this life and in the hereafter.
9. An optimist is usually healthier
Based on numerous scientific studies of optimists and pessimists, it is known that those who are positive about life, usually:
- live longer
- have less incidents of depression and anxiety
- are more likely to be content and at peace
- are less likely to experience blood pressure and cardiac problems
- are more patient and persistent in difficult times
10. An optimist is a people magnet
If you are a positive person, people love to be around you. You are a good team player and you look for solutions. Employers, co-workers, neighbors, family members, friends, and volunteers will be attracted to your contagious optimism. People are naturally attracted to those who offer hope and practical advice. On the other hand, people are repelled by those who complain and whine about others and find fault in others.
What does it take to be an Optimist?
- Focus on solutions, not problems
- Keep your eye on the bigger picture
- Develop creative thinking and innovative ways of doing things
- Tawakkul (Trust in Allah for results)
- Maintain a balancing act of fear & hope and optimism & reality
- Start your day with the empowering Duas (supplication) of the Prophet, peace be upon him
- Keep company with positive, result-oriented people
- Engage in physical exercise
- Smile more!
- Allow for less exposure to media and news!
Photo Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Norman_Vincent_Peale_NYWTS.jpg
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