By: Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra)
Translated by: Manal Samhat
God says in His Holy Book about Joseph:“Oh my sons go and enquire about Joseph and his brother and never give up hope on God. In truth, no one despairs of God’s comforting Mercy, except those who have no faith.” (12:87)
When God was telling Abraham that he was going to have a son:“He said: ‘Are you giving me such happy news even though I am very old? What is the good news about?’ They said: ‘We really have good news for you so do not despair!’ He said: “And who other than those who go astray despair of the mercy of his Lord?” (15:54-56)
“If we give some of our mercy to people and then take it away, see how quickly they lose hope and become ungrateful. But if we give them our favor after they have gone through a difficult period, they are sure to say ‘All evil has left me’: See how proud and joyful they become. This is not the way of those who are patient and who do good works; those will be pardoned and greatly rewarded.” (11:9-11)
As such, there are many verses in the Quran that encourage Muslims to be aware of the way the world works and learn about God Whose abilities are infinite, so that they would be able to live in this perfected system where nothing is stable except the major workings of the cosmos. But in man’s life things change: civilizations rise and fall, kings ascend thrones and abdicate or are dethroned and God humiliates whom He wishes and elevates whom He wishes.
Thus, God tells us that when we face certain situations in this life, whether richness or poverty, sadness or joy, success or failure,we should not feel overjoyed or too desperate either, because nothing is permanent. God might let certain people enjoy power and strength for a certain time, but there is no such thing as an immortal force. History has shown us that the strong have become weak and the weak have become strong. Everything in life has its cause and nothing could happen except by God’s will and the objective laws He has set for this universe, whether the result is positive or negative.
Many of us have lived and followed the world’s political development. What did they see? They saw certain states who controlled the world but they have become fourth, fifth or sixth rank powers, while other states that were living in the background have now occupied the center stage. Britain was the master of the seas in the 1940s and has now become a marginal state that follows the American political line. While America was a British colony and look where it is now? The Muslims used to hold many of the world’s strategic positions, and now they have become dispersed and fragmented.
In the light of this, we, as Muslims, should not become helpless when faced with depressing circumstances. We have to analyze the problem as we ourselves might be the cause.“God does not change what is inside people unless they change what is inside themselves.” (13:11)
“Corruption appeared on the earth and on the sea as a result of their actions so that God could make them taste a little of what they have concocted. Maybe they will come back.” (30:41)
Therefore, if our weakness is a result of our own actions we have to change our social, political, cultural and economic circumstances. If on the other hand, it is because of the strength of others, we should study their points of weakness so that we can overcome them.
Even in one’s personal life, when you are faced with hardships, you might fall. You might compromise your religion too when it has to do with your interests. But God tells you that you should never resort to such acts, and keep your faith in God keeping in mind that He is capable of everything. When you have no faith that God would relieve you of your sufferings, it means that you believe God to be incapable of something and this is a form of disbelief. You should always have faith in God and this faith should strengthen your faith in yourself and in the resources He gave you to solve your problems.
“For every hardship there is a relief.” (94: 06)
To the pious that refuse to humiliate themselves, compromise their religion or sell their country and nation to satisfy their personal needs, God says: “Why do you trap yourself in the circle of despair?”“As for those who fear God He will find a good way out for them. And He provides for him from sources he could never expect. And God is sufficient for anyone who puts his trust in Him. For God will surely accomplish His purpose. In truth God has designated a due proportion for all things.” (65:2-3)
Therefore man should always be optimistic and study his potentials and develop them to the fullest. You should live in hope of victory and success and prepare all the means that will help you to attain them.
God has given us all the means that will help us achieve all we need in this life, but some of us just do not employ these means and we live in an illusionary world. Yet, this is what we ought to do if we do not want to fall down or commit suicide. Some people will try to commit suicide when they feel everything is gloomy around them. Others might not commit suicide, but they do so politically, socially and religiously, and they do so because they do not have enough faith in God’s ability and compassion.
Faith in God should always be deep in your hearts, even when you are sinful, for a lot of people might be led by their environment or by Satan to commit sins and to deviate or give up hope. For those people God says:“Say: O my servants! You have committed excesses to your own detriment. Do not give up on God’s mercy. God forgives all sins. He is the one who forgives. He is the Merciful.” (39:53)
“He is the One Who accepts His servants repentance. He forgives sins. He knows what you do.” (42:25)
“In truth I am close when my servants ask about me; I reply to the call of those who invoke me when they invoke me. Let them respond to my call. Let them believe in me. Perhaps they will be directed along the right path.” (2:186)
Therefore, when you face extreme hardship, look to God and open your hearts so that He will fill it with hope. Never say that it is all done or that it is all over, for God is always there to help. You ought to endure because God has given you this power to enable you to be strong when faced with challenges. If we are always with God and we always have faith in Him, no one can intimidate or frustrate us. God has told us in the Quran about the Prophet’s faithful companions who became even stronger when they were told that the enemy had deployed a big force against them.“Those to whom men said a great army is gathering against you so fear them; but it only increased their faith. They said: ‘God is sufficient for us and He is the best guardian’. And they returned with grace and bounty from God no harm ever touched them…It is only Satan who makes you scared of his henchmen. Do not fear them. Fear me, if you believe.” (3:173-175)
Do not ever despair, do not lose your faith in God and be sure that success and victory will be your fate if you strive to reach them.
The aforementioned is an edited Friday sermon by His Eminence, the late Sayyed Fadlullah (ra).