AssalaamAlaikum Aunty Anjum,
My friends tell me I always think negative. I don’t know how to be positive, to be honest. It’s not like there’s a button! With all the things (not) happening in my life, I feel hopeless and don’t expect happiness for myself. Nothing good happens to me and I feel sad all the time and I know that’s not the Islamic way. Can you show me in the light of Islam how to be positive?
I understand that when things get tough and you don’t see any change or progress, you’ll be inclined to feel sad. But to think that you’ll never be happy is like you’re almost willing it to happen.
Allah gives you with what you expect from Him. So, not expecting happiness means you think Allah is not capable of it or that you’re making a prediction of the future which is not your place.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed.’”
What is destined to take place will take its place. Because, Allah is the Master and Lord and what He has willed will come to pass. But, our thoughts do affect a part of our lives and not only do they include our health and well being, but also our actions. Hence, there’s an important role played by the thoughts. Losing hope is kufr, and it is shaitan’s ploy to make us lose hope and think negatively.
So what is positive thinking? It’s expecting good outcomes. So, if you expect good outcomes then you will work towards fulfilling it by using all your intel, resources and energy. Would you work hard to achieve something that you don’t believe in? When you think negatively, it will affect your actions and that will affect the results. If things don’t work at the moment, even then, you should hope to succeed at some point and so, you must keep trying. Eventually, when things don’t work out, then it is better for one to accept it as a part of Allah’s plan and accept that failure was a blessing in disguise. Maybe what you aspired wasn’t good for you.
“Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him” (Saheeh Muslim #2999)
Islam encourages positive thinking and there is ample proof of that through the examples I am about to mention. These have been mentioned in Quran and hadeeth for our benefit.
1) What on earth could have made our Prophet ﷺ think that Umar (r.a) would become a Muslim? Umar was one of their strongest enemies. He was cruel to Muslims and he hated Islam vehemently. Naturally, it seemed impossible, right? But Prophet ﷺ knew that, for Allah, anything is possible; so he hoped and prayed.
Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “O Allah, strengthen Islam with one of two men whom you love more: Abu Jahl or Umar ibn Al-Khattab.”
Would he have prayed for the impossible if he had thought of it negatively?
2) Let’s move on to another example. While hiding in the cave during migration to Madina, it must have been scary for Abu Baker (r.a) and Prophet ﷺ. A single peek by the enemies, and they would have been found. Did the prophet (s.a.w) think positively?
“Don’t worry. Verily Allah is with us.” (At-Tauba 40).
Now, that is the height of positivity. We all know they made it safely to Madina with Allah’s help.
3) Another example is at the time of Musa (a.s.) when the army of Firaun was chasing them.
“And when the two groups saw one another, the companions of Moses said, “Indeed, we are about to be overcome!” [Moses] said, “No! Indeed, with me is my Lord; He will guide me.”” (Ash-Shu’araa 61-62)
In an impossible situation (literally between the devil and the deep blue sea kind of scene- sea ahead and the army at the back), Musa thought only positive thoughts that Allah will help them out. I guess you already know what happened to Firaun and his army.
4) There is another beautiful example of positive thinking when Prophet Ibraheem (a.s.) left his wife in the desert.
“O Ibraaheem! Where are you going?! Will you abandon us in this valley where there is not a single person or anything else?” She repeated these words to him several times, but he would not turn around to look at her. Then she said to him: “Is Allaah the one who has commanded you with this?” Then he responded by saying: “Yes.” Comforted by the response, she said with optimism: “In that case, He will not let us down.”
Can you imagine yourself thinking positively in the middle of nowhere without food, water or roof over your head? And a baby to care for on top of that! Her positive attitude was what kept her sane. She was stressed -don’t misunderstand that. But she knew everything would turn out well eventually.
5) After the first revelation in Hira, Prophet ﷺ was scared and came to Khadija (r.a), what did she tell him?
“Never! By Allah, Allah will never disgrace you…”
It’s remarkable that she didn’t even know what it all meant (the first revelation) but she did not think negatively at all. She only had good thoughts about Allah, and she believed that all would be well.
So if you think things aren’t going how they should in your life, the question is what have you been doing about it?
- Keep hoping that Allah will help you
- Keep praying for all the good things you want
- Keep doing the things you need to do in order to achieve your goals – work hard!
- Even if things don’t work out, believe that it was for the best
- Try something else if one thing fails
- Connect with positive people (who are having troubles in their lives) and learn from them
In my opinion, dua is part of positive thinking and having hope is part of our belief system. Dua is reaffirming the belief that our Creator has power over everything and that He alone CAN help us and WILL help us.
Bukhaaree (2893) reports from Anas Ibn Maalik (I) that Allaah’s Messenger (s.a.w) would supplicate with: “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from distress and sorrow, from helplessness and laziness, from miserliness and cowardice, from being heavily in debt and from being overcome by men.”
If you learn to trust your Lord, positive thinking will easily follow. And in the process, you may get what you want. InshaAllāh.
Written by: Aunty Anjum
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