COPING WITH FEAR AND GRIEF:
An Islamic Approach
Inna Auliyaa-Allahi La Khaufun Alaihim
wa La Hum Yahzanoon. Al-Ladheena Aamanoo
wa Kaanoo Yattaqoon ( Al-Qur’an, Soorah Yoonus).
Bear in mind, Allah’s friends know
neither fear nor grief! They are the ones
who believed and were fearful – of him (10:62).
A Common Human Condition
Pain, grief, fear, sorrow!
Afflictions, tragedies, horrors, suffering, calamities, adversities, losses!
Disappointments, regrets, missed opportunities, failures, problems, tests, challenges, worries, anxieties – and everything else of that ilk!!
Which one of us has not faced them?
At one time or another?
In one form or another?
With regard to one thing or another?
To one degree or another?
They are all part of the natural human condition – part of what human flesh is heir to in this world.
They are part of the package we call life on earth.
In other words, they are part of the professional hazards of living. They come with the territory.
In general, grief and sorrow are about the past.
They are about what has been – what has already taken place.
They are about losses, pain, adversities, harm and hurt you have already suffered in times gone by.
It is the part of your life you look back to – and hurt and suffer, thinking about it.
It is the living, lingering, recurring, pulsating memory of your old pains – the pain that often will not easily go away.
Fear, on the other hand, is about the future.
It is about what may yet be.
It is about what you think is likely to be – or even imminent. It is about something that you think is about to be.
If you want me to put it a bit more technically, I would say it is the anticipatory anguish and discomfort in your mind, body and soul, that you experience thinking about undesirable likely and probable future occurrences in your life.
That means it is about losses, pain, harm, hardships, problems and hurt that you fear are in store for you in the future – lurking, waiting for you around the next corner in life.
How sad indeed is the whole situation!
Poor human being!
Surrounded by pain at both ends of life’s short stick – past as well as future!
In what has been as well as in what is yet to be.
The Qur’an recognizes this dire human predicament.
Hear the Qur’an put it in its own inimitable, powerful, no-nonsense style:
Wal ‘Asr! Innal Insaana La-Fee Khusr
Which in paraphrase means:
By the testimony of time!
Surely, human beings are in a state of loss!
But the question is, if this is the case, then what do we do? Where do we go for help?
How can we get of out the mess – the state of loss – in which we are supposed to be as human beings?
How do we deal with the human condition of fear and grief that are such a major part of that state of loss?
The next passages – Aayaat – of the Qur’an go on to provide answers to these very questions.
A Panacea for Pain
The Qur’an does not stop at identifying the problem that faces humanity.
It also proposes the panacea for this common human ailment.
The way out of our troubles, the Qur’an tells us in the very next Aayat (103:3), has four parts to it. And they are as follows:
(A) First of all, we must have a firm foundation of faith – a strong anchor of belief.
That means we must believe firmly in God and his messenger, Muhammdad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
And that we must believe in the Qur’an – and in all the other books and messengers of God.
And in accountability for all we do in this life.
It also means we must believe in life after death and in the Day of Judgment.
(B) Next, our behavior and conduct must be good.
That means we must do the good and the right things in life.
That means we must, on the one hand, perform the obligatory worships such as Salat and Siyam – daily prayers and fasting, etc. – as prescribed by Islam.
As a part of that, we must also have a strong moral character and be owners of a kind and charitable disposition. We must be generous, tolerant, accommodating and forgiving.
In addition, we must do everything in our power to adhere to as many of Allah’s commands, and to as many of the teachings of his prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, as we can.
(C) Step three in freedom from fear and grief is that we must undertake to propagate and popularize truth.
Let me explain this in a separate section.
Preaching Truth – Haq
It is true that there is a concept called Haq – truth.
It is also true that truth shall set you free – from fear; from grief; and from all other bondage, tyranny and oppression.
What is also needed is not just to adhere to truth in one’s personal and private life, but also to actively work for truth in larger social settings – to be a private as well as a public champion and advocate of truth.
What is required of those of us who want freedom from fear and grief is to be preachers of truth.
The Qur’anic expression for truth is Haq.
It is a unique and powerful Qur’anic concept. It refers to truth in all its forms and manifestations.
At the human level, it refers to truth about our world and about our own existence in that world.
It refers to reality as it exists and as it surrounds us – away from all forms of distortion, corruption, misrepresentation and falsehood.
In modern parlance, it refers to facts without twist or spin – whether personal, political, sectarian or commercial.
At the highest level, Haq refers to God Almighty himself. For, it is he who is the ultimate truth. He is the source of all truth.
Therefore, all truth in this world is a reflection of God’s glorious being. Just as all attempts to soften, dilute, distort or change truth constitute a deviation from God’s path and a direct challenge to him.
Haq, therefore, is Allah and whatever is from Allah.
Haq liberates you.
For, it is the nature of Haq to give freedom. Haq sets you and your mind and spirit – and the entire world – free.
Falsehood, on the other hand, is what distracts you and takes you away from Allah.
Falsehood entraps and enslaves you.
It enslaves your mind and your spirit and opens the door for the enslavement of your body, home, land and culture.
Thus, Haq is freedom and liberation while falsehood is bondage and enslavement.
The Qur’anic term for falsehood in all its dimensions is Baatil.
Haq is thus liberation, Baatil bondage.
Above all, Haq is freedom from fear and grief. Baatil, on the other hand, is life beholden to and dominated by grief and fear.
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