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COPING WITH FEAR AND GRIEF: An Islamic Approach [Part One]

DR.PASHA | December 19, 2010 | Section: Articles | 1689 reads

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Mixing Truth with Falsehood: Pathway to Problems

Mixing truth with falsehood is a sure pathway to problems, whether in the lives of individuals, groups, organizations or societies.

Below is the clear-cut choice that the Qur’an offers people between Haq and Baatil – between truth and falsehood.

It is amazing how modern, how apt, how contemporary, how relevant and how directly applicable the Qur’an is to our times – and to every other time.

The passages (Aayaat) below address with unmatched clarity and directness the culture of spin and false facts that saturates our communication means and media and our dealings with one another today – a culture of mixed truth that blights our business, political and personal life everywhere.

They read as if they were written today and as if they were written for our times.

Read the Aayat below:

Wa Laa Talbisul Haqqa Bil Baatili,

Wa Taktumul Haqqa, wa Antum

Ta’lamoon (Soorah Al-Baqarah).

Which in paraphrase means:

… Do not mix truth with falsehood,

and cover up the truth, while you

know full well! (2:42).

And then read this other Aayat:

Lima Talbisoonal Haqqa Bil Baatili

Wa Taktumoonal Haqqa wa Antum

Ta’lamoon? (Soorah Aal-Imraan).

Which in paraphrase means:

Why do you mix truth with falsehood,

and cover up the truth, while you

know full well? (3:71).

And then ask yourself:

What is the probability that any of us would have predicted the existence of a clear, direct and forceful passage like this in the Qur’an?

What is the probability that any of us would have predicted the existence of a second and equally powerful passage on the same subject in the Qur’an?

And then ask yourself:

If this does not constitute a miracle – a serious departure from norm and a clear indication of something not just unusual and extraordinary but something beyond the human pale – what does?

If this does not build a case in favor the Qur’an being a most amazing and incomparable divine document, what does?

Therefore, those who want to be free from fear and grief must train themselves to love truth. They must teach themselves to live and work with truth; to deal with truth; and to demand and accept from everyone nothing but truth.

This is the ultimate in human dignity and freedom – and it is our earthly guarantee of freedom from fear, grief and everything else.

For, a great deal of grief, pain, fear and worry in this world is caused by untruth – by Baatil in its myriad forms and manifestations.

It is caused by false people, places, promises, performances, products, pleasures and preachers that are not true – those that promise you one thing and deliver you something else.

All those that deliver you less than full truth, when full truth is what you expect of them, and thus fill your life with pain, sorrow and grief about the past and with fear, trepidation, worry and anxiety about the future.

But those who want freedom from fear and grief must do more than merely love truth. They must become its active champions, advocates, leaders and preachers.

They must become active not only in the search for truth, but also in its propagation and popularization.

They must exhort each other to tell and live by truth.

They must tirelessly work to create a culture based on truth.


Building a Culture of Patience

(D)  The fourth and final step in the march for freedom from fear and grief is to work to create a culture of patience.

For, in human life there is something called patience, which in many ways is the key to true human empowerment – and to true freedom from fear and grief.

Patience and perseverance are the twin engines of human success on earth.

Those who seek freedom from fear and grief must cultivate patience and work to create a culture based on patience.

They must do so by preaching patience, perseverance and steadfastness to one another.

Impetuosity and restlessness can have their virtues, but patience and perseverance are often what make the difference between failure and success.

Essence of patience is a firm and unshakable belief in Allah. It is the knowledge that one’s affairs are entirely in Allah’s hands.

It is the belief and knowledge that everything in the world happens according to a meticulous scale of God’s design.

Kullu Shai-in Indahu Bi-Miqdar

(Soorah Ar-Ra’d).

Which in paraphrase means:

Allah does everything according a certain

measure and scale (13:8; 33:38).

Thus, when calamity or adversity strikes, a patient person knows that it is from Allah.

That person also knows that it cannot last forever, because Allah is kind, compassionate and merciful.

And because Allah promises in the Qur’an that good times will surely follow bad times.

Also, patient people must know that patience will earn them the company of Allah. Just when they thought they were alone, friendless and without recourse or remedy, it turns out that Allah himself is with them.

What better guarantee of freedom from fear and grief is there than to have Allah himself with you?

Allah says so over and over in the Qura’an. Here is what the Qur’an says:

Innallaha Ma’assaabireen (Soorah Al-Baqarah)

Which in paraphrase means:

Surely, Allah is with those who are patient

(2:153; 8:46).

Furthermore, Allah also says he loves patient people (3:146).

Wallahu Yuhibbus-Saabireen

(Soorah Aal-Imraan).

To have Allah with you, and then to have Allah love you, what better protection from fear and grief could one want?

Therefore, patience – Sabr – is a quality that people need to cultivate with some diligence if they really and truly want to be free from fear and grief.

In addition to that, they must also work to make patience a dominant virtue in the lives of other people.

In other words, they must become preachers of patience. For, preaching truth goes hand in hand with preaching patience. For, fearless service to truth may land you in all kinds of troubles of its own.

Patience, however, does not mean being inactive and passive and helpless. It does not mean being weak and ineffective.

Quite the contrary!

You are already an active preacher of truth. Now you must become also an active preacher of patience, which is really the other side of the coin.

Therefore, if you want to be free from fear and grief, you must work to create a culture based on truth as well as on patience and perseverance.

For, fear and grief do not have just individual (what are called micro) causes and effects.

They also have broader (what are called macro) social, political, economic and cultural dimensions.

Often, trying to change one without changing the other is not terribly effective. The solution that the Qur’an offers addresses both the micro as well as the macro dimensions of human life and the role of fear and grief in it.

It addresses these questions at the level of individuals as well as at broader social levels.

That is why instead of just asking us to practice or cultivate patience, the Qur’an asks us to preach and propagate truth and patience.

The Qur’an wants to turn us into activists for truth and patience.

And nothing chases fear and grief from the life of a person faster than a caring, conscious, committed and activist approach to life.


True Origin and Source

Here are some more detailed pointers on where fear and grief come from; where all the pain and loss and suffering come from – their true source and origin – and how we can best train ourselves to cope with them.

First of all, they all come from Allah – God Almighty. For, in the ultimate analysis, that is where everything comes from – good as well as bad.

To know this – and to believe it firmly and fully and with all of one’s heart – is, as they say, the bottomline in human affairs. For, there is nothing else one really needs to either know or believe thereafter.

Spiritually and psychologically – and in every other sense – it is the perfect panacea for all human ailments.

But at the same time, these things are also the products of who we are as people and what we do in our lives. They are, as the Qur’an puts it, the fruits of our labors – they are the result of what our hands have wrought.

Consider the following Aayah:

Wa Ma Asaabakum Mim Museebatin, Fa-bimaa

Kasabat Aideekum, wa Ya’foo An Katheer

(Soorah Ash-Shoora).

Which in paraphrase means:

Whatever calamity or tragedy befalls you, it is

due to what your hands have earned. But he

overlooks and forgives great many things (42:30).

Also consider this other Aayat:

Qultum Anna Hadha? Qul Huwa Min Indi Anfusikum. Innallaha Ala Kulli Shai-in Qadeer (Soorah Aal Imraan)

Which in paraphrase means:

You said, “Where is this coming from?” Say,

“It is from your own selves!” Surely, Allah

has power over everything (3:165).


Confusion about Causality

It is quite true, there are times and instances when the causal factors seem to be beyond anyone’s control – when it is not at all clear why certain things happen the way they do.

But anyone with any intelligence and integrity can see that much of what happens to us is a result of what we do ourselves. It is due to what people do to people – to themselves and to other people.

Not always or necessarily in a narrow, individual sense – in a micro sense, as some people would like to call it – but in a broader, more long-term sense. In what some people would call a more macro sense.

In fact, much of the mess in this world is the result of what human beings have done. It is a consequence – the sum total – of their actions as well as their inaction.

And here is how the Qur’an puts it:

Zaharal Fasaadu Fil Barri wal Bahri bimaa

Kasabat Aydinnaasi Li-udheeqahum Ba’dalladhee

Amiloo La’allahum Yarji’oon (Soorah Ar-Room).

Which in paraphrase means:

Things have gone wrong on land and sea due to

what people have done. He gives them a taste of

what they have done, so that they may return


Thus, collectively and individually, human beings have not helped their cause on the face of this earth.

From pollution of air, earth and water to exploitation of the poor by the rich, domination of the weak by the powerful and unjust wars, conquests and killings on the part of aggressive states at the macro (larger) levels to individual transgressions and wantonness at the micro (smaller) levels, they continually defy God’s commands and laws and perpetrate all kinds of abominations on themselves and others.

Given all that they do, the only reason they are not in more serious trouble than they are is because God Almighty overlooks and forgives many of the terrible things that people do to in this world – Wa Ya’foo ‘An Katheer.

Without question, he has the power to forgive, as much as he has the power to punish and to hold people accountable.

As Easaa Alaihis Salam says:

In Tu’addhibhum Fa-Innahum Ibaaduk,

Wa In Taghfir Lahum, Fa-Innaka Antal

Azeezul Hakeem (Soorah Al-Maaa-i-dah).

Which in paraphrase means:

If you punish them, surely they are your slaves.

But if you forgive them, then surely you are

most powerful and wise (5:118).

Therefore, knowing and believing all things come from Allah – good things as well as bad things – is basically to accept Allah as the true owner and master of this world.

It is to accept him as the only one who has any real power of any kind over us and over everything else that exists and happens in our world.




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