Have you ever awoken in the night wanting to get a glass of water but unable to because you feared that something was lurking in the dark? Or have you ever skipped your Jumah prayer because you feared your teacher would judge you?
Have you ever seen someone complain about losing their job or failing a class?
These questions are fundamental in understanding Fear and Hope. Though more importantly is fear part of the Muslim character? Do we really have something to hope for?
At the time of Musa (AS) people would fear the Pharaoh, and thus became enslaved to him out of this fear. Allah (SWT) guided Musa (AS) and the children of Israel to fear only HIM (SWT) and through this they attained freedom from this tyrannical Egyptian ruler.
O Children of Israel! call to mind the (special) favour which I bestowed upon you, and fulfill your covenant with Me as I fulfill My Covenant with you, and fear none but Me.
Quran (2:40) [Y. Ali]
In biology and mammalogy we learn that fear ensures the safety and cautionary actions taken by an organism. Thus, it is intelligent to fear Allah(SWT) and his punishment to help ensure and promote your safety in this life and the hereafter.
“It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah.”
If one is solely to dwindle in fear then one can easily be overcome with sadness and hopelessness. Alhamdulillah, Allah (SWT) has relieved us from this depressive state by providing hope to us. Hope is given through the guidance of Allah (SWT), which will emancipate us from the prison of this world to the promise of paradise; from the torture of hellfire to the pleasure of gardens beneath which rivers flow.
Allah (SWT) affirms that those who follow his guidance will not fear or grieve in the Quranic verse addressing Adam (AS), Howa (AS) and their future progeny:
[For although] We did say, “Down with you all from this [state],” there shall, none the less, most certainly come unto you guidance from Me: and those who follow My guidance need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve;
Quran (2:38) [Asad]
Some people may be thinking “I may be Muslim, but I’ve done a lot of bad things in my life. Is there hope for me?”
Allah (SWT) mercy precedes his wrath and thus Hope is even given to the sinful and the transgressors:
“O My slaves, who have transgressed against themselves! Despair not of the Mercy of Allaah, Verily Allaah forgives all sins (except shirk). Truly He is Oft-Forgiving, the Most Merciful”
Quran (39: 53)
Some may ask how can the Fear of Allah (SWT) save us in this life? Sometimes fear prevents us from the displeasure of Allah (SWT) and perhaps HE (SWT) will reward us not only in the hereafter, but in this Dunya as well. In the hadith narrated Ibn Umar Allah’s Apostle said:
Allah’s Apostle said, “Once three persons (from the previous nations) were traveling, and suddenly it started raining and they took shelter in a cave. The entrance of the cave got closed while they were inside. They said to each other, ‘O you! Nothing can save you except the truth, so each of you should ask Allah’s Help by referring to such a deed as he thinks he did sincerely (i.e. just for gaining Allah’s Pleasure).’
So one of them said, ‘O Allah! You know that I had a laborer who worked for me for one Faraq (i.e. three Sas) of rice, but he departed, leaving it (i.e. his wages). I sowed that Faraq of rice and with its yield I bought cows (for him). Later on when he came to me asking for his wages, I said (to him), ‘Go to those cows and drive them away.’ He said to me, ‘But you have to pay me only a Faraq of rice,’ I said to him, ‘Go to those cows and take them, for they are the product of that Faraq (of rice).’ So he drove them. O Allah! If you consider that I did that for fear of You, then please remove the rock.’ The rock shifted a bit from the mouth of the cave.
The second one said, ‘O Allah, You know that I had old parents whom I used to provide with the milk of my sheep every night. One night I was delayed and when I came, they had slept, while my wife and children were crying with hunger. I used not to let them (i.e. my family) drink unless my parents had drunk first. So I disliked to wake them up and also disliked that they should sleep without drinking it, I kept on waiting (for them to wake) till it dawned. O Allah! If You consider that I did that for fear of you, then please remove the rock.’ So the rock shifted and they could see the sky through it.
The third one said, ‘O Allah! You know that I had a cousin (i.e. my paternal uncle’s daughter) who was most beloved to me and I sought to seduce her, but she refused, unless I paid her one-hundred Dinars (i.e. gold pieces). So I collected the amount and brought it to her, and she allowed me to sleep with her. But when I sat between her legs, she said, ‘Be afraid of Allah, and do not deflower me but legally. ‘I got up and left the hundred Dinars (for her). O Allah! If You consider that I did that for fear of you than please remove the rock. So Allah saved them and they came out (of the cave).”
Sahih Bukhari – Volume 4, Book 56, Number 671 ((This Hadith indicates that one can only ask Allah for help directly or through his performed good deeds. But to ask Allah through dead or absent prophets, saints, spirits, holy men, angels etc. is absolutely forbidden in Islam and it is a kind of disbelief.))