Before you’re born, your world is confined to the walls of the womb. You’re fed, you’re watered, and always protected. When you enter the world, suddenly those walls careen outwards — your environment expands and you see the reality of what was actually happening while you grew. As a child, you’re shielded too, you put all your hope and trust in the adults around you, you expect good, and you see the world with rose tinted glasses. As you grow older, cracks begin to form in the lenses, you start seeing that the adults you revered make mistakes too, that not all things are black and white, not all things slot easily into camps of bad and good.
As adults, it starts getting harder to see the good. We’re attuned to calamity: we see the looming threat of a fractured ummah, the assaults of Islamophobia, death and destruction in Muslim lands, climate change, racism, systemic violence against marginalized peoples, and the list goes on and on. In these times it can be difficult to stand tall, to see hope. It feels easier to give in, to live in monotony as we watch metaphorical and physical flames around us and wait for the destruction that will come at the end of times signaling Yaum al Qiyama.
Giving in to this spiritual heartbreak, however, is not from the tradition of Islam. Anas ibn Malik reported that The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.” [Source: Musnad Aḥmad 12491]. Imagine that! The end of times has begun, the earth will be destroyed, and yet the Prophet (saws) is encouraging us to plant a seed that will never reach maturation? To attempt a task that will never reach fruition?
This is because the attitude of a Muslim is always about eternal optimism. About hope and a firm belief that great and positive things are coming and that you can be a driver of that. The spirit of Islam is an endlessly deep belief that all things are possible through the Power and Might of Allah (swt) and in order for these things to come you have to take the first step. The Muslim is in a perpetual state of activism, in a perpetual state of moving forward and developing and changing their condition while keeping full faith that Allah (swt) has the back of the believers.
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There are no omens, but the best of it is optimism.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is optimism?” The Prophet said, “A righteous word one of you hears.” In another narration, the Prophet said, “I am amazed by optimism, the good word, the kind word.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5422, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2223
The Prophet (saws) was an optimist. Yet, he faced trials of all kinds: slander, depression, death, poverty, ideological and physical assaults. Throughout all this he never stopped moving. He kept one foot in front of the other and continued to inspire those around him to do the same. With the Battle of Khandaq looming, exhaustion setting in from digging trenches day in and day out, the optimism of the Muslims was dwindling. Our Beloved Prophet (saws) lifted his shovel and struck the rock: once, twice, three times, and broke apart the obstacle with prophecies of victory and brighter times to come.
Carry that spirit of the Prophet (saws) with you, believe that great things will come. Don’t let the world around you dampen your spirit and soul, as that which belongs to Jannah is only ever in perpetual light.