Creating Shifts: Being Optimistic Even When You Feel You Can’t

silhouette of flying birds on a twilight sky

By Iman.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines optimism as:

‘characterized by optimism; inclined to take a favourable view of circumstances, and to hope for the best; hopeful and confident about the future’.

This definition fits in perfectly with the Islamic concept of optimism and patience.

Our beautiful and majestic religion is one of hope and optimism. Allah is Al-Wadud, The Loving One, who has made our deen one of positivity and assurance. Prophet Muhammad, upon him is peace and blessings, was the very epitome of optimism during his blessed life.

Being optimistic does not mean that we won’t go through challenges in life or be sad. It is being able to see the rainbow at the end, to know that this period of sadness and challenge will not be forever and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Believe that Allah, Al Alim, The All-Knowing One knows what you are going through and will bring relief and deliverance. Know that Allah tests those that he loves the most. If you are going through struggle and strife whilst fulfilling the commands of Allah, then take comfort in knowing that you are loved by the Most Merciful and that what you are experiencing is temporary and will surely pass. Allah promises this.

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test (Quran, 29:2).

Why should we be optimistic?

We should be optimistic because it is an act of worship; it soothes and comforts us during hard times to realise that Allah sees and knows all that we are going through and will relieve us. We know that Allah, The All-Seeing, The All-knowing will surely reward us for being optimistic and persevering.

“Hoping for good is also an act of worship of Allah”

(Tirmidhi and Hakim).

We can cultivate optimism at different times by showing gratitude to Allah and thanking him for our blessings during times of contentment, by doing this we are showing indebtedness and acknowledgement to Allah. If we thank Allah, Allah will give us more.

If you are grateful, I will increase you (Quran, 14:7).

During more tough times it is normal to be sad and feel despondent at times. Being sad is ok during times of grief. Optimism does not mean exhibiting ‘toxic positivity’ and suppressing legitimate emotions – just being careful to not allow emotions to overwhelm us and stop us making dua or despairing of Allah ever taking us out of the hardship. If you find yourself despairing place your head down on the ground in prostration during salah and pour out all your worries to your Lord. Know that you are closest to Allah when in sujood. He will surely answer your prayer. Allah is all aware of what you are going through. He will take you out of this hardship. Our Lord answers all duas of His servants.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ “

Sahih al-Bukhari

Let us think of all the times we were in a predicament, when we were desperate and vulnerable. We couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel. When we thought it would never end, and then Allah delivered us from the trial. Believe that you will find ease because Allah has promised us so. Think of all the gifts we have now – being able to breathe, walk, and talk, health and provision.

An exercise to bring some relief and comfort is to imagine that the tribulation has ended – what would life look like? How wonderful life is and would be. What would you be doing? How would you feel? Picture what you would feel and do. Think of the comfort you would feel and receive. What would you have learned through this trial or difficulty? What skill or confidence or belief has emerged from this ?

Lift your hands up to the heavens and supplicate with all your heart, ask for all that you have just imagined, ask for all that you need and desire. Open your heart to Allah and know that your duaa never goes to waste nor does it fall upon deaf ears- rather He is Al- Mujeeb, The One who Answers and Responds, As-Samee’, The All-Hearing, who hears even the silent whispers of your heart.

About the author:

Iman was born and raised in London. She is a former teacher who taught English as a Foreign Language in Saudi Arabia for almost a decade. Iman loves reading, writing, travelling and learning about other cultures

Many revert women struggle on their own after embracing Islam.

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