[Friday Sermon] Do Not Be Weakened, Do Not Be Discouraged, Be Optimistic If You Are True Believers! By Imam Murtadha Gusau

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful


All praise is due to Allah, the All-Knowing Creator. He created humans and He is the most knowledgeable of them, and nothing of their affairs is hidden from Him. We praise Him for guiding and selecting us to be Muslims, and we are grateful to Him for what He has given and bestowed upon us. Allah selects from the Prophets whomever He wills, chooses from the angels whom He wills, favours from the Ummah whom He wills, and elevates individuals as He wills. No one can overturn His decree, no one can alter His judgment, and He is not questioned about what He does, exalted in His loftiness.


Dear brothers and sisters! Islam encourages optimism and a positive outlook on life. Muslims are encouraged to have faith in Allah’s mercy and blessings and to trust in His plan even in difficult times and situations. Muslims also believe in the power of prayer and supplication, giving them comfort and optimism.


Respected servants of Allah! In an interesting article, “Taking Ownership Of Your Choices”, Ismail Kamdar wrote:


“Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, “Allah Almighty says: I am as My servants expects of Me. If he thinks good of Me, he will have it. If he thinks evil of Me, he will have it.” [Sahih Ibn Hibban]


A believer must be optimistic. He must think good thoughts about Allah and hope for the best. A negative attitude towards life is a negative attitude towards the Creator. The believer views everything in his life as part of Allah’s Plan. He sees the lesson in every mistake, the growth in every trial, and the blessing in every success. The believer takes full responsibility for his own actions but attributes all success to the Creator, Allah. This is part of gratitude and living a life of worship (Ibadah).


That reminds me of another article, by Hala Badar al-Humaidhi in the Gulf Times entitled, “Lighten up, forgive yourself!” who wrote:


“Wisdom does not appear out of thin air, it can take time and experience and for that, one has to be patient. While being patient; one has to be optimistic as well because without positive vibes everything is rendered bleak. Islam preaches optimism and patience for this very reason. No person ever ascended to the status of a hero without first suffering from the past and then learning from it.”


So too, Arfah Sarfaraz Khan, President of the United Muslim Sisters of Latrobe Valley, said that:


“I believe optimism is the strength for survival, so I try to stay optimistic. And my faith, Islam sees optimism as a strength and pessimism as a sin.”


And an interesting article by Shaikh Abdullah Wahid entitled, “Optimism in Times of Adversity: How The Prophet Did It”, concludes with a prayer:


“We ask Allah to grant us the ability to maintain our optimism in our adversities. We ask Allah to grant us an understanding of Islam so that we may help others overcome their adversities. We ask Allah to relieve the adversity of the Ummah.”


Also Mona Mubarak, in “Hardships met with optimism” said:


“The Qur’an for Muslims is a healing power and a great source of comfort for those who read and understand its meaning and message. This is why Muslims who practise their faith sincerely, are eternal optimists. No matter what they are facing or encountering, there is a strong conviction that everything is temporary and that good and bad come in cycles. We believe with hardships comes ease so after all that how can one not have hope and comfort knowing Allah is the ultimate source of hope.”


Again, Iman Sakinah in “Positive thinking and optimism is the command of Allah” said:


“Positive thinking and optimism are most important as they relate to our prayers, supplications, and acts of worship. A prayer or supplication that is offered with certainty that Allah will answer is far more effective and beneficial than a weak prayer. For this reason, the Prophet told us to pray to Allah in the certain knowledge that He will answer. The believers should be optimistic and not pessimistic or cynical. There are no omens in Islam (or signs that predict the future), but believers are always expecting the best from Allah even if they do not know exactly how it will be.”


Dear brothers and sisters! Be conscious of Allah, the Exalted, and obey Him, for you are in a time in which truth is mixed with falsehood, standards have been changed, history has been falsified, the voices of the vile have risen, the voices of the virtuous have been silenced. And only what is correct is correct. Falsehood is temporary, while the truth lasts until the Hour. As Allah Almighty says:


“But We hurl the truth against falsehood, and it prevails over it, and behold, falsehood is vanishing. And woe to you for what you describe.” [Qur’an, 21: 18]


Indeed, Allah has distinguished the Muslim Ummah in dealing well with life’s adversities and their branches. They are grateful to Allah in moments of prosperity and have beautiful patience during hardships. If they achieve victory, they know that the victory is from Allah, and if they are defeated, they know that it’s from their own selves, as their Lord, the Most High, taught them, as He Almighty says:


“Why [is it that] when a [single] disaster struck you [on the day of Uhud], although you had struck [the enemy in the battle of Badr] with one twice as great, you said, “From where is this?” Say, “It is from yourselves [i.e., due to your sin].” Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.” [Qur’an, 3: 165]


Respected brothers and sisters! The Muslim Ummah in this era has been tested with the erupting informational volcano and the raging technological wave, which brought the distant closer and unveiled the hidden. The result of this flood of civilisation, which indulged the body and starved the soul, is that the entire world became like one mass, uniting the tyranny of Ad and Thamud, the disobedience of the people of Lot, the magic of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his people, the cheating of Madyan, the mockery of the people of Nuh (Noah), and the plotting of Yusuf’s brothers.


Our Ummah has become among those burned by the flames of this fire, engulfed by civilisation’s concerns, worries, hardships, and troubles, which added fuel to the fire, intensifying their pain, and multiplying their distress.


Their pains have multiplied, their hopes have been extinguished, their lands and homes have been destroyed, their wealth and possessions have been looted and confiscated, forced to swallow falsified truths, while they choke on injustice and bias, only to admit that their truth is falsehood, while the falsehood of others is the truth.


Then the veil was lifted from the falsehood of this civilisation and the miscarriage of justice within it, and the so-called “human rights” appeared with its gloomy face, with the Muslim Ummah having no share of it. The Muslims suffer under the screeching of instruments of war, which harvest their lives without any oversight or accountability, and without any conscious or human mercy.


The Muslim Ummah is a dignified community that does not resort to hired mourners, no matter how dire its circumstances, because tears are not borrowed, and crying does not resurrect the dead. The only option for the Muslim Ummah is to hold tightly to the rope of its Creator Allah, then to the rope of unity and uniting to support its cause, and to defend it with all its might and capability, to wipe away the tears of orphans, widows, and the injured who have been affected by wars of injustice, oppression and tyranny.


The Ummah of Islam has the foundation of its religion through which it can be the strongest of communities and the most just of communities, if it is united by its religion, and cooperates in righteousness and piety; if it achieves that, then its adversary will not be able to overwhelm it.


Yes, the Muslim Ummah may weaken, but wallahi it does not die; it may be defeated, but it does not surrender. For Allah Almighty says:


“Do not weaken and do not grieve, for you will be superior if you are [true] believers. If a wound should touch you – there has already struck the [opposing] people a wound similar to it. And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people so that Allah may make evident those who believe and [may] take to Himself from among you martyrs – and Allah does not like the wrongdoers – and that Allah may purify the believers [through trials] and destroy the disbelievers.” [Qur’an, 3: 139-141]


Indeed, the Muslim Ummah must seek, in every hardship, a glimpse of ease, and in every distress, a glimpse of relief. For the Prophet (Peace be upon him) commanded optimism and forbade pessimism. He said:


“I am fond of optimism,They asked, What is optimism? He replied, A good word.” [Bukhari and Muslim]


Hence, it is incumbent upon the Muslim Ummah to allow optimism to prevail in its life so that the calamities of wars and troubles do not destroy it, and so it is not overpowered by the cycles of distress; because everything on the earth or in the sky is under the dominion and control of Allah, the Most High. And because the Muslim Ummah is neither wrongdoing nor transgressing, and it has never been in its nature to oppress, betray, deny rights or shed blood. It is a community of justice and servitude to Allah, the Exalted; for whoever knows Allah, the Most High, He aids them and extends His support and success to them. And there is no room for despair and hopelessness for those placing trust in Allah Almighty and His promise, by embracing His Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet (Peace be upon him). Allah, the Most High, said:


“Whoever thinks that Allah will not help him in this world and the Hereafter, let him extend a rope to the sky, then sever it, and see if his plot can remove that which enrages him.” [Qur’an, 22: 15]


Dear brothers and sisters! Be conscious of Allah and know that we must all realise that the victory or defeat of Muslims does not necessarily result from the strength or weakness of their enemies. In reality, it depends on the Islamic Ummah itself. If the Ummah has tauhid (Divine Unity) of its Lord and unifies its word, it will undoubtedly be victorious. Allah Almighty said:


“O you who have believed, if you support Allah, He will support you and plant firmly your feet.” [Qur’an, 47: 7]


Being few or many is not a real criterion. Muslims won the Battle of Badr while they were a few in number and a humbled group, yet they were defeated in the Battle of Hunain when they were numerous.


We must understand that the truth is not diminished even if years of hardship pass over it, and its essence is not lost just because temporary ailments have afflicted its people. We must also be certain that falsehood is not called truth because a cycle of time gave them power and authority on earth. The crimes of Fir’aun (Pharaoh) did not turn into virtues just because he held the authority to command and prohibit, to kill sons, and to spare women. Our predecessors faced such trials and emerged victorious after rectifying themselves and, before that, rectifying what was between them and Allah. Allah Almighty said:


“But Allah is predominant over His affair, but most of the people do not know.” [Qur’an, 12: 21]


And know that it is one of Allah’s Sunnahs (Divine Laws) to let civilisation reap what it sows, to experience the taste of what is cut or broken during the harvest. No bird soars and elevates without falling just as it flew. Allah Almighty said:


“And those who disbelieve are ever struck, for what they have done, by calamity – or it will descend near their home until there comes the promise of Allah. Indeed, Allah does not fail in [His] promise.” [Qur’an, 13: 31]


Respected brothers and sisters! The word optimism is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:


“Hopefulness and confidence about the future or the success of something.”


Islam is a great advocate of optimism; it encourages its followers to have a positive outlook on life and, having made the necessary effort, to hope for the help of Allah and the best outcome. Hence, being optimistic is a part of Islam and a prerequisite to having a strong and unwavering faith (Iman).


In fact, all incidents in a believer’s life become a source of goodness owing to his or her optimistic attitude, as is evident from the words of the Prophet (Peace be upon him):


“How amazing is the affair of the believer! There is good for him in everything and that is for no one but the believer. If good times come his way, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” [Muslim]


A believer remains steadfast in difficult times, knowing that no hardship lasts forever. The believer also recognises that there never is a problem without a solution, as Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:


“For indeed, with hardship, there is ease. Indeed, with hardship, there is ease.” [Qur’an, 94:5-6]


Furthermore, no person is ever burdened beyond one’s capacity; Allah ensures that each of His servants has the strength to bear whatever befalls him or her. Allah the Most High said:


“And We charge no soul except [what is within] its capacity, and with Us is a record which speaks with truth; and they will not be wronged.” [Qur’an, 23:62]


Hence, a believer remains patient and confident about the future in difficult times instead of being overcome by the circumstances.


A believer is motivated enough never to end one’s own life or to wish for death when confronted with hardships. It is the believer’s optimistic view of this life, with all its opportunities of doing good and earning reward, that makes this life sacred. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:


“None of you should wish for death, for if he is a good doer, he may increase his good deeds; and if he is an evil doer, he may repent to Allah.” [Bukhari]


Even in the event of a major loss, such as the death of a beloved one, a believer says:


“Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun!” “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” [Qur’an, 2:156]


This statement is an acknowledgement of the fact that the deceased has not actually “passed away”; instead he or she has “passed on” to the next world, and likewise, we all shall one day leave this world behind. The fact that the departed soul has “returned to Allah” implies that there is no reason to wail, or to grieve beyond what is reasonable, because Allah is the Most Just and He loves His servants far beyond their comprehension.


My beloved people! Islam encourages us to ask Allah for His blessings in both the worlds. These blessings can take the form of worldly benefits and resources – particularly when one is financially insecure or struggling to make both ends meet. The Prophets, Dawud (David) and Sulaiman (Solomon), prayed to Allah for His blessings and were rewarded with splendid kingdoms to rule over. Prophet Ayyub (Job) remained hopeful of Allah’s blessings when he suffered from illness, poverty, and loneliness; he was granted sound health, much wealth, and a large family, as a reward for his confidence and trust in Allah.


The Qur’an also recounts the story of two farmers, one being extremely rich and ungrateful, and the other being poor but conscious of Allah. When the former mocked the latter due to the difference in their wealth, the poor farmer simply replied:


“It may be that my Lord will give me [something] better than your garden.” [Qur’an, 18:40]


This is the sort of attitude that pleases Allah and has been commended by Him. Then believers should be keen to supplicate to Allah with conviction and confidence.


Dear brothers and sisters! One often needs to take calculated risks in life, and someone who is not optimistic may not be able to gather enough courage. In the Battle of Badr, for instance, the Muslims were heavily outnumbered and ill-equipped for the encounter; yet, they exercised steadfastness and trust in Allah which resulted in a huge victory. Their situation was similar when they departed on the Tabuk expedition, which resulted in a fine moral victory for the Muslims when the enemy withdrew its forces without any fighting taking place.


The Treaty of Hudaibiyyah too was a risk for the Muslims due to its unfair clauses. Yet, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) risked signing this treaty due to his optimism for peace and establishing cordial relations with his opponents to spread the message of Islam. The signing of this treaty was hailed as a “manifest victory” (Qur’an, 48:1) by Allah then and there – it eventually led to the spread of Islam in the entire Arabian Peninsula (Hijaz).


The Qur’an narrates the story of Talut (Saul), an Israelite King who led an army against the mighty forces of Jalut (Goliath). Many of Talut’s soldiers lost courage prior to battle, saying:


“‘There is no power for us today against Jalut and his soldiers.’ But those who were certain that they would meet Allah said, ‘How many a small company has overcome a large company by permission of Allah. And Allah is with the patient.’” [Qur’an, 2:249]


It was thus the optimism of a small group of true believers, and their trust in Allah, which led to an unexpected victory for the Israelites and commenced a new era of prosperity for them.


Respected servants of Allah! Many a times, a person sins, and then errs again by assuming his or her sin to be unforgivable. Similarly, many of us become pessimistic by thinking that our sins are too great or too numerous to be forgiven. In fact, Allah has informed us that no sin is ever unforgivable if the sinner truly repents. Nor can sins ever be too great in magnitude for Him to forgive. This is because the mercy of Allah is vast and all-encompassing; He loves to forgive and erase sins, and to bestow compassion on His servants.


The extent of Allah’s mercy and forgiveness is indicated by the following words of the Prophet (Peace be upon him):


“Allah divided mercy into one hundred parts. He kept ninety-nine parts with Him and sent down one part to the earth, and because of that, its one single part, His creatures are merciful to each other, so that even the mare lifts up its hoofs away from its baby animal, lest it should trample on it.” [Bukhari]


Allah has informed us of His immense mercy frequently in the Qur’an. Allah Almighty said:


“Say, ‘O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins.’ Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Qur’an, 39:53]


In fact, giving up hope of Allah’s mercy or His help is a sign of disbelief, as indicated by the advice given by Prophet Yaqub (Jacob) to his sons:


“…Despair not of relief from Allah. Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” [Qur’an, 12:87]


Optimism with regard to deeds stems from Allah’s supreme mercy and benevolence, and it is all the more evident in the way our deeds are recorded. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) narrated that Allah has instructed the angels to record our deeds as follows:


“If My servant intends to do a bad deed, then do not write it unless he commits it. If he does it, then write it as it is (i.e. one bad deed). However, if he refrains from doing it for My sake, then write it as a good deed (in his account). If he intends to do a good deed, but does not do it, then write a good deed (in his account). And if he does it, then write it for him (in his account) as ten good deeds up to seven hundred times.” [Bukhari]


Optimism was a significant trait of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), which greatly helped in the fulfillment of his Prophetic mission. For many years, he preached Allah’s Word to people without much success, yet hopeful that the future would be brighter. When he brought his mission to Ta’if and was stoned and injured by its inhabitants in response, he expressed his hope that the next generation would embrace faith (Islam/Iman).


He migrated to Madinah believing that the Muhajirin and Ansar could be merged into a single community. In Madinah, he hoped that the hypocrites would see the light and truly embrace faith, or else cease to harm the community. He was proved right on each of these occasions. It was his trust in Allah, combined with his sincerity of intention and immense toil, which led to his becoming the greatest and most influential human being of all time.


Dear brothers and sisters! Those who don’t know him and haven’t studied his life, often think of Prophet Muhammad’s teachings to be full of negative or harsh messages. Many seem to be fixated on his Muslim sayings about the Day of Judgement and Hellfire, while conveniently ignoring his vocal messages of glad tidings and productive work.


After all, the mission of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), was described by Allah as follows:


“O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness (Shahid) and a bringer of good tidings (Bashir) and a warner (Nazir). And one who invites to Allah (Da’i), by His permission, and an illuminating lamp (Sirajan Munirah).” [Qur’an, 33: 45-46]


Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was a beacon of hope for those around him. His ever-beaming smile would exude optimism. His words, whether of warning or of good news, inspired positive action.


Dear brothers and sisters! We begin at the start of the day when you wake up. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) taught us the very first thing you should do when you wake up is think about Allah in the most positive light. That is to be grateful that Allah has given you life and yet another day to do something great with your life.


As soon as you wake up you make the Zikr:


“Alhamdulillahil lazi ahya na ba’da ma amatana wa ilaihin nushur.” “All praise is to Allah, Who has given me life after taking it from me, and to Him is the final return.”


This is what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) would say as the very first word in the morning. The very first remembrance, the very first thought should come into your mind when we wake up, a positive thought of gratitude to Allah. Gratitude will bring you happiness in life.


So many people go to sleep and never wake up again, so this is the most amazing blessing, to have yet another chance at life. Every day is a new opportunity, make the most of it. Don’t lose yourself in the grind of life.


Remember Allah and then after you pray your Salah, remember Allah again. It’s a triple dose of positivity first thing every day. Imagine what the positive thoughts and thoughts gratitude could do for you if you have them daily. That would be enough to give you an amazing start to the everyday of your life.


I have a morning ritual, and this is something that I’m constantly working at perfecting. The best part of it is the positive thoughts that I make sure to ponder over. Thinking about these thoughts triggers happy feelings, makes me truly grateful. Sometimes it’s just to thank Allah for my senses, or the relationships in my life, or even things that I possess. Whatever makes me count my blessings in life, that’s what I’ll think about.


Follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), do the morning Azkar (remembrances recorded in the Sunnah) because this will automatically set up your mind frame so that you have an optimistic, totally positive thought process and outlook.


Gratitude and all the things you recognise as blessings in your life can be destroyed in an instant by the 24-hour news cult. You see, all the negative information you put into your mind will ruin a positive frame of mind. Avoid the news at least in the mornings and last thing at night. It has the power to mess things up.


You can pretty much guarantee 90% of the time the news will be negative, so if that’s the first thoughts of your day, it starts you off on a negative mind frame. When you go out into the world, your thoughts about what happens in your life will be affected by that negative mind frame, most of the time while you are truly unaware.


People wake up every day without thinking about Allah, not having positive thoughts about all the blessings in their lives. Sadly that can be a normal thing for so many. Whenever they experience negative things in their day, it becomes highly stressful, often overwhelming and sometimes people actually think that life is falling apart because something is not going right or according to expectations.


If you fall into those types of mornings then the simple solution is Remember Allah, be grateful, think positive and create an optimistic mind frame. It takes effort but with this, you go into the world and when negative things happen, you are much more equipped to deal with it. You won’t feel as though your world is falling apart, you won’t be so problem focused. It will give you the ability to find a quick way out of that negative thought cycle. You will become more solution focused In Shaa Allah.


Don’t let those negative thought in, you can do this, I believe in you and more importantly Allah believes in you?


Lastly, I ask Allah Almighty to strengthen this Ummah and relieve their suffering. Indeed Allah is All Hearing, Responsive.


I conclude with this and send prayers of blessings and peace upon our beloved Prophet as our Lord commanded:


“Indeed, Allah confers blessing upon the Prophet, and His angels [ask Him to do so]. O you who have believed, ask [Allah to confer] blessing upon him and ask [Allah to grant him] peace.” [Qur’an, 33: 56]


Ya Allah, guide us with those whom You have guided, grant us well-being among those You have granted well-being, be an ally to us along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless what You have bestowed upon us, and save us from the evil of what You have decreed. For verily You decree and none can decree over You. He whom You support can never be humiliated. Glory is to You, our Lord, You are Blessed and Exalted.


Ya Allah, We ask You for all that is good, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.


Ya Allah, we seek refuge with You from all evil, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.


Ya Allah, we ask You for the good that Your servant and Prophet has asked You for, and we seek refuge with You from the evil from which Your servant and Prophet sought refuge.


Ya Allah, we ask You for Paradise and for that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed, and we seek refuge in You from Hell and from that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed. And we ask You to make every decree that You decree concerning us good.


Dear servants of Allah! Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.


Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favours – He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters. And, establish the prayer.


All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.



Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of: Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah Mosque; and Late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene Mosque, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected]; or +2348038289761.


This Friday sermon (Jumu’ah Khutbah) was prepared for delivery today Friday, Jumadal Ula 03, 1445 AH (November 17, 2023).

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