Written in Urdu by Sir Syed: ‘Duniya Ba Ummeed Qayam Hai’
No matter how good or bad, the present situation is insufficient to engage one’s heart. Present sorrow, happiness, love, and friendship are inadequate sentiments to permanently engage the powers of one’s heart. Therefore, the great creator, who created man with his own hands, has given him more powers because the heart has no shortage of tasks. The provisions and materials always remain present for the engagement of the heart. Through those powers, past events return to the heart, and the idea of future events comes into mind before they occur.
The strange power that we remember always keeps looking into the past. When we do not have anything to do in the present, that power recalls past events and keeps our hearts engaged with their mention and idea. The example resembles the ruminating animals, who eat fodder up to the fill, then sit in a corner, bring back the fodder from the belly, and keep chewing the same thing.
Similarly, as memory recalls past events in our free time for the engagement of our hearts, another power keeps our hearts engaged in future events, the names of which are Hope and Fear.
We reach the future with the help of these two types of ideas, and the events that may occur in the distant future are hidden behind a veil of darkness and resting in deep holes, giving us the impression that they are happening right now.
Before their occurrence, we taste their sorrow or happiness. Even now, we can taste that time when there will be neither the earth nor the sky. And we imagine the voice of, “Who is the king today?” echoing from all four sides. Then who can say that a man’s life is limited to the present time?
I intend that in this write-up, I will state something which is known as “Hope.” Our pleasures are so few and short-lived; if that power were not present in our soul with the help of which man tastes those heart-pleasing events before their occurrence, the happening of which is possible at some time, our life would have been terrible and tasteless. A poet says, “We should hope that we will receive all good things because there is nothing which cannot be hoped for, and there is nothing which God cannot give us.”
In the famous Persian adage, “Desire is not a defect,” a jester said that he did not worry about anything in the world because Hope always kept him happy. His friends asked him if he did not have to worry about death. He answered that it was not strange that he might not die because God was authoritative over it and that he would create a man who would never die, and he hoped he was that man. It was a jocular saying. But the truth is that the hope of life erases the worry of death within us. Had we no hope of life, no other creature would have had a worse condition than us. Life is like a lifeless thing that has no movement in it. Hope creates movement in it. Because of Hope, a man has seriousness, patience, and the habit of cheerfulness. Therefore, Hope is the soul of one’s life; it always keeps the soul happy and simplifies all the difficulties. It inspires us to work hard and prepares us for herculean tasks.
When Caesar distributed all his wealth among his friends, someone asked him what he had kept for himself. He said that he had kept Hope for himself. His great nature did not value that which he possessed but aspired to improve things.
Men of yore would consider it wrong to live a life without Hope. It is said that God sent a box for man. All miseries, misfortunes, and diseases that occurred to a man came out of the box when it was opened. Hope was also in the box; it could not come out but stuck to the lid and remained inside the box so that it could console man at the time of trouble. Therefore, in a life where there is Hope, there cannot be any higher happiness, chiefly because when Hope is an entity based on a good foundation and a thing that can provide happiness in real terms. Its truth can be better understood by those who think that even a man with maximum happiness does not have sufficient happiness.
I also understand that there are many hopes for excellent things in the religious life and for those things that can provide us with complete happiness. Hopes for religious things are more potent than hopes for worldly things because, in addition to wisdom, they have the strength of beliefs. The mere thought of such Hope keeps us completely happy. Undoubtedly, with the effect of Hope, our lives become extremely sweet. If we do not remain happy with the current situation, we become patient about it. But religious hopes are even more beneficial than worldly hopes. In a troublesome situation, they not only take care of our hearts but also keep us happy with the thought that perhaps this trouble may become the source of Hope’s realisation. It is as if a religious hope can resurrect the dead and bring extreme happiness to his heart. A man remains happy in his troubles, and his soul jumps to grab that lousy thing which remains permanently in his eyes, and finally, the happiness of that Hope leaves this mortal body so that it will reunite on the day of judgement.
In his troubled and difficult time, Hazarat Dawood (AS) had sung the following hymn in praise of God:
I always keep God before me,
He is on my right side; therefore, I am not afraid,
My heart is happy; my body will also remain the same.
That my soul shall not be thrown into hell,
You shall not see your possessions destroyed.
Only you can teach me the ways of life,
In your presence is the perfection of happiness,
Happiness is always on your right side.
[from Anwar Sidiqi’s Intikhab Mazameen Sir Syed (pg 108-111)]