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Seeing Good In All That Happens

O"Seeing the good in all things" is actually a fairly common phrase. In the course of their daily lives, people will frequently say, "There must be some good in this" or "It is a blessing from God."

However, people generally mouth these phrases without understanding their true significance, or merely to follow meaningless societal conventions. Most fail to recognise the ultimate meaning of these phrases, or how its understanding applies to our daily lives. Essentially, most are unaware that, more than just being words to utter, these phrases imply important insight into the inner-workings of every-day events.

The fact is, however, seeing the good in all events, whatever the circumstance, whether favourable or unfavourable, is an important moral quality resulting from sincere faith in God, and the approach to life that is brought about by such a faith. Ultimately, a grasp of this truth is important in guiding one to not only the blessings of this world, but in the hereafter, where one will find never-ending peace and bliss.

Not feeling disappointment for any thing that happens throughout the course of this life is a mark of a true understanding of the meaning of faith. Failure to see good in things that happen, being fraught with constant fear, anxiety, despair, sorrow, sentimentalism, on the other hand, indicate a lack of pure faith. This confusion must be removed promptly, and the joy emanating from unswerving faith must be accepted as a necessary part of life. A believer knows that events that might at first sight appear unfavourable, including those which he caused to happen by committing an error, will ultimately turn out beneficially for him. When he uses the words "adversity", "misfortune" or "if only...", it is only to draw a lesson from an experience. In other words, the faithful knows that there is good in whatever happens; he learns from his mistakes and seeks to correct them. However, if he were to fall into the same error again, he keeps in mind that it is all for a specific purpose, and simply resolves to "conduct himself more correctly the next time." Moreover, even if the same thing were to occur dozens of times over, a Muslim must keep in mind that ultimately it is for some good; such is the immutable law of God. This fact is also elaborately stated by the Prophet (saas) who said:

Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his, for this is not the case with others expect the believer. If he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he finds himself in difficulty and submits (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it. (Muslim)

Only in the recognition that God creates everything for a certain good and a specific purpose can one's heart find peace. To have a grasp of this fact is a great blessing for a believer. A person who is distant from Islam suffers from continuous torment; he lives in constant apprehension, turning out to be an ever-present source of anxiety. A believer, on the other hand, recognizes and reveres the fact that there is a divine purpose behind God's creation.

Hence, being indecisive; that is, suffering from the continuous apprehension of constantly expecting both good and evil, may become an embarrassment for a believer in the hereafter. Pleading ignorance of such a plain and obvious truth, because of carelessness or laziness, may only cause torment both in this world and beyond. We must keep in mind that destiny predetermined by God is entirely flawless. For a person willing to recognise the good in all things, he finds only blessings and a divine purpose, hidden within an entire complex of inter-connected events. Though he may have many other things to concern him throughout his day, a person of strong faith, who is guided by his wisdom and conscience, never allows himself to be tempted by Satan's wiles. No matter how, when, or where an event takes place, he never forgets that there is always some good behind it. Although he may not be able to recognise this good immediately, what really matters is for him to be aware that there is an ultimate purpose.

Due to their hasty nature, people are sometimes not patient enough to see the good in what befall them. As a consequence, they may become aggressive and obstinately pursue something even though it be entirely against their better interest. In the Qur'an this fact is revealed as:

Man prays for evil just as he prays for good. Man is prone to be impetuous. (Surat al-Isra': 11)

Nevertheless, a person must strive to see the good and divine purpose in every event brought before him by God, rather than insisting on being benefited by what to his mind is favourable, and being impatient to acquire them. For instance, though a person may strive to attain improved financial status, this change may never come about. A person who deems such a condition to be adverse would be incorrect. Of course, one may pray to God for wealth to be used for His cause. However, he must know that if this wish is not granted, it is for a reason. It might be that an increase in wealth acquired before the attainment of spiritual maturity would render such a person vulnerable to Satan's tricks. Many other similar reasons towards a divine purpose, many of which may not be immediately recognisable, or will become apparent only in the hereafter, may underlie certain events. A businessman, for instance, may miss a meeting he regarded as an important step in his career. But, if he had gone to the meeting, he might have been involved in a traffic accident on the way, or, if the meeting were in another city, his plane may have crashed.

No one is immune to such occurrences. It is not uncommon to eventually see the good in something that had at first seemed adverse. Nevertheless, one would need to keep in mind that he might not always be able to grasp the purpose of what had appeared to be an adverse situation. Because, as we have said earlier, we may not always have the benefit of witnessing its positive outcome. It may well be that God will only reveal its divine purpose in the Hereafter. For this reason, what must be done by a person who submits himself to his destiny, and puts his trust in God, is to accept every occurrence, no matter what, with a willingness to acknowledge that there must be some good in it and be pleased with it.

It must also be mentioned that "recognizing the good in all" is by no means ignoring the reality of these events, pretending that they hadn't happened, or being overly idealistic. On the contrary, a believer is held responsible for taking all appropriate actions and resorting to all methods necessary to resolve a problem. A believer's resignation must not be confused with the approach of others who, due to a flawed understanding of the matter, remain indifferent to whatever happens around them, and are unrealistically optimistic. Such people are usually described as "wearing rose-colored glasses." They fail to make rational decisions, or put them into action, since they are oblivious and childishly optimistic, instead of seeking solutions to problems. For instance, if such a person is diagnosed with a serious illness, his situation may, in time, deteriorate to the point of becoming fatal as he would neglect to receive due treatment. In another instance, a person who finds it unnecessary to secure his belongings, even though he had already once been burglarised, is liable to become again the victim of further similar incidents.

Undoubtedly, such approaches are far from the meaning of "putting one's trust in God" and "seeing good in all". Such attitudes are, essentially, careless. On the contrary, believers must do their utmost to address the situation practically. Basically, the manner in which they conduct themselves is a form of "worship". Because, when they are involved in such situations, their minds are occupied with remembrance of the fact that it is God Who carries an event to a conclusion.

In the Qur'an, God relates stories of the prophets and true believers as examples of those conscious of this fact, which believers must seek to emulate. The manner in which the Prophet Hud (as) responded to his people, revealing his complete submission to God, and his unwavering trust in Him, in spite of their vicious threats, is one such example.


They said, "Hud, you have not brought us any clear sign. We will not forsake our gods for what you say. We do not believe you. We only say that one of our gods has driven you mad." He said, "I call on God to be my witness, and you also bear witness, that I am free of all the gods you have apart from Him. So scheme against me, all of you together, and then grant me no respite. I have put my trust in God, my Lord and your Lord. There is no creature He does not hold by the forelock. My Lord is on a Straight Path. If you turn your backs, I have transmitted to you what I was sent to you with, and my Lord will replace you with another people, and you will not harm Him at all. My Lord is the Preserver of everything.' (Surah Hud: 53-57)
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