How to save ourselves enslavement to false hope.
We’re told to have hope in our darkest moments. To hold on to the strength embedded within us that we will get through. But what is the difference between having true hope and hope that can destroy us – false hope?
The notion of false hope is entwined in a distortion of reality. When we have false hope, we root ourselves in delusion, and when this hope is shattered we are led to bitterness and disappointment. Having false hope does not necessarily mean being overly wishful; because as we know our Lord is Al-Qadir (The All Capable) so nothing is beyond His ability and our Hope in Him is infinite. However, false hope can manifest when we begin to base our hope off of ignorance. When we base our decisions and behaviour solely on desires and ignore all else, we begin to have false hope. If we begin to believe that we can do whatever we please in this world without accountability and think we will inevitably be forgiven – this belief is a perpetuation of false hope.
“Indeed, those who reverted back [to disbelief] after guidance had become clear to them – Shaitan [Satan] enticed them and prolonged hope for them.”[Qur’an 47:25]
However, the type of hope that we should pursue is true hope. This is where we have hope and we have faith yet we acknowledge the context in which we do. We look to reality rather than delusion. When we choose to look at a situation head on, accepting all that it is, then we can have true hope. We are not faltered by unrealistic expectations that could possibly destroy us. Our hope is rooted in our faith, in our belief in the One that created us. We can hope for that which we want to an extent, but deep down we know what will reach us if it is good for us. So true hope consists not only of hope but of trust too, in Allah.
True hope, as compared to false hope, can often be identified in the type of behaviour it results in. For example, if we have true hope that we can improve our physical wellbeing, we may engage in helpful behaviours such as eating healthy foods, exercising etc. However, having false hope would include engaging in harmful behaviours such as overeating, drugs etc and having hope that our physical wellbeing will still improve. We can have true hope when alongside that we do what is right and what is beneficial, within our capacity.
“Verily, those who recite the Book of Allah, establish prayer, and spend from what We have provided for them, secretly and openly, can hope for an exchange that will never perish”[Qur’an 35:29]
So, if we know the difference between true hope and false hope. How can we engage in one and avoid the other?
1. Align hope with the values of Islam.
Islam teaches us to trust in Allah (SWT). We should try to do what we can to please Him and do all that is within our capacity. When we have hope, that hope should be in Him. We must trust in His plan in remembrance that He will never harm us- all that we face comes to us for goodness. When we have true hope, we remember that we place our hope in Him.
2. Hope should stem from reality, not a place of ignorance.
When we have hope, it is important to avoid getting sucked into delusion. We must base our hope on the reality of a situation, because having false hope can be detrimental for our wellbeing. Hope should allow us to have a positive view of life, however it should not lead us to feel helpless without what we hope for. True hope stems from realism,in order to have true hope, an attempt must be made to see the situation without rose-tinted glasses. See the reality, and then hope for the best.
False hope can trap us, it causes us to become enslaved to our desires. But we can release ourselves from this. Be realistic in what you hope for, do what you can for yourself in every situation and remember to place ultimate trust in the One above. Hold on to true hope to get you through.
Can you think of a situation where you can change false hope into true hope?