Hope and Wishful Thinking

“The difference between it [hope] and merely wishful thinking is that mere wishful thinking involves laziness wherein the person neither exerts himself, nor strives [to achieve what he wishes for]. Hope, however, entails striving, exertion and beautiful reliance. The first is like the one who wishes that the earth would plant and sow it’s own seeds for him. The second is like the one who [actually] tills the soil, plants the seed and then hopes that crops will grow. This is why the Gnostics (‘arifun) are agreed that hope is not correct, except if accompanied by action.

Shah al-Kirmani said: ‘The sign of sound hope is good obedience. And hope is of three types; two are praiseworthy and one type is blameworthy and mere delusion. The first are the hope of a person who does an act of obedience for Allah, upon a light from Allah, hoping it’s reward; and like someone who commits a sin, then repent from it, hoping for Allah’s forgiveness, pardon, kindness, magnanimity, clemency and generosity. The third type is the person persists in sinning and transgressing limits, yet hopes for Allah’s mercy without doing any action toward it. This is delusion, mere wishful thinking and false hope.” – Ibn al-Qayyim [Madarij al-Salikeen]


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