Hopelessness and Despair

Overall Meaning: Meaning of hopelessness and despair:
Ya’s linguistically: It is despair. It is the antonym of hope (raja’). It is the severance of wishful desire (amal). [1288] Jamharat al-Lughah, Ibn Durayd (1/238) with minor adaptation; Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (6/259-260); al-Qamus al-Muhit, al-Fayruzabadi (1/582).
Ya’s technically: It is no longer wishing for a thing. [1289] Mu`jam al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (436).
Qunut linguistically: It is having to hope for good. It is described as the worst form of hopelessness. Qunut is the verbal noun. [1290] See: Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (7/386).
Qunut technically: It is losing hope in mercy. [1291] al-Tawqif `ala Muhimmat al-Ta`arif, al-Manawi (p. 275).

Difference between hopelessness and disappointment (khaybah):
Disappointment may only be followed by an initial wishful desire, as it is the lack of its fulfillment. Despair may be before or after wishing for a thing. [1292] See: al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 436); al-Nukat wa al-`Uyun, al-Mawardi (1/422).

Dispraise of hopelessness and despair in the Qur’an and Sunnah:
❖ Allah, exalted, says, “Say, ‘My slaves who have harmed yourselves by your own excess, do not despair of Allah’s mercy. Allah forgives all sins: He is truly the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (al-Zumar: 53)
❖ He, exalted, also says, “Man never tires of praying for good. If touched with evil, he becomes desperate and hopeless.” (Fussilat: 49)
❖ Ibn `Abbas, Allah be pleased with them both, said, “A man said, ‘Messenger of Allah, what are the major sins?’ He said, ‘Associating partners with Allah, hopelessness in Allah’s spirit, and despairing of Allah’s mercy.’” [1293] Reported by al-Bazzar as is in Kashf al-Sitar (106). al-`Iraqi graded it as sound in Takhrij al-Ihya’ (p. 1352) and al-Albani in Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (2051).

Quotes of the Predecessors and scholars on dispraising hopelessness and despair:
❖ `Ali ibn Abi Talib, Allah be pleased with him, said, “The one who has true understanding of religion (faqih) is he who does not make the people despair of Allah’s mercy, does not give them concession to disobey Him, and does not make them feel secure from his punishment.” [1294] Reported by al-Darimi (305) and Abu Dawud in al-Zuhd (p. 115).
❖ Ibn Mas`ud, Allah be pleased with him, said, “Destruction lies in two: Despair and vanity” [1295] al-Zawajir, al-Haytami (1/121).
❖ Muhammad ibn Sirin said, “Being cast into destruction is through despairing in Allah’s mercy” [1296] Tafsir al-Baghawi (1/217).
❖ Sufyan ibn `Uyaynah said, “Whosoever goes around making the people or himself lose hope of Allah has done wrong.” [1297] Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim (7/2268) no. (12406).

Impacts and harms of hopelessness and despair: [1298] Tafsir al-Baghawi (1/217) (3/579); Tafsir Ibn `Atiyyah (4/338); Tafsir al-Qurtubi (5/160); Madarij al-Salikin, Ibn al-Qayyim (1/133); Salah al-Ummah fi `Uluww al-Himmah, Sayyid al-`Affani (5/673).
It is a characteristic of the disbelievers, “Only disbelievers despair of Allah’s mercy.” (Yusuf: 87) They are not from the traits of the believers. They entail a form of belying Allah and His Messenger. It entails poor etiquette with Allah, sanctified and exalted. Continuing to sin and commit acts of disobedience. A reason to be prohibited from Allah’s mercy. A cause of a corrupt heart.

Forms of hopelessness and despair:
1- Despair and hopelessness of Allah’s forgiveness, from changing to the better, and from there ever being relief from calamities. 
2- Despairing of Islam’s victory ever arriving, and that humiliation and weakness leaves the Muslims. 
3- Having no hope in the penance of the sinful, calling others to desist from enjoining good and forbidding evil.

Causes of hopelessness and despair: [1299] Tafsir al-Razi (17/322-323); Madarij al-Salikin, Ibn al-Qayyim (2/371); Tafsir Ibn `Adil (11/471); Fayd al-Qadir, al-Manawi (2/296); al-Himmah al-`Aliyah, Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Hamd (1/50).
1- Being ignorant of Allah, sanctified and exalted. 
2- Zealotry in having fear of Allah, sanctified and exalted. 
3- Accompanying the despairing, hopeless, and those who call to their pessimism. 
4- Relying on causes and means solely. 
5- Being extreme in religion, never taking legal concessions. 
6- Lack of patience, being hasty to see results. 
7- Having little ambition, submitting to reality, and having no desire to change it.

Means to desisting from hopelessness and despair: [1300] Sifat Allah `Azz wa Jall al-Waridah fi al-Kitab wa al-Sunnah, `Alawi al-Saqqaf (1/36); al-Himmah al-`Aliyah, Muhammad Muhammad (1/50).
1- Faith in Allah’s Name and Attributes. 
2- Having good expectations of Allah, and hoping for His mercy. 
3- Attaching one’s heart to Allah and having trust in Him. 
4- That the slave is in a state between hope and fear. 
5- Patience over calamities. 
6- Supplication with certitude in Allah’s answer.

Stories of hopelessness and despair:
The story of the prophet Ya`qub when he lost his son Yusuf, peace be upon them both, has many a great lesson in never giving up, having good expectations of Allah, patience over calamities, and hopefulness for His relief. Among the most profound moments of the story are:
❖ When the terrible news of his son’s purported passing - a most distressing news for a father to receive - he did not lose his sense, and rather received Allah’s decree by seeking aid in Him over it. He was forbearing, reposed, and humble to Allah in supplicating that the calamity be uplifted, “He cried, ‘No! Your souls have prompted you to do wrong! But it is best to be patient: from Allah alone I seek help to bear what you are saying.’” (Yusuf: 18)
❖ When the calamity was expanded, and he lost his second son, his patience increased and so did his hope in Allah’s relief. He said to his sons, “No! Your souls have prompted you to do wrong! But it is best to be patient: may Allah bring all of them back to me - He alone is the All Knowing, the All Wise.” (Yusuf: 83)
❖ When he was rebuked for remembering Yusuf after many years, and that it was now wishful thinking for him to return, the likelihood of him ever coming back being very low, he replied with immense trust in Allah. He was certain in Allah’s promise in alleviating tribulation from His patient slaves, and that He answers the call of the desperate, “He said, ‘I plead my grief and sorrow before Allah. I have knowledge from Allah that you do not have.’” (Yusuf: 86)
❖ He took the means to seek out Yusuf and his brother, saying to his sons, “My sons, go and seek news of Yusuf and his brother and do not despair of Allah’s mercy - only disbelievers despair of Allah’s mercy.” (Yusuf: 87)
❖ The end result for the patient, hopeful, constantly content and never wrathful, was that “the bearer of glad tidings came” from the beloved, giving the news of an imminent reunion, he “cast it” - Yusuf’ shirt - “onto his face, so his eyesight returned”, and he was once again able to see. Hope was restored, the trial was uplifted, and the great reward for patience was realised: “Did I not tell you that I have knowledge from Allah that you do not have?” (Yusuf: 96)

Statements and poetry about hopelessness and despair:
❖ Despair not nor lose hope, for the believer sins and repents, and Allah promised forgiveness for the pennant.
❖ The slave is not always trialled to be punished, rather to be chosen and prepared.
❖ Those before you who despaired had their years wasted, hearts corrupted, and lives made miserable; so beware.
❖ It used to be said, “If the donkey of al-Khattab accepts Islam, then `Umar will.” Then, he became what we know him as, al-Faruq.
❖ al-Fudayl ibn `Iyad turned from a thief and a brigand to an imam in religion and religiosity.
❖ The poet said,
“Many a calamity which man is distressed from:
On its way is its relief from Allah and His kingdom.
It takes its form, firmly taut are its rings pulled round,
Then relieved, when it was thought it never be unbound.” [1301] Tafsir Ibn Kathir (8/432-433).