The Book of Fear and Hope by The Proof of Islam Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali
THE BOOK OF FEAR AND HOPE
We are dealing at present with the essence of hope. Hope also comprises state, knowledge, and deed. Knowledge is the cause that produces the state and the state decrees the deed.
Hope is the comprehensive name of the three. Its exposition is that everything that confronts you is either what is abhorred or what is desired, and is divided into what is existent at the moment, what has existed in the past, and what is expected in the future.
When what has existed in the past occurs to your mind, it is called remembering and recollecting; if what occurs to your mind is existent at the moment, it is called finding and tasting, and perceiving. It is called finding because it is a state which you find for yourself.
And, if the existence of something in the future occurs in your mind and prevails over your heart, it is called expectation and anticipation. If the thing expected is abhorred, with pain in the heart resulting from it, it is called fear and distress.
If it is something desired, with pleasure and relief of the heart resulting from the expectation of it and the attachment of the heart to it and the occurrence of its existence to your mind, that relief is hope.
Hence hope is the relief of the heart, because of the expectation of what it esteems desirable. But the desirable thing which is anticipated must have a cause, so, if the expectation of it is on account of the obtaining of the majority of the means to it, the name of hope in relation to it is justified.
If that expectation is in spite of the defectiveness of the means to it and their disorder, the name of self-deceit and stupidity is more justified in relation to the expectation than that of hope. If the means are not specified either as existent or in mutual contradiction, the name of wishful thinking is more justified in relation to the expectation of it, because it is an expectation that is devoid of a cause.
And, in any circumstance, the name of hope and fear does not apply to what is determined. For one does not say: I hope for the rising of the sun at the time of sunrise and I fear its setting at the time of sunset, because that is determined. But one does say: I hope that the rain will fall and I fear lest it should be cut off.
And the Spiritual Directors [Literally: the masters of hearts] teach that this present world is the field of the next world, and the heart is as the earth, and faith is as the seed in it, and obedience is conducive to the turning over of the earth and the cleansing of it and the digging of channels and the leading of waters to them; and the heart which is infatuated with this present world and submerged in it is like the swampy ground in which the seed does not fructify.
And the Day of Resurrection is the day of reaping, and no one reaps except what he has sown, and only he who has sown the seed of faith grows crops. Rarely is faith profitable in a company with a vicious heart whose moral traits are tainted just as seed does not fructify in swampy soil.
And it is fitting that the hope of the creature for pardon should equal the hope of the owner of the crops. For everyone who seeks good ground and casts into it the seed of first quality which is neither moldy nor worm-eaten, who thereafter furnishes it with what is necessary to it, that is, the conducting of water to it at appropriate times; who then clears the ground of thorns and weeds and everything that obstructs the growth of the seed or makes it rot;
who then sits down and expects from the bounty of God the warding off of thunderbolts and blights, until his crop is mature and he arrives at his goal – his expectation is called hope.
And, if he scatters his seed in ground which is baked hard or swampy, which is so elevated that the water does not flow into it, and does not labour one whit in the preparation of the seed – if he then expects a harvest from it, his expectation is called stupidity and self-deceit, not hope. And, if he scatters seed in ground which is good but without water, and proceeds to wait for the waters of the rains where they neither prevail nor are cut off, his expectation is called wishful thinking and not hope.
Therefore the name of hope is legitimate only in relation to the expectation of a thing desired, all of whose means, which come within the choice of the creature, have been facilitated, and only what does not come within his choice remains, and this is the bounty of God in repelling birds and blights.
So when the creature sows the seed of faith and irrigates it with the water of obedience and cleanses the heart from the thorns of vicious moral traits and expects from the bounty of God his being established in that course until death and the virtue of the Seal that gives access to pardon, such expectation as his is hope in its essence, commendable in itself, and giving him an incentive for perseverance and endurance, in accordance with the means of faith, in perfecting the means of pardon until death.
If its preparation with the water of obedience is cut off from the seed of faith, or, if the heart is remiss, filled with moral delinquencies, and obstinately persists in seeking the pleasures of this world, and then expects pardon, its expectation is stupidity and self-deceit. He (Muhammad) said: The fool is he whose soul follows its passions and who desires of God the Garden.
And He (God) said: Then there came after them a succession who have wasted the prayer and followed their lusts; so they shall meet error. (Q. xix, 60) And He said:
And there came after them a succession who inherited the Book, who lay hold on the chance gain of this present world and say: It will be forgiven us. (Q. vii, 168).
And God condemned the owner of the garden, when he entered his garden and said:
I do not think that this will ever perish, nor do I think the Hour is coming; and, if I am indeed taken back to my Lord, I shall surely find a better sphere than this. (Q. xviii, 33-34)
Therefore the creature who strives after obedience and recoils from disobedience is right to expect from the bounty of God the completion of blessing (Q. v, 9) and blessing achieves completion only by the entering into the Garden.
As for the disobedient person, when he has repented and repaired all that was remiss through shortcoming, it is proper that he should hope to receive repentance. With regard to the reception of repentance, when he has come to abhor disobedience,
when sin grieves him and virtue delights him, when he blames himself and reproves it (evil) and desires repentance and yearns after it, it is proper that he should hope from God the advancement towards repentance because of his repugnance for disobedience; and his zeal for repentance is conducive to the cause which may give access to repentance.
And hope is only present after the consolidating of the means and for that reason He said: But those who have believed and emigrated and striven in the way of God have hope of the mercy of God. (Q. ii, 215).
His meaning is that these have a right to hope for the mercy of God. He did not intend by it that the existence of hope is exclusive to them, since others also may hope, but he has made exclusive to them the right to hope.
As for him who obstinately perseveres in what God abhors, and does not upbraid himself because of it, and does