Sign up for the ING newsletter to receive news and announcements.
By Heena Haiderali, Programs Associate.
This speech was delivered at the 3rd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Joseph in San Jose on November 19th, 2017. You can watch a video of Heena’s speech here.
This year has been challenging on many levels, from hurricanes in the east and fires in our own North Bay to mass shootings and violence across the country. At the darkest times, believers turn to scripture for hope and solace. The theme of hope that things will improve following a period of difficulty is mentioned throughout the Qur’an, most famous among them in the chapter titled “Solace” which begins with mention of God’s favors and concludes with the assurance repeated twice: “Verily, with every difficulty, there is relief: Verily with every difficulty there is relief.”
The chapter continues: “So when you are free (from your task), continue to work hard, and turn back to your Lord.” (94:5-7). This injunction to continue working and not to lose faith that your labor is in vain goes hand in hand with the importance of not losing hope that things will change. The chapter concludes with the reminder to always turn back to God for comfort, support, and strength.
A prophetic saying echoes the injunction to turn to God with hope, stating: “Recognize and acknowledge God in times of ease and prosperity, and He will remember you in times of adversity. And know that what did not afflict you was not going to befall you, and what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.”
This injunction not to lose faith in God is echoed in Quranic verses including: “Do not lose heart nor fall into despair! You shall succeed if you are believers.” (3:139) which emphasizes the importance of faith and the true definition of success, namely the ability to rise above any challenge and to maintain hope and faith. In chapter 65, the Qur’an reassures us that “whosoever fears God…He will make a way out (from every difficulty) and provide him from (sources) he never could imagine.” The sources we cannot even imagine include all of us, standing together to pray and work for a better world that is filled with love, mercy, and peace.