a Sufi, hope means waiting for that which he or she wholeheartedly desires to
come into existence, acceptance of good deeds, and forgiveness of sins. Hope or
expectation, both based on the fact that the individual is solely responsible
for his or her errors and sins and that all good is and originates from Godís
Mercy, is seen in this way: To avoid being caught in vices and faults and
ruined by self-conceit over good deeds and virtues, an initiate must advance
toward God through the constant seeking of forgiveness, prayer, avoidance of
evil, and pious acts.
life must be lived in constant awareness of Godís supervision, and one must
knock tirelessly on His door with supplication and contrition. If an initiate
successfully establishes such a balance between fear and hope, he or she will
neither despair (of being a perfect, beloved servant of God) nor become proud
of any personal virtues and thereby neglect his or her responsibilities.
expectation, possessed by those who are sincerely loyal to the Almighty, means
seeking Godís favor by avoiding sins. Such people undertake as many good
deeds as possible, and then turn to God in expectation of His mercy. Others,
however, have a false expectation. They spend their lives in sin, all the while
expecting Godís favor and reward, even though they perform none of the
obligatory duties. They seem to believe that God is obligated to admit everyone
to Paradise. Not only is this a false expectation, it is a mark of disrespect
for the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate, for such an expectation reflects
their (misplaced) hope that God would violate His very nature to protect them
from the consequences of their sins.
Sufis, hope or expectation are not the same as a wish. A wish is a desire that
may or may not be fulfilled, whereas hope or expectation is an initiateís
active quest, through all lawful means, for the desired destination. So that
God, in His Mercy, will help him or her, the initiate does everything possible,
with an almost Prophetic insight and consciousness, to cause all the doors of
Divine shelter to swing open. In other words, hope is the belief that like His
Attributes of Knowledge, Will, and Power, Godís Mercy also encompasses all
creation, and the expectation that he or she may be included in His special
mercy: My Mercy embraces all things (7:156); and in a hadith qudsi, a
Prophetic saying whose meaning was directly revealed by God, which reads: Godís
Mercy exceeds His Wrath. Indifference to such Mercy, from which even devils
hope to benefit in the Hereafter, and despairing of being enveloped by it,
which amounts to denying it, is an unforgivable sin.
means that an initiate seeks the ways to reach the Almighty in utmost reliance
on His being the All-Munificent and the All-Loving. M. Lutfi Effendi expresses
his hope as follows:
Be kind to me, O my Sovereign,
do not abandon favoring the needy and destitute!
Does it befit the All-Kind and Munificent to stop favoring His slaves?
who are honored by such Divine kindness can be considered as having found a
limitless treasureóespecially at a time when a person has lost whatever he or
she has, is exposed to misfortune, or feels in his or her conscience the pain
of being unable to do anything good or to be saved from evil. In short, when
there are no means left that can be resorted to, and all of the ways out end in
the Producer of all causes and means, hope illumines the way, like a heavenly
mount that carries one to peaks that normally are impossible to reach.
I cannot help but recall the hope expressed in the last words of Imam ShafiĎi
When my heart was hardened and my ways were blocked,
I made my hope a ladder to Your forgiveness;
My sins are too great in my sight, but
When I weigh them against Your forgiveness,
Your forgiveness is much greater than them.
is advisable for one to feel fear in order to abandon sin and turn to God. One
should cherish hope when falling into the pit of despair and the signs of death
appear. Fear removes any feeling of security against Godís punishment, and
hope saves the believer from being overwhelmed by despair. For this reason, one
may be fearful even when all obligatory duties have been performed perfectly;
one may be hopeful although he or she has been less than successful in doing
good deeds. This is what is stated in the following supplication of Yahya ibn
O God! The hope I feel in my heart when I indulge in sin is usually
greater than the hope I feel after performing the most perfect deeds. This is
because I am ďimpairedĒ with flaws and imperfections, and never sinless and
infallible. When I am stained with sin, I rely on no deeds or actions but Your
forgiveness. How should I not rely on Your forgiveness, seeing that You are the
to many, hope is synonymous with cherishing a good opinion of the Divine Being.
This is related in the following hadith qudsi: I treat My servant in the way
he thinks of Me treating him. A man once dreamed that Abu Sahl was enjoying
indescribable bounties and blessings, and asked him how he had attained such
degree of reward. Abu Sahl answered: By means of my good opinion of my Lord.
That is why we can say that if hope is a means for God's manifestation of His
infinitely profound Mercy, a believer should never relinquish it. Even if one
always performs good deeds and preserves his or her sincerity and altruism,
since these are the accomplishments of a finite being with limited capacities,
they have little importance when compared with Godís forgiveness.
and hope are two of the greatest gifts of God that He may
implant in a believerís heart. If there is a gift greater
than these, it is that one should preserve the balance between
fear and hope and then use them as two wings of light to reach