Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Why be Optimistic? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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As Muslims, we are ordered to be optimistic.

In the authentic Hadith [Prophetic traditions] on the authority of Anas, may God be pleased with him, the Prophet, may peace be upon him, said “There is no infection and there are no bad omens, but I like optimism… [Optimism is] a good word.”

Islam prohibits despair and there are many verses in the Quran that urge one to cling to God and trust in Him and rely on Him. The Quran says: “Those to whom the people said: Surely men have gathered against you, therefore fear them, but this increased their faith, and they said: Allah is sufficient for us and most excellent is the Protector (Surat al Imran: 173).

Prophet Jacob said “O my sons! Go and inquire respecting Yusuf and his brother, and despair not of Allah’s mercy; surely none despairs of Allah’s mercy except the unbelieving people,” Surat Yusuf: 87. In his biggest moments of fear and weakness, Prophet Mohammed, may peace be upon him, was optimistic and always had trust in God. God Almighty said, “If you will not aid him, Allah certainly aided him when those who disbelieved expelled him, he being the second of the two, when they were both in the cave, when he said to his companion: Grieve not, surely Allah is with us. So Allah sent down His tranquility upon him and strengthened him with hosts which you did not see, and made lowest the word of those who disbelieved; and the word of Allah, that is the highest; and Allah is Mighty, Wise,” (Surat al Tawba: 40).

Optimism is a characteristic of believers whereas despair is one of nonbelievers and hypocrites. A Muslim should not stand by and wait for good things to happen out of optimism; rather he should work hard to make them happen whilst truly relying on God, and should believe in his fate whether good or bad.

Therefore, I am of the view that the call for optimism made by the Saudi Alinma Bank, as part of its marketing campaign recently, was a positive one and was based on the principles of our religion and draws [optimism] from its pure fountain. However, these will remain mere words unless they are supported by financing programs to put this optimism into action, an endeavor the marketing campaign is yet to make.

Has the bank set up programs to finance craftsmen who are in dire need of finance as they are deprived of any kind of finance from local banks, causing the vocational sector’s contribution [to national economy] to be as low as 7.7 percent of the Saudi GDP in 2008, according to a recent study carried out by the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry? Does the bank have programs to finance housing units for people of medium-low income in cooperation with real-estate developers who are capable of ensuring housing units for a price that these social classes can afford, rather than by presenting financial programs similar to those in other banks? Or does the bank offer programs to finance industrious families and medium and small enterprises?

I was optimistic about what the bank said in its marketing campaign and I logged on to the bank’s website. I was very hopeful that I would find financing programs that would allow us to be optimistic about an Islamic bank achieving goals for which it was originally established. I searched the website for financing programs such as the ones mentioned earlier that would help solve our financial dilemma – a dilemma that thwarted development in Saudi Arabia and social development and eliminated elements of its of creativity, as there is no finance without financial solvency or tangible guarantees. Though I did not find any such programs, I am still optimistic that Alinma Bank will live up to our expectations and will be different to other banks by launching programs with developmental dimensions that will provide – even if partially – finance to needy people from different social backgrounds who are being neglected by other banks. But if the bank fails to do so, the message it wanted to spread in society will have negative consequences on the bank, especially as society was expecting a lot from it before it launched its marketing campaign, and these hopes were only further raised by the campaign.

I wish the bank all the success.