“A strong believer is better and is loved by Allah than a weak believer and there is goodness in each”.….
In an article published in the BBC Homepage, researchers in Texas University found that positive behavior postpones aging stages. The researchers added that individuals who see life with hope; appearance of aging signs decreases in comparison to pessimistic people. Researchers said that the study results reported in Psychology and Aging Magazine pointed that psychological factors in addition to genes and physical health play together a role in determining how quickly one reaches old age.
The research team in Texas University conducted a study on 1558 of elderly to see if there is a relationship between positive feelings and the start of weakness stage. All volunteers in the study were in good health at the beginning of the study, seven years ago.
Researchers measured development of aging signs in the participants through measuring their weight loss, effort, and walk speed and grip strength. Researchers concluded that participants with positive attitude towards life were less exposed to weakness signs than others. They noted that there is a need to conduct more studies to highlight this relation.
Researchers predicted that positive feelings may affect health directly by changing the chemical balance in the body. Maybe, the reason for this relation was the optimistic orientation which helps in promoting human health through giving preponderance to the success of those individuals in life.
Herein, I would like to recall Almighty saying, “Say: “In the bounty of Allah. And in His Mercy,- in that let them rejoice”: that is better than the (wealth) they hoard.” [Yunus: Jonah: 58] This verse tells us that a believer rejoices Almighty’s clemency; this delight is a kind of positive behavior and a kind of optimism that provides the believer happiness and longevity and increases his body immunity against diseases.
Dr. Glen Austere, head of the research team, said, “I think there is a connection between brain and body where our ideas, behaviors and feelings affect in general body functions and health, through direct means e.g. immunity system functions, or through indirect ones e.g. social support networks.
Another study published in the same magazine pointed that the mindset may affect physical performance. In this study, researchers in North Carolina requested 153 individuals from different ages to have a test on memory after hearing positive and negative words.
Negative expressions included disturbance, dementia, senility, while positive expressions included accomplishments, activeness, and distinction. The results had revealed that memory performance in adult participants was weak after they were exposed to negative expressions.
On the hand, there was a big difference in memory performance between youth and adults who were exposed to positive expressions. Researchers said that their study indicates that if elderly were treated as active members in the society, they will be that. Thomas Heath, head of research team, said, “There may be social reasons that have strong effect on adult memory performance.”
Herein, we recall a wonderful Prophet’s saying full of positive teachings, the Prophet says. “A strong believer is better and is loved by Allah than a weak believer and there is goodness in each”. This instigates the believer to be strong not only in his body but also in his faith, culture, ethics and patience.
Patience is a great positive behavior, its importance was not known to scholars until recently, but Allah Almighty made the reward for patience entrance of paradise without measure, Consider with me this fantastic divine promise “…those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!” [Az-Zumar: The Troops: 10]
Also, the Quran tells us that a believer never grieves because sadness is a negative behavior and if we consider the meaning ‘grieve’ in the Quran, we will always find it preceded by the word ‘not’, what means that a believer does not mourn. Consider with me this Prophet’s words said in a very difficult situation in the cave, Almighty says, “and he said to his companion, “Have no fear, for Allah is with us” [At-Tawba: Repentance: 40] See how the Prophet taught Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) not to be sad, what a fantastic speech that cannot be except from a true prophet who knows he is the messenger of this universe Creator?
OPTIMISM FOR INCREASING LIFE
A team of researchers has found evidence that proves the pros of optimism on an individual’s life. This team of psychologists concluded that individuals with optimistic attitude towards getting old live more than their peers who surrender to anxiety.
Now, consider with me this verse, Almighty says, “So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in Faith.” [Al’Imran: The House of ‘Imran: 139] It is a verse that urges a believer to behave positively and not grieve or weaken. Scholars say that feeling weakness deteriorates man’s immune system, besides, one’s feeling of permanent grief causes him varieties of psychological unrest.
A study done by a team from Yale University, Connecticut State, USA, reported that individuals who are utterly scared of aging, old age signs appear on them faster. Researchers of this study which was published in Personality and Social Psychology Magazine added that those who welcome aging live even more than those who try to quit smoking or practice aerobics.
A believer does not fear aging, but he loves meeting with Allah in the Hereafter, therefore Almighty says, ” For those whose hopes are in the meeting with Allah (in the Hereafter, let them strive); for the term (appointed) by Allah is surely coming and He hears and knows (all things).” [Al-‘Ankbut: The Spider:5]. A believer is happy at death, and does not fear or grieve, Almighty says, “In the case of those who say, “Our Lord is Allah., and, further, stand straight and steadfast, the angels descend on them (from time to time): “Fear ye not!” (they suggest), “Nor grieve! but receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss), the which ye were promised!” [Fussilat: Signs: 30]. Consider how many positive messages are included in these verses for a believer to make his life glad and happy and not to grieve or fear. Thus, these verses cure anxiety where psychology has failed to do so!
It was clear to American researchers that people who are not scared of old age, live seven and half years more than those who spend their time regretting past days. The team led by Dr. Rebecca Levy thinks dealing negatively with the aging process has a direct effect on clinging to life.
Scholars said that the pros of acceptance of aging law are greater than the processes with physiological nature e.g. control of high blood pressure and cholesterol which is believed to elongate life for the highest of four extra years.
This means that the psychological factor is more important than the physiological, in other words, positive teachings that a human receives and practices have bigger effect on one’s happiness and longevity more than the effect of medicine and medical care! So, the Quran is full of positive teachings which this study cannot handle all, but for example, let’s consider Almighty saying, “Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Az-Zumar: The Troops: 53] A verse rich of mercy, full of optimism and not despair, and this reminds me of the story of Jacob when he lost his two sons: Josef and his brother, he had not felt despair of Allah’s mercy, see how he addressed his sons: “O my sons! go ye and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s Soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah’s Soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.” [Yusif: Josef: 87] See how the Quran considered despair as no faith!! Why? To send us a strong message that despair of Allah’s Mercy is forbidden in Islam, and this is what earlier Muslims had practiced gave them the force that took them to all corners of the universe.
As, the effect of positive dealing with aging is more obvious than other factors such as keeping light weight, quitting smoking and practicing aerobics- factors believed to add at the highest three years to one’s life.
Researchers based their conclusions on a study conducted on 660 volunteers, age range was from fifty years plus, death rates of those studied were compared to their answers to a questionnaire given before 32 years. Respondents were asked their consent or disagreement to expressions such as “As you become old, you become useless”. Dr. Levy’s team says that true clinging to life explains partially the relation between positive thinking and longevity.
However, those researchers indicate that this is not the only cause for that; they think stress plays another role in affecting heart. A previous study had showed that hearts and arteries of pessimists of getting old do not respond efficiently to stress and pressure.
The researchers say that it is probable that one’s saturation of society negative attitudes towards aging may have an effect on/in him without his knowledge of that. Researchers attest that their study bear two messages, the first is depressing and it says that negative attitude towards oneself decreases living probabilities, and the other is encouraging, it includes that positive attitude may assist in elongating one’s life. Simultaneously, researchers brought attention to the Western societies’ non-positive attitude towards elderly which may exacerbate problems.
We can conclude from these studies that:
1. Optimism increases body defense against diseases and gives man happiness in life, and this is a wonderful prophetical attitude, for Aysha (may Allah be pleased with her) when she was asked about the Prophet’s ethics, she said that his ethics was the Quran, he had followed the Quran completely and thus, he got true happiness. We must follow him in our behavior so that the Quran will be our ethics.
As an example, there is a marvelous divine formula for dealing with difficulties and daily problems, where psychology fails to give satisfaction of reality, the Quran does, Almighty says, “But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you” [Al-Baqara: The Cow:216]. If we carry out this verse, all our problems, worries and anxiety and fear they cause will vanish, because a believer is satisfied with Allah’s judgment even if it appears to be evil and bad, nevertheless, good may follow later, then, the believer waits for this good, thus, he practices the required optimism and refrains from sadness. This is an effective cure to anxiety.
2. Positive thinking is more important and effective in curing diseases than medical treatment! Physicians failed to give hope or happiness to a dying man, but the Quran teachings give this happiness whatever circumstances are. Recall with me when the Prophet was dying, what did he do? Did he mourn? Was he desperate? Was he anxious, depressed or scared? Never.
His daughter Fatima said, “O’ Calamity” and he answered, “No calamity on your father hereafter”!! See this optimism, the Prophet at the dying moment was happy and cheerful to meet with Allah, what about us, do we copy this Merciful Messenger?
3. Dealing with reality with self satisfaction and contentment make man happier and the man who complains and not be satisfied with his share of livelihood is more miserable and his immune system is weak. This explains why thinking of diseases, fear, grief and negative thinking, all increase the probability of having chronic diseases! The Prophet was the most optimistic of Allah’s Mercy, he was urging us to be optimistic and satisfied and he was saying, “I agree that Allah be my God, Islam be my religion and the Quran be my Imam (guide)” whoever says that deserves that Allah makes him satisfied on the Day of Resurrection!
All of the above can be summarized in one great verse which addressed our Prophet, to teach us how to behave positively in our lives, Almighty says, “And do thou be patient, for thy patience is but from Allah. nor grieve over them: and distress not thyself because of their plots.” [An-Nahl: The Bee: 127]. Patience, non-mourning, non-complaining and non-resentment, all this has a price but what is it? The answer is in the following verse: “For Allah is with those who restrain themselves, and those who do good”. [An-Nahl: The Bee: 128] Is there any best than always having Allah on your side?!!
By: Abduldaem Al-Kaheel