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  • Ayra Zuhrah

Book review: Don't be Sad by ‘Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni


O’Allah!


This phrase is sometimes used to seek help in troubling matters, such as exam week or life-threatening situations like war. Other times, it is to humbly thank Allah, the Most Generous, for all the blessings He has offered us in this life and the hereafter.


The book Don’t be Sad by ‘Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni also chose this phrase as the title of the first chapter which is befitting because before starting anything, we should always remember Allah and set our intentions right.


My mother actually recommended this book as a different change of pace from the books that I’m used to. While I didn’t initially know that it was a self-help book, the first thing that stood out to me was the title Don’t be Sad, a direct translation of the Arabic phrase لا تحزن (pronounced as La Tahzan) as the book was originally written in Arabic. I guess the reason why it stood out to me as an English speaker was because of how direct it was at telling its message and the lack of softening words that I was used to.


The book, although written in a flowy language with sentences such as, “Idleness is a slow and veiled form of suicide,” or, “Organise the hours of this day so that you make years out of minutes and months out of seconds,” mirrors its title where its messages are straightforward and easy to digest. In fact, for a book with over 400 pages, it was written in such a way that it doesn’t follow a strict structure and instead contains many two-to-three-page-long chapters before moving on to the next one. Within those chapters, not only does ‘Aaidh quote from the Holy Qur’an and Hadiths from the Prophet SAW, but he also includes examples from western and eastern philosophers to create a sense of familiarity towards the reader and show how wisdom can come from anywhere.


While the word ‘sad’ sounds simple and elementary, the book describes sadness in a way that makes it seem bigger than a fleeting feeling we experience. Sadness can be reflected in our actions when every day seems the same as the one before. It can also be seen when we don’t feel appreciated or don’t feel that we are enough.


The greatest takeaway is that although everything in our lives is already written in stone, we can still take control of our own lives when going through a slump and should not always rely on luck or fate to reach our desired outcomes. Try showing kindness to others when you feel under the weather, as the kindness shown towards others is also kindness to yourself.


Despite the interesting takes this book contains and the very realistic advice it offers, realistically speaking, it doesn’t create life-changing changes in one’s life as any change in one’s life is dictated by one’s own efforts to propagate these changes and strong faith in Allah and the path, He has laid out for us. Instead, the book’s lack of structure allows it to be treated like a jar of little notes and advice on how we can slowly realise the inner worries we could have in our lives.


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