In this life, if you inwardly
disparage something you can't have, its value will diminish for you. And if you
are contented with not getting something that you really wanted, then your
heart will find solace.
('Allah will give as of His
Bounty and [also] His Messenger' [from alms, etc. ]. We implore Allah [to
enrich us].) (Quran 9: 59)
I once read about a man who
fell out of a window. The ring he was wearing became stuck around a nail that
wasn't nailed down completely on the ledge, and consequently, his ring finger
was pulled from its root, leaving him with four fingers. The amazing thing is
not the incident itself, but the contentment shown by the man long after the
accident, contentment that is illustrated in the following words,
"It hardly ever crosses
my mind that I have four fingers on one hand or that I have lost a finger. It
only comes back when I remember the accident. Otherwise, my work is going well
and I am content with what happened?
"Allah has made His
decree, and as He pleases, He does."
I know a man who lost his
left arm as a result of a disease. He has lived for many years since: he got
married and has children. He drives his car without difficulty and performs the
various tasks of his work with ease. He is so at ease that it is as if Allah
created him with only one arm to begin with.
"Be content with what
Allah has portioned out for you and you will be the richest of people."
How quickly we adapt to our
circumstances! And it is amazing how we adapt our thinking when a change in
life-style is imposed upon us. Fifty years ago, a house consisted of a carpet
made from palm tree leaves, a jug for water, a small amount of coal, and a few other
paltry items. People managed as they do now, and a lack of resources or comfort
did not make life any less important than it is now. An Arab poet said:
"The soul desires more
if you encourage it, But it returns to contentment when it is disciplined?
A battle between two tribes
in the central Mosque of Kufa broke out when members of each tribe began to
hurl insults at the other tribe. A man who was in the Mosque stealthily made
his escape in order to seek out Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays, who was recognized by all as
a consummate peace-maker. The man found him in his house milking a goat.
Al-Ahnaf was dressed in a garment that was not even worth ten dirhams (i.e. it
was ragged and cheap). He was emaciated, haggard looking, and one of his legs was
longer than the other, which gave him a bad limp. When he was informed of the
news, no change became manifest on his countenance and he remained calm. This display
of fortitude stems from the fact that Al-Ahnaf had witnessed much strife and
hardship during his life, and consequently, he became used to such an
occurrence. He told the man, "By the will of Allah, everything will be all
right." He then began to take his breakfast as if nothing had happened.
His breakfast consisted of a morsel of dry bread, oil, salt, and a glass of
water. He mentioned Allah's name and ate. Then he praised Allah and said,
"Wheat from Iraq, oil from Syria, water from Dajlah (Tigris), and salt
from Merv. Verily, these are great blessings." He put on his clothes, took
his walking stick, and made his way to the people. When they saw him, their
gazes became fixed on him and they listened attentively to what he had to say.
He said words of peace and of compromise, words that pleased both sides, and he
requested them to depart and go their own ways. They all acquiesced and each of
them left without a trace of rancor remaining in his heart, and in this way the
ordeal ended peacefully. An Arab poet said:
"One can reach nobility
even if His clothes are tattered and his pocket is patched."
There are many lessons to be
learned from this narrative. One of them is that greatness is not in appearance
or clothes; other lessons are that having few material possessions is not an
indication of misery and that happiness does not reside in comfort and wealth.
(As for man, when his Lord
tries him by giving him Honor and gifts, then he says [puffed up]: 'My Lord has
honored me'. But when He tries him, by straitening his means of life, he says:
'My Lord has humiliated me!)
(Qur'an 89: l5 -16)
Another lesson we should
take away from the narrative is that a person's character and qualities are the
yardsticks of his worth, and not his clothes, shoes, or house. His worth is
weighed by his knowledge, generosity, manners, and deeds.
(Verily, the most honorable
of you with Allah is that [believer] who has At-Taqwa [who is pious].) (Qur'an
The connection between the
narrative and the subject matter of this book is that happiness is not found in
opulence, mansions, gold, or silver; instead, happiness is something that
manifests itself in the heart through faith, contentment, and knowledge.
(So let not their wealth or
their children amaze you.) (Qur'an 9: 55)
(Say: 'ln the Bounty of
Allah, and in His Mercy [i.e. Islam and the Qur'an], - therein let them
rejoice.' That is better than what [the wealth] they amass) (Qur'an 10: 58)
Train yourself to surrender
your will to whatever is decreed for you. What will you do if you do not
believe in the decree of Allah?
Whatever you plan other than
complete submission to Allah's Divine Decree will provide no benefit for you.
And so, you may ask, what is the solution to hardships?
The solution is to say
sincerely, "We are contented, pleased, and have surrendered our
(Wheresoever you may be,
death will overtake you even if you are in fortresses built up strong and high!)
(Qur'an 4: 78)
One of the most difficult
days of my life, and a most painful day it was, was when the doctor told me
that the arm of my brother Muhammad had to be amputated. The news fell upon my
ears like thunder. l was overcome (with emotion) and my soul sought comfort in
(No calamity befalls. but
with the Leave [i.e. decision and Qadar (Divine Preordainments)] of Allah, and
whosoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart [to the true faith]...)
(Qur'an 64: 11)
(But give glad tidings to
the patient ones. Who, when afflicted with calamity say: 'Truly! To Allah we
belong and truly, to Him we shall return.)
(Qur'an 2: l55-l56)
These verses instilled a
sense of peace and comfort in my soul.
There is no form of artifice
that can prevent from happening that which is decreed. Therefore we must keep
faith and submit our wills.
(Or have they plotted some plan?
Then We too are planning.)
(Qur'an 43: 79)
(And Allah has full power and
control over His Affairs…)
(Qur'an 12: 21)
(When He decrees a matter:
He only says to it: 'Be! --- and it is.)
(Qur'an 2: 117)
Al-Khansaa an-Nakh'aiyah was
told in one breath of the death of her four boys, who all died in the path of
Allah, at the battle of Al-Qaadisiyah. Her only reaction was to praise Allah
and thank Him for choosing what was best. Faith fortifies one's ability to
persevere through hardship. And through gratitude, one achieves happiness in this
life and in the Hereafter. lf you are loath to follow this advice, then ask
yourself this: is there a viable alternative'? lf that alternative is bitterness,
complaining, and a refusal to accept what has happened, then you will only
bring upon yourself pain in this life and in the Hereafter.
"Whoever is contented,
then for him is pleasure, and whoever (displays) anger, then for him is
The best remedy and course
of action after a calamity is to say with sincerity, "Verily, We belong to
Allah and indeed, to Him is our return." This means that we are all from
Allah's creation; that we belong to Him; that we are in His kingdom; and that
we shall return to Him. The beginning is with Him and the return is to Him. The
whole affair is in the Hands of Allah.
An Arab poet said:
"My own soul that
possesses things is itself departing, So why should I cry over a possession
when it leaves."
Allah, the Exalted, said:
(Everything will perish save
His Face.) (Quran 28: 88)
(Whatsoever is on it [the
earth] will perish.) (Quran 55: 26)
(Verily, you [O' Muhammad]
will die and verily they [too] will die.
(Quran 39: 30)
If you were shocked to learn
that your house burned down, that your son died, or that your life's savings
were lost, what would you do? From this moment, prepare yourself mentally.
Trying to escape or elude what is decreed is a fruitless endeavor that brings
no benefit. Be satisfied with what has been decreed, acknowledge your reality, and
earn your reward. You have no other option. Sure, you might say that there is
another option, but it is a base one and I warn you to stay clear from it: it
is to complain and grumble, and to lose your composure by flaring into rage and
anger. What can this attitude and - behavior possibly accomplish? You will earn
anger from your Lord, and people will revile you. Furthermore, what you have
lost will not return and your calamity will not be lightened for you:
(Let him stretch out a rope
to the ceiling anal let him strangle himself Then let him see whether his plan
will remove that whereat he rages!) (Quran 22: 15)