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 49: 13)
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 wills."
(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 Allah's sayings:
(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 wrath."
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)