Az-Zarkalee’s Al-‘Aylaam contains the biographies of eastern and western politicians, scholars, writers, and doctors. The common factor between them all -- and why they were written about in the first place -- is of course that each one of them had a profound effect upon others. After reading their biographies I began to appreciate the promise and way of Allah: whoever strives for something in this world will get his fair share of it by becoming famous, popular, powerful, or rich, depending in each case on what one’s goals are. And whoever strives for the Hereafter will find the results both here and there, by benefiting others, and by receiving rewards from Allah.
(To each --- these as well as those ---We bestow from the Bounties of your Lord. And the Bounties of your Lord cur: never he forbidden.) (Qur’an 17: 20)
As I read Az-Zarkalee’s book, 1 noticed that the non-Muslim figures that contributed to mankind --- especially those that strove in the arts --- gave happiness to others instead of to themselves. Some of them led miserable personal lives, others were always unsatisfied, while some even went to the extreme of committing suicide.
I asked myself this: what is the benefit of pleasing others while being miserable oneself?
"You gave happiness to many and you are miserable, you made people laugh and you yourself cry!"
I found that Allah gave to each one of them according to what he wanted, in realization of His promise. Some of them won the Nobel Prize, because that is what they wanted and strived for; others became famous because that was their higher goal; others became wealthy because of their love of money and comfort. However, there were also those pious slaves of Allah who achieved their reward in this life and the reward of the Hereafter: people who strived to seek the favor and pleasure of Allah.
A simple shepherd in the Arabian Peninsula was happier 0n the inside than was Tolstoy. Why? The first led a simple unaffected life, knowing where he was going in this life and in the Hereafter. The second never satisfied his desires fully and had no idea of where he was going.
Muslims have what is the greatest remedy that mankind has ever known: it is the belief in what has been divinely preordained, a belief that I have discussed often throughout this book, and for a purpose. I know that I, and others who are similar to me, believe in the Islamic concept of preordainment when things go according to our liking, but we tend to complain when things go against our inclinations. This is why an article and condition of our faith is: "To believe in preordainment, the good of it, and the bad of it --- when it is sweet and when it is bitter.”