True Contentment, Peace And Honour In This Life

Allâh has stated:

“Whoever does righteous deeds – whether male or female – while a believer, We shall certainly give them a good life and We will certainly grant them their rewards in accordance to the best of what they used to perform.” [An-Nahl 16:97]

In his commentary to this verse, Ibn Kathîr notes that this means that whoever performs the righteous deeds, which are acts of obedience in accord with the Qur’ân and Sunnah, will be given a good life in this world and in the Hereafter he will receive rewards according to the best of what he used to perform. He stated that “the good life” implies all forms of contentment and tranquillity. Such has been reported from ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbâs, Ikrimah and Wahb bin Munnabih. It is also recorded from Ibn ‘Abbâs that it means happiness. Ad-Dhuhâk states that it refers to lawful provisions and worship in this life. [1]

As noted previously, every Muslim must realise that true success and happiness do not lie in the possessing of wealth, power, status, fine cars and houses and all of the allurements of this world. In fact, those worldly possessions are not even the things that actually make a person rich in a true sense. The Prophet [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam] explained this fact most succinctly when he stated:

“True richness is not via much property and belongings but true richness is in self-contentment.” [Al-Bukhârî and Muslim]

Indeed, there is no real benefit to any worldly possessions if one’s soul is uneasy, depressed, extremely doubtful about its own future, full of anxiety and always desiring for more when it can never be content with what it has. In general though, this is what happens to human beings; they are always filled with anxiety, concerned about losing what they have while always yearning for more. The Messenger of Allah [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam] pointed out this general fact of mankind when he said:

“If the human had one valley of gold, he would love to have two valleys worth.” [Al-Bukhârî]

In fact, it is due to this misconception as to wherein lies the true happiness of this life that many are of the false impression that it is impossible to “enjoy” or be happy in both the life of this world as well as that of the Hereafter. [2] In reality, though, by concentrating one’s intention on the Hereafter, the matters of this world become much “easier” and less tense. Allah thereby increases one’s happiness in this world. In a very important hadîth for this day and age, the Messenger of Allah [sall-Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam] said:

“If a person’s main concern is the Hereafter, Allâh puts his richness in his heart, makes his affairs together for him and gives to him the world while it is not desirable to him. And if a person’s main concern is this world, Allâh will put his poverty in front of his eyes, make his affairs disunited and will not give him of this world save what has been decreed for him.” [3]

The real rest and the real happiness can only come to those whom Allâh blesses with such a blessing and which is received when one purifies one’s soul and worships Allâh alone with a true and complete form of worship. When a person accomplishes these matters, he becomes overcome with a joy that never leaves him and that is difficult to put into words. Ibn Taymiyyah attempted to express the joy that he felt from his faith in Allâh and the deeds he performed. He once said: “In this world there is a Paradise that whoever does not enter it will not enter the Paradise in the Hereafter.” He also said: “What can my enemies do to me? Certainly, my paradise and garden are in my chest.” [4] In fact, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taymiyyah’s closest student who would visit him often in the citadel prison, stated:

“Allah knows that I have never seen anyone having a better life than him. [This was true] even though he was in straitened circumstances and not living in luxuries and comforts. On the contrary, he was on the opposite extreme. Even though he faced imprisonment, torture and threats, he still had the most pleasurable life among the people, with the most relaxed feelings, strongest in heart and happiest of all of them. The experiencing of joy could be seen on his face. Whenever we were very fearful, feeling bad expectations and felt the earth constricting upon us, we would come to him and we only needed to see him and listen to his words that all of those emotions would leave us. Instead, we would be filled with rest, strength, certainty and tranquillity. Exalted be the One who allows His servant to witness His Paradise before he meets Him.” [5]

Of course, such a beautiful feeling from one’s faith was not restricted to Ibn Taymiyyah. Ibn Qayyim quotes another devout Muslim as saying: “If the kings and the children of the kings knew what [felicity] we are in, they would fight us over it with their swords.” Yet another stated: “The inhabitants of this world are miserable. They leave this world and they do not taste the most wonderful aspect that it contains.” When asked what that was, he replied: “Love for Allâh, knowing Him and remembering Him.” Ibn Qayyim also quoted another who said: “There comes some times in which I say: ‘If the people of Paradise are in a state like this, they are enjoying a good life’.” [6]

On the other hand, Allâh says:

“And he fails who corrupts (khâb) it.” (Ash-Shams 91:10).

The Arabic word “al-khaybah” has many aspects to it, including:

1. Weakness in one’s soul, as the soul does not have the strength and courage to follow what it knows is the truth;
2. Hesitation and confusion as every time it wants to do good; the soul drags it back down and fights it;
3. True psychological humiliation as he is worshipping something that has no benefit to it and it is not worthy of a human being to be worshipping something of that nature;
4. Cowardice and stinginess as his soul knows that he is disobeying his Lord and he cannot look forward to anything positive; hence, he has to hang on to his life and everything that he possesses in the strongest fashion;
5. Loss of modesty and dignity as his soul drives him to be shameless acts to the point that he accepts them, supports them and loses all shame concerning them.

This is all part of the reality that happens to him in this world. And that is all much less the disgrace that he will face in the Hereafter. [7]

By Jamâl ad-Dîn M. Zarabozo
Purification of the Soul: Concept, Process and Means, Pgs. 475-479

Footnotes:

1. Ibn Kathîr, Tafsîr, Vol. 4, P.601
2. Cf., al-Bilâli, P.127
3. Recorded by at-Tirmidhî and Ibn Majâh. According to al-Albânî it is sahîh. See al-Albânî, Sahîh al-Jâmi’, Vol. 2, Pgs. 1110-1111
4. Quoted in Ibn Qayyim, al-Wâbil as-Sayyib, P.73
5. Ibn Qayyim, al-Wâbil as-Sayyib, P.73
6. See Ibn Qayyim, al-Wâbil as-Sayyib, P.73. Ibn Qayyim also quoted Ibn Tamiyyiah as saying: “If you do not find any sweetness and relaxation in your heart from a [good] deed, then you should suspect your heart. Verily, Allâh is grateful. That is, He must reward the doer of the deed for his deed in this world by a sweetness he finds in his heart, a stronger feeling of relaxation and a joy in his eyes. If the person does not find these things, it means that something has entered upon his deed [and made it not correct and purely for Allâh’s sake.” See Ibn Qayyim, Madârij, Vol. 2, P. 68
7. For a similar discussion, see al-Bilâli, P.33

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