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Islamic Character With the Divine

Contentment: A Paradise on Earth

How to Achieve Tranquility of the Heart Series: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIIIPart XIVPart XV | Part XVIPart XVII | Part XVIII | Part XIX | Part XX

As we mentioned in previous articles, worship can be divided into two categories: the worship of the heart and worship of the limbs. The worship of the heart can be dearer to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (glorified is He) because they give meaning to the worship of the limbs.

Ridaa (contentment with the decree of Allah) is one of the acts of worship of the heart. Ibn Taymiyyah said about contentment:

“Contentment is the greatest door that one enters to Allah, it is the source of tranquility for the worshiper and paradise on earth. Whoever does not enter it will not enter the Paradise in the Hereafter.”

Are you content with the actions of Allah?

One way whether to know whether we have ridaa is to ask ourselves if we have bitterness in our hearts when we are tested or when things don’t go our way.

It does not mean that we shouldn’t be ambitious or have big goals. We should work hard, and when we fall, we should pick ourselves back up and try to work harder or find alternatives. It does not mean to stop when difficulties come – but for example, if there is someone we want to marry and they marry someone else, then that is the end of the matter. Or if we are after a certain job and it goes to someone else, then it was not written for us at that time. It may mean we should apply at another time, or for another job – only Allah knows. But the point of contentment is that we do not have resentment in our hearts. For example, if we are doing all of our acts of worship and are generally good Muslims, yet we are faced with calamity or we feel that our du`a’ (supplication) has not been responded to, we do not harbor anger in our hearts: “I did everything, but Allah did not give me what I want!”

How to achieve contentment?

The Prophet ﷺ (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “He has tasted the sweetness of faith: he who is content with Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion, and Muhammad ﷺ as his Prophet.” (Muslim)

We need to know first and foremost that Allah (swt) has portioned for us our provision. As long as we work, we will get what is written for us. Moreover, the Prophet ﷺ said: “Know that even if the whole community were to gather together to benefit you with something, they would not benefit you with anything except that which Allah has already recorded for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with something, they would not be able to harm you with anything except that which Allah has already recorded against you.” (Tirmidhi)

Simply possessing this knowledge should empower us, because we know that everything that happens is by the permission of Allah (swt). This should not prevent us from reflecting and trying to figure out how our actions played a role, but learning from an experience is also part of contentment because you trust that Allah (swt) is teaching you a lesson through trial.

The Prophet ﷺ reminds us of something profound, “Whoever wakes up safely in his home and is healthy in his body and has provisions for his day, would have acquired all the worldly possessions he is in need of.” (Tirmidhi)

Subhan’Allah (glory to God) – none of know when our last day could be. But if we wake up in the morning with those three things, then we have all that we need. We should not look at people and question why Allah (swt) has given certain people success over ourselves. We have all that we need.

Du`a’ for contentment

The Prophet ﷺ said: “There is no Muslim servant who says in the morning and the evening three times: I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion and with Muhammad ﷺ as my Prophet, except that it will be a right upon Allah to please him on the Day of Judgment.” (Ahmad)

The Prophet ﷺ also said “Whoever says when he hears the caller to prayer: ‘And I bear witness that there is no God save Allah, He is alone and has no partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger. I am pleased with Allah as Lord, Muhammad as Prophet and Islam as religion’ all his sins will be forgiven.” (Muslim)

It is as though we are told to say these statements so that they may enter our hearts.

The Prophet ﷺ would also make this du`a’: “O Allah, make me content with Your decree, so that I may not hasten what You have delayed, or to delay what You have hastened.”

How do you know if you have ridaa?

You have ridaa if:

  1. You pray istikhara when you have a decision to make. The du`a’ of istikhara literally asks Allah (swt) to choose what is best for us.
  2. You have no resentment after something has been decreed by saying Alhamdulillah (all praise is due to Allah).
  3. Your love for Allah does not decrease when you are tested

Examples of those who were content with the decree of Allah

Imagine the devastation of the Prophet ﷺ when he lost his son Ibrahim. He was around 60 years old when he had him, and he was so happy that he would take Ibrahim to companions just so they could see him. When he passed away the Prophet ﷺ wept. But what did he say? “The eyes shed tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.”

This teaches us that being content with Allah (swt) does not mean that we cannot feel sad or disappointed; but we carry no anger or resentment towards Allah.

Whenever ‘Umar radi Allahu anhu (may Allah be please with him) was stricken with calamity, he would thank Allah for four things:

  1. That the test was not in his religion;
  2. That the test was not greater than it was;
  3. That if he responded to the test with patience, he would be given an immeasurable reward;
  4. That he would remember the greater calamity of losing the Prophet ﷺ.

Then he would say “I do not care what happens to me as long as I am Muslim.”

A final example is the companions ‘Umran bin Hussayn (ra). He was one of the companions who took part in the battles with the Prophet ﷺ and was a fierce fighter. However, he got paralyzed from the waist down for thirty years until he passed away. Some of the other companions saw him and cried – because they knew what he used to be. But he replied to them, saying: “You cry, but I am content. I love what Allah loves, and I am content with what Allah is content with, and I am happy with what Allah chooses. I remain in this state and by Allah I can feel the Angels around me glorifying Allah. Allah is testing my contentment with Him, so bear witness that I am content.” When I read this story, I was reminded of the film “Million Dollar Baby.” The boxer had risen to stardom but was paralyzed after her opponent knocked her out after she won the match, breaking her neck. After that, she lost the will to live – she did not want to live in that state after all she had achieved. But the example of ‘Umran is inspiring, because he knew that nothing was outside the realm of Allah’s Power, Knowledge and Mercy, and if this is what Allah decreed, then he was content.

May Allah (swt) give us a heart filled with contentment.

About the author

Jinan Yousef

Jinan is a graduate of law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and UC Berkeley, with a special emphasis on international law. During her university years, she was heavily involved with the Students’ Union Islamic Society. Her main interests within the field of Islamic Studies are the Names of Allah, the life and character of the Prophet ﷺ, tazkiya and Muslim personalities. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D.

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