Redha Series – #1 Discontentment at the Root

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The concept of redha is translated as contentment of the human soul and it is a station that we seek to attain in our lives for peaceful existence. It is a state in which we hope to meet our Lord when we return to him.

The Qur’an states:

رَّضِيَ اللَّـهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

Allah being pleased with them, and they with Him; that is the great attainment.
[Surah Al-Maa’idah, 5:119]

Such heartwarming words – what more could a believer want?

From a secular perspective, contentment is about being happy with who you are and the life you have, and also making continuous progress.

Note how I included continuous progress. Contentment isn’t complacency. (We will elaborate on this misconception later.)

Life throws its lemons and curveballs at us. We get hammered and wounded. But we can still be content. The truth is that many of our problems stem, not from outside, but from within ourselves. More specifically, they stem from discontentment.

Discontentment arises from a negative self-image that is usually untrue, from lacking self-confidence, from wishful thinking and fantasies that are far-fetched from reality, and from expecting happiness to come to us from outside ourselves.

Not convinced? Allow me to share a few examples.

Take the problem of anxiety. We become fixated on particular expectations, a particular way we expect things to happen, a particular procedure, a certain outcome. We don’t relax and allow ourselves to fully experience the flow of Divine decree. We don’t allow for surprises (pleasant as they may be). We are unable to accept anything besides the castles we’ve built in the air. Likewise stems the problem of anger.

As Muslims, however, we trust Divine decree over our own plans. We are content because we know Allah wills good for us. He is Ar-Rahman, always watching out for us.

فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّـهِ وَكِيلً

…So leave them alone and rely upon Allah . And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.
[Surah An-Nisa, 4:81]

Some people struggle with building and maintaining new habits. They give up easily or don’t even bother starting because they doubt their ability to persevere – based on past performance with new habits. They are afraid to take on new challenges because they undervalue themselves.

At an extreme level, there are those who are so unhappy with themselves – both internally and externally – that they avoid people altogether. This is a shame because they do not allow the world to see what wonderful people they are on the inside and they do not allow others to benefit from the blessings that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala has bestowed on them. The root of all these issues, once again, is discontentment.

The presence of social media at our fingertips exacerbates this innate issue of discontentment so much so that we are constantly nagged by it. Impulsive, unrestrained and frequent checks of what other people are doing with their lives are a recipe for disasters such as the build-up of jealousy, insecurity, and lack of concentration.

We see what others have attained and we immediately feel incompetent or less valuable because we feel we will never be that good, or that happy, or have what so-and-so has. We feel “unlucky”. We get comfortable wallowing in self-pity and allow these trains of thought to ratify our discontentment.

Have you thought about your addictions? Addictions are a classic example of seeking happiness or “feel-good” from outside. Some of the common ones are addiction to video games, low-value literature, harmful substances, and aimlessly surfing the Internet. Another one is food. We are addicted to ice cream to feel good. We want junk food to cope with a bad mood. We gorge on these ‘forbidden fruits’ (if only they were fruits!) and then come back to our senses only to feel bad about gorging. Then we lose hope in ever eating healthy and return to gorging some more. Who’s our culprit again? Call it the vicious cycle of discontentment.

If a happy state of life is the only way to find contentment, how is it that Aasiya – the wife of Fir’oun – was able to smile while being tortured?

If contentment can only come from outside, why is it that the man of few means is always smiling and people who have everything are still drawn to depression? Why?

Alhamdulillah, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala has not left us without solutions. He has granted us guidance with regard to the source of true happiness – enduring happiness with no harmful side effects!

أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.
[Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13:28]

Look into your heart and pull out the root of your problems. Say Alhamdulillah ala kulli haal. 🙂



Fathima Nafla is an IT-professional-turned-online-Qur’an-tutor who left the corporate world after finding her passion in learning and teaching Qur’an. She maintains her blog at and its social media channels – where she strives to help people understand the tests of life, and how to love God through them.

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  1. masyaaAllah… love what i am reading here. am passing it around to friends. we forget n need reminder like this once in a while.


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