We said that contentment can be defined as being satisfied with the status quo. In the life of a Muslim, however, it means that we avoid being dissatisfied with the present while working hard to improve the future.
If we’re trying to improve, then how can we say we are content, you ask? Does that even make sense? And if we’re content, why do we need to work towards something better?
A Muslim is always striving towards improvement: improvement in worship, social relationships, career, etc.
We start off by becoming consistent in our fardh prayers. When we are content with our performance, we aim to incorporate the sunnah prayers. Then we move to additional nafl prayers. This is an example of contentment with an element of continuous improvement.
At home, we start off when we are little by helping to wash our own cups and plates. We attain contentment but, as soon as we are able to do better, we migrate to washing all the dishes on behalf of the family.
Perhaps today we know 10 surahs from the Qur’an by heart. We are content with our recitation of these 10 surahs in our daily prayers with good tajweed and melody. However, we know that we are capable of much more, so we work on the side to learn more new verses without setting a limit on how much we are going to memorise in the end. We will keep memorising a few verses at a time at our own pace for as long as we can.
Think about it – don’t you think you will have a better mindset to achieve more in life if you are already in a satisfied state of mind? Compare that to starting out depressed and agitated, so much so that we spread our bad vibes wherever we go and get into everyone’s bad books! You might get what you want either way, but which one would you prefer in the long run?
When you’re content with yourself, you’re better equipped to help those around you. You have the emotional capacity to be a pillar of strength to someone else and to go out of your way to help those in need. On the contrary, when you’re constantly obsessed with your own search for the elusive happiness, you have neither the time nor ability to contribute.
The feeling of redha (contentment) is also a great cushion for when you fail and fall. The inner satisfaction supports you so that you can get back up and try again or move in search of other avenues. You don’t fall hard, break your heart, lose hope, and give up completely on yourself, Alhamdulillah.
While we condition ourselves to have an attitude of redha with our circumstances, we also look for Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala’s contentment with us. Are there many things that can beat the award of Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala telling you, “I am pleased with you”?
رَّضِىَ ٱللَّهُ عَنۡہُمۡ وَرَضُواْ عَنۡهُۚ
“…Allah being pleased with them and they with Him…”
[Surah Al-Bayyinah, 98:8]
Isn’t that a peak of victory and wouldn’t it erase all the traces of hardship that we have endured for His sake? May Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala grant us the tawfeeq to taste that.
Therefore the attitude of redha creates in the Muslim a sense of security and a focus on his priorities. We are not easily swayed by the winds of criticism or consumerist trends. It’s alright if my friends ridicule my hijab because The One above is happy with me for trying and that’s what matters. It’s fine if people don’t acknowledge the favours I do for them and return equal goodness, because I only sought Allah’s satisfaction in doing those favours anyway. It’s okay if I don’t have the funds to throw a lavish nikah party, because what I really want is the blessing in our marriage more than the praise of people. Such are the thoughts of one who is driven to seek the satisfaction of The One who matters.
Laziness is something that is despised for a Muslim, and therefore the desire to seek Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala’s contentment with us means that we definitely have to keep improving even if we are already in a satisfied state.
To summarise, the attitude of contentment for a Muslim involves being satisfied with Divine decree and seeking the pleasure of the Divine in all matters. In the next part of this series, we will talk about the “thief of joy”. Can you guess what it is?
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 also enjoys writing and maintains her blog at www.Believuh.com.