Contentment and Satisfaction (Qana’ah)

(Keywords: Contentment, Satisfaction, Happiness, Pleasure, Peace, Contentedness, serenity, Thankfulness, Appreciation, Gratefulness, Cheerfulness)

 

قال الله عز وجل: {وَآتَاكُم مِّن كُلِّ مَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُ وَإِن تَعُدُّواْ نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لاَ تُحْصُوهَا إِنَّ الإنْسَانَ لَظَلُومٌ كَفَّارٌ} سورة إبراهيم 34. ـ

God -the Exalted- says: { And God gave you of all that you asked for, and if you (try to) count the blessings of God, never will you be able to count them. Verily, man is indeed an extreme wrongdoer, ungrateful } (Surah 14, verse 34).

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عن عُبَيد اللَّه بِن مِحْصَنٍ الأَنْصارِيِّ الخَطْمِيِّ رضي اللَّه عنه قال: قال رسولُ اللَّه صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « منْ أَصبح مِنكُمْ آمِناً في سِرْبِهِ، مُعَافىً في جَسَدِه، عِندهُ قُوتُ يَومِهِ، فَكَأَنَّمَا حِيزَتْ لَهُ الدُّنْيَا بِحذافِيرِها» .  رواه الترمذي. ـ

Narrated Ubaid-Allah Ibn Mihsan Al-Ansari Al-Khatmi -may God be pleased with him- that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Whoever comes upon the morning healthy in his body, safe in his flock, and has the sustenance of his day, then it is as if he has attained the whole worldly life.” Related by Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban.

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « ‏انْظُرُوا إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ أَسْفَلَ مِنْكُمْ وَلَا تَنْظُرُوا إِلَى مَنْ هُوَ فَوْقَكُمْ فَإِنَّهُ أَجْدَرُ أَنْ لَا تَزْدَرُوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ» . رواه مسلم والترمذي وابن ماجه وأحمد. ـ

Narrated Abu Hurairah -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “Look at those who are below you (in worldly status), and do not look at those who are above you, for it is worthier not to scorn the blessing of God upon you.”  Related by Imam Muslim, Al-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah, and Imam Ahmad.

وَعَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاس وأنس بن مالك رَضِي الله عنْهُم أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « لَوْ أَنَّ لابْنِ آدَمَ وَادِياً مِنْ ذَهَبٍ أَحَبَّ أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُ وَادِيانِ، وَلَنْ يَمْلأَ فَاهُ إِلاَّ التُّرَابُ، وَيَتُوبُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مَنْ تَابَ» . مُتَّفَقٌ عَليْهِ. ـ

Narrated Ibn Abbas and Anas Ibn Malik -may God be pleased with them- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “If the son of Adam has a valley of gold, he would have wished to have two valleys.  Nothing fills out the inside of the son of Adam except for the dust (when he dies).  And God accepts the repentance of anyone who repents.”  Related by Al-Bukhari and Imam Muslim.



 

God -the Most Generous- reminds us of His many blessings upon us.  Indeed, God has granted us from every blessing we can think of.  God, the Exalted, granted us health, wealth, food, shelter, family, and most important the religion of Islam.  And yet some people feel discontent and dissatisfied with their lot and share in life. 

We can see two groups of people:

1) The first group are happy and content with what they have, while

2) The second group are always sad and never satisfied with they have.  The question then is what is the difference between the two groups?

The difference between the two groups simply lies in the word Contentment or Qana’ah.  The point of reference (miqyas) is different for both groups.  That is, their model of happiness is different.  As for the first group, their point of reference or model of happiness is set toward people below them.  They never look at people above them in worldly status.  They are content with what they have.  Yes, they do ask God for more, but then they are happy with what He grants them.  In other words, they look for more with God, and they don’t look at richer people.

While the point of reference (miqyas) or model of happiness for the second group is the richest or most powerful man in the world.  For them, happiness is associated with more worldly possession, more wealth, and more power.  So they always compare themselves to those above them in worldly status.  Therefore, they are never satisfied; they always look up, they always want more.

Then as for the first group, they live this life in a condition of inner comfort and happiness.  They are satisfied with what they have, and they appreciate these blessings and thank God for what He has given them; they enjoy contentment.

As for the second group, they live this life in a condition of continuous frustration, complaining, displeasure, and dissatisfaction until they die.  They are never happy, but always want more, always look up to other people but can’t seem to get it all, so they end up feeling sad, depressed and deprived.  They don’t appreciate the many blessings God has bestowed upon them, so they end up being ungrateful; not appreciating or thanking God for His blessing upon them.  They suffer perpetual discontentment.

 


 

Know that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- has already set the point of reference (miqyas) or model of happiness for his nation, both in word and by his own action.  Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- said that if anyone wakes up in the morning healthy, safe and having the food of that day, then it is as if he has the whole world!  This is the point of reference or model of happiness.  It is not having food for a month, or living in a palace, or amassing great wealth, it is simply having health, safety and food of that day.  This is the reference point set by the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him.  And the Prophet gave us a practical and most beautiful example of contentment or qana’ah by enjoying whatever he had, even if it was one date, and thanking God fully for it.

Another point of reference set by the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- is: don’t look at people above you in worldly status.  This will only create greediness and endless yearning which will result in sadness and jealousy.  Rather, be content with what you have and appreciate the blessings you have by considering those below you in worldly status.

Indeed, we are warned not to look down upon the blessings of God upon us.  And we are asked to appreciate and count those blessings by just looking at the people who don’t have them.  Consider the people who are sick, while you are healthy.  Consider the people who don’t have a full meal, while you do.  Consider the people who don’t have a place to live in, while you have a house.  Consider the people who don’t have money and have to beg, while you have enough money, and so forth.  Consider each blessing and thank God for it.


 

Contentment is prescribed for both the poor and the rich.  Every Muslim should feel content with the blessings God has granted him.  The Muslim can ask God for more, but he should not look to those who own more than him.  The scholars said that the poor person who feels content is actually rich, while the rich who looks upon others with greed is actually poor.

The only thing a Muslim is asked to look up to is religious matters.  In religion, the Muslim should never be satisfied but should always seek a higher status with God and should always consider those who are more righteous or those who do more good deeds than him.


 

Then, know that Islam has sat two points of reference (miqyas) when it comes to happiness and contentment.  First, if you wake up in the morning healthy, safe and have the food of that day, then know that you are a rich person.  And second, don’t compare yourself to people above you in worldly status, but look at people below you and appreciate and thank God for the many blessings He granted you.  Don’t look at other people’s wealth, but ask God from His bounty.  Know that contentment leads to happiness in both lives.  In this life, contentment leads to a worry-free, happy life, and in the Hereafter contentment leads to the pleasure of the Lord and His Paradise.  And God knows best.

 

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