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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The Universe: the Heavens and the Earth

(Keywords: Universe, Heavens, Skies, Space, Earth, Planets, Stars, Creation,  Thankfulness,  Gratefulness, Gratitude, Reflection, Contemplation, introspection, and meditation)

 

Day after day scientists and explorers find new planets, stars and galaxies.  Year after year as scientists send spaceships into untouched areas, new and unique features and aspects of Space are discovered.  And time and time again as more and more secrets and mysteries are revealed, scientists and explores conclude how wide the Universe is and how limited their knowledge of its intricate, precise and complex systems is.

 

      قال الله عز وجل: { لَخَلْقُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ أَكْبَرُ مِنْ خَلْقِ النَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ} سورة غافر، 57 . ـ

       God the Exalted says: {  Indeed the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of mankind, yet most of mankind know not} Surah 40, verse 57.

       In the verse above, God the Exalted draws our attention to two sides of a spectrum of sizes; one gigantic and one minuscule, one super-large and one super- tiny, one far and distant and the other one close and nearby, and one out of reach and imagination in outer space and the other within reach and physical boundaries.  The two sides of the spectrum mentioned are the Extraterrestrial Skies and the Human Body.

  The Almighty God instructs the humans to reflect on those two creations of His, namely the Skies and the human body, and ponder upon their intricate and complex designs, their exact and accurate precision, their wonderful and amazing mechanism, and the many secrets and numerous mysteries that lie within.  Then God reminds us that it is He Who created all of that and everything is under His command.  God the Exalted says:

قال الله عز وجل: { ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ خَالِقُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ لَّا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَأَنَّىٰ تُؤْفَكُونَ} سورة غافر، 62. ـ

       God the Exalted says: { That is God, your Lord, the Creator of all things, none has the right to be worshiped but He, so why then do you turn away (from His worship)} Surah 40, verse 57.

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Indeed, we see the signs of God’s creation everywhere we look.  We see the Greatness and Majesty of God anywhere we look in the Universe.

     Consider any part of the great universe and you see a sign of the Almighty God.  Consider the skies; consider the sun, the moon, the planets, and the stars.  Consider the earth, the mountains, the oceans, and the trees. Consider the people, the animals, the insects, and the birds.  Who created all of them and who takes care of all them?  It is only God -the Exalted.  

Then ponder and reflect upon your body and its wonderful and intricate design.  Consider the upright body shape, the body systems, the body organs and limbs, and the body tissues.  Reflect on the precise way the body functions, upon the complex way the body systems do their tasks, and reflect upon the amazing way the body systems work in unison to produce maximum effects. Ponder upon the different types of cells, consider the blood vessels and the nerves, consider the amazing organs like the heart and brain, and consider the defense or immune system and its tiny components.

Then consider who provides for that body and who sustains it.  Who provides people with food, health, wealth and everything?  Who cures the body when it gets sick, who allows the injuries and the broken bone to heal and get well, and who allows the sick organ to get well again.  Consider who provides money to the poor so they can survive, who grants sustenance to the needy so they can live, and who provides for people so they can enjoy this life?  When people are in need, whom do they pray?  When they are in distress, whom do they ask for help?  It is only God.  Thus now we realize some of the Greatness and Majesty of the King of kings.

 


 

 

Reflection upon the creation of the Great Creator, God, is the characteristics of the true believer.

      Indeed, everywhere the believer looks, he sees the amazing creation of the Great Lord, God.  When the believer looks at the sky, he wonders at its hugeness, its smoothness, its height, and its existence without support.  When he looks at the earth, he wonders at its mountains and valleys, its seas and oceans, its gardens and deserts, and its trees and fruits.  When he considers people, he sees an amazing creation; their body make, their coloring, their nature, their mind, their language, and their features.  When he considers animals, he is amazed by their variety; birds of all types, insects of all types, and different animals.

Indeed, in all of that is a strong sign for the believer that there is a Great Lord, God, Who created all of this.  And that all of this was created for a purpose, so that the believer would testify to the Majesty and Greatness of the King of kings, God, to submit to this Great Lord in worship, and to purify his intention so that every deed is done for the sake of God alone. God the Exalted says:

     قال الله عز وجل: { اللَّهُ الَّذِي جَعَلَ لَكُمُ الْأَرْضَ قَرَارًا وَالسَّمَاءَ بِنَاءً وَصَوَّرَكُمْ فَأَحْسَنَ صُوَرَكُمْ وَرَزَقَكُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ ذَٰلِكُمُ اللَّهُ رَبُّكُمْ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ (64) هُوَ الْحَيُّ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ فَادْعُوهُ مُخْلِصِينَ لَهُ الدِّينَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ} سورة غافر، 64-65. ـ

       God the Exalted says: {

64. It is God Who has made for you the earth as a dwelling place and the sky as a canopy, Who has given you shape and perfected your form, and Who has provided you with good things. That is God, your Lord, then blessed be God, the Lord of the worlds.

65. God is the Ever Living; none has the right to be worshiped but He, so call upon, being sincere to Him in religion. All praise and thanks be to God, the Lord of the worlds} Surah 40, verse 64-65.


 

Reflection upon God’s creation makes the believer realize the great bounties God -the Exalted- bestowed upon mankind.  God has created a sky to shade them, clouds to rain water on them, trees to bear fruits for them, seas and rivers to store water for them, mines that keep fuel and minerals for them, and numerous other bounties.  God -the Exalted- also granted the son of Adam a mind to use these bounties and live in this life.  So the believer must appreciate these bounties and thank God for them.

Reflection upon God’s creation makes the Muslim realize that there is another purpose behind this life.  Indeed, the real purpose of this life is to worship God and to please Him.  The Muslim lives this life with this real purpose in mind, while in the meantime he fulfills his worldly needs.

Reflection upon the great and wonderful creation of God is a great worship and an enlightening means, like it was mentioned about Abu Ad-Darda’ -may God be pleased with him- who said: “Reflection upon God’s creation one night equals the worship of one year!”

And it was narrated that the wife of Abu Dhurr -may God be pleased with them- was asked about his best worshipping.  She replied: “He used to sit in the corner of the house and reflect upon the creation of God.”

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The believer should constantly glorify and praise God -the Exalted.  The question is then: how does the believer ‘glorify’ and ‘praise’ God?  First of all, the believer should try to understand some of the Greatness and Mightiness of God.  It is not enough to glorify and praise God with the tongue, rather the believer should also mean that by his heart.  The believer should glorify and praise God with his heart by realizing some of the Greatness of God.  That comes through pondering and reflecting upon God’s creation. Once the believer reflects upon the great creation of God, then his tongue and heart would mention and glorify his Great Lord, God.


  

Then, the believer should consider and reflect upon the great creation of God, and know that there is a purpose for everything.  Indeed, everything was created by the Great Lord, God.  These creations didn’t come by chance or randomly, they didn’t create themselves, rather the Great Creator, God, created every one of them.

The believer should then glorify God, attest to His Greatness and Majesty, and thank God for each bounty.  The believer should also ponder upon the real purpose of this life and that is to worship God and please Him.  The believer should reflect upon his death and prepare for the Hereafter.

When the believer considers those wonderful creations of God; thanks Him for it; and ponders upon life and death, then his faith or Iman increases, his awareness of the reality of life becomes apparent, and his reward is multiplied.  And God knows best.

 

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Thankfulness and Gratefulness (Shukr)

(Keywords: Thankfulness,  Gratefulness, Gratitude, Thanksgiving, Ungratefulness, Thanklessness, Ingratitude, Blessings, favors,  Shukr,  Thanking God,  Gratefulness for God, Pride, Concept of Thankfulness)

 

  قال الله عز وجل: { وَسَنَجْزِي الشَّاكِرِينَ} آل عمران 145. ـ

    God the Exalted says: { And We shall reward the thankful} (Surah 3, verse 145).

   وَعَنْ أبي يَحْيَى صُهَيْبِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: «عَجَباً لأمْرِ المُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ لَهُ خَيْرٌ، وَلَيْسَ ذَلِكَ لأِحَدٍ إِلاَّ لِلْمُؤْمِن: إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْراً لَهُ، وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خيْراً لَهُ» .  رواه مسلم. ـ

    Narrated Suheib Ibn Sinan -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “How wonderful is the case of a believer, for there is good in every affair of his, and this is not the case with anyone else except for the believer.  When a good thing happens to him, he thanks God and that is good for him; and when a trouble befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.”  Related by Imam Muslim.
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Thankfulness and Gratefulness to God are great treasures for the believer.  As human creatures, we see God’s blessings in everything we have in our daily life.  We see God’s blessings in our eye-sight, in our sense of smell, in our hearing, in our hands and our feet, and in every single part of our bodies.  We see God’s blessings in our food, in our drink, in our house, in our cars, in our clothes.  We see God’s blessings in our health, in our comfort, in our security, in our money, in our provision, in our children, and in Everything.

        Imagine losing the eyes for one day, even one hour, how would we feel?  Imagine losing food for one meal, how would we feel?  Imagine getting sick for one hour, how would we feel?  Imagine losing home for one day, how would we feel?   Indeed, we would feel very sad and regret what we lost.

        We tend to take these blessings for granted and forget to thank God for them.  Many are just happy to have good health, comfortable living, and just forget about feeling grateful and thank God.  Therefore, God said:

  قال الله عز وجل: { وَقَلِيلٌ مِنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ } سبأ 13. ـ

       God -the Exalted- also says: {But few of My slaves are thankful} (Chapter 34, verse 13).

As Muslims we must thank God for every single blessing that He bestowed upon us.  Every single blessing needs thanking God for it.  We must realize that these blessings are not due to our effort and hard work, rather they are a grant by God, and so they need to be thanked for.  Take for example, our health.  We tend to forget we are healthy until we get sick.  Only then do we realize the value of health.  And only then do we return to God and ask for health.

The question then is: why should we not thank God for health when we are healthy and well.  Why do we have to wait until we lose it and then think of the blessing we have lost!


 

     It is in human nature that s/he is ungrateful or thankless, as mentioned in the coming verse.  Man likes to enjoy blessings, but forgets about thanking God for them, thus being ungrateful.  And when man is faced with a problem, his self immediately leads him to ungrateful thoughts and he starts complaining and protesting, forgetting all the other blessings he still enjoys.  God the Exalted says in Qur’an:

    قال الله عز وجل: { إِنَّ الْإِنْسَانَ لِرَبِّهِ لَكَنُودٌ * وَإِنَّهُ عَلَى ذَلِكَ لَشَهِيدٌ * وَإِنَّهُ لِحُبِّ الْخَيْرِ لَشَدِيدٌ} سورة العاديات 6-8. ـ

    God -the Exalted- says: { Verily, man to his Lord is ungrateful.  And verily to that he is a witness.  And verily he is intense in the love of wealth} (Surah 100, verses 6-8).

      It is in human nature that he likes to enjoy blessings or good things, but forgets about thanking God; the One Who granted him all those things.

It is in human nature that when he is given 100 good things and then denied 1 time, he only remembers the one time he is denied while forgetting the other 99 times he is given!

It is in man’s nature that when he is given good things for 100 years and then denied 1 year, he is thankless and ungrateful and only remembers the 1 year while forgetting the other 99 good years!

And it is in human’s nature that when he gets sick for a short while, he is thankless and ungrateful while forgetting that he was healthy most of the time.

 

People are like that because they love good things excessively.  They only want good things and never want any bad thing.  But this life is a test to see how people act and react in the time of ease and difficulty, in the time of health and sickness, and in the time of security and fear.  Then on the Day of Judgment, people would be either rewarded or punished based on their action; whether they believed or disbelieved, whether they showed gratitude and thanked God for His blessings or were ungrateful and were thankless, and whether they were patient or impatient.


 

   There are two groups of people with regards to Gratefulness and thankfulness: 1) Ungrateful and thankless, and 2) Grateful and thankful to God.

The first group are ungrateful, thankless and do not admit God’s favors upon them.  When they have blessings, they just enjoy them with no care about thanking God.  But when they don’t have a blessing or lose the blessing, they complain, protest, and blame others.  And that leads them to impatience, dissatisfaction, and finally to pride and denial.

While the second group are grateful and are always thankful even when times are hard.  When they lose a blessing, they take time to think about the problem.  They think about the many other blessings they have, and rationalize their loss.  Maybe they lost the blessing because of their sins, or maybe it was a test, or maybe it is better in the long run.

It is related that Ikrimah said: “No calamity (problem) afflicts a slave except as a result of a sin, which God wouldn’t have forgiven him or raised him except with this problem.”  So in the face of difficulties, the believers show patience and thank God instead!  And that leads to acceptance of destiny (Qadr) and the pleasure of God -the Exalted, so God grants them much more.

When the first group get sick, they feel ungrateful and impatient.  They start complaining: ‘Why and how did this happen to me?’ They forget all the good times when they enjoyed good health.  They forget that other people have much worse diseases than them.  They forget their own bad deeds, and only remember their current discomfort.  

While the other grateful group think about it and have patience.  Maybe this sickness is test, or maybe it was a result of their sins, or maybe God wanted to raise their level.  Narrated Jabir Ibn Abdul-God -may God be pleased with them- that he heard the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- say: “No Muslim male or female, or believer (Mu’min) male or female get sick except God the Almighty will expiate and pardon his sins .” (Ahmad).  They remember the many times they were healthy, and they remember the other very sick people.  So they pray God to cure them, and Thank Him it wasn’t worse than that.

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So we see that for every problem or difficulty, a Muslim can either be angry and ungrateful, or accepts it and be thankful to God for all of His blessings.  The first one has no reward; rather he has committed a sin and a major heart sin at that.  While the second one gets rewarded many-fold and attains a high rank.  And if his patience and thanking God are sincere, then God -the Exalted- will take away his adversity and replace it with abundance and plenty by His Grace and bounty.


 

      Some rewards and benefits of thankfulness include:

   1) Keeping and Multiplying the Blessing:

            Thanking God for the blessing makes that blessing continue.  Not only that, but thanking God for it makes the blessing increase.  Like God -the Exalted- mentioned in the Qur’an:

قال الله عز وجل: { وَإِذْ تَأَذَّنَ رَبُّكُمْ لَئِنْ شَكَرْتُمْ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ وَلَئِنْ كَفَرْتُمْ إِنَّ عَذَابِي لَشَدِيدٌ} إبراهيم 7. ـ

      God -the Exalted- also says: {And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you thank Me, I will surely increase you (in favor); but if you are thankless, verily, My punishment is indeed severe”} (surah 14, verse 7).

Thus, while thanking God for the blessing leads to its continuity and increase, ungratefulness and not thanking God for the blessing exposes it to decrease and loss as mentioned in the verse above.

  2) The Thankful Believers are among the First to Enter Paradise: 

        One of the great rewards of thanking God during times of plenty and adversity is that the person would be among the first group to enter Paradise, as mentioned in the following hadith:

    وعن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما عن رسول الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم قال: « أول من يدعى إلى الجنة يوم القيامة الذين يحمدون الله في السراء والضراء». رواه الحاكم. ـ

        Narrated Ibn Abbas -may God be pleased with them- that the Prophet -prayer and peace be upon him- said: “The First group of people to be called to Paradise on the Day of Judgment are those who always thank God; during ease and during hardship.”  Related by Al-Hakim.


 

  One very important fact about thanking is that we should thank by both speech and action.  So we thank God by saying: Praise be to God (Al-hamdu lillah), and by feeling grateful to God in our hearts. 

But action is important too, and we thank God in our actions by avoiding using these blessings in wrong ways or in forbidden things.  If God has given us eyes, then we thank Him for it, and avoid looking at forbidden things like shameless photos.  If God has given us hearing, then we thank Him for it and avoid listening to forbidden things like backbiting.  If God has given us wealth, then we thank Him and avoid spending it in forbidden ways.  And if we did wrong then we immediately repent and promise God not to do it again.  This is the only way for these blessings to continue, that is thanking God for these blessings by speech and action.


 

Finally, we would never ever be able to thank God -the Exalted- fully, but at least we must thank Him as much as we can.  Thanking God only when we get something we like is not true thanking!  We must thank God all the time, when we get the thing we like and when we don’t!   Those who thank God all the time, when they are happy and when they are sad, will have a great reward.  On the Day of Judgment: They will be called by name to enter Paradise first!

So we must learn to thank God all the time, we should feel grateful to God for the many blessings he bestowed upon us.  And when we go to sleep at night, we should try to think of few blessings that God bestowed upon us on that day, and thank Him for it.

It is related that Prophet Moses asked God the Exalted: ‘My God, I can’t thank You fully because my first thanking needs another thanking!’  God the Almighty said: ‘O Moses, your knowledge that you could never thank Me fully but you are trying is thanking enough.’


 

Then, Gratefulness and thanking God for His blessings are obligatory for every believer.  Gratefulness and thankfulness to God have a great reward and are characteristics of the successful ones in this life and the Hereafter.  On the other hand, ungratefulness and thanklessness have severe punishment and are characteristics of the people of loss in both lives.  Thus, we should stop our ungrateful selves from complaining and blaming, and instead should take time to think about the problem or difficulty.  When facing a problem or a calamity, we should suppress the immediate urge to feel ungrateful and angry, rather we should think of the other blessings God has bestowed upon us, we should think of the previous times when God granted us plenty, and we should think that this problem could have been much worse as with some other people. Then we should accept it and thank God -the Exalted- in every condition.

We should strive to be among the thankful, and the praisers who thank God all the time, during easy times and during hard times.  We should thank God to get His great reward, to prolong the blessing, and to get even more!  And God knows best.

=========================

The Innumerous Blessings

‏        عن جابرِ بنِ عبد اللَّهِ رضي الله عنهما قال: ( خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا النَّبِيُّ صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم، فَقَالَ: « خَرَجَ مِنْ عِنْدِي خَلِيلِي جِبْرِيلُ آنِفًا فَقَالَ: يَا محمَّد، وَالَّذِي بَعَثَكَ بِالْحَقِّ إِنَّ لِلَّهِ عَبْدًا مِنْ عَبِيدِهِ، عَبَدَ اللَّهَ تَعَالَى خَمْسَمِائَةِ سَنَةٍ عَلَى رَأْسِ جَبَلٍ فِي الْبَحْرِ عَرْضُهُ وَطُولُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ ذِرَاعًا فِي ثَلَاثِينَ ذِرَاعًا، وَالْبَحْرُ مُحِيطٌ بِهِ أَرْبَعَةَ آلَافِ فَرْسَخٍ مِنْ كُلِّ نَاحِيَةٍ، وَأَخْرَجَ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى لَهُ عَيْنًا عَذْبَةً بِعَرْضِ الْأُصْبَعِ تَبِضُّ بِمَاءٍ عَذْبٍ فَتَسْتَنْقِعُ فِي أَسْفَلِ الْجَبَلِ، وَشَجَرَةَ رُمَّانٍ تُخْرِجُ لَهُ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ رُمَّانَةً فَتُغَذِّيهِ يَوْمَهُ، فَإِذَا أَمْسَى نَزَلَ فَأَصَابَ مِنَ الْوَضُوءِ وَأَخَذَ تِلْكَ الرُّمَّانَةَ فَأَكَلَهَا ثُمَّ قَامَ لِصَلَاتِهِ، فَسَأَلَ رَبَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ عِنْدَ وَقْتِ الْأَجَلِ أَنْ يَقْبِضَهُ سَاجِدًا، وَأَنْ لَا يَجْعَلَ لِلْأَرْضِ وَلَا لِشَيْءٍ يُفْسِدُهُ عَلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا حَتَّى بَعَثَهُ وَهُوَ سَاجِدٌ، قَالَ: فَفَعَلَ، فَنَحْنُ نَمُرُّ عَلَيْهِ إِذَا هَبَطْنَا وَإِذَا عَرَجْنَا.

 فَنَجِدُ لَهُ فِي الْعِلْمِ أَنَّهُ يُبْعَثُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ فَيُوقَفُ بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَيَقُولُ لَهُ الرَّبُّ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي الْجَنَّةَ بِرَحْمَتِي، فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ بَلْ بِعَمَلِي، فَيَقُولُ الرَّبُّ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي الْجَنَّةَ بِرَحْمَتِي، فَيَقُولُ: يَا رَبِّ بَلْ بِعَمَلِي، فَيَقُولُ الرَّبُّ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي الْجَنَّةَ بِرَحْمَتِي، فَيَقُولُ: رَبِّ بَلْ بِعَمَلِي،  فَيَقُولُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لِلْمَلَائِكَةِ: قَايِسُوا عَبْدِي بِنِعْمَتِي عَلَيْهِ وَبِعَمَلِهِ.  فَتُوجَدُ نِعْمَةُ الْبَصَرِ قَدْ أَحَاطَتْ بِعِبَادَةِ خَمْسِ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ وَبَقِيَتْ نِعْمَةُ الْجَسَدِ فَضْلًا عَلَيْهِ، فَيَقُولُ: أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِي النَّارَ.

  قَالَ فَيُجَرُّ إِلَى النَّارِ فَيُنَادِي: رَبِّ بِرَحْمَتِكَ أَدْخِلْنِي الْجَنَّةَ، فَيَقُولُ: رُدُّوهُ فَيُوقَفُ بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ، فَيَقُولُ: يَا عَبْدِي، مَنْ خَلَقَكَ وَلَمْ تَكُ شَيْئًا؟  فَيَقُولُ: أَنْتَ يَا رَبِّ،  فَيَقُولُ: كَانَ ذَلِكَ مِنْ قِبَلِكَ أَوْ بِرَحْمَتِي؟  فَيَقُولُ: بَلْ بِرَحْمَتِكَ.  فَيَقُولُ: مَنْ قَوَّاكَ لِعِبَادَةِ خَمْسِ مِائَةِ عَامٍ؟  فَيَقُولُ: أَنْتَ يَا رَبِّ،  فَيَقُولُ: مَنْ أَنْزَلَكَ فِي جَبَلٍ وَسَطَ اللُّجَّةِ وَأَخْرَجَ لَكَ الْمَاءَ الْعَذْبَ مِنَ الْمَاءِ الْمَالِحِ وَأَخْرَجَ لَكَ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ رُمَّانَةً وَإِنَّمَا تَخْرُجُ مَرَّةً فِي السَّنَةِ، وَسَأَلْتَنِي أَنْ أَقْبِضَكَ سَاجِدًا فَفَعَلْتُ ذَلِكَ بِكَ؟  فَيَقُولُ: أَنْتَ يَا رَبِّ،  فَقَالَ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: فَذَلِكَ بِرَحْمَتِي وَبِرَحْمَتِي أُدْخِلُكَ الْجَنَّةَ، أَدْخِلُوا عَبْدِيَ الْجَنَّةَ فَنِعْمَ الْعَبْدُ كُنْتَ يَا عَبْدِي، فَيُدْخِلُهُ اللَّهُ الْجَنَّةَ. قَالَ جِبْرِيلُ عَلَيْهِ السَّلَامُ: إِنَّمَا الْأَشْيَاءُ بِرَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى يَا محمَّد» .  رواه الحاكم.

— 

         Narrated Jabir Ibn Abdil-Allah -may God be pleased with them- said: “Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- came out to us and said:

‘My close companion Angel Gabriel just left me and he had said: `O Muhammad, by the One Who sent you with the true message, there is a slave of God, who worshipped the Almighty God for 500 years.  The slave was granted a shelter on top of a mountain whose length and width were thirty by thirty arm-lengths, and which was surrounded by the sea for four thousand leagues from all sides.  The Almighty God made a stream of fresh water with the width of a finger to flow through the mountain and collect at the mountain base for him.  The Almighty God also raised for him a pomegranate tree that grew one pomegranate every night from which the man would eat during the day.  Every evening, the man would go down, make ablution, and eat from that pomegranate, then stand up in prayer to his Lord.

The man supplicated his Lord -the Almighty- to take his soul while in prostration, and guard him against the earth and everything else until he would be resurrected in that state.

Angel Gabriel said: the Almighty God answered his supplication and granted his prayer.  So whenever we come down to the Earth or go up to the sky, we find this man (dead) but in a perpetual state of prostration to God.

          We find in the future knowledge that on the Day of Judgment, the Almighty God would say to the the angels: ‘Take this slave of Mine to Paradise with My Mercy.’   But the man would say: ‘O Lord, reward me with my good deeds.’  The Lord would say: ‘Take My Slave to Paradise with My Mercy.’  But the man would say: ‘O Lord, reward me with my good deeds.’  The Lord would say: ‘Take My Slave to Paradise with My Mercy.’   But the man would say: ‘O Lord, reward me with my good deeds.’

So the Almighty God would instruct the angels: ‘Measure his good deeds in comparison to My blessings on him.’  It would be found that 500 years of his worship would not even equal the blessings of the eyesight, and the bounty of the rest of his body would still remain in excess.

So God would say to the angels: ‘Take My slave to Hell-Fire.’  The man would be dragged toward Hell-Fire but he would plead: ‘O Lord, let me enter Paradise with Your Mercy.’   God would say: ‘Bring him back.’

The Almighty God would then say to him: ‘O My slave, Who created you from non-existence?’  The man would reply: ‘You have created me, O My Lord.’  God would say: ‘That was because of you or because of My Mercy?’  The man would reply: ‘Rather because of Your Mercy.’  God would say: ‘Who granted you the ability to worship for 500 years?’  The man would reply: ‘You, O My Lord.’  God would say: ‘Who placed you on the mountain surrounded by the ocean? Who created a stream of fresh water to flow in between the salty water? Who made a pomegranate to grow every night for you while it grows once a year?  And you supplicated Me to take your soul in a state of prostration, who did that?’  The man would reply: ‘‘You, O My Lord.’

The Almighty God would say: ‘Indeed, all of that happened with My Mercy, and with My Mercy you will enter Paradise.  Take My slave to Paradise.  Indeed, a righteous and good servant you were, O My slave.’  So God would let him enter Paradise.  Angel Gabriel -peace be upon him- said: O Muhammad, everything is by the Mercy of the Almighty God.` ’ ”  Related by Al-Haakim.

 

———————–

 

Indeed, humans have been granted blessings in everything: in health, in wealth, in progeny, in food, in dwelling, and in everything.  Yet, man being ungrateful often dwells on the few problems he has and forgets the many blessings he enjoys. 

God says in Qur’an: { And God has given 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 most unjust, ungrateful} (Surah 14, verse 34).  Man is unjust when he uses the blessings of God in a bad way or to do sins, and he is ungrateful when he does not thank God for the many blessings but only remembers the few problems he may have.

          The Muslim should thank God for every single blessing he has and should never take it for granted.  And in case a problem or a calamity strikes him, then instead of focusing on this one single problem the Muslim should think of the many other blessings that God has granted him and should thank God for them.

In another verse, God says: { And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “If you thank Me, I will give you more; but if you are thankless, verily, My punishment is indeed severe”} (Surah 14, verse 7).  Thus, God promises increase and prosperity for those who thank Him and loss and punishment for those who are ungrateful.

          The Mercy of God is limitless and has no bound, but the Muslim is asked to take some effort and try to get the most of that mercy by obeying God’s commands, avoiding sins, and showing thankfulness and gratitude to God.  Indeed, the Muslim should thank God for every single blessing he has and never take it for granted, rather should know that these blessings are only possible because of the favor of God and His Great Mercy.  And God and His Messenger know best.

============================

Trials and Tribulations

(keywords: Patience, Gratefulness, Ingratitude and Complaining) 

     قال الله تعالى: { أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُواْ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْاْ مِن قَبْلِكُم مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَآءُ وَالضَّرَّآءُ وَزُلْزِلُواْ حَتَّى يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ مَعَهُ مَتَى نَصْرُ اللَّهِ أَلاَ إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ} سورة البقرة 214.

      God -the Exalted- says: { Do you think that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you. They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, ‘When will the help of God come’.  Yes! Certainly, the help of God is near (to come)} (Surah 2, verse 214).

    عن أبي يَحْيَى صُهَيْبِ بْنِ سِنَانٍ رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسولُ الله صَلّى اللهُ عليهِ وسلَّم: « عَجَباً لأمْرِ المُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ لَهُ خَيْرٌ، وَلَيْسَ ذَلِكَ لأِحَدٍ إِلاَّ لِلْمُؤْمِن: إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْراً لَهُ، وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خيْراً لَهُ» .  رواه مسلم .

   Narrated Abu Yahya, Suheib Ibn Sinan -may God be pleased with him- that the Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- said:

How wonderful is the case of a believer for there is good in every affair of his, and this is not the case with anyone else except for the believer.  When a good thing happens to him, he thanks God and that is good for him; and when a trouble befalls him, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.”  Related by Imam Muslim.


 

God the Almighty created the humans and jinns to worship Him and obey His commands.  God -the Exalted- says in Qur’an:

{And I (God) did not create the jinns and humans except to worship Me (Alone)} (surah 51, verse 56).

Then those who obey God will have the reward of Paradise, and those who disobey God and reject His commands will have the punishment of Hell-Fire.  Therefore, this life is a test for humans and jinns; whether they believe or disbelieve, whether they obey or disobey the commands of God, and whether they show thanks and gratitude or impatience and ingratitude.


    

      This life is a test for people to see who among them believes and disbelieves, who obeys God’s commands and who disobeys, who refrains from sins and who commits sins and misdeeds.  The Son of Adam will then see the results of his actions on the Day of Judgment. 

But to distinguish between people and their categories, people will face and go through certain tests.  These tests could be problems or troubles in their health, wealth, relatives, income, food and drink, belief system, and the like. 

 

Thus, the test of the worldly life includes having problems, trials and tribulation that the son of Adam must go through in order to distinguish between the true believers and the hypocrites and disbelievers.  As the above verse mentions, in order to get the greatest Reward of Paradise the believer must pass a test.  Everyone must pass through this test, both past generation and present, both righteous and sinners, and both old and young.  These tests come in the form of problems, trials and tribulations.  The test may afflict the person in his health, wealth, family, life, or worse of all in his religion.

When the test afflicts the son of Adam, his reaction and responses are recorded.  Then the recompense is tended based on that.  For the believer who stands firm in the face of these calamities, bears them patiently, returns to God and seeks His help, the result is great reward and the promise of peace of heart and contentment in this life and Paradise in the Hereafter.  But for that who complains and shows impatience and ingratitude, the recompense is more misery in this life and punishment in the Hereafter.


 

        Many times we forget the real purpose of the worldly life and as soon as a problem befalls us, we tend to complain and show signs of impatience and ingratitude.  Some people go further and ask: Why this happened to me?  When a natural disaster strikes, some wonder: why us?

But how soon the son of Adam forgets his own actions and ignore the consequences of his bad deeds until it is too late.  God -the Exalted- states in Qur’an: {And whatever befalls you of disaster, it is because of what your hands have earned. And He pardons much} (Surah 42, verse 30). 

Ali Ibn Abi Talib said: “Hardships befall you in the world because of your sins.” 

    Instead of complaining and showing ingratitude, the believer must:

First, repent of all sins and ask God’s forgiveness. 

Second, the believer must remind himself of the real purpose of this life.  The believer must ponder upon the reason behind the trials and tribulations of this world, and that is to test his faith, his patience, and his firmness in religion.  These problems and troubles are a test for the believer, whether he stands firm and bear the problem patiently seeking God’s help, or does he waver and starts having doubts and worse deny the bounty of God. 

And third, the believer must surrender to God’s will and accept Pre-destiny, believing that God has judged it this way and the don of Adam must accept it, while in the meantime try his best to find a solution.


 

     The believer must remember that previous nations went through the same trials and tribulations and now they are being tended the reward or punishment of their actions (in their graves).  One day we will be considered a past generation and we too will see the results of our actions in the Hereafter after death.   

And just like when previous nations indulged in sins, they saw the effects of that in their worldly life, so will we unless we repent and avoid those sins.  Prophet Muhammad -prayer and peace be upon him- warned of such sins:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عُمَرَ، قَالَ أَقْبَلَ عَلَيْنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ يَا مَعْشَرَ الْمُهَاجِرِينَ خَمْسٌ إِذَا ابْتُلِيتُمْ بِهِنَّ وَأَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ أَنْ تُدْرِكُوهُنَّ لَمْ تَظْهَرِ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِي قَوْمٍ قَطُّ حَتَّى يُعْلِنُوا بِهَا إِلاَّ فَشَا فِيهِمُ الطَّاعُونُ وَالأَوْجَاعُ الَّتِي لَمْ تَكُنْ مَضَتْ فِي أَسْلاَفِهِمُ الَّذِينَ مَضَوْا ‏.‏ وَلَمْ يَنْقُصُوا الْمِكْيَالَ وَالْمِيزَانَ إِلاَّ أُخِذُوا بِالسِّنِينَ وَشِدَّةِ الْمَؤُنَةِ وَجَوْرِ السُّلْطَانِ عَلَيْهِمْ ‏.‏ وَلَمْ يَمْنَعُوا زَكَاةَ أَمْوَالِهِمْ إِلاَّ مُنِعُوا الْقَطْرَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ وَلَوْلاَ الْبَهَائِمُ لَمْ يُمْطَرُوا وَلَمْ يَنْقُضُوا عَهْدَ اللَّهِ وَعَهْدَ رَسُولِهِ إِلاَّ سَلَّطَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِمْ عَدُوًّا مِنْ غَيْرِهِمْ فَأَخَذُوا بَعْضَ مَا فِي أَيْدِيهِمْ ‏.‏ وَمَا لَمْ تَحْكُمْ أَئِمَّتُهُمْ بِكِتَابِ اللَّهِ وَيَتَخَيَّرُوا مِمَّا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ إِلاَّ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ بَأْسَهُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ. ‏”‏ رواه ابن ماجه والحاكم والبيهقي، بإسناد حسن.

   It was narrated that Abdul-Allah Ibn Omar said: “The Messenger of God -prayer and peace be upon him- turned to us and said: ‘O group of the Muhajireen (the migrants), beware of being afflicted with five characteristics, and I seek refuge in God of them befalling you:

  1. Adultery  never appears among a group of people to such an extent that they commit it openly, but plagues and diseases that were never known among their predecessors will spread among them.
  2. They do not cheat in weights and measures, but they will be stricken with famine, hardship in provision, and the oppression of their rulers.
  3. They do not withhold the Zakah (charity) of their wealth, but rain will be withheld from the sky, and were it not for the animals, no rain would fall on them.
  4.  They do not break their covenant with God and His Messenger, but God will enable their enemies to overpower them and take some of what is in their hands.
  5. And unless their leaders rule according to the Book of God and seek all good from that which God has revealed, God will cause them to fight one another.’”  Related by Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim, and Al-Beihaqi.

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     Then, the sensible person should reflect upon his action when afflicted with a problem or a calamity. 

The believer should remind himself of the real purpose of this life and the test he must pass through to attain Paradise.  The Muslim should always think of trials and tribulations as something that will absolve him of his sins and increase his reward.

Therefore instead of complaining and showing ingratitude, he should bear the problem patiently, turn to God and seek His help, and then surrender to Pre-destiny and accept God’s Judgment while trying his best to find a way out of his trouble.  We ask God to guide us to the Right Path, and make us die on Faith.  And God knows best.

 

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