By Sh Aaidh al-Qarni
Wealth, appearance, children, house, and talents – you must be content with your share in these things: (So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful.) (Qur'an 7: 144)
Most Islamic scholars and pious Muslims of the early generations of Islam were poor; needless it is to say, then, that they did not have beautiful houses or nice cars. Yet, despite these disadvantages, they led fruitful lives, and they benefited humankind, not by some miracle, but because they used all that they were given, and spent their time in the correct way. Hence they were blessed in their lives, their time, and their talents.
On the contrary, there are many people who have been bestowed with wealth, children, and all forms of blessings, yet these blessings have been the very reason for their misery and ruin. They deviated from what their inborn instincts were telling them, namely, that material things are not everything. Look at those that have obtained degrees from world-renowned universities, and yet they are paragons of obscurity. Their talents and abilities remain unused.
Meanwhile, others who are limited in the scope of their knowledge have managed to make mountains out of what they have been given, benefiting both themselves and society. If you are a seeker of happiness, be satisfied with the looks Allah has favoured you with, with your family situation, with the sound of your voice, with the level of your understanding, and with the amount of your salary. Certain educators go further than this by saying that you should imagine being contented with even less than you actually have now.
Here for you is a list of those who have shone from our Islamic heritage despite each being challenged by various disadvantages:
* 'Ataa ibn Rabah was a world-renowned scholar of his time. He was not only a freed slave and snub-nosed, but he was also paralyzed.
* Al-Ahnaf ibn Qays was famous among the Arabs for his singular level of patience. He achieved that fame despite being emaciated, humpbacked, with crooked legs and a fragile fiame.
* Al-A'mash was among the most famous scholars of Hadith in his time. He was a freed slave, he had bad eyesight, and he was poor. His clothes were ripped, his appearance was disheveled, and he lived in straitened circumstances.
In fact, every Prophet was at one time or another a shepherd. Dawood AS (David) was a blacksmith, Zakariah AS (Zacharia) a carpenter, and Idrees AS (Enoch) a tailor; and yet they were the best of humankind.
Therefore your value is in your abilities, good deeds, manners, and contributions to society. Do not feel grief, then, over that which has passed you by in life in terms of good looks, wealth, or family; and be content with what Allah has allotted for you. (We Who portion out between them their livelihood in this world.) (Qur 'an 43: 32)
Remind yourself of Paradise, which is as wide as are the Heavens and the Earth. If you are hungry in this world, if you are sad, ill or oppressed, remember the eternal bliss of Paradise. If you do this, then your losses are really profits and the hardships you face are really gifts. The most wise of people are those that work for the Hereafter, because it is better and everlasting. And the most foolish of mankind are those that see this world as their eternal abode – in it reside all of their hopes. You will find such people to be the most grief-stricken of all when faced with calamity. They will be the most affected by worldly loss simply because they see nothing beyond the insignificant lives that they lead. They see and think only of this impermanent life. They wish for nothing to spoil them in their state of felicity. Were they to remove the veil of ignorance from their eyes, they would commune with themselves about the eternal abode – its bliss, pleasures, and castles. They would listen attentively when they are informed through the Qur'an and the Sunnah about its description. Indeed, that is the abode that deserves our attention and merits our striving and our toiling, so that we may achieve the best of it.
Have we reflected at length about the description of the inhabitants of Paradise? Illness does not befall them, grief does not come near them, they die not, they remain young, and their attire remains both perfect and clean. They are in a beautiful home. In Paradise is found that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has imagined. The rider travels under a tree in Paradise for one hundred years and yet he still does not reach its end. The length of a tent in Paradise is sixty miles. Its rivers are constant, its castles are lofty, and its fruits are not only close-by, but are also easily picked.
The happiness of Paradise will be absolute. So why do we not contemplate this fact? If Paradise is our final destination – and we ask Allah for Paradise – then the hardships of this world are less heavy than they may seem, so let the hearts of the afflicted ones find solace. 0' you who live in poverty, or are afflicted with calamity, work righteous deeds so that you shall live in Allah's Paradise. (Peace be upon you, because you persevered in patience! Excellent indeed is the final home!) (Qur 'an 13: 24).