For years I had been sitting online, adding things to my cart, and then lamenting that I wouldn’t be able to get those things shipped to the other side of the world. It would frustrate me, looking at all the things that the rest of the world enjoyed, and we were unable to have access to. And in my mind, I built it up – as soon as I got home, I was going to have it all. Buy all those things that had seemed so appetizing to me, all those things that I had deemed so important. I came home – but soon realized that it was not all that I had thought it to be. Very quickly the illusion of those perfect pictures faded away.
After the frenzy of buying and enjoying the comforts readily available – slowly I began to focus myself to the meaning of life satisfaction. I had previously looked at it as a ladder to success and achieving goals – both material goals as well as academic goals. Yet it seemed that most people around us had achieved these goals and had not yet attained life satisfaction. It seemed as if we would never reach a point of perfection or satisfaction. The Holy Prophet (s) draws our attention to the concept of qana’ah – attaining life satisfaction in the following hadith:
– عن عبد الله بن عمرو رضي الله عنهما، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال:((قد أفلح من أسلم، ورُزق كفافًا، وقنَّعه الله بما آتاه
Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) narrates that the Holy Prophet (s) said: “Most Successful is he who submits to Islam, and he is granted a sustenance that is sufficient for him, and Allah has granted him satisfaction in that which he has been given”.
Here success has been tied to a deep sense of satisfaction – and this is something that only Allah grants to people. Materialism is the complete opposite to this – materialism focuses on creating want and desire whereas qana’a – is the very opposite of this. As the Holy Prophet (s) has directed us that wealth is not having the ownership of a lot of wealth – but in reality, true wealth is the independence of the soul. Abu Hurayrah (ra) says that the Holy Prophet (S) advised him(وَارْضَ بِمَا قَسَمَ اللهُ لَكَ تَكُنْ أَغْنَى النَّاسِ) [الترمذي]،“Be pleased with that which Allah has decreed for you (in your sustenance) – and you will be the richest of people”.
We all often get caught in the cycle of want and the enjoyment of shopping to numb ourselves. We also fall prey to the constant advertising around us on social media and especially on WhatsApp. This constant attack on our hearts creates a desire for more and numbs us to finding satisfaction in that which we have. It isn’t wrong to enjoy shopping or to get what we need – however the important thing is that we understand that what we buy does not make us who we are.
Once we are able to separate our buying from ourselves, we create a deeper connection to our values and refocusing on why we are purchasing a certain thing. When we can answer the why we are able to then control our wants and align them to our values. Living a life of Qa’anah is an active choice to conflict Shaitan – for many problems at home and in our workplaces stem from this feeling of ‘want’ and desire. Arguments between spouses often stem from a feeling dissatisfaction, children often have all the toys in the world and still feel unfulfilled and are often heard complaining and asking for more things- for once the cycle of want begins, it become a massive hole that can never be filled. It then seems to be that no matter the amount of work or wealth, never mind what we have – we will always need more.
وقال علي بن أبي طالب رضي الله عنه، الرزق رزقان: فرزق تطلبه، ورزق يطلبك، فإن لم تأته أتاك Ali (ra) so beautifully draws our attention to the reality of rizq: “Rizq are of two types. A sustenance that you have to run after and search for it. And then a sustenance that seeks you out -even if you don’t come to it, it will come to you”.
This change in our mind frame means that we look at our wealth as something that depreciates – but with the presence of qana’ah you move away from running after your rizq and look at what you have with a magnifying glass of gratitude.
Changes that bring about a life of Qana’ah:
Recite this dua daily: Allahumma Qanni’ni bimaa razaqtani
“Oh Allah grant me satisfaction in that which you have blessed me with”. Be active in asking Allah to grant you satisfaction in that which you have.
Be conscious of advertising – understand that when you log on to your device – you are facing targeted marketing- therefore, make the choice of entering your social media accounts very actively. Know that once you log on you are being marketed and targeted. Choose accounts carefully so that when yo do see things it is aligning to your values and your life choices.
Build your values – consider what is important to you and build a life that builds those values rather than things.
Change your life to one of service– in finding this gift that everything we have should be to create a life of benefit for the world around us, we move from living a life centered around us and our needs only – and we use what we have to create a life of benefit and service to others.