By Sheima Salam Sumer
28 December 2016
“And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.” –The Holy Quran 18:28
وَٱصۡبِرۡ نَفۡسَكَ مَعَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَدۡعُونَ رَبَّہُم بِٱلۡغَدَوٰةِ وَٱلۡعَشِىِّ
يُرِيدُونَ وَجۡهَهُ ۥۖ وَلَا تَعۡدُ عَيۡنَاكَ عَنۡہُمۡ تُرِيدُ زِينَةَ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَاۖ وَلَا تُطِعۡ مَنۡ أَغۡفَلۡنَا قَلۡبَهُ ۥ عَن ذِكۡرِنَا وَٱتَّبَعَ هَوَٮٰهُ وَكَانَ أَمۡرُهُ ۥ فُرُطً۬ا
The world “trains” us to believe that we are supposed to feel down, bad sometimes, and that we can’t always be content; this is false. Yes, it’s true that it is “normal” to experience negative feelings; this is “common,” and we are only human. However, you can always feel content if you master yourself, if you make a strong decision to choose contentment over all the negative feelings; if you make the decision to focus on what you want and on the solution rather than the problem.
Here are some reasons to always feel content no matter what is happening in your life. By “content” I mean a sense of inner peace and gratitude. Please feel free to add to this list to personalize it more for you:
1. You are a believer in Allah (SWT).
2. You are a human being, one of the most exalted creations of Allah.
3. You have the intellect/ability to read this and understand this.
4. You are in the ummah (community) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
5. Allah forgives all sins except associating anyone with Him.
Our Lord is extremely forgiving.
6. Training yourself to be content is an act of worship of Allah.
It is called being “Content with the Divine Decree” and is a very pleasing act to Allah (swt).
Each of these ideas is so powerful that if we truly reflect on them then we really should feel content all the time.
Another important point about being content relates to feeling secure in our faith in Islam, especially when it is being attacked or vilified by others. Here is an important point made by Sis. Amal Darwiche, an Islamic Studies teacher for over 20 years:
“It is not easy to feel secure in your faith when it is under attack all over the media, and yet we must learn to feel secure because that security comes from Allah. And there is a verse in the Quran that predicts that such things will happen (3:186 says: You shall certainly be tried and tested in your possessions and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Book before you and from those who worship many gods. But if you persevere patiently and guard against evil then that will be a determining factor in all affairs.) So our duty is simply to be God-conscious (Yusuf Ali translated it as “guard against evil” but the Arabic isتت قوا i.e. have taqwa). To be God-conscious (i.e. have taqwa) means to always remind yourself that Allah sees and hears everything and that He is ultimately in charge of everything. So Allah is giving us the method to use to get out of that feeling of hurt and helplessness when hateful people denigrate our faith and spread lies about it.”
HAPPINESS HINT: Remembering Allah will help you to feel content all the time.
What Does Feeling Content Really Feel Like?
It is important for you to understand how you feel when you feel content or joyful.
Unfortunately, some people are not very clear on how it feels to be content. Please take a moment to feel content and happy right now (forgetting any problem that is currently blocking your contentment).
This feeling is how you want to feel all the time, as a base or underlying emotion. Yes, there will be disappointments in life and difficulties, but what I’m saying is that you will recognize these disappointments/problems and then you will develop the SKILL to shift your negative feeling into a feeling of contentment.
As Muslims we are supposed to feel other Islamic feelings too. Of course, we feel sad when our brothers and sisters are suffering. We feel patient when we are facing hardships. We feel a sense of injustice when we are treated unjustly. But, underneath all of these surface feelings is a feeling of contentment, inner peace, inner strength. We don’t let the surface feelings shake our inner peace.
Feeling content may look different for different people. You need to be true to yourself and understand what feeling content means for YOU. Once you know how contentment feels for you personally, it will be easier for you to train yourself to be content in all situations.
HAPPINESS HINT: You must teach yourself how to shift from a negative feeling to a feeling of contentment.
You Must Stop Blaming Others For Your Unhappiness
“And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel for then you will be weak in hearts and your power will depart, and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient.”
–Holy Quran 8:46
وَأَطِيعُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ وَلَا تَنَـٰزَعُواْ فَتَفۡشَلُواْ وَتَذۡهَبَ
رِيحُكُمۡۖ وَٱصۡبِرُوٓاْۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ
It is normal to feel negative feelings sometimes, as we are only human; however, if you are not able to find ways to shift yourself to feeling calm and peaceful,then you need to take responsibility for that.
Yes, people do hurt our feelings and we do go through difficult situations that make us feel confused at first.
The key phrase is at first, as it is your responsibility is to notice when you are feeling less than calm, and then find a way to bring yourself back to feeling calm.
Make duaa to Allah (swt). Think about solutions to the problem. Tell yourself that feeling calm is the first step to improving your situation. Tell yourself, “I take responsibility for my feelings.” I am not saying that changing your feelings is an immediate thing that can be done in a snap. (Although sometimes it can, and when you can do that, you have truly become free from the worries of life). What I am saying is that if you blame others for your unhappiness, then you just gave other people the power to control your happiness. Put the power back in your hands!
Sis. Amal Darwiche (quoted earlier) has this to say about some Muslims’ tendency to blame others for our broader, political problems:
“Muslims should get out of the victimhood mentality and stop blaming others for the misfortunes that befall us. This is especially true of Muslims in many oppressed countries nowadays whose governments encourage them to blame the “West” or blame this or that enemy. Yes, we may fall victim to unscrupulous people sometimes, but that does not put us off the hook about working to change our condition. History is replete with examples of people who were oppressed yet they managed to work hard and triumph over hardship, for example: the textile workers of the turn of the century who won the right to form unions and protect their rights by striking and organizing. Where there is a will, there is a way. We should not give in by saying: ‘Oh! That is our destiny.’ We deserve justice as much as the next person and should always work hard to achieve that.”
HAPPINESS HINT: Take action to improve your condition rather than focusing on who is to blame.