Nowadays, if you were to meet a Muslim – men or women, young or old – and ask them how they were doing, they seem to have been anxiously waiting for the question. Their response is a list of complaints. A husband complains about his wife, and the wife of the husband and kids. Kids complain about their parents not understanding them and not spending time with them, while parents complain that the kids do not do their homework and have no respect for their parents. An employer complains about his employees, who do not fear Allah (swt) in their work ethics, while the employees complain about their employer. Subhan’Allah, everybody is complaining about everybody. Why are so many Muslims constantly complaining?
Muslims need to realize that their constant need to complain has a simple and fundamental reason: a lack of a sense of contentment. In other words, dissatisfaction has taken the place of contentment in their hearts and as a result is reflected in all that they utter.
If we look at the companions of the Prophet (saw) and those who came after them, we realize that they were not cursed with this atrocity of the tongue, as Islamic scholar Umar AbdulKafy calls it. But why were they different? They fully understood the meaning of Ridha (contentment). When a Muslim understands, what it means to be content, they understand two things:
- They should be content with Allah’s (swt) orders and obey them.
- They should be content with what Allah (swt) has destined for them (for instance, if one perseveres yet fails in a specific endeavor despite abiding by all worldly causes that guarantee success – a content Muslim would say: “Alhamdulillah! Allah (swt) knows best.”).
Scholars claim that the origin of contentment lies in a Muslim’s realization that if Allah (swt) gives, they should accept, if He (swt) denies them, they should also accept, and if He (swt) calls on them, they should respond. To clarify this point, let us consider Yaquoob (aas), who lost his son Yusuf (aas) and was saddened to the extent that he lost his eyesight. Afterwards, he lost his son Bejamin. The logical consequence would be that his sadness would lead to depression and later on to despair. But contrary to the nature of things as we see them, it led to hope: “O my sons! Go you and enquire about Yusuf (Joseph) and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s Mercy. Certainly no one despairs of Allah’s Mercy, except the people who disbelieve.” (Yusuf, 12:87) The Prophet (saw) used to say: “Oh, Allah, I ask you contentment in what you decree.” This is the intention for being always prepared to accept wholeheartedly whatever Allah (swt) sends your way.
If you are a person, who is constantly complaining, then know that your constant complaint and criticism of all that is around you is the symptom of an ailment – that of not being satisfied or content with what Allah (swt) has decreed for you. However, there are some remedies for a heart that lacks contentment and a tongue that has resigned to constant complaint:
- Understand that you are under the authority of Allah (swt) and, hence, should accept wholeheartedly Allah’s (swt) choices for you, including calamities – for everything is from Allah (swt).
- Understand that you are merely a servant of Allah (swt), and when He (swt) tests your faith, you should never express discontent or questions His (swt) wisdom. Know that if you say you love Allah (swt), then you should be content with all that He (swt) asks of you, even if you do not understand it. Allah (swt) is All-Knowing of all matters, be they big or small.
- All of us say we are Muslims. But do we understand what a Muslims is? A Muslims is one, who surrenders to Allah (swt) for the sake of Paradise. So sell yourself to Allah (swt) and surrender to His (swt) Will.
- Furthermore, what do you get from constantly complaining? Does it solve anything? Sometimes it even complicates things. It may plunge you into depression and affect those around you. When encountering problems, face them realistically and do not blow them out of proportions by brooding over them and constantly complaining. Facing problems head on puts things in focus. Only then you can start to solve them or accept them as a test from Allah (swt), while looking at the bright side of things.
- Understand that whoever does other than what Allah (swt) wills is dissatisfied. Such a person does not believe in the supplication: “O, Allah, Your wisdom is what I go by. Your judgment is always fair.”
- Also, a person, who is constantly complaining, is a burden to himself and to those around him. A wife might complain to a friend about the bad manners of her husband, but can that friend do anything about it? Or a wife might complain about every single issue she has with her in-laws to her mother, sister, friend or even neighbour. Will that in any way solve her problem? It just makes things worse. Secrets are revealed, and a husband’s trust in his wife to protect his family’s faults is betrayed. If you look around, people, who always complain, are very lonely people. They lose friends and even husbands. Therefore, pump up your heart with content and satisfaction of what Allah (swt) has decreed for you, and ,Insha’Allah, your urges to complain will disappear.
It is not to say that you cannot complain at all. But try to direct your complaint to the person it concerns. Do not just complain for the sake of complaining and do not make a complaint an ice-breaker or a topic of a discussion.
Count your blessings, and you will realize they are countless. Always look at the bright side of things. The faithful are those, who see the good in calamities. May we all be counted among those whom Allah (swt) is pleased with and may we be adorned with the characteristics of those of Paradise in this world and the Hereafter, Ameen.
(Adapted from a lecture by Islamic scholar Umar Abdulkafy)