Aamir, a middle-manager at a financial institution, complains of a measly salary compared to the workload he is entrusted with. Nafisa, a housewife, is livid due to her husband’s lack of interest in the household matters.
In these times of unbridled materialism, we are guided by our earthly possessions and seldom worry about the permissibility in faith of a particular course of action. What was unthinkable a few years ago is very much Halal these days. Take interest, for example – a myriad of bankers justify a conventional bank-based income by virtue of new fangled logic. Usury, they say, is what was disallowed in Islam, and not interest, which is a mere profit for the use of money.
Ironically, the type of people described above are the ones most discontent with their existence. If we look deeper into the causes of such discontent, Islam offers many answers. Prophet Muhammad (sa) provided us a role model in terms of contented living. There were instances, when the Prophet (sa) survived on a few dates. Yet, he never showed discontent with his fate and exhorted the faithful not to worry too much about “why this has not been given to us by Allah (swt)?”
Amr Ibn Taghlib has narrated: “Some property or something was brought to Allah’s Apostle (sa) and he distributed it. He gave to some men and ignored the others. Later, he got the news of his being admonished by those, whom he had ignored. So he glorified and praised Allah (swt) and said: ‘Amma ba’du. By Allah (swt), I may give to a man and ignore another, although the one whom I ignore is more beloved to me than the one whom I give. But I give to some people, as I feel that they have no patience and no contentment in their hearts, and I leave those who are patient and self-contented with the goodness and wealth, which Allah (swt) has put into their hearts, and ‘Amr Ibn Taghlib is one of them.'” Amr added: “By Allah (swt)! Those words of Allah’s Apostle (sa) are more beloved to me than the best red camels.” (Bukhari)
Islam does not discourage ambition per se. However, it is disallowed for us to reach a state of being constantly dissatisfied with our present and intoxicated with achieving more than our peers / neighbours / colleagues / relatives.
What medicine does Islam prescribe for avoiding such a state of discontent? Through His Messenger (sa), Allah (swt) has taught us ways to cope with the disease of discontent – a disease, which cripples the spirit. Remembering Allah (swt) is the cure for the constant human complaining. Allah (swt) says: “Those who believed (in the Oneness of Allah (swt) – Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah (swt): verily, in the remembrance of Allah (swt) do hearts find rest.” (Ar-Ra’d 13:28)
Narrated by Abu Huraira (rta): “The Prophet (sa) said: ‘Riches does not mean having a great amount of property, but riches is self-contentment.'” (Bukhari)
In a world full of tantalizing wealth and tempting positions of power, it is quite natural to get swayed in this sea of inebriated desire to acquire more, which always seems elusive.
May Allah (swt) protect us all from the constant desires of our Nafs, make us do more Dhikr, and be content within ourselves. A Muslims’ focus is on the Hereafter – discontent with our worldly lives will make us lose focus from our primary goal.