Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Heart's Content

To escape their mind-altering effects, I recently cancelled subscriptions to home decorating magazines on the advice of a close friend.

That's because after leafing through glossy pages showcasing trendy homes, I invariably found my own rooms intolerably outdated and unfinished!

I had admittedly fallen hook, line and sinker for the profiteers enticing me to forever embellish, replace and upgrade my perfectly good furnishings. By giving glimpses into the homes of the rich and famous, advertisers provoke dissatisfaction and embroil the unsuspecting in never-ending pursuits for more.

But God has warned us against such diversions away from His remembrance. He directs us towards simplicity and contentment (ridha in Arabic), encouraging us to rise above materialism to climb to closeness to Him.

Successful are those "who are content with the transient world in that amount which will remove the hunger and clothe the nakedness (the bare necessities of life)," according to Prophet Muhammad (S). "Their (true) wealth lies in that which will make them reach the next life."

Indeed, true satisfaction comes from pleasing God by obeying and serving Him in this world. The attribute of ridha involves synchronizing our likes and dislikes to those of God and being content with his decree.

"There's an emptiness inside the human being longing for that amazing company [with God he] once enjoyed," says lecturer Nouman Ali Khan. "You can fill it with anything else and it will be depleted."

God awaits those who achieve such contentment:

"(To the righteous soul will be said:) O soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, well-pleased and well-pleasing to Him! Enter, then, among my Devotees! Yea, enter my heaven!" (Quran 89: 27-30)

Fatima, one of the four perfect women, was also known as Radhia (the one who is satisfied) because of her wholehearted attachment to God. Prophet Muhammad (S) often repeated "the contentment of Fatima is my contentment" and "God is satisfied with her contentment" to encourage people to follow his daughter's lead.

Pitying her hands and shoulders calloused from hard labor, Fatima's husband Ali took her to the Prophet (S) one day to request a servant. When the Prophet (S) suggested prayers instead, Fatima responded: "I am content with whatever God and his Prophet will."

Contentment should not be confused with complacency, however. Like Fatima, we must also stand up and express dissatisfaction when God's laws are being violated. The determined people of Egypt, for example, are back on the streets like they were during the "Winter of Discontent" to demand real peace and justice and not just a semblance of it.

Last month, that same friend and I rode together to visit an artsy pal of ours with an amazingly modern new place. Not surprisingly, we ended up discussing all the way home how worn out, uncomfortable, etc. our own sofas were and even set a date to go shopping for new ones.

For sure, we need to axe such rendezvous (as we did our magazines) until further introspection.

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