The Prophet (s) said, ‘The scriptures of Prophet Abraham (a) contain the following: ‘…the rational man, as long as he is of sound reason, must put aside several hours during the day – an hour for conversing with his Lord, an hour for [self-scrutiny and] accounting for himself, an hour to ponder over Allah’s favors bestowed upon him, and an hour to spend on his own lawful pleasures, for this one hour will be an aid to him in fulfilling his other hours, as well as a time to recuperate and relax.’
“Wisdom is a tree, that grows in the heart and produces fruit on the tongue.” ~ Imam Ali (a)
If you need counsel about some matter that has suddenly happened to you, then begin by exposing it to the spontaneity of the young, for surely their minds are sharper, and their intuition is quicker; then after that refer it to the judgement of those who are mature and old, so that they can analyse it, and decide what is best for it, for surely they are the most experienced. ~ Imam Ali (a)
“I wish I had him / her as my friend… then I’d be really happy. ”
“I wish I was famous, then I’d really be happy.”
“I wish was making enough money… then I’d be happy.”
“I wish… I wish.. I wish…”
Have you ever felt this way?
We spend our lives running after things or people, hoping they will make us happy. But as soon as we get what we want, the happiness fizzles away & we start running after the next shiny object.
Finding happiness in material things is like fighting illness with pain killers. The effect is superficial and rather short term.
It’s great to be Happy and to experience this high. But know that this kind of happiness is like a wave. It comes. And it goes.
What we should be really striving for, is to Be Content.
What is the difference between Contentment and Happiness?
If you chase happiness, it will always be one step ahead of you. If you chase contentment, there is nowhere to run.
While happiness is an emotion that comes and goes, I look at Contentment as a way of life.
Contentment is a state of constant well-being despite the ups & downs we face. Life is challenging and at times it can throw us off balance. By practicing contentment, we find the strength to remain at peace no matter what.
How to be Content? 2 Lessons from a Sufi Comic
Two lessons I learned from the quote in the above comic:
1. Be Grateful
Be Grateful to God for what He has given.
There are so many things to be grateful about that we take for granted. Our family, friends, our health, the food that we eat, the list goes on and on!
Often the simplicity of practicing gratitude deceives you into thinking that it’s not worth your time. That its just placebo! But trust me, this works.
It’s an act of faith and can sometimes feel ineffective, especially when you are exasperated. But the more I embrace gratitude, the better my life becomes.
When we are grateful for what we have, it focuses our attention on what is right in our lives. Not only do we become content, it also helps us maintain a positive perspective when we face challenges.
2. Avoid Complaining All the Time
There’s a tendency in society to think that if you’re complaining all the time, you must be “smart”. Because if you’re complaining you’re implying you know how to fix the world’s problems or that you’re somehow better than others.
But complaining only creates more unhappiness not only for you, but also for those around you.
Now I’m not saying that you should smile all the time, and pretend everything is OK when it’s not. That’s unreal.
But before you complain, ask yourself “Why am I complaining?” Is it to validate myself? Or is it because there’s a genuine problem that needs to be addressed.
Instead of complaining, try to be constructive in your criticism. Look at the world from the point of view of the other person. Listen well. Put forth your needs. Try solving the problem together.
In most cases this will lead to a solution.
So the next time you catch yourself thinking “I wish I had so and so… then I’ll be happy.” Gently remind yourself, that you are responsible for your own happiness. And that it doesn’t need to depend on “being famous”, “making more money” or anything external.
What you are really looking for is to be content. And once you realize contentment comes from within, you don’t need to wait any longer. You can be content here & now.
Discuss things with children with insight and argument
and with the Middle Age with reflection
and with the old men by keeping silent
~ Imam Ali (a)
Rumi crafted spiritual wisdom, in the most beautiful of ways, and even in today’s modern age, anyone reading Rumi will find something they can relate to.
We’ve taken some of Rumi’s quotes and used created images using the illustrations from the book. Have a look at them here.
The likeness of this world is that of a snake: it is soft to the touch and deadly poisonous.
The ignorant child is distracted by it, and the one with the understanding intellect is cautious of it.
So turn away from what fascinates you in it, for how little of it stays with you
~ Imam Ali (a)
The Prophet Muhammad (‘s) said:
“Take benefit of five before five:
your youth before your old age,
your health before your sickness,
your wealth before your poverty,
your free-time before your preoccupation,
and your life before your death.”
Loss is an eminent part of our life.
Philosophers have for long meditated on the nature of loss and concluded that the world around us is ever changing!
In fact change is the only permanent element of the physical realm. Everything else is transient. And loss is just another aspect of this constant change.
But we humans are emotional beings. Dry logic doesn’t appeal to us in time of need. And thus we are left grappling with the question of the aftermath of ‘loss’ and ‘change’ – grief!
Have you ever lost somebody or something you love? How did it feel?
For me losing a cherished object or relationship is all consuming. I tend to forget my surroundings and can think only of the severance. A drama plays out in my heads, about the joy I had derived from the object (or relationship), how empty my life will be without the source of happiness and obviously the ever-green and popular ‘The world is unfair and everything nasty happens to me’.
I am sure most of you have your own version of this litany and can identify with what I go through.
We can find comfort in knowing that this is only natural. As a part of our ‘human’ legacy we have been blessed with the ability to hold on to things and even intangibles like opinions, concepts and relationships and give them a special kind of meaning only we can relate to. In fact we make sense of the world around us through these objects and precepts.
It doesn’t really matter if the loss pertains to something replaceable like a phone or something far more valuable – like an idea or a relationship, our instinct is to focus on what it meant to us and our life and lament its loss.
With each little something we lose, we lose a part of our identity and existence and yes, that is bound to hurt.
Doomed To Grieve? Why You Should Make An Effort To Let Go!
Grieving is a natural process we go through when we lose something. And it is okay to mourn.
For a while!
But it is definitely not natural or healthy to fall victim to the ‘rut’ of unhappiness and distress and taint everything in your life with its effect.
I have frequently crossed paths with individuals who never recover from the loss of an idea, an object or a relationship. They walk through life unaware of the several hundred other blessings God has showered on them. As a result they:
- Lose touch with reality and can’t successfully get on with their daily life.
- Allow their healthy relationships to degenerate into loveless, compassionless interactions.
- Invite into their lives hundreds of diseases like cancer, immunological dysfunction and hypertension. Without good health, coping with grief becomes even more of a challenge.
None of the scenarios are appealing and prolonged grief is now officially treated as a disorder.
There is a simple way using which you can take a more rational and ‘god-centric’ approach to the whole concept of loss and mourning. Let me share this with you!
Surely We Belong To God And To Him Shall We Return:
In Muslim culture, when someone hears the news of a person passing away, the first words to utter are:
“Inna lilahe wa inna ilayhe rajaoon” (Quran 2:156)
For a long time I didn’t understand the meaning of this line and thought it’s something people said just to console the bereaved.
But when I took time to look up its meaning, I felt it had a very profound message; a message that can help people overcome their grief by pointing them to a universal and divine truth! “Inna lilahe wa inna ilayhe rajaoon” literally translates into “Surely we belong to God, and to Him shall we return”
I found that by meditating on the meaning of this verse, I could think of all the objects in my life as transient. I understood (or rather re-realized) the fact that no matter what I did, how well I performed, how much I loved or how hard I held on to something, I was not its rightful ‘owner’ and I would not be able to stake permanent claim on it!
In the end everything, including I myself, will leave the physical plane and begin the journey to reach and become one with His divine light.
As soon as I stepped into this mind-set, I could let go of the scarcity mentality. Even something as pragmatic and mundane as a goofed presentation no longer mattered because it was just one opportunity out of a thousand and since nothing was permanent, something better would come along eventually. The important thing was to praise my courage for taking action!
Every day through the magic of “Surely we belong to God, and to Him shall we return” I focus my attention on the lessons I can learn from my loss and the whole experience.
Putting Wisdom Into Action:
My advice is: Whenever you’re suffering from grief, meditate on the verse “Surely we belong to God, and to Him shall we return”
Through this gem of a thought you can perceive things around you for what they truly are – a form of trust, given to you for safe-keeping, which will ultimately change hands or revert to their ultimate owner, God our Lord.
Once you make this reality a part of your life, you will no longer feel a sense of debilitating grief when you lose or have to give up on something (or someone) precious to you. Instead you will be able to dissect the experience and ‘introspect’ to gain insights like:
- What can I learn from this?
- What can I do to change my situation?
- How can I grow?
- What area do I need to improve on?
This exercise will leave you enriched after every loss or severance. You will be full with the knowledge of how the world functions and what you can do to elevate yourself and your skills to make the most of your life and opportunities.
Loss is inevitable! Grief is natural! But it shouldn’t be protracted and all consuming. Grieving for something makes you a gentle human being capable of appreciating value but letting go makes you someone with courage and fortitude.
Remember God owns every grain of sand and every puff of wind on this earth and by entrusting your cherished possessions to his care; you can relax and move on with your life.
In today’s world we are bombarded with content from all sides. Email, Facebook, Phonecalls, SMS, Whatsapp and the list goes on and on!
Isn’t it overwhelming? It’s almost as if we are being drenched by a torrential downpour of information.
Even if we set aside the ‘unessential’ social media posts and tweets, there is an over-abundance of potentially useful insights, impressions and take-aways from Online Lectures, TED Talks, e-books and podcasts.
It forces us to ask: How we can translate all this information into knowledge that we & others can benefit from?
We often think that reading books & hearing lectures will make us a “knowledgeable” person.
But that is not sufficient.
Reading & hearing constitute step one of the journey of acquiring knowledge. If we only consume & do not implement or internalize, we’ll end up becoming an arm-chair intellectual, someone who can talk, but can’t generate results by taking appropriate action!
Infact God says in the Qur’an “It is most hateful to Allah that you should say that which you do not do.” (61:3)
5 Steps to Acquire True Knowledge
So how does one go about acquiring ‘true’ knowledge?
Someone once asked the Prophet, “What is Knowledge?”
And He broke down the process of understanding & acquiring it into 5 simple steps. You can enjoy the pearls of his wisdom through this comic: