The greatest and fundamental means of achieving a good life is Iman (certain belief) and
good deeds. Allah the Most High said:
The reason behind this is very clear. This is because true believers in Allah, who have a
sound belief that gives rise to righteous deeds, and mends the heart and corrects human behaviour, and makes good both this world and the Hereafter; such a people have the basic elements that guide them in dealing with situations of happiness and joy, and situations of anxiety, sorrow and grief. They gratefully accept situations of happiness and joy, and are thankful, and use them in what is beneficial. When they use them in this manner, they experience additional joy, and they desire the blessings of these things and hope that they remain with them, and also yearn for the good reward of those who are thankful to Allah. This feeling and experience brings with it so much good and blessings, far greater than the joy that is the primary cause of it.
On the other hand, in a harmful and unpleasant situations, situations of grief and sorrow, they deal with them by resisting what is resistible, and lightening what could be lightened, and they persevere with a beautiful contentment over what they have no power to resist. By this they achieve the benefits of earnest struggle, and gather experience and inner strength, and earn the reward of patience and perseverance, the greatness of which belittles in comparison the distasteful things that befell them. As a result they end up having in place of the unpleasant things, joy and good hope, and a sincere desire in the favours of Allah and His reward. The Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, beautifully expressed this situation in a Sahih Hadith, where he said:
“The affair of the believer is really wonderful! All his affairs are good: when he is touched by ease and affluence, he is thankful, and that is good for him; and when he is touched by suffering he is patient, and that is good for him. And this only for the believer.” (Muslim)
The Prophet, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, informs us in this hadith that the good of the believer and his gains, and the excellent benefits of his deeds, are multiplied several fold in all the things that befall him, be they pleasant or unpleasant. This is why you see two people afflicted by the same ups and downs of life situations, and they differ so widely in the way they encounter them, in accordance with the level of their iman and righteous deeds. The one with iman and righteous deeds encounters both good and bad situations with what we mentioned of thankfulness in good situations, and patience in bad ones, plus the other things that go along with them. As a result of this, he experiences joy and happiness; grief and sorrow leave him, and he becomes free from misery, anxiety, and constriction of the heart, and he lives a good and happy life in this world.
The other one, on the other hand, encounters joyful and agreeable situations with insolence, arrogance and rebellion. As a result of this, his behaviour deviates, and he becomes just like an animal: encountering his joy with utter greed, and burning anxiety and restlessness. And despite that, his heart is still not at rest. He is restless for several reasons: he is restless out of fear that the good things will vanish, and out of the feeling of anxiety for the struggle to retain them; he is restless out of the burning urge and desire to acquire more, because the human self by its nature knows no limits to what it desires, and he may acquire them and he may not. Even if he acquires them the restlessness still
persists, because the circle will repeat itself on him viciously. And when he is afflicted with unpleasant things, he is worried, full of despair, fearful and sorrowful. Only Allah knows the degree of the wretchedness of the life he is going through, and the mental and psychological sickness associated with it, and the extent of the fear that would ultimately lead to more horrible and heinous results. This is because he neither has any hope of getting a reward, nor any patience that will console him and lighten his pains.
All this is known from human experience. There are many examples in life, which if you reflect upon even one of them, and observe through it human experiences, you will definitely see the wide difference between the true believer who is acting in accordance with his certain belief, and the person who is not like him. This is because the religion of truth strongly urges contentment with Allah’s provision, and with whatever He gives His slaves out of His favour and vast generosity.
If the believer is afflicted with illness or poverty, or similar tribulations that no individual is free from, he is happy and contented, because of his certain belief, contentment and satisfaction with what Allah has decreed for him. His heart does not quest for what has not been destined to him. He looks at people that are less fortunate than him, and he does not look at those who are above him in worldly riches. By this he might even be happier and more delighted and peaceful than the one who has all his worldly needs met, but has not been gifted with contentment. The opposite is the case of the one who does not act in accordance with iman; when he is afflicted with poverty or loses some of his worldly needs, you find him in utter despair and wretchedness.
Another example is when fear and disturbing events befall a person; you find the one with sound iman having a firm heart, and he is calm and firmly in control of the situation, by making the best use of his faculties of thought, speech and action, as though he has already prepared him self for the event. This type of reaction puts him at ease, and strengthens his
heart. The reaction of the one without iman on the other hand, is the direct opposite of this. When he encounters fearful situations, his heart trembles, and his nerves becomes tense, and his intellect loses its focus. There is nothing inside him except alarm and fear.The outward terror is increased by his inward restlessness, the degree of which is beyond expression. This type of people among mankind, if they do not acquire some of the natural means at the disposal of every human being for dealing with troubles through life experiences, their energy becomes completely sapped, and they suffer a nervous breakdown. This is because they lack the iman that encourages patience, especially in
situations of difficulty and anxiety.
It is true that both the good and the bad, and the believer and the one who rejects faith, both share the common human quality of acquired courage, as well as the innate ability to deal with dreadful situations and lighten their oppressive effects on the self. But the believer, because of his strong belief, patience and reliance and trust in Allah, and his desire to be rewarded by Allah, excels in having qualities that make him more courageous, and soothe more effectively the pangs of terror and the pains of calamity on
him. As Allah,the Most High said:
“If you are suffering hardships, they too are suffering similar hardships: but you hope from Allah that for which they hope not.” (An-Nisa:104).
In addition to that, the believers receive from Allah His special help, succour and assistance that will drive away the dread and terror that befell them. Allah, the Most High said:
“And be patient. Surely Allah is with those who are patient.” (Al-Anfal: 46)
Among the means of eliminating worry, grief and anxiety is goodness to creation, by words, by deeds, and by all types of good acts. All of these are good and excellent in the sight of Allah, and by them Allah removes worries and anxieties from both the good and the bad; each in accordance with his level of being good to creation. Except that the portion of the believer is more complete and perfect, and he also excels by the fact that his goodness is borne out of sincerity to Allah and seeking his reward. As a result Allah makes the act of doing good and granting it easy for him because of his hope in the goodness with Allah; and He removes from him unpleasant things because of his sincerity and his seeking the reward of Allah. Allah, the Most High said:
‘There is no good in most of their secret conferences except (in) him who exhorts to a deed of charity (in Allah’s cause),or goodness,or conciliation between people.Whoever does that seeking the pleasure of Allah,We shall bestow on him an immense reward.” (An-Nisa :114)
Allah, the Most High, informs us that these things are all acts of goodness whosoever does
them. And acts of goodness bring them good, and remove evil. But the true believer, who
seeks the reward and pleasure of Allah, for him Allah gives an immense reward. Part of that immense reward is the removal of grief, sorrow and anguish.
Useful Ways of Leading a Happy Life by Shaykh Abdur Rahman bin Nasr As S’adi Pages 6-15