Contentedness

O you who is afflicted with an ardent love for this life, although you shall never attain from it except what is decreed for you: there are many who attain provision without the least amount of effort, and there are many who expend all possible means but never receive any provision. Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, requested to be able to see His Lord but his request was denied, while Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was woken up from his sleep to hold an audience with his Lord even though he never asked for it.

Woe to you: poverty is, in reality, better for your affairs, and losing this world should put you at ease; were it for the desirous that they would become conscious of the consequences of actions! Plenty of good may lie concealed within what you dislike, which you would realise if only the cover over your eyes was removed.

Exalted is He Who ordained for the perfect to get along with the uncouth and ignorant in nature. The eyes of the mind (intellect) observe the outcomes, while greed only notices the immediate benefit; that is why the old man is exhausted when he attempts to discipline a young boy.

You should know that when you allow free reign to your desires, they narrow the road to your salvation. Your desires ruin the capital of your life with a reckless hand just as how an inept imbecile would do with a ball of wool.

O you who seeks help for the removal of poverty by employing his complaining tongue: know that what you perceive as the prison of poverty is actually a protective fortress, and it is indeed a sickness that only nobles suffer from. Poverty is a well and neediness is its depths, whereas self-desires are bonds of slavery; therefore “This wordily life is the prison of believers”.

Be like Yusuf, peace be upon him, who experienced the bitterness and hardship of living in the well and surviving in darkness, being sold into slavery and enduring imprisonment; perhaps, like him, you may emerge after all these hardships into the spacious kingdom of “appoint me over the storehouses of the land” (Yusuf 12:55)

Brace yourself for the night of hardship, for the dawn of reward is soon to break the night. Poverty is nothingness within which lies the existence of everything, whereas richness is an existence within which lies a void.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was offered enough gold to fill the valley of Makkah but he refused. O Muhammad, from whom did you learn contentedness? The state of his being answered: from my father’s haste. [This is a metaphoric employment of a situation as he refers to how the father of the Prophet was travelling for trade but died without achieving it whereas the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not indulge into worldly affairs, yet ruled the world]. The companions used to be offered wealth that was lawful, but they would refuse because of their contentedness with their state. O you poor people, embellish your poverty with the jewels of silence for the poor who is patient receives the honour to be among those in the company of Allah. Endure the thirst of indigence; a free woman would prefer to starve, rather than eat from one she earns from selling her body. It is indeed an insult to the Master when His slave asks help from someone other than him; therefore always ask help only from your master. O you heedless ones, who are so focussed on thinking about the means that you neglect to think of the One who creates the means and causes: it is He, the one Who gives, Who can also deprive and prevent, therefore “do not set up rivals to Allah” (Baqarah 2:22)

Whenever you are in need of anything, your action should be to immediately head to the niche (mihrab) and offer prayer, and suffice with serving your Lord, for he who serves Him shall never be neglected or forgotten by Him. It is He Who said: “Whoever was so preoccupied in My remembrance to ask Me [for his needs], I shall provide hime better than what I provide those who ask Me.” (Bayhaqi, Shu’ab al-Iman 572)

Woe to you, a truthful person who is needy abnegates all pleasures and temptations of this wordily life as he sees himself above them; as soon as he saw this worldly life rebuffing him, he in turn immediately boycotted it. His example is like a person who accidentally steps on a dead corpse whereupon he blocks his nose and quickness his pace; he then decides to walk on the road of contentedness were he finds a treasure that eluded even the like of al-Isqandar. This is because his heart is wealthier and more prosperous than Qarun even as his house is emptier than the void in Musa’s mother’s heart. As the poet said: He who wears the robe of contentedness will surely be rich even in destitution and will find fecundity even in a place of aridity.

When the poor are resurrected on the Day of Judgement they rush to the doors of Paradise to enter, but the Angels stop them saying: Hold on! Today is the Day of Judgement [you should wait until you are judged], upon which they display the sleeves of humility and reveal their deficiency, saying: And do you reckon we have anything to be judged for? And then proceed!

Seeds of Admonishment and Reform by Imam Ibn Jawzi Pages 168-171

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