Praise be to Allah.
Peace of mind, contentment, happiness and freedom from worries and anxiety… these are what everyone wants, and these are the ways in which people can have a good life and find complete happiness and joy. There are religious means of achieving this, and natural and practical means, but no one can combine all of them except the believers; although other people may achieve some of them, they will miss out on others.
Here follows a summary of the means of achieving this aim for which everyone is striving. In some cases, those who achieve many of them will live a joyful life and a good life; in other cases, those who fail to achieve all of them will live a life of misery and hardship. And there are others which are in between, according to the means they are able to attain. These means include the following:
1 – Faith and righteous deeds:
This is the greatest and most fundamental of means. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Whoever works righteousness — whether male or female — while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter).”[al-Nahl 16:97]
Allah tells us and promises us that whoever combines faith with righteous deeds will have a good life and a good reward in this world and in the Hereafter.
The reason for this is clear: those who believe in Allah – with sincere faith that motivates them to do righteous deeds that change hearts and attitudes and guides them to the straight path in this world and the Hereafter – follow principles and guidelines by means of which they deal with everything that happens to them, be it the causes of happiness and excitement or the causes of anxiety, worry and grief.
They deal with the things that they like by accepting them and giving thanks for them, and using them in good ways. When they deal with them in this manner, it creates in them a sense of excitement and the hope that it will continue and that they will be rewarded for their gratitude, which is more important than the good things that happen to them. And they deal with bad things, worries and distress by resisting those that they can resist, alleviating those that they can alleviate, and bearing with goodly patience those that they cannot avoid. Thus as a result of the bad things they gain a lot of benefits, experience, strength, patience and hope of reward, which are more important and which diminish the hardships they have undergone and replace them with happiness and hope for the bounty and reward of Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) expressed this in a saheeh hadeeth (authentic report) in which he said: “How wonderful is the situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone but the believer.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 2999).
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that the believer is always gaining and the reward for his deeds is always multiplying, no matter what happens to him, good or bad.
2 – Being kind to people in word and deed, and all kinds of doing good. This is one of the means of removing worry, distress and anxiety. By this means Allah wards off worries and distress from the righteous and immoral alike, but the believer has the greater share of this, and is distinguished by the fact that his kindness to others stems from sincerity and the hope of reward, so Allah makes it easy for him to be kind to others because of the hope that this will bring good things and ward off bad things, by means of his sincerity and hope of reward. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“There is no good in most of their secret talks save (in) him who orders Sadaqah (charity in Allah’s Cause), or Ma‘roof (Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained), or conciliation between mankind; and he who does this, seeking the good Pleasure of Allah, We shall give him a great reward.”[al-Nisa 4:114]
Part of this great reward is relief from worry, distress, troubles, etc.
3 – Another of the means of warding off anxiety that stems from nervous tension and being preoccupied with disturbing thoughts is to occupy oneself with good deeds or seeking beneficial knowledge. This will distract one from dwelling on the matters that are causing anxiety. In this way a person may forget about the things that are making him worried and distressed, and he may become happy and more energetic. This is another means that believers and others have in common, but the believer is distinguished by his faith, sincerity and hope of reward when he occupies himself with the knowledge that he is learning or teaching, or with the good deeds that he is doing.
The work with which he occupies himself should be something that he likes and enjoys, for that is more likely to produce the desired results. And Allah knows best.
4 – Another thing that may ward off worry and anxiety is focusing all one’s thoughts on the present day, and not worrying about the future or grieving about the past. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sought refuge with Allah from worry and regret, from regret for things in the past which cannot be put right or changed, and worry which may come because of fear for the future. So one should focus only on the present day, and focus one’s efforts on getting things right today. If a person is focused on the present, he will do things properly and forget about worry and regret.
When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said a du’a (supplication) or taught a du’a to his ummah (followers), as well as urging them to seek the help of Allah and hope for His bounty, he was also urging them to strive to attain the thing they were praying for through their own efforts and to forget about the thing which they were praying would be warded off from them because du’a (supplication) must be accompanied by action. So a person must strive to attain that which will benefit him in worldly and spiritual terms, and ask his Lord to make his efforts successful, and he should seek His help in this, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Strive for that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not be helpless. If anything (bad) happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such, then such-and-such would have happened.’ Rather you should say, ‘Qaddara Allah wa ma sha a fa’ala (Allah decrees, and what He wills He does),’ for (the words) ‘If only’ open the door to the Shaytan.” (Narrated by Muslim). The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) connected the matter of striving to achieve good things with the matter of seeking the help of Allah and not giving in to feelings of helplessness which are a harmful kind of laziness, and with the matter of accepting things in the past which are over and done with, and acknowledging that the will and decree of Allah will inevitably come to pass. He described matters as being of two types:
1 – Matters which a person may strive to achieve or to achieve whatever he can of them, or to ward them off or alleviate them. In such cases a person must strive and make the effort, and also seek the help of Allah.
2 – Matters where such is not possible, so he must have peace of mind, accept them and submit to Allah’s will.
Undoubtedly paying attention to this principle will bring happiness and relieve worry and distress.
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