peaceful contentment lives in present time
Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
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Arab Today, arab today
Last Updated : GMT 06:49:16
Arab Today, arab today

Peaceful contentment lives in present time

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Peaceful contentment lives in present time

Peaceful contentment
Tehran - FNA

Is the last word of the Holy Quran a secret message for eternal happiness and the meaning of happiness to discover.
If happiness is a state of mind, we have to question how much control we really have over it when our mind is under the influence. Islam forbids intoxicants, of course. But there is an intoxicant more powerful and dangerous than drugs or alcohol: thoughts.
Surah 114, the last surah in the Quran, draws attention to our thoughts by calling on us to ‘seek refuge with the God of people, against the harm of the slinking whisperer – who whispers into the hearts of people – whether they be jinn or human.’
We normally interpret this retreating whisperer as the devil. Yet what is a devil if not an influencer who ushers us off our path; who through deceit encourages us to consider something we normally wouldn’t?
Islam places a heavy emphasis on influence, having warned billions of followers with this strikingly haunting image. The very last prophet; the very last book; the very last line – and this is the message. We are guarded with a warning against something we cannot fully see, yet we can witness its deformity manifest in our lives if we allow it into our hearts. This is the work of the ‘whispering deceiver’; this is how we witness its presence in our lives. If the devil is nothing more than a glorified personification of an influencer, we need to look at what influence really is.
Influence is a perplexing paradox both subtle and sweeping. It doesn’t exist in the material world but we see its evidence everywhere. It is a thought that enters our hearts and minds, and what it harvests depends on the source of the influence. A negative influence will bring worm-like thoughts that rot our mind. A positive influence will blossom in our heart.
So how does influence affect our happiness?
Influence has ingrained itself into our culture. It’s there from the moment we wake up, saturating us with thousands of serpentine thoughts slithering their way into our minds, vying for attention and ultimately seeking to possess us. We are influenced by TV, movies, music, magazines, books; it is even in our social media interactions across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and the rest.
And influence penetrates on another level: it exists in our communities, as well as the people we go to school with, work with and live next to. It is in the conversation we had over lunch yesterday; it is in every interaction we have with every human being, day in and day out.
A practical solution for a modern Muslim family is to be mindful of our environment and to work towards making our family connections the strongest interactions we can have.
We cannot keep our family away from the world, but we can make sure that we connect with them every day, and that our influence over them is stronger than the influence of the outside world.
Consider your happiness and consider when you are removed from it. Consider a modern culture so possessed by consumption that we are too often pushing our happiness into a distant future. We say: I’ll be happy when I have more money, or when I have a better marriage, or when my work gets easier. Our mind is constantly wandering, making it impossible to ever be happy with where we are at this moment. We are influenced by what we see around us; to the point where we believe our happiness lies in not what we have, but how much we have.
In an Intelligence Squared talk, author and speaker Petrea King says, "The drive for happiness implies that we have dissatisfaction with the present moment." She goes on to explain how, throughout our lives, we continue to push expectations of contentment into the future. "We are deeply enculturated to believe that happiness lies at some more distant time," she says.
We know that modern consumer culture thrives on dissatisfaction with the current moment. We are pushed (or influenced) to believe we’ll be happier when we have the newest product. We look to our neighbors and say, ‘I’d be happier if I had the same thing she has.’ Petrea speaks of enculturation, but whose culture is this really?
It certainly isn’t Islamic culture. Islam warns us about the ‘retreating whisperer’, about exactly this type of influence that leads us to remove ourselves from happiness. In our modern culture, we have come to believe that happiness is elation, some overwhelming feeling of exuberance. It is not.
Happiness, rather, is a peaceful contentment. Islam gives us a framework for happiness by offering four simple rules.
In surah 20:131, (And do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to [some] categories of them, [its being but] the splendor of worldly life by which We test them. And the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring), we are encouraged to avoid making comparisons between ourselves and others.
Surah 4:36, (Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful), encourages compassion, and encourages charity – both of which are strong lessons in humility that counter negative influences of greed and excessive comparison.
Weaving through verses, the fourth and final rule is found repeated throughout the Quran. Islam means submission, and it is in that submission that we find one of the most sacred keys to happiness. At the core of Islamic teaching is the idea that happiness lies in being grateful to God, accepting our circumstances and being grateful for our blessings.
This does not equate to a sense of apathy for circumstance, or a resistance to improving our life. On the contrary, we are encouraged to work towards our mutual benefit. When the faith guides us to be close to God, what we are directed to is a state of mind; an awareness that offers security and tranquility in here and now by being at peace with who we are, where we are, and what we have got.

 

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