The Guide to Contentment

The Guide to Contentment

Qana’a in Arabic is contentment.


Being content is important

Abu Hurayra narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

‘Be satisfied with what Allah has allotted for you and you shall be the richest of people’. (Tirmidhi)

If you are not content with what you have, it breeds jealousy and envy inside you. You resent why others have more than you. Watch out for this.

The more envy you have, the more hatred festers. Yet our deen is based on love and mercy. So we have to love goodness for others and disseminate mercy. If we hate others, we can’t do this.

Envy is the destroyer of contentment and peace

Remember, envy is Haram. Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

The Prophet (peace be on him) said, “Beware of envy because envy consumes (destroys) good deeds just as the fire consumes firewood,” or he said “grass.” (Abu Dawoud)

We are only allowed to envy others in two things with the right intention.

Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Prophet (peace be on him) said, “Envy is permitted only in two cases: A man whom Allah gives wealth, and he disposes of it rightfully, and a man to whom Allah gives knowledge which he applies and teaches it.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Hasad ghibta is the positive envy. By contrast, negative envy is wishing for someone to lose what he has and you get it, or he loses it. This is clearly haram. Never wish for someone to be deprived of their blessings. If this thought occurs to you, you need to make istighfar. Such feelings emanate from discontentment.

We lessen our feelings of discontentment when we are mindful that Allah Almighty divided His favours with His wisdom. Not our limited wisdom.

He is the one who apportions rizq (provision).

Contentment vs greed

Contentment is the opposite of greed. The Prophet (peace be on him) encouraged his companions to have inner contentment.

‘Be satisfied with what Allah has allotted for you. (Tirmidhi)

In Surah Ta Ha, Allah Almighty talks about contentment, rather than having more hopes and attachment to dunya than akhirah.

And do not extend your glance towards what We have given some classes of them to enjoy—the splendour of the life of this world—that We may test them thereby. Your Lord’s provision is better, and more lasting. (20:131)

‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘as (may Allah be pleased with them) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:

Successful is the one who enters the fold of Islam and is provided with sustenance which is sufficient for his day’s needs, and Allah makes him content with what He has bestowed upon him. (Muslim)

The one who has millions but still craves more is not rich. The one who is truly rich is the one who is content.

Contentment is internal

Contentment is all about what’s in the heart not the pocket. The Prophet (peace be on him) could have had the dunya in his hands, but he spent what he had and gave away more than he kept for himself or his family.

Your rizq is written

In the very famous Hadith, we are reminded that our rizq has already been pre-ordained.

‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) informed us:

“The creation of you (humans) is gathered in the form of semen in the womb of your mother for forty days, then it becomes a clinging thing in similar (period), then it becomes a lump of flesh like that, then Allah sends an angel who breathes the life into it; and (the angel) is commanded to record four things about it: Its provision, its term of life (in this world), its conduct; and whether it will be happy or miserable. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Therefore the first thing written for every human is his rizq but it is behind the veil of the Unseen (ghayb). This should make us content. Why?

You cannot take what is not yours. Nor can anyone take what is yours. Your name is on it. No one can take it but you. If it is taken by someone else then it was not yours in the first place. So don’t have hard feelings, or disappointment.

This does not mean sitting back and lacking ambition, or allowing yourself to be exploited or appropriating what isn’t rightfully yours. However it is an internal mindset in which you do not obsess about what is not in your hands. You do not harbour deep-seated regret for what you don’t have.

Train yourself to let go of what is not in your hands – whatever it might be, but this is not an invitation to laziness, we should work hard to improve ourselves: at work or our health or our knowledge.

Knowledge is rizq

Knowledge is also rizq as Imam Ahmed said ‘al ilm rizq’ – knowledge is provision. If someone did not receive it after trying then it was not written for them. You earn knowledge as you earn money. Moreover it is the same with understanding. Allah Almighty has blessed some with more understanding than others.

Abu Huraira narrated that At-Tufail bin ‘Amr came to Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) and said:

“O Allah’s Messenger (peace be on you)! The tribe of Daws has disobeyed (Allah and His Apostle) and refused (to embrace Islam), therefore, invoke Allah’s wrath for them.”

The people thought that the Prophet (peace be on him) would invoke Allah’s wrath for them, but he said, “O Allah! Guide the tribe of Daws and let them come to us.” (Bukhari)

The man was surprised and queried why he did this. But the Prophet (peace be on him) replied that he had never been sent as one to curse others. He was sent as a mercy. Within a few months the whole tribe converted and became Muslim.

The paradox of dunya

Dunya was not the Prophet’s (peace be on him) aim in life. It was not his target, but a tool to the akhirah. You see this same feature in the biography of the pious people. If dunya controls your heart you cannot achieve a high level of taqwa of Allah Almighty. Unless you let go of dunya, it will always drag you down. The more you chase the dunya, the more the dunya uses you and abuses you and enslave you. The more you kick dunya, the more it follows you. It’s reverse psychology. Ultimately the more you chase dunya, the more tired and weary you will be.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:

“May he be miserable, the slave of the dinar and dirham, and the slave of the striped silk cloak. If he is given anything, he is satisfied; but if not, he is unsatisfied”. (Bukhari)

Those who are enslaved to fashion and brands are in chains. They are always chasing what’s next. They are following the trend. They are controlled by dunya issues. Remember Allah Almighty will not look at your appearance.

Although we are required to be neat and well groomed, we should not be in front of the mirror for hours or empty the contents of the wardrobe on the floor in the pursuit of fashion. What is this? OCD? The example to follow is Prophet (peace be on him) who always dressed well. Yet the dunya was not in his heart.

The heart is more valuable than wealth

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (peace be on him) as saying:

‘Verily Allah does not look to your bodies and your wealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds’. (Muslim)

Allah Almighty will not look at your wealth. He looks at your actions. This is what we need to perfect. We need to spend ten minutes minimum every day purifying our hearts which is worth more than ten hours in front of the mirror perfecting our appearance.

In general those in the fashion industry and wealth industry are unhappy, lonely and unfulfilled. Dunya did not bring happiness to them. What brings happiness is Allah Almighty, contentment and balance.

Uthman ibn Affan (may Allah be pleased with him) used his tremendous wealth to fund the expeditions – he donated more than 200 camels and the provisions for the army from his pocket. It would be worth millions today. When Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) donated his entire wealth he was asked what he had left for his family and he said Allah and His Messenger.

How to develop contentment

By praising and thanking Allah Almighty we increase contentment. Allah Almighty says:

‘Be grateful and I will increase you’. (14:7)

Gratitude is practical as well as verbal. It means using what Allah has given you to please Him.

It is a mindset. The Prophet (peace be on him) developed this quality of contentment in them. He taught them to appreciate safety, health and their rizq. The Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:

‘Whoever among you wakes up physically healthy, feeling safe and secure within himself, with food for the day, it is as if he acquired the whole world.’” (Ibn Majah)

These three things are what we need on a daily basis. You might have what you need but no security. You might have security but not enough for your needs. In Surah Al-Fil Allah Almighty said:

Let them worship the Lord of this House.

Who has fed them against hunger and secured them against fear. (106:3-4)

He provided safety and provisions, so worship Him. Yet we do always not appreciate this ni’mah until it is taken away.

Success in careers is not just the wage

We have to be active in our careers – but we also need satisfaction. The one who is wealthy but discontent is poorer than the one who has less but is content.

Hakim bin Hizam said:

“I asked the Messenger of Allah and he gave me, then I asked him and he gave me, then I asked him and he gave me. Then he said:

“This wealth is attractive and sweet. Whoever takes it with contentment, it will be blessed for him, and whoever takes it with greed, it will not be blessed for him. He is like one who eats and is not satisfied. And the upper hand is better than the lower hand.”‘ (Nasa’i)

Take what you receive with satisfaction, not greed.

Avoid the haram in your career

Don’t let Shaytan let you pursue haram means to pursue your dreams. He is well-rehearsed and will give you convincing reasons to bend the means to achieve a better lifestyle, better prospects and more wealth. His false logic will take you in the wrong direction.

We can usually check if something is right or wrong by the feeling deep down in our heart. As soon as you don’t feel comfortable you know there’s something wrong. It is in your fitrah to know what is right or wrong – it’s inbuilt in your system.

An-Nawwas bin Sam’an (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be on him) said:

“Piety is good manner, and sin is that which creates doubt in your heart and you do not like people to know of it.” (Muslim)

However you can’t rely on your heart alone or you inner conscience, to decide all matters – you also need to ask the scholars and do your research.

It is the sign of a sound heart when you feel uncomfortable doing something. That’s a good thing! Those who feel nothing have had their hearts locked by shaytan. They are in darkness. If you feel something wrong you should ask for advice. Check what is right. Don’t ignore it. Don’t shut your ears and eyes – you will plunge yourself in darkness. It might be a matter related to business or marriage – explore it more.

Stop moaning and be happy

If you keep complaining, look around you and see the misfortune of others. Nagging destroys your comfort and peace and that of others. It spreads negativity to those around.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) said:

“Look at those who are inferior to you and do not look at those who are superior to you, for this will keep you from belittling Allah’s Favour to you.”(Bukhari and Muslim)

The moment you are satisfied is the moment Allah will make you flourish.

Peace and serenity are the fruits of contentment.

Delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim at the Youth Circle on 13th December 2019


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.