His Contentedness


How was the contentedness of porphpet muhammad? What does Islam say about contentment? What does contentedness means in islam?

“Through the blessings of modesty and contentedness I am the most peaceful person in the world. Both my eyes are closed to the world of pleasures.”

Es’ad Erbili, Diwan, p. 51

Istighna or contentedness means to have a generous heart, not to be in need of anybody, to be satisfied with what one owns, to not expect anything from people, and to not tell one’s needs to others. Those who are contended are called mustaghni. Contentedness is a praised characteristic if it is directed towards this world and its pleasures; but it is forbidden if it is manifested towards Allah the Almighty.

Even if the entire world were given to the contented people, and even if they were told that they would not be questioned for it, they would still live an ascetic life. Because Allah the Almighty has emancipated them from everything other than Himself through His name Mughni (or Emancipator).

When Abu Hazin was asked about “what his wealth was,” he replied: “Two things: One of them is to be content with Allah and the other one is not to be in need to people.” He was told: “Then you are poor.” He said: “While everything in this world, in heavens, and everything between them belong to Allah the Almighty, and I am one of his faithful servants, how can I be poor?” According to this understanding, istighna means to reach the consciousness of being in need of Allah the Almighty for everything and not to expect anything from anybody but Him.

One of the beautiful names of Allah is Ghaniyy or the Rich and the Independent. This attribute states that Allah the Almighty possesses endless richness, that all wealth belongs to Him, and that He has no need. Allah the Almighty is also Samad or Self-Sufficient. Samad means the Only Being that needs nothing yet everything is in need of Him. Allah the Almighty explains this attribute as follows:

“O mankind! You are the poor in your relation to Allah. And Allah! He is the Absolute, the Owner of Praise.” (al-Fatir 35; 15)

Inspired by this verse, many Sufi groups, such as Shazalis, named themselves fuqara, the poor, in order to state their need in Allah. Many Muslim scholars, gnostics, and artists signed their works as “al-Faqir ila Rabbihi’l Qadir or the poor in need of the Lord the All-Powerful.” Thus, they emphasized that their works came into existence as a blessing of Allah and that they were in need of Allah the Almighty.

To ask for one’s need from nobody else but Allah the Almighty is a praiseworthy and encouraged state. Because, Allah the Almighty likes that His servants present their needs only to Him.

Even though a servant should be disinterested in everything in this world, he should never behave like he has no need for Allah’s blessings. The following prophetic saying elegantly explains this state:

“When the Prophet Job (Aiyyub) was taking a bath naked, golden locusts began to fall on him. Job started collecting them and putting them in his clothes. Upon this Allah the Almighty addressed him:

“O Job! Haven’t I given you enough so that you are not in need of them?”

 Job replied, “Dear Lord! Yes! By Your Honor (power)! But I cannot dispense with Your Blessings.’” (Bukhari, Ghusl, 20)

The following supplication of Moses (pbuh) when he was powerless shows what kind of spiritual state that we need to possess towards the blessings of Allah the Almighty:

“…and said: My Lord! Surely I stand in need of whatever good You may send down to me.” (al-Qasas 28; 24)

In response to Moses’ supplication, Allah the Almighty immediately sent His blessings and blessed him with the kinship and mercy of Jethro (Shu’aib) (pbuh). On the contrary, to act like there is no need for Allah’s blessings is great unhappiness. Allah the Almighty says:

“But he who is a greedy miser and thinks himself self-sufficient, and gives the lie to the Best, We will indeed make smooth for him the Path to Misery; Nor will his wealth profit him when he falls headlong (into the Pit).” (al-Lail 92; 8-11)

Hasan al-Basri (q.s.) used to pray as follows:

“O Allah! Make me rich by making me in need of You. Do not make me poor by making me self-sufficient and in no need of You.” (Baqillani, p. 107)

The thought of being in no need of Allah the Almighty is the result of vanity and arrogance. Those who go astray because of this bad attribute will be in ignorant actions and behaviors towards the Lord Almighty. Allah warns such people in the Qur’an as follows:

“Nay, but man does transgress all bounds, because he sees himself free from want. Verily, (O man) to your Lord is the return (of all).” (al-Alaq 96; 6-8)

We observe the best example of the state of istighna in the life of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). A man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and said:

“O Messenger of Allah! Tell me such a deed that when I do it, both Allah and His servant will love me.” The Prophet (pbuh) told the man:

“Do not esteem the world so that Allah will love you. And do not covet for what others have so that people will love you.” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 1)

Allah the Almighty asks that His servants work for their livelihood in the following verse: “And when the prayer is ended, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s bounty…” (al-Jum’a 62; 10) And the Prophet (pbuh) said in this respect that: “Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands. The Prophet of Allah, David used to eat from the earnings of his manual labor.” (Bukhari, Buyu’, 15) It is also known that the Prophet Zechariah (pbuh) provided his livelihood by working as a carpenter. (Muslim, Fada’il, 169)

Aisha (r.a.) informed us that the companions also worked and had jobs. Another report in this matter is that the companions of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) used to practice manual labor, so they would sweat. And the Prophet (pbuh) used to advise them to take a bath before coming to the mosque. (Bukhari, Buyu’, 14)

It is narrated that Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) said, “By Him in Whose Hand my life is, it is better for any one of you to take a rope and cut the wood from the mountains and carry it over his back and sell it as a means of earning his living and thus protect his honor rather than to beg people for something and that they may give him or not.” (Bukhari, Zakat, 50) This prophetic saying is enough to see how important earning one’s own livelihood is. In other words, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) is telling us that working under the most difficult conditions is better than resorting to the disgraceful way of begging people for help. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) informs us in another saying that such modest people will be loved by Allah the Almighty saying:

“Allah the Almighty loves the poor believer who abstains from begging and unlawful gain even though he has a family in need.” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 5)

It is also known that Ahmad b. Hanbal, who was famous for his piety, told someone who asked him which one was more superior: wealth or poverty that:

“Go to the market (make trade) and feel contended towards people. I do not know a greater merit than being contented.”

On the one hand, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) advised his companions to be generous and help people in every aspect of life; on the other hand, he ordered them not to beg for anything from anybody. After the migration to Medina while Medinan believers shared their possessions with their Meccan brothers, Meccan Muslims responded to their generosity by expressing great and meaningful contentedness. They took only their absolute necessities from their Medinan brothers and paid them back when their conditions got better. (Bukhari, Hiba, 35; Muslim, Jihad, 70)

When Abdur-Rahman b. Awf migrated to Medina, the Prophet established a bond of brotherhood between him and Sa’d b. Al-Rabi al-Ansari. Sa’d was a rich man, so he said to ‘Abdur-Rahman,

“I will give you half of my property and will help you marry.” Abdur-Rahman said to him,

“My Brother! May Allah bless you in your family and property. Show me the market.” (Bukhari, Buyu’, 1) Thus he earned his livelihood through commerce and later became one of the wealthiest companions.

Awf b. Malik’s (r.a.) following report is a nice one that shows how Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) trained his companions about being contentedness. Awf (r.a.) said that:

“We, nine, eight or seven men, were in the company of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and he said:

“Why don’t you pledge allegiance to the Messenger of Allah?” Whereas we had recently pledged allegiance. So we said:

“Messenger of Allah, we have already pledged allegiance to you. For what do we need to pledge allegiance to you?” He again said:

“Why don’t you pledge allegiance to the Messenger of Allah?” And we said:

“Messenger of Allah, we have already pledged allegiance to you.” He again said:

Why don’t you pledge allegiance to the Messenger of Allah?” We stretched our hands and asked the Prophet (pbuh):

“O Messenger of Allah! We have already pledged allegiance to you. Now tell us on what things should we pledge allegiance to you. Then he replied saying that:

“You must pledge allegiance that you would worship Allah only and would not associate anything with Him, and observe five prayers, and obey- (and he said one thing in an undertone) -that you would not beg people for anything.” By Allah, as a consequence of that, I saw that some of those people did not even ask people to pick up the whip for them if it fell down.” (Muslim, Zakat, 108)

The early ages of Islam is teemed with the examples of this praised characteristic. Every one of the companions left a nice paradigm behind; because Allah’s Messenger showed them not only how to be contented towards this world but also how to ask from Allah the Almighty to attain this good morality. According to Ali b. Abi Talib’s (r.a.) report, a contractual (mukatab) slave came to him and said:

“Help me. I cannot pay my debts.” Ali (r.a.) told him:

“Would you like me to teach you a supplication that was taught to me by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)? If you continue to recite it, Allah the Almighty will help you to pay your debt even if it is like the mountain of Sabr.” Then he recited the following supplication:

“O Allah! Bless me with your lawful blessings and protect me from the unlawful ones. And do not let me be in need of others.” (Tirmidhi, Daawat, 110)

One must ask for Allah’s help while trying everything which he is able to do to pay his debt. A believer should always seek for lawful gains and abstain from unlawful things. And he should ask for help from Allah for protection from illicit things. Saving and hoarding property greedily without paying attention to its source is something that a believer could never incline towards. A believer, who recognizes the dignity and excellence of Islam, should not to be in need of anybody but Allah as a principle for his life and try to be the giving hand not the taking one.

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

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