“Gladly accept Allah’s will and you will [truly] become a zaahid (one who thinks little of worldly pleasures and voluntarily forsakes them)”
Acceptance is the mainstay of this hadeeth. A life beset with persistent confrontation with all that ‘goes wrong’ is a miserable one. We cannot be at loggerheads with destiny for it is designed by the hand of divinity. Faith in the Creator begets faith in his decisions. We cannot possibly know the cause and effect of every action of ours, and hence it is unfathomable to know what is good for us in the grand scheme of things. We are so blindsided by our own wants and desires that clarity of purpose is often turned opaque. To us, our lives seem to canvass a vast swathe of encounters, experiences and emotions and we feel that we are overwhelmed by them. But in reality, our lives represent nothing more than a flash, a blink of an eye when placed in the context of a master game plan. We each represent a tiny cog in the complex whirring of the universe and we are rendered short-sighted when it comes to seeing the woods from the trees.
The moment we start to try and control those bits of our lives which cannot be controlled, we embark on a futile attempt to readdress the cosmic balance which governs all the things in the universe. The underlying reason why we do so is because we are driven by soul destroying thoughts of inadequacy and imperfection. These manifest themselves in irrational wants and desires, in direct opposition to our needs, which, when seen objectively are more than fulfilled by what has already been provided for us.
The two parts of this hadeeth then become clear. They actually reinforce each other. One’s interest, ambition and aspiration for all material things fade in inverse proportion to the intensity of faith in Allah’s judgement. As one rises, the other falls and vice versa. We move away from a state of total consumerism where our anxieties to be seen as ‘cool’ or with the ‘in crowd’ or to constantly want, are diminished. We redirect our focus as we look through the lens of perspective, where contentment is brought back into the foreground and dissatisfaction is blurred out into bokeh. It is not to say that we ‘sin’ when say, a nice car, piques our interest; rather, the point is that we should not be consumed by it. Our happiness should not depend on acquiring it. That is the aim.
Accepting fate is not to say that we somehow hold an ultra-deterministic view of the world, where all are lives are meted out with predetermined exactitude. Of course, if that was the case then we would have to dispense with free will and choice altogether! On the contrary, the idea is to not lose hope, or to let things get to you when they don’t turn out as expected. That acceptance is grounded in tempering our urges and our wants.
Once that inner contentment firmly takes root inside, and the burning fire of greed and want is snuffed out, you’ll catch yourself quietly smiling unexpectedly as that happiness radiates from within.