If you scan the closest people in your life and take a soulful moment to ask yourself the question: “What does each person want the most in their life right now?” Let’s rephrase it: “What is the one thing that will make them the happiest?” (It’s even more fun if you actually ask them this question)
As you run this little experiment, you’ll come to observe that most of the conscious Muslims will answer, “Alhamdulilah, I want nothing. Allah has blessed me a lot. I am satisfied and grateful for everything I have.”
This is (and should be) almost a reflex response of a conscious Muslim to the question. That’s because the response is a core part of our belief system and reflects our gratitude or ingratitude as Muslims.
So we have to resort to using a different method to fish for that candid unabashed response that is not a mere recital of our beliefs but a true report of our real-time conversations.
When everyone is having regular conversations with their guards down, you’ll hear the same people say,
[For example, a couple who’s been married for 10 years without children]:
“If only I get blessed with a son, I’ll be the happiest.”
[A single woman in her 30s]:
“I have everything – family, health, a successful career. I just need love in my life. I just need a loving pious husband.”
[A grey-collar man with a large family to support]:
“I’ve been at this job for 10 years. If only I get a promotion, I can provide a more comfortable life for my family.”
Now I know what you’re thinking – Aimen, what sort of a circle of friends IS this?? A single woman, a sterile couple, and a grey-collar man?!
Ahem, I had to create some drama to get your attention. What can I say, I’m an attention-seeker hermit.
Drama aside, those may or may not be the things you can relate to, but everyone dreams to get something they don’t have right now.
Truth is – we’d all LOVE to have all our needs met and all our dreams fulfilled. I know I would. Thankfully, most of us have internalized that’s never going to happen on Planet Earth and that this world isn’t Jannah.
But time and again, you’ll see Muslims who don’t have their emotional, or physical needs fulfilled, complaining about the lack of major needs in their life, waiting for the time when all their needs will be fulfilled to feel “truly” happy, and allowing themselves to stay in ‘survival’ mode till that happens.
Worse yet, you’ll see Muslims who have all their needs met and some more, confusing their ‘wants’ from their ‘needs’, eying higher levels of comfort, and complaining about not getting there faster.
There’ll always be something you WANT. Otherwise, life is not worth living.
There will be times when there’s something you will NEED.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t create fulfillment regardless of the empty spaces in your life waiting to be occupied. (the empty spaces could be any >> Health. Marriage. Children. Career. Finances. Friends. Hobbies… etc.)
Once you learn to separate the unfulfilled needs and wants that are NOT in your control from the ones that ARE in your control, you’ll start to see fewer empty spaces and more opportunities for growth and gratitude.
Filling up those empty spaces in life does not make you ‘whole’. Because that would imply the Muslims who have a missing space or two in their life are not as ‘complete’ as compared to the Muslims who have that blank filled or that milestone achieved?
If that’s the case, then many of us are broken and incomplete because of external factors that are not in our control (like sterility, health issues, etc.)
That also implies that only the ones amongst us who have been given better health, loving relationships, more money, and comfort, deserve to enjoy fulfillment and happiness.
That doesn’t sound so fair.
That doesn’t sound right either. We refuse to believe in that notion. This notion only ignites the unhealthy desire to ‘wanting more’ and never being fulfilled until you’ve checked all the boxes in life.
Our beautiful belief system destroys this unhealthy approach to life with a single Ayah:
Allah SWT says in the Quran: “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly, to Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.” [Quran, Surah al-Baqarah, 2:155-157]
Being tested through Faith is part of our belief system as Muslims. So inevitably, each of us will experience going through periods in our lives when we’re tested by Allah in one way or another. Some of these periods last for a few months, others for long hard years. For some, that period is an entire lifetime.
Fulfillment is a Reward from Allah…
I believe fulfillment is a beautiful reward from Allah SWT for those ‘who make the most of what they have’ rather than those ‘who have everything’. Look around – nobody has everything they want all the time.
“How amazing are the believer’s affairs; all his affairs are good for him. If good befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him, and if he is afflicted by calamity he is patient and that is also good for him. This is only for the believer.” (Sahih Muslim)
Also, Allah SWT promised every Muslim fulfillment who can implement these verses of the Quran >
“Those who believe, and whose hearts find contentment in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” (13: 28)
“… if you are grateful I will give you more of my blessings…” (Quran 14:7)
Remembering Allah and practicing gratitude for everything you’ve been blessed with is undoubtedly the easiest way to enjoy fulfillment. Make it a daily practice and you’ll enjoy fulfillment every day.
But here’s where things rocket to the next level – the truly grateful Muslims feel indebted to Allah and as an extension of their gratitude, they live their lives embodying their God-given potential, and working hard to make full use of their skills and abilities that Allah SWT has given them to serve Allah. In short – they strive towards excellence, Ihsan, in every aspect of life.
That is the secret passageway to fulfillment mentioned by Allah SWT in the Quran that very few Muslims dare to explore:
“Verily! As for those who believe and do righteous deeds, certainly! We will not allow the reward of anyone who does his (righteous) deeds in the most perfect manner. [Surah 18: Al-Kahf, Ayah: 30]”
And on many occasions in the Quran, Allah SWT repeatedly says that He loves the Muhsineen.
This truly is a secret passageway because very few people will work towards excellence. That’s because it’s not easy. But more on excellence (Ihsan) later. Excellence is one of the core values here at Muslim Empowerment. You can read our values here.
The Mindset Breakthrough
Here’s the mindset breakthrough: Instead of dwelling on the empty spaces in our life that we can’t fill — that we have zero control over and can only be filled by Allah SWT —- wouldn’t it better if we channel all that energy to look for areas in our life that are IN our control and to explore ways in which we can make the most out of them?
For example, instead of focusing on that time in the future when Allah SWT blesses you with a partner, a child, a house of your own, success in your career, etc. — you can direct your focus on how you can excel in the work you’re doing currently.
How you can have healthier relationships with your family and friends.
How you can practice Ibadah with more khushoo.
What you can give in charity.
How you can focus on completing the projects you’ve been dreaming about.
How you can serve others.
How you can improve yourself to reach a higher personal standard of excellence.
Action step: Think about all the small ways in which you can make the most of what you’ve been given by Allah SWT, and stop overthinking about the big things that may be missing from your life.
It’s easier to complain and wait for blessings to fall effortlessly from the sky. But hands down – making the most of what you have right now is the low-hanging fruit that can give us the fulfillment that we all crave.
Tell me, what are your thoughts on this? I’d love to read. Take a moment and share them in the comments below!