There is something really special about people who fear Allah and obey His commands. You’ll notice it in the look in their eyes, their hope for the future, their resilience, and their steadfastness. It is an uncommon trait in today’s world. We could call it inner tranquility.
In today’s world, people are taught from childhood to be consumers and that success is graded according to a person’s wealth and position. The emphasis is on upgrading yourself without considering your relations with others or how your self-development will affect those around you. Mankind has largely forgotten how to give. But Muslims who fear Allah are conscious that everything they have is simply a loan from the Creator; something to be answered for; something to be disposed of properly. They know that if they want to get anything in this life, first they have to give.
Life has taught the modern people that they as individuals are number one; that they are the most important thing in the world; that even truth is subject to their discretion. Hence, they deal with others from an individualistic point of view safeguarding their own rights, their fortune, their desires, and their opinions and to hell with the others. Can mercy be expected from such people? When individuals think that no one else can ever be as important as they are, how can mercy be appreciated and practiced? This is where Muslims who fear Allah think differently.
Muslims know that mercy belongs to Allah and hence everything that aligns itself with Him will have the qualities pertaining to mercy. Muslims know that the individual is simply a part of a greater body of mankind, all interrelated and interdependent; and that if one part tries to stretch out of its boundaries or clashes with another part, the whole is affected.
This mutual dependence was explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a hadith: “The solidarity of Muslims in their mutual love, mercy, and sympathy, is that of a body: If an organ aches, the whole body sympathizes with it with sleeplessness and fever” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Realizing that their effect on others will ultimately bounce back onto them, Muslims seek to be merciful to others, hoping to receive mercy in return.
[Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you?] (An-Nur 24:22)
Given the nature of the causes and effects that operate in life, it seems ridiculous that individuals would seek a duel with destiny daring to say that they are more important than their counterparts in life.
That is, after all, what we human beings are: simply counterparts in life. We all affect others and are affected by them. Hence, Islam calls on us to be kind and merciful, to overlook faults, to forgive, and to advise, advise, advise, calling people continually to the truth — to the essential good nature that mankind is built upon, to the path of peace. The tranquil heart is the one that will show mercy and continue to do so under adverse conditions because the tranquil heart is essentially built upon mercy.
[We sent you not save as a mercy for the peoples.] (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107)
And when the trials of life strike, Muslims are not surprised because they know that struggle is the nature of our existence.
[Do men imagine that they will be left (at ease) because they say “We believe” and will not be tested with affliction? Lo! We tested those who were before you. Thus Allah knows those who are sincere, and knows those who feign.] (Al-`Ankabut 29:2-3)
They are well equipped to deal with hardship. They know the rules and the way to success. They turn to Allah, fully conscious of the fact that nothing happens in this life without His Almighty permission and that He, in His mercy, does not give the believers more than they can bear. So Muslims ride the storm, face the hardship, bear the brunt of difficulty, and strive to keep their balance because they know that, after all, they are being tested and that the angels are watching them and recording what they say and do. They don’t want to fail. They know that Allah is near. They aren’t afraid and they don’t give up.
[We verily created man and We know what his soul whispers to him, and We are nearer to him than his jugular vein.] (Qaf 50:16)
This tranquil heart fluctuates and at times is stronger than at others, but the desire to achieve tranquility, which is found in closeness to Allah, is the ever-present aim of the Muslim. Is there a person on earth who doesn’t wish for tranquility? Isn’t that what people are seeking when they take alcohol and drugs? Don’t people think that if they can forget the cares of the world they’ll be happy? Isn’t tranquility the basis of happiness, which mankind strives to attain? How many people are happy — truly, inwardly, completely happy; at peace; tranquil?
Strangely, Muslims find this tranquility without trying to escape from life and blot out its complexities and hardship. Ironically, Muslims who fear Allah achieve tranquility through living their life, not escaping from it; through confronting problems and dealing with them, not through deflecting fault onto others; through seeking out their weaknesses and turning them into strengths, not through maintaining a high level of self-righteousness and apathy.
Life is to be lived, people are to be dealt with properly and justly, responsibilities are to be fulfilled, struggles are to be undertaken, and trusts are to be deposited. That doesn’t mean that peace of mind will vanish; indeed, such are the requirements to achieve peace of mind.
The time will come when a life well lived and a problem well solved will speak on behalf of those who ended their life with dignity despite hardship, with wisdom despite surrounding chaos, with mercy despite prevailing oppression, and with success despite being considered a failure.
[But ah! thou soul at peace! Return unto thy Lord, content in His good pleasure! Enter thou among My bondmen! Enter thou My Garden!] (Al-Fajr 89:27-30)
By Selma A. Cook