Peace of mind is difficult to achieve if we worry more about other issues rather than looking within ourselves to see what we can dispose and dump some of the mess and disorder in our own lives. Without doubt the daily stress to put food on our tables is bad enough but somehow we seem to shift the focus to other areas such as worrying and complaining about how we are fare against others, how we can keep up with the others, etc.
Life isn’t ‘fair’ all the time, life is like a wheel in motion, and one minute you are on top and the next you are at the bottom. We must try to learn to adjust to the changing circumstances to be optimistic and count the other Blessings that we have when we are down. There is a saying: the Pessimist complains about the wind; The Optimist expects it to change; The Realist adjusts the sails to catch the best of the wind!
This means we must try to move from the negatives to the positives to achieve a certain level of stress relief. The real secret to peace of mind is to make peace with God, yourself and with the world around you. Most importantly turn to your Lord, and for the Muslim it is the absolute submission and trust in the will of Allah believing that; ‘My prayer, my sacrifice and my life, and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the Worlds’ (Quran 6:162). Hope and faith are the remedies for fear and worry.
Try these few steps and you will notice the difference.
Treat people with kindness and respect: The manner in which you treat others will normally get you reciprocal treatment in return. Kindness and respect are the basis of our religious and cultural upbringing and teachings. Sadly in today’s world kindness and respect are difficult to find. ‘Show kindness unto parents, and unto kindred, and orphans, and the needy and unto thy neighbour…… for Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious (Qur’an 4:36) ‘…and enjoin deeds of kindness and compassion (Qur’an 90:17). And, ‘We have enjoined man kindness to his parents (Qur’an 29:8).
Sincerity and humbleness: Sincerity in word and deed is one of the great virtues in anyone. Do your duties honourably and sincerely, while seeking the pleasure of Allah through prayer and constant remembrance. Humility is also a great human trait because nobody loves an egoist. ‘And swell not thy cheek with pride at men, nor walk with insolence through the earth, for Allah does not love the arrogant boaster’ (Qur’an 31:18). Also,’……. the servants of Allah, Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth with humility’. (25:63)
Positive attitude – smile: when we look at life in a positive manner it brings back a feeling of calmness, peace and confidence. Taking the view that ‘this too shall pass’ works wonders for our confidence. The trust that we place in our Creator will never be misplaced. ‘If Allah is your helper none can overcome you, and if He withdraws His help from you, who is there who can help you? In Allah let believers put their trust’ (Qur’an 3:160)
Charity / charitable work – Many people think that charity consists only of donating money. Charity can even be donating your time. There are many charitable organisations out there that need volunteers who only need you to donate your time and effort, just to assist say, in fund raising, in distributing food, visiting the sick and elderly, the orphans – Get involved why don’t you donate your time? Your visit could have the effect of putting a smile on someone’s face or making them feel that someone cares, it works wonders. It also does wonders for your own peace of mind and a means for spiritual progress. ‘Those who humble themselves in prayer…who are active in deeds of charity…will inherit Paradise’ (Qur’an 23: 1-10)
Family time – serenity: many of us have forgotten the value of quality time spent with the family. Parents who spend time with their children help to give them a sense of stability, belonging and family bonding. Simple things, like taking them out for an ice cream treat, being there during meal times (there is a saying: a family that eats together stays together), can bring much family love and serenity. Bring back that loving family feeling into your home.
Your mind is like a garden. Your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers or you can grow weeds. An empty mind is the devil's workshop. Keep your mind occupied in something positive, something worthwhile. Take up a hobby, do social or religious work or something that holds your interest. Decide what you value more: money or peace of mind. Your hobby, may not earn you more money, but you will have a sense of fulfilment and achievement. Even when you are resting physically, why not read the Qur’an or make Zikr- remembering Allah’s name using the tasbeeh (rosary). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ‘If you are mindful of Allah He will be mindful of you; and if you are mindful of Allah you will find Him before you’. ‘For without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction’. (Qur’an 13:28).
Never Regret: We spend time wondering, "Should I or shouldn't I?" But we can never plan enough because we are unable to anticipate the future. The past is gone, do not spend time and energy worrying about it or fearing the future. Live in the present, this is where it happens. Sitting back and worrying will lead to nothing. DO NOT REGRET. Whatever happened was destined to happen. Why cry over spilt milk? ‘Be not weary or faint hearted, crying for peace, when you should be uppermost; for Allah is with you, and will never put you in a loss for your (good) deeds’. (Qur’an 47:35)
Let me share some words of wisdom that I shared previously in this column. They capture the mood of positive encouragement especially when we are feeling low and looking for a way out.
If you plant dishonesty, you will reap distrust If you plant selfishness, you will reap loneliness If you plant pride, you will reap destruction If you plant envy, you will reap trouble If you plant laziness, you will reap stagnation If you plant bitterness, you will reap isolation If you plant greed, you will reap loss If you plant gossip, you will reap enemies If you plant worries, you will reap wrinkles If you plant sin, you will reap guilt On the other hand: If you plant honesty, you will reap trust If you plant goodness, you will reap friends If you plant humility, you will reap respect If you plant perseverance, you will reap goals If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective If you plant hard work, you will reap success If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation If you plant faith in Allah, you will reap a bountiful harvest in this life and in the Hereafter.
So be careful what you plant today, for it will determine what you will reap tomorrow, the seeds you scatter, will make your life worse or better. Yes, someday, you will enjoy the fruits, or you will pay for the choices you plant today because "Whatever You Give To Life, Life Gives Back To You". ‘But those will prosper who purify themselves, and Glorify the name of their Guardian Lord, and lift their hearts in prayer, but nay, you prefer the life of this world; but the Hereafter is better and more enduring’ (Qur’an 87:14-15)
There is a saying in South Africa which avers that, “the White man has no kin: his kin is money”. The saying rings very true considering what Mayer Amschel Rothschild – he of the planet’s wealthiest family – once said, that, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!”
To the white man, the dollar sign looms so large in his optics that it was precisely the reason he appropriated Africa towards the end of the 19th century. The idea was to develop his continent, Europe, at the same rate as he underdeveloped Africa. Yet he was driven as much by economic imperatives as by sheer greed and prejudice.
A “pagan” King violates the Jewish Temple by setting up an idol in the Holy of Holies
Why, General Atiku, has the Judean setting (present-day Israel/Palestine) being the focus of so much geopolitical fervour over the ages when it is so resource-poor and is not even that agriculturally fecund being a virtual desert? Why have all the superpowers of history locked horns over it since days immemorial?
Just a ‘teaser’: we are all complaining of the ‘hot weather’ and ‘heat’ – but think about it, is this a reminder / warning from the Almighty that if we find this weather ‘hot’ can you imagine what the ‘fires of hell’ will be like should we get there?
Let us take this as a reminder and a ‘warning’ that we should change our lifestyles so that we follow in the path of righteousness and that which our Lord has directed. Failing this we will face the ‘fire of hell’ which undoubtedly will be many times worse than what we are facing on this earth.
Because as humans we have been favoured and bestowed with the power of intellect thus we enjoy greatness over other creation, coupled with a greater responsibility. Should that responsibility be misused then only on the Day of Reckoning will he know we will live in joy or in grief forever.
Since the dawn of creation Allah has sent down thousands of messengers, dozens of Divine Books but only ONE universal Message to humanity. That message of Divine Revelation and guidance is clear, unambiguous and eternal:
Allah is One, He is Master and Creator of the universe and of mankind and to Him is due all worship and obedience.
He has sent humanity Divine Revelation and guidance through His Messengers and His Books.
As death is inevitable in this world, equally is our resurrection in the Hereafter where everyone will face the consequences of their belief, unbelief and conduct in this temporal world.
This is the basic message, teaching and belief of every religion and without doubt we will all be called to account for our lives in this world and the manner in which we conducted ourselves, will be rewarded thereafter, the consequences of which may be joy forever for some or grief forever for others.
“It is He [Allah] Who created Death and Life, that He may try which of you is best in deeds and He is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (Qur’an: 67: 2)
In Islam the teachings of the Qur’an and the Last and Final Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) give clear guidance to the believer on how to live a life in this world so as to achieve success in the Hereafter.
‘If any do wish for the transitory things of this life, We readily grant them, such things as We will, to such persons as We will…… those who wish for the things of the Hereafter and strive for them with all due striving, and have faith, they are the ones whose striving is acceptable to Allah’ (Qur’an 17: 18-19)
In this world when a person sets out on a journey towards our Maker (Allah), he finds two paths, one leading to God and the other path to different destinations. A sincere and faithful believer will always try to find the right path and to live by the Divine injunctions, laws and code that his religion lays down. This requires us to live in harmony with the will of the Creator, in harmony with our own selves, and with the needs of the rest of creation. Unfortunately we have a tendency at times to toy with Divine Law and to surrender it to the laws of man and in the process to translate and interpret them into what fits in with our lifestyle of today.
If we are to use the intellect and the freedom of choice bestowed to us by God Almighty and follow His guidance, we will then live consciously in a state of “submission’ to Him, thus we will be virtuous. On the other hand when we ignore our Creators injunctions we work against the natural order, we tend to create discord, injustice and evil – and we become one without guidance. Therefore it is the intellect and the freedom of choice given to us that we are fully responsible for whatever we do.
However, it would be foolish for us to think of ourselves as totally independent and self-sufficient. If a person thinks in this manner, we become proud and. We will be inclined to become ungrateful for the bounties that we enjoy – the air that we breathe and the food we eat to sustain us, the eyes and ears we use to perceive the world around us, the tongue and lips we use to express our needs, wants and our inner most feelings and emotions. And being ungrateful, we will be inclined to forget or to reject the truth of the existence of God Almighty.
Unfortunately, people have varying views with regards to what the most important characteristic of a person is: for some it is the colour of his skin; for others, it is his economic situation – whether he is wealthy or poor; others think it is his , social or political standing, whether he is ruler or ruled; for others it is his social standing as an aristocrat, middle or working class; yet for some is his birth place and the language he speaks or the tribe he belongs to, etc..
‘Do men think that they will be left alone on saying “We believe”, and they will not be tested? We tested those before them, and Allah will certainly those who are true and those who are false’. (Quran 29: 2-3)
In Islam, these have no significance rather they are merely taken as signs of the creative power of God to enable people to recognise one another. The Almighty declares “O Mankind! Indeed we have created you as male and female, and have placed you in nations and tribes that you may have mutual recognition. However, the most honourable of you, in the sight of Allah is the one who is most God-conscious” (Qur’an: 49: 13)
Hence, the most important characteristic of a person is whether he is conscious of his Creator, believes in Him and through that consciousness submits to Him at all times and in all circumstances.
According to the Islamic view man is created by Allah in a pure state, free from sin. He also created us with the capacity or power to do both good and evil. He gave us the freedom to choose between doing good or evil. The good and evil therefore is connected with mankind’s freedom of choice and responsibility for their actions. “Good” may be whatever is pleasing to Allah and therefore beneficial to us. Whereas “Bad/evil” may be whatever incurs the anger of God and is therefore harmful to man.
‘By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it; And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he that succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it….. (Quran 91: 7-10)
Therefore one of mankind’s main tasks is to keep away from and ward off evil. This is why Taqwa, piety and God consciousness is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an as the most important quality a person should develop in this regard. This means one must be conscious at all times not to over step the limits set by God. It works as a defence against evil and temptation by keeping a person within the boundaries of piety.