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Finding True Contentment – Day 15 of Ramadan #11
Channel: Haleh Banani
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thumpa bump bump bump, bump,
bump bump bump bump,
Tampa, Tampa, Tampa, Tampa, Tampa,
I'm Ali calm and welcome to the mindful Ramadan 2021 It is a pleasure and honor to have you all here with us today. And during Ramadan there this deprivation that leads to appreciation when we're not eating when we're not drinking, we have such a deeper appreciation for every single bite and for every drink of water. Now we have to apply this in the rest of our life, we see that when we are more content when we have that sense of feeling of satisfaction, our life is so much more beautiful and so much more appealing. So we're going to talk about contentment today with my dear friend, Jose machete Salaam Alaikum. And welcome
to How to How are you? How is your DOMA ongoing inshallah
hamdulillah you know, it's a blessing to be here together again and to be sharing these these points and and really reflecting on how we can improve our character. Right. So one of the things I'd like for us to talk about is having more contentment, right, because when we are content was talking about how being deprived right during Ramadan makes us so much more grateful. And so how can we apply that in the rest of our life?
Wonderful question. Yes, this is one of my favorite topics to talk about. Because that word contentment is often misunderstood and conflated with happiness. And I like to you know, kind of First of all, look at the meanings of what is contentment? What does it really mean? Because as we know, happiness is a fleeting, it's an emotion, right? It's not something that you can really maintain for a long period of time, you don't see people in a state of happiness for for very long, you know, they may, you know, in some event may happen or something may make them happy. But it's fleeting, it'll eventually fizzle out, whereas contentment is a state that you can maintain for once
you understand it. And once you surrender, and once you really appreciate the weight of it, you can certainly maintain it. And this is why you know, even research shows that some of the most kind of you know, quote unquote, happy people what they really mean is content are people who live in conditions that we would consider, you know, third world or just really like, you know, substandard, you know, these are, of course, Western terms that are often used to describe people who live outside of the Western normal way of living, but Subhanallah Why are they radiating with these smiles? And what is it that they have? What is the secret sauce, you know, that they have? It's this
word of riddle, it's contentment, they are, they have completely given up the the this notion that they have to always be on that high, right, but rather they're satisfied with what they have, right? We have. One of my favorite verses in the Quran is from chapter 58. Verse 22, we're almost proud that says, but on the long line, home water, line, right? He cashes Billa Anna in the hizballah he Humala muffler, Sean so he tells us here, that what Who are these people that have this, this, you know this that I thought, he says Allah is pleased with them. So that's the first quality that Allah is pleased with them and then they are pleased with their Lord in the sense that they don't
complain. And then he says this is the party of Allah right? We all inshallah want to be part of the party of Allah. Now why is he part of
mean, and then he says, Be assured that it is the members of the party of Allah that are successful. So So panela, here, we have an indication, Allah is happy with you, therefore, you are happy with him. And then you are successful. So no matter what you have you find success in it, you find joy in it, he gives you that feeling of contentment of riddle where you're not seeking more, you're not feeling like you're comparing yourself all the time to what you don't have or what others have. And you're missing, but rather, you find abundance. And what you have this is an adult ride beautifully said I love the fact that you're focusing on that sense of contentment, and putting Allah as the
priority, right? So it's not about pleasing the hundreds of people, it's about pleasing Allah, right. Getting that one like from Allah being, you know, validated by Allah is so much more valuable than having so many other people that you're running after to trying to please. So that's so critical to have that. And that was something we focused on on this on the mindful hearts regarding what is let's say, What is happiness? Or what is that contentment. And it's about not increasing your wants, but it's about decreasing your wants, and being more focused on what you actually have. And if we can, you know, if we can really start focusing in and from a psychological perspective,
it's about when you focus on what you have, rather than on what you don't have, you naturally become so much more at peace and happy so and that happiness, you know, I understand you making that distinction. And it's it's just about having a feeling of, you know, it's just being at peace, right? It's just having that feeling of, you know what, I'm, I'm not running after things, and I am content with what I have. Absolutely, absolutely. You just reminded me of a beautiful Hadith where the poses are really elucidates exactly what you just said. It's a conversation he has with one of us who have a habitable daughter. And he says to him, so that is reciting this, or he's relating
this hadith he said of the prophets, I said and said to me, Oh, God, do you say that an abundance of possessions is wealth? Right? So he asks him this question. And he said, yes, you know, so kind of like, Yeah, sure. And then the bronze lesson says to him, he says, Do you say that a lack of possessions is poverty? And he said, Yes. And the process, I'm imagine, I mean, I like to really get imagine these conversations, he repeat those questions three times to him. So he says, He repeated this three times. And then he said, the words of the process, and he said, wealth is in the heart. And poverty is in the heart, whoever is wealthy in his heart will not be harmed, no matter what
happens in the world, and whoever is impoverished in his heart will not be satisfied, no matter how much he has in the world, Verily, He will only be harmed by the greed of his own soul. So exactly what you said.
Right, because he's telling us that this is how we should look at wealth and poverty, not in the material sense, because that's the lie of the of the world around us that we have to accumulate accumulate. So Ramadan is so incredible, because we're being deprived of the comforts that we have habituated to all year round. And especially now in quarantine, we cannot do things that we want to do. So this is a test another test of our nerves that were being deprived and withheld. But why there's wisdoms in these things, maybe because we've spent so much time accumulating things that we've lost value, and I can guarantee if all of us went and did some inventory in our garages or our
cupboards, and our files in our drawers, we would probably agree that we have accumulated far more than we are even aware of, or that we even have value of, so maybe we need to do some internal inventory, as well as all but all my gosh, that had this was so profound, this idea that, you know, it is really about what's in our heart and I, I have witnessed, I have witnessed that when we were living in Egypt, and seeing people who were literally in mud huts, so they were as content as can be. And it would just be just incredible, because they had that love of Allah and they were happy about their, you know, they were happy with their health, they were happy with the face that they
had and there was genuine joy and you will find and I would have some clients who were Mashallah multimillionaires, and yet they were, you know, taking antidepressants, they were very depleted and they just wanted more and more and more so you find that it is it really has nothing to do with your possessions. But that was a beautiful reminder, to you know, really reflect on the state of your heart and not on what you have. And not that there's anything wrong with being on antidepressants that
You know, if you need to be treated, you need to be treated, or what I'm saying is the lack of contentment, because it's not the things that you accumulate. Hmm, exactly. It's, it's what's in the heart. And that's why, you know, Michelle, when you see, even, you know, there's been research done with people who are homeless, for example, or who are, again, in these really difficult situations, and they find that they tend to be very generous. So it's like they have limited things. But even with those limited things, they're willing to part with their things because of
their attachments. And they've learned that in all honesty, we don't need as much as we have but the mind right, the promises and said that the mouth of the son of Adam will not be filled except for in his grave, because we are, this is one of our tests, we have this, you know, greed, that that is just part of our nature to where we want more. And I think this is one of the wonderful benefits of Ramadan is that we're not only withheld from those base, carnal desires that we have. But we're also this is the most charitable time of the year, right? We're asked to let go of our wealth, we're asked to think of other people, we're asked to consider sharing what the blessings Allah has given
us, because this is going to help, as you mentioned, the detachment problem we all have, right, this attachment problem, it's going to help us detach from the dunya. Because dunya is according to many of the scholars of all diseases. And the reason why we have as a professor told us, you know, he that we, in the latter days, he said that Muslims, we will have this problem of what hand will be like the foam of the ocean very like bras, like what will be a lot in law in numbers, but weak and the Sahaba were just kind of shocked by that, like how, and he said, because of two qualities about dunya and right, the fear of death that were weak. And so we have to address these things. And what
better time than this month from about a month?
Yeah, that's what you said about taking inventory is so critical, this is a practical step that we can take, you know, go through, go through your closets, go through your cupboards go through her garages, and you know, we do have so much in excess and we are all guilty of that and maybe, you know, really giving away the things that we're not using and giving it to the people who really needed and that will be a great way to to apply this contentment because then you're not focused on acquiring more, but you are giving away and we develop this habit in the children when they were very little if anytime they wanted to get something new, we'd say okay, now you need you need to
give something away. So it became a habit where I got some shoes for my for my daughter and she was only like maybe seven or eight at the time. She's 16 now Mashallah. But she quickly went in her closet, put her shoes and you know, her old shoe in a box is to hear Mama, you can give this away. And you know, it's like about, you know, you can replace it and make sure that you're giving away. And if we do that on a regular basis, then it will really train our nuts. Not to not to be so focused on accumulating more but also giving and shell loss really and in that one of the great wisdoms of giving more, although people they have a hard time understanding it is that you become
more free, right. And there's a beautiful quote from him. He reported that one of the great scholars, Ibrahim Ibn Shaban, he said, dignity is in humility. Honor is in righteousness and freedom is in contentment. So if we want to be free, right, a lot of the things that hold people back, like, you know, again, hubba dounia, resentment, you know, just feeling again, always inadequate or like something's missing, you know, there's that that FOMO, right, the fear of missing out, all of those things are because people are not content with their circumstances in the moment. So once you start to be in the practice of contentment, then you become free of those things, those burdens that, like
you said, lead a lot of people to mental health issues lead them to self medicating in many forms, not just with prescription medications, but other devices and things that they do because they're they're held back, they're not spiritually moving forward. And they don't realize these are all shackles of the dunya. So fitment is removing the shackles and saying, you know what, who told me that I need to have this and this and this and this in order to be happy when the professor was sort of passed away with nothing, he had nothing he gave his last wealth away and yet he is the most beloved to Allah the most successful, you know, like he had everything wealthiest in the in his
heart, but in his in his dunya. He was among the amongst the poor. So we have to go back and question the narratives that we've told ourselves are the conditioning, right? Those things Yes. And so that's one aspect of it as far as accumulating
wealth and, and not being so attached to that sometimes there could be discontentment with you know, with yourself, right a person could be very dissatisfied and women suffer from, you know, body dysmorphia, they're not happy with the way they look, they are, you know, I had one client saying that, you know, their daughter is just asking for having, you know, let's say, having surgeries done or doing certain things to just change their appearances. And, and it just makes it you know, you find that women are very hard on themselves. So it's about being content also, with that, see what Allah has given you in your, let's say, in your appearance and your height and your, you know,
things that you can improve. That's great, right. And that's why I talked about, let's say body appreciation where you can be content that you can make improvement, because that is something that a lot of women get consumed, and not being content with keeping up with others, or as far as how they appear. 100% and we I'm sure you've seen it, with the research that confirms everything you just said, as far as you know, if you get preoccupied with all of these things about how you need to achieve some beauty standard, or some other standard that society is telling you. It's just it's this never ending vicious cycle. And you see people getting addicted to some of these procedures,
or, you know, body modifications, and they're just never, it's like, you know, you're just in a hamster wheel, you just keep going thinking you're, you're you're you're going to get somewhere, but you're not, you're just going in circles. And I think that's the danger of not realizing that these messages are not coming from sound sources, they're coming from industries that profit off of increasing our insecurities with ourselves and, and kind of making us feel like we're always there's something wrong with us. We're also proud that it tells us, you know, I mean, he is our Lord, he's the creator of the universe, he keep brought us into existence. And he reminds us that the external
is not important. It's irrelevant, right? Those are accidental things. But what's what we have in our control, are is the inward and so being, virtue being, you know, everything that these sessions are inshallah, helping us towards, which is refining our character that sets you apart. So we have to question what we're told. And then, you know, really, really think about what what is because, I mean, again, look at what's happening to people in our society, celebrities, and other people who have prominence, who you can see story after story after story, especially women, who will tell you, you know, I thought money would do this, I was in this in this field.
They're miserable, they're miserable. SubhanAllah. Why because we're not, those messages are not from sound sources. So you know, and just to bring it back to this month, a lot of times to and I've heard this from young girls, and you know, Michelle, everybody's intentions are good. But sometimes Ramadan also becomes about dieting, and it's like, I just want to lose weight, and I can't wait to get to my you know, the ideal shape. And if that becomes your focus, where this is just a month of, you know, group dieting,
you'll miss out on the purpose. So that is so important to just have your have a pure intention, be content and, and I really think that it boils down to building the self esteem, that's why I've put a lot of focus in helping women build their self esteem, because when someone feels good internally about themselves, then they're not going to be they're not going to be consumed by the trivial thing. So when, when a woman feels that she has done the internal work and she feels good about herself, then the size is irrelevant, right? You become this, you become a contributing part of society, regardless of any numbers, age, size, you know, income. So that's, that's very critical.
And that's, again, why these sessions are so important is because we're giving people the tools
to achieve those objectives, right, you want to increase your self esteem, your self worth your self value, you need sometimes guidance, especially, you know, there's people who have come from homes where they were not given these types of messages at all. And in fact, they were likely given the opposite messages, which is to make them feel terrible about themselves. So we have to have to appreciate our Deen and how, at every point, no matter where you are, in your journey, that these messages are universal for all of us to really think about that, you know, following the prophetic example trying to align ourselves with him is is really for our benefit, we will feel the residual
benefits of taking on these practices in our being right and, and so you know, just to also make another important point about contentment, because sometimes people you know, they don't understand that it doesn't mean and I'll actually I'll quote from one of the scholars who I think said it perfectly, this is from the heart he said that radar contentment does not mean that you are
not affected by the experience of trial and tribulation, contentment, it simply means that you do not object to the divine decision and decree the other. Right.
And I love that because, you know, it's not that we're negating, or that we want you to just put a bandaid on all of your pain and all of the insecurities and all of the, the, you know, whatever you trauma that you've had, and just put a smile on your face and fake it till you make it. That's not you know, the point of it's really is surrendering, seeing the bigger picture, understanding this world is temporal, that, you know, when we say to be content with what Allah gave you in your body and your being and your circumstances, it's because it's, it's not everlasting, this is not eternal, it's not like, it's going to be this way forever, there's a time where all of it will end. And if
you did, you worship your Lord, and you follow the formula set before you by the example of our beloved solar lighting system, you will have success and then the eternal life, which is far more, you know, that's where we put our investment in. That is, is bliss, it's, it's all the things that you want here, but it's not, this isn't the realm for it, right? So just just surrender and inshallah and as Allah said, you know, he says, Those who are grateful, he will increase them. So by having contentment, and this is kind of the secret of contentment is that it will actually open the door for you to feel those feelings that you want, but you're chasing materialism, you're chasing
ideals, thinking you're gonna get them, they don't won't give them to you. But just being content and grateful, Allah will fill your heart with that feeling of satisfaction. It's amazing, yes, because sometimes when you're searching for it, when you're running after it, and that's what they say, like the paradox of, you know, searching for happiness, because you're running after and you're not getting happier. So it is really critical for us to focus on what it is that we have being satisfied. And that satisfaction comes from even with let's see what we have as far as our family, as far as our spouse, our children, because a lot of times, what I see is people being very
dissatisfied, and they lack contentment, because they're upset, you know, my spouse should be like this, my kids should be in, you know, they should be behaving in this way. And so part of our lack of contentment is we're so busy wanting to fix the people in our life. So having that level of acceptance, for ourselves for what we have, and also for our family members. You know, you can't choose who your parents are, who your siblings are. And there's wisdom in that there's wisdom in every difficult person that is in your life. And coming to terms with that, I think is so critical for our peace. Because when we're just, you know, just upset and frustrated that people are not the
way we want them to be, then then that takes away from from the level of river in our life really, and and you know, so Pamela again, to, to bring it back to this month, because as you said, so many people are focused on what they don't have or what they wish they could change, they end up also falling into the trap of comparison and contrasting, right, which is something that social media unfortunately definitely encourages. And it's you know, because everybody has their beautiful picturesque, you know, Pinterest, I mean, images up on on social media. And so even in Ramadan, unfortunately, this happens, because oh, my authority didn't look good. Or my Ramadan decoration
didn't look good, as nice as someone else's. And, you know, and so there's just too much of that in our community. And we have to scale back and say, you know, what, I shouldn't you know, this isn't about displays. This isn't about, you know, any any, you know, like optics, it's, it's about really the internal state. That's what I need to focus on. So forget trying to make your home. I mean, beautify your homes, don't get me wrong, but don't buy it or don't compare. Exactly. And really, that is one of the number one. What are the number one characteristic that when people have it, it takes away from their level of contentment when and it leads to just a series of issues. So when you
compare yourself, your spouse, your home, your whatever it is that you have, you're constantly feeling that you're not enough, and we need to focus on the fact that we are enough and have the law we have enough, right.
And when we recognize that, that's when the law will come and and it's a beautiful feeling. And it's definitely something we need to aspire for on a daily basis. And in Ramadan. We are being trained, right? We're trained in that deprivation, not having the things we're accustomed to, and then really, it you know, it increases our gratitude. So if we apply that
in all the areas of our life, we will just be such such people that are at peace. Absolutely, absolutely. I echo everything you said. And, you know, just one last point that occurred to me as well is about also making sure that we're not doing the comparing and contrasting and Ramadan when it comes to spiritual efforts, either, you know, if you know someone is doing three items, and they're up every night doing the hedges, and they're doing this and this, and not where you're at, maybe that's too much for you. Don't let those feelings of inadequacy fill your heart because that's going to make you lose your momentum, but rather look at you know, what, Allah how that is so
generous and everything I'm doing right now, every little thing that I think is insignificant, from the, you know, to the major, more more outward, you know, open things like I just have to whatever it is in between, there's reward and abundance in it that I can't even fathom because he told us that Ramadan is a month, right, fasting is for me, and the secrets of the rewards are only known to him. So always think like, I'm gonna it's like winning the lottery every single day.
So don't do the comparing and contrasting yourself lottery winner, you know, why do you don't even know this person that is doing all of this not to cast doubt, but it really has to do with it, right? A person could do a very small beat, and they're really, really genuinely and like, they're so genuinely doing it and they're sincere, and that small act will, you know, just grant them paradise, right. And then someone may be doing something very overtly like just and you have no idea if they're the sincerity is there, so don't be consumed with that comparison. And, and also, if we make it our intention to really beautify our character, because the Prophet sallallahu Sallam said,
the heaviest thing on this scale is our character. And so if we are really working on it, you may not be doing as much, you know, with the let's say, as much as you want with the with reading the Koran, or doing the tahajjud. But if you're really focused on, I'm going to focus on being content, I'm going to have that river, I'm going to deal with people with gentleness, then, you know, inshallah, Allah will reward you greatly for just that intention of improving yourself. Absolutely. And especially for all of the mothers out there who really spend so much of their month catering and serving their family members. Those are additional rewards that we don't even associate because we
think, Oh, those are just everyday practical things I do. But you are facilitating other people's fasts, you're making their fast easier when you wake up early, to prepare a meal for them or to feed them. So don't ever underestimate those beautiful acts of service in the scales of Allah subhanho wa Taala. Because certainly, you're going to be rewarded not only for your own spouse and sacrifice anybody, but all of the facilitation you're doing for family. Right? Right. So instead of complaining about the fact that I have to do all of these things, reframe it and say I get to I get to prepare love. I get to you know, be that source of care and positivity for my family. So it's
just like a Lafayette and this was a beautiful discussion may Allah put contentment in all of our hearts, may we be content with ourselves, with our families with our conditions, and and really make this month about having that internal peace and the resolve that is that is so important. I mean, I mean wage ranges I can look at and again, how they for all that you do I love any conversation I have with you, I always feel uplifted and rejuvenated and I really really appreciate your efforts every every day really but especially in these sacred moments, which is I feel a fit and again for inviting me Yaki it the feelings are mutual. I always love the synergy that we have and when we
discuss these points, it's just it's so relevant and I'm so happy that we're focusing on improving our characters this Ramadan inshallah, in addition to all the above that we do, and May Allah shower you, with so much better cat and Shaolin this month and in every month inshallah, thank you again. My pleasure and thank you everyone for tuning in. Salaam Alaikum. Salaam to
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