THE SECOND WORD
The Way to Contentment
If you wish to understand how to enjoy great contentment and blessing through belief, and how to experience fulfillment and ease, listen to the following parable:
Two people travel for both pleasure and business. The first one is conceited and pessimistic, and so ends up in what he considers a most wicked country. He sees himself surrounded by poor and hopeless people tormented by bullies and living ruined lives, for everyone suffers the same misery. Trying to forget everything by intoxicants, he perceives everyone as a stranger or an enemy. He has awful visions of corpses and orphans, and his soul is plunged into torment.
The second person, a God-serving, decent, and fair-minded man, goes to a country that he considers quite excellent. Seeing a universal festival, he finds joy and happiness in every corner, and a house for remembering God overflowing with rapture. He sees the celebrations of a general discharge from duties (death) accompanied by cries of good wishes and thanks.
Hearing a drum and a band for enlisting soldiers with happy calls of “God is the Greatest” and “There is no god but God,” he becomes happy at his own joy and that of others. He enjoys a comfortable trade and thanks God.
When he meets the other man, he understands his friend’s situation and says: “You’ve become crazy. The bad and ugly things you see come from and reflect your inner world. You imagine laughter to be weeping, and discharge from duties to be sack and pillage. Come to your senses and clean your heart, so that this inauspicious veil will be raised from your eyes and you may see the truth. This is an orderly, prosperous, and civilized country with a powerful, compassionate, and just ruler. Things are not as you see or think.” The man comes to his senses and is full of regret: “Yes, I’ve really gone crazy because of all those intoxicants. Thank you. May God be pleased with you for rescuing me from such a hellish state.”
O my soul! The first person represents an unbeliever or a heedless sinner who sees this world as a place of general mourning, all living things as weeping orphans due to the pain of separation and decay, people and animals as lonely and uncivilized creatures cut down by death, and great masses (mountains and oceans) as terrible corpses without souls. His unbelief and misguidance breed great anxieties that torture him.
The second person believes in and affirms God Almighty. He sees the world as a place where people praise Him, a practice arena for people and animals, and an examination hall for people and jinn. Animals and humanity are demobilized so that after death believers can travel in spiritual enjoyment to the other world—for this world needs a new generation to populate and work in it.
All animals and people enter this world for a reason. All living things are as soldiers or officials, happy with their appointed task. The sound we hear is their praise and glorifying as they begin, or their pleasure while working, or their thanksgiving as they finish. Believers see all things as obedient servants, friendly officials, a lovable book of their Most Generous Master and All-Compassionate Owner.
Many more such beautiful, sublime, and pleasurable truths arise from belief. This is because belief bears the seed of what is, in effect, a Tuba tree of Paradise, whereas unbelief contains the seed of a Zaqqum tree of Hell. Safety and well-being are found only in Islam and belief. Therefore, always thank God, saying: “Praise be to God for Islam and perfect belief.”