Contentment is the greatest richness in this world.
From the book, “The True Secret” by Sister Amira Ayad. The story carries a strong and meaningful message behind it.
The author says, “When I was a young girl, my grandmother used to tell me a bedtime story about a wealthy and powerful sultan who was always unhappy. All the physicians and alchemists of the kingdom came to heal him, but nothing was wrong with his health. Some of them suggested healthful food, special herbs, holidays…he tried it all but he had no success; he was still unhappy.
One day a wise man came to the sultan and suggested that he would only find happiness if he took the shirt of a continuously happy person and wore it. All of the sultan’s men went out on an extensive search for a person who was continuously happy. It seemed like an easy task in the beginning, but it turned out to very challenging. None of the people that they questioned could claim happiness. They were happy sometimes, maybe even most of the time, but none of them was happy all the time.
The sultan’s men had almost given up. Then, while one of them was walking home through the woods one day, he heard singing. It was the singing of a poor wood-chopper who was cutting trees. For days, the sultan’s men watched the lowly wood-chopper while he happily performed his tremendously exhausting job. He was the one they were looking for. He was always happy.
Finally, they stepped forward and asked the man: “Are you always happy?” The wood-chopper replied surprisingly: “Yes, Alhamdulillah.” The men were thrilled, they had finally found the cure for their sultan. They offered the wood-chopper a bag of gold coins in exchange for one of his shirts. The poor wood-chopper replied innocently: “I’m sorry. I can’t give you any shirts.” The men were taken aback and offered him a large fortune; they even offered him a palace. The poor man replied: “It’s not about money, you see. I’m simply so poor that I don’t have any shirts!”
My grandmother always ended her story with her famous conclusion. The only man in the kingdom who was happy all the time was the poorest one of all. He did not even have a shirt to wear, but that did not stop him from finding continuous happiness.
I have to admit, I did not enjoy this story very much when I was young. It was not funny and not exciting, so what was it all about, I wondered. It was a difficult concept for me to grasp at the time.
My grandmother’s story shares an age-old wisdom: you can choose to be happy, if you want to, no matter what your circumstances. Happiness has nothing to do with your wealth, your occupation, or your social position. It is all in your mind. Your happiness is your own decision. It is your decision to accept, acknowledge and embrace the blessings of Allah سبحانه وتعالى; it is your decision to be content, grateful, and satisfied. Remember the verse in the Qur’an:
فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلا يَضِلُّ وَلا يَشْقَى
Then whoever follows My guidance shall neither go astray nor fall into distress and misery. (Surah Taha: 123)
Happiness is an inner feeling; it is the contentment and satisfaction of your soul. You are the only one responsible for your own happiness. I know many people who keep saying, “If I were richer, I would be happier,” or “If I pass this exam, I will be happier.” There is always an ‘if’ involved. Their happiness is dependent on some worldly objective in their lives, but let me assure you that even “if” this objective is reached, there will always be another one waiting, further postponing their happiness. Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “Seek the help of Allah, and do not be frustrated. If something befalls you, do not say: If I had done this, such and such would have happened. Say: Allah decreed, and what Allah wills, He does. Indeed, the word ‘if’ opens the door for evil.” (Sahih Muslim)” (Pg 45-47)