There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried their luck. The king looked at all the representations, but there were only two that fascinated him. Ultimately, he had to choose between them.
The first depiction was of a calm and quiet lake. The lake was a perfect mirror of placid, pacific mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. It seemed a perfect picture of peace.
The other image had mountains too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an enraged sky, from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a furious, foaming waterfall. Apparently, this was not at all, the required piece of art. But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush, growing in a crack in the rock. In that bush a mother bird had built her peewee nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace!
Any idea, which one turned out to be the award-winning illustration? The king chose the second one. Why? “Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be cool, calm and collected in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”
The narration above, compels one to ponder and cogitate. We may state that man’s basal needs can be totted up as the need for preservation, the need for knowledge and the need for peace and harmony. Since the basic unit of humanity
is an individual human, it is evident that in order to achieve peace in the outer world it must first be attained within the hearts of all the individuals.
Consequently outer peace, or world peace as you may put it, is a by-product of personal tranquility and mental satisfaction of individuals that inhabit it.
Thomas Kempis had said, First keep the peace within yourself, then you can bring peace to others. Some people have a view that peace will come to them when they control every single element in their lives. Maybe they are just oblivion to the fact that this is not within our reach. We cannot control everything in our lives. One must understand the difference between things that are within our control and things that are beyond that.
The concept of Predestination (‘Qadr’) is central to this understanding. On the other hand, religious scholars and intellectuals are of the view that the tribulation and distress in today’s world may have a perspicuous cause – we have lost the path that lead to salvation by missing out on God’s cardinal instructions.
Inner peace is a feeling of calmness and satisfaction within ones heart. But the delicate question is, how can that be attained? ?Imaan? ? the true faith in Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala and the collective term for all those beliefs on which the Islamic faith is based – is the sole positive and real ground for a person’s inner calmness and rapture.
This Arabic word is derived from the root word a-m-n, pointing towards peace and tranquility that a believer enjoys in his heart as a result of practicing and bolstering these beliefs. There must be a total submission to God‘s commands; no
half-hearted consents. Real happiness and peace can be found by submitting to the commands of the Sustainer of this world and by remaining content and satisfied with His Decree.
It is said in the Quran,
Truly in remembering God do
hearts find rest. (13:28).
‘Dhikr‘ or ‘the remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’ leads to God consciousness, which persuasively brings forth total submission to His commands. Thereupon, it is imperative that in order to bring tranquility into our lives we must live according to His Commandments.
Another significant factor that massively contributes towards acquiring a complacent soul is ‘Shukr‘ or ‘thankfulness’ to God.
‘Shukr’ is derived from the root word, sh-k-r, and its literal meaning is when a cow feeds on less fodder but gives more milk.
Conspicuously, it indicates how a believer should be. He should be grateful to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala under all circumstances. To attain inner peace we must look for abundance in our lives while minimizing the negatives.
We must learn to develop a sense of gratitude within ourselves for all that we have been so lucky to be blessed with. Come to think of it, most of us have a great deal in our lives to make us blissfully content but unfortunately we
lack the ability to acknowledge and appreciate it.
A lot is taken for granted and many blithe, simple moments in daily life are disregarded and forgotten. Ungratefulness takes away tranquility from within our hearts. As Melody Beattie had so rightly said, Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace
for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. So true!
The station of gratitude (shukr) is considered the best and the highest of all the stations of faith (imaan). Gratitude also includes in itself the virtue of Patience (sabr). When we look at the life of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wassalum) we find that there is nothing greater then his patience and gratitude.
He was ‘Saboor’ (patient) and ‘Shakoor’ (thankful). The reality is that a servant of Allah subhanahu wa ta?ala can be in one of the two states during his life time. Either he is enjoying a bounty for which he should be thankful for, or he may be suffering a calamity that he should meet with patience and forbearance.
Muslim states the Hadith:
“Amazing is the believer,
for whatever Allah decrees for him! If he is tested with a bounty, he is grateful for it and this is better for him; and if he is afflicted with a hardship, he is patient with it and this is better for him.”
Patience mainly has three forms:
(a) Patience for avoiding the prohibitions and sins,
(b) Patience for acts of worship and obedience,
(c) Patience required in the face of afflictions and hardships.
The Quraan explicitly mentions the finest tools that may be applied to help ease the effects of sufferings and hardships and those are Patience (Sabr) andPrayer (Dhikr).
It is stated in Surah-e-Bakarah, verse 152-153:
“Therefore remember Me (by praying, glorifying (dhikr)). I will remember you, and be grateful to Me (for my countless favors on you) and never be ungrateful to Me. O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salah (the prayer). Truly, Allah is with the As-Sabireen (the patient).
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has pointed-out the virtues of Dhikr, Shukr and Sabr in this surah and their stately significance in our lives. One may conclude that ‘Sakina’ (peace and tranquility) within the heart is a gift from Allah subhanahu
wa ta’ala, and the most essential ingredients that contribute toward a serene and placid heart are Remembrance of Allah subhanahu wa ta?ala, Gratitude and Patience. Consequently, a heart that remains thankful and patient, while in constant remembrance of its Creator, can never lose peace within.