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The book aims at repelling despair and replacing it with a pragmatic and ultimately satisfying outlook on life. Al Qarni, in his Introduction, says the…

The book aims at repelling despair and replacing it with a pragmatic and ultimately satisfying outlook on life. Al Qarni, in his Introduction, says the book is not only for Muslims, but is suitable for all readers, as it contains sayings of Eastern and Western writers and philosophers. There is no harm refreshing ourselves with its eternal pieces of advice today and every day. Enjoy:
BE CONTENT WITH WHAT YOU HAVE: If you are a seeker of happiness, be satisfied with the looks Allah has favoured you with, with your family situation, with the sound of your voice, with the level of your understanding. In fact, you should imagine being contented with even less than you have now.
THE PAST IS GONE FOREVER: Do not live in the nightmares of former times or under the shade of what you have missed. Episodes of the past are finished with; sadness cannot retrieve them, melancholy cannot make things right, and depression will never bring the past back to life.
TODAY IS ALL THAT YOU HAVE: When you wake up in the morning, do not expect to see the evening. Live as though today is all that you have. Yesterday has passed with its good and evil, while tomorrow has not yet arrived. If you have eaten warm, fresh bread today, then what do yesterday’s dry, rotten bread and tomorrows’s anticipated bread matter?
LEAVE THE FUTURE ALONE UNTIL IT COMES: Be not hasty and do not rush for things that have yet to come to pass. Do you think it wise to pick fruits before they become ripe? Many are those who cry because they see themselves starving tomorrow, falling sick after a month, or because they fear the world will come to an end after a year. Someone who has no clue as to when he will die (which is all of us) should not busy himself with such thoughts. Since you are absorbed in the toils of today, leave tomorrow until it comes. Beware of becoming unduly attached to future prospects in this world.
DO NOT EXPECT GRATITUDE FROM ANYBODY: Do not be dismayed when you find that others forget your favours or disregard your kind acts. Some people may even despise you and treat you as enemy for no other reason than that you have shown them kindness. Hence do not be in a state of agitation if you give someone a pen as a gift and he uses it to satirise you, or if you give someone a walking stick to lean upon and he strikes you with it. Most human beings are ungrateful to the Lord Himself Who created them and sustains them, so why bother if they are ungrateful to you?
DOING GOOD TO OTHERS GIVES COMFORT TO THE HEART: The first person who benefits from an act of charity is the benefactor himself; by finding peace, by watching a smile form on the lips of another. If you find yourself in distress, show kindness to others, give to the needy, defend the oppressed, feed the poor, help those in distress, and visit the sick.
REPEL BOREDOM WITH WORK: When you find yourself to be idle, prepare for depression and despair, because idleness allows your mind to wander in the past, the present and the future, with all their difficulties. It is those who have nothing to do with their lives that spend most of their time spreading rumours and falsehood. Destroy boredom by working. When you apply this precept alone, the doctors of the world guarantee that you have travelled fifty percent of the way towards happiness.
CONTEMPLATE AND BE THANKFUL: Remember the favours of Allah upon you and how they surround you from above and below – indeed from every direction. Should you take it lightly that you slumber soundly while misery hinders the sleep of many? You possess all that life has to offer, yet you remain ignorant of those that have nothing? You have feet? Consider those who have not. Consider the faculties of hearing and seeing with which you have been endowed, while many have not. Reflect on your ability to reason, and remember those who suffer from mental ailments.
ACCEPT LIFE AS IT IS: The pleasures of life are short lived, and more often than not, they are followed by sorrow. Life means responsibility, a journey wherein change is constant and difficulties are many. You will not find a father, a wife, or a friend who is free from problems. Allah has willed for this world to be filled with two opposites: good and evil. So live according to your reality without always envisioning the ideal life. One that is free of worry and toil. Accept life as it is and adapt accordingly to all circumstances. You will not find in this world such things as the flawless or the perfect situation, because flawlessness and perfection are qualities that are foreign to this life.
PATIENCE IS MOST FITTING: Only a minority of people meet hardship with a strong bearing and a patient countenance. If you or I will not be patient, what else is there for us to do? Do you have alternative solution? Do you know of any better provision than patience? Those that achieve greatness most likely had to surmount an ocean of difficulties and hardships before finally achieving success. Know that each time you escape a difficulty, you will have to face another. Through this constant conflict, you must arm yourself with patience and a strong trust in Allah.
DO NOT CARRY THE WEIGHT OF THE GLOBE ON YOUR SHOULDERS: Let the earth carry the burden of the things that happen, and do not attempt to carry them. Some people have a heart that is like a sponge, absorbing all kinds of fallacies and misconceptions. It is troubled by the most insignificant of matters, somehow being troubled by all that takes place. It is an internal war that results in ulcers or an increase in blood pressure. This kind of heart is sure to destroy its possessor.
PEOPLE SHOULD DEPEND ON YOU, NOT YOU ON THEM: The noble-hearted one works for people and does not allow them to serve him. Therefore, make no decisions or plans that will require your reliance upon others. Be useful to people, do not use them. Stand on your own.
FAITH IS LIFE ITSELF: Those that are wretched, in the full sense of the word, are those that are bereft of the treasures of faith. They are always in misery, anger and humiliation.
DON’T BE SAD: Sadness enervates the spirit’s will to action, paralysing the body into inactivity. The secret of this is that sadness prevents one from action, instead of compelling one towards it. The heart benefits nothing through grief. Sadness is a harmful element that afflicts the soul. There is no real benefit in sadness; in fact, Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, used to seek refuge from sadness in this supplication: “O Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety and grief.”
Let us end this piece with a one-thousand-year quote (dated 960 AD) from that great ruler of Islamic Spain, Abdurrahman the Third:
“I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honours, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to only FOURTEEN.”

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