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The beginning of man’s problems

Many of man’s problems on earth could be traced, directly or indirectly, to discontentment; usually borne out of greed. It is a trait...

Many of man’s problems on earth could be traced, directly or indirectly, to discontentment; usually borne out of greed. It is a trait that is naturally associated with the Satan (Devil) whose ungratefulness exiled him from the kingdom of Allah’s mercy. Every discontent person is an ingrate. Ungratefulness may not necessarily be in terms of material or monetary matters alone as it transcends all aspects of a man’s life. Ingratitude could be about tangible, intangible or even aesthetics such as when one shows dissatisfaction with his/her height, hair or colour of the skin. 

Any mind that comes under the full or partial control of discontentment is not likely to find happiness in life because the Satan would always block his common sense from appreciating the values concealed in that which he detests. This is how an ingrate would continue to live in perpetual dissatisfaction, frustration, and despair without actually knowing that discontent is at the root of his problems. This was how dissatisfaction led Prophet Adam (Alayhi Salaam; AS) and his wife, Hawau, to listen to Satan’s ill-motivated advice; causing them to lose their residency in the heaven. Ingratitude thereafter marked the beginning of nearly all problems that have been confronting humanity. The same Satanic trait yet remains a major source of man’s problems even today.

Allah created Adam (AS) and Hawau, to dwell in the Eternal Garden and eat of the bountiful fruits provided therein for their comfort. However, both Adam and Hawau were warned to stay away from a particular tree and not to eat of its fruits. But the first couple amongst mankind was tempted by the envious Satan to eat from the tree. And so, Satan whispered evil to Adam (AS) saying: “O Adam! Shall I lead you to the tree of Eternity and to a Kingdom that never decays”. Adam and Hawau unfortunately got misled and thus ate of the tree. Allah (SWT) then expelled both of them (as contained in Qur’an 20: 123) out of the heavenly Garden down to the earth; with enmity among their progeny. 

This was how Adam’s discontent in the Eternal Garden, in spite of all the perfections in it, was misled by his desire for something else made him to lose the privilege of living in the heaven; the best of abodes. Native speakers of Nupe would say, “Do not let the desire to taste the that which is hanging on the back of a ladle compel you to lose the liquid content inside it (when you turn the ladle upside down)”. Had Adam remained contented with the other fruits available in the Garden and kept away from the forbidden tree, he wouldn’t have been brought down to this phenomenal planet and no man would thus have experienced the troubles we are all going through today. Ingratitude, which thus marked the historical beginning of Adam’s problems, yet remains the dilemma of contemporary man.

Riches are not from abundance of material wealth or properties but from a contented mind. It is the wish of Satan at all times to overwhelmingly influence man with feelings and thoughts of ingratitude. A misguided mind would always look at those who have more in terms of assets, estates, position or power. Such a person may never find contentment because Allah (S WT) has designed the natural scheme of things in such a way that, over every possessor of a particular favour is another. Islam teaches that man should look at persons inferior to him so that he may not hold Allah’s favours in contempt. Let no man use the physical abilities, strengths, wealth, health, knowledge, status or position achieved by others to measure how rich or poor he/she is. Much gratitude lies in our ability to appreciate Allah’s bounties on those who have less or none at all. Contentment is tantamount to acknowledging the contrast between “the haves” on one hand and “the haves-not” on the other.

A discontent mind suffers from a variety of illnesses including materialism, greed, and emotional instability. A discontent person is unstable and restless because of his strong desire of attaining what others have achieved. This naturally creates psychological instability in the person, owing his unending ambitions. Such a person is also prone to over-stretching himself because he would want to be at the four corners of every activity lest he loses any chances. The “round-the-clock” schedules consequently create unnecessary tensions in him/her. If the materialistic tendencies created by ingratitude are not regulated accordingly, it makes the person vulnerable to dupes and cheats. Many of those who often fall victims to such scams are persons that are materially over-ambitious. Ingratitude, most times, leads a person to engage in illegal transactions including ribbah (usury), hoarding, and other forms of fraudulent transactions; all in the attempt to making ends meet (if they would ever meet).

A contented mind is a peaceful mind. It is a virtue and one of the many forms of showing gratitude to Allah, the most Beneficent. With contentment, one is able to build a valued personality around oneself. A contented person commands a lot of respect from others. He also enjoys the love and mercy of Allah (S WT). A mind blessed with contentment is a mind blessed with piety. No matter the situation we find ourselves, no matter the hard realities of modern times, we would be prosperous probably without riches if we remain contented. Allah (SWT) promises in Qur’an 14:7 that He will not only improve upon our lots but will also add more favours to us as long as we give gratitude to Him. Allah certainly loves the contented. But anyone decides to be ungrateful, the Omnipotent is most severe in His punishment. May Allah guide us to personify sincere faith, courage, and sacrifices needed to always remain grateful and contended, amin.

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