Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Question: Assalam alaykum,
It is mentioned that the having contentment in the decree of Allah is a thing to strive for. Does it imply passivity through life, along with reliance on Allah? Does it mean not fighting a wrong done to one, or not striving for a promotion at work?
Answer: Wa alaykum assalam,
I hope you’re doing well, insha’Allah.
Contentment means (1) having certitude that everything—pleasing and displeasing—is from Allah; and that (2) one will attain good in it and from it by responding in the right way.
This is what the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him and his folk) was referring to when said, “How strange are the affairs of the believer, because all their affairs are good for them. If pleasing things happen to them, they are grateful, and that is good for them. And if displeasing things happen to them, they are patient, and that too is good for them.” [Muslim]
Patience (sabr) isn’t “being passive.” Rather, it is understood as “remaining resolute on what will be pleasing to Allah.”
As for taking the means, these do not go against contentment, patience, or trust in Allah. Rather, the sunna of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) can be summarized in two principles:
 Complete trust in Allah; and
 Taking the most effective of means, in the best of ways, with confidence in Allah.
Sahl al-Tustari said, “Trust in Allah was the state of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), and taking the means was his way (sunna). So whoever seeks his state must follow his way!” [Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman, and others]
Regarding the trust in Allah, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Were you to rely on Allah as He deserves to be relied upon, He would provide for you as He provides for birds. They leave home hungry in the early morning, and return home full in the evening.” [Ahmad, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, and Ibn Maja, on the authority of Umar (Allah be well pleased with him)] Note, of course, the effort these birds put in (leaving home early, returning late).
Listen to the following podcast lesson, on positive spiritual thinking: the reality of upholding mindfulness and trust in Allah
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And Allah is the giver of success and facilitation.
[Shaykh] Faraz Rabbani
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and translator of several Arabic works to the English language. After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersGuidance to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner.