Inner peace in Islam
Inner peace is the source of all peace. When a person is at harmony with himself, he is able to live in harmony with others.
Allah says: “When you enter houses, greet yourselves with peace.” [Qur’an, 24:61]
Believers recite the following words in all of their prayers: “Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s pious servants.”
In the Qur’an, we encounter the word “self” being used in the context a group of people. Indeed, it is from the depths of the self that peace radiates forth.
Inner peace requires that a person’s relationship with himself is clear, and that his goals and objectives are understood and at harmony with his inner being. Indeed, after knowledge of the Lord, the most important thing for a person to have knowledge of is knowledge of his self and how to perfect it and purify it. He needs to be sensitive to his own gifts and talents, aware of his weaknesses and strengths. Would he describe himself as patient or hasty, forthright or timid, tenacious or easily bored? A person needs to know the truth about himself so he can go make good progress in a direction where he can best capitalize on his strengths and potential.
This does not mean that a person must explore the nature of his existence and of the human soul. Such knowledge is outside of our grasp except for what is revealed to us in the sacred texts. Allah says: “They ask you about the soul. Say: The soul is from the affair of my Lord, and you have not been given of knowledge save a little.” [Qur’an, 17: 85]
At the same time, it is quite possible for a person to become acquainted with the dimensions of his personality, his latent talents, and his true nature. He can then use this knowledge to help him toward what is good and to safeguard him from misfortune.
Islamic Law takes a person’s nature into account and often legislates in accordance with it without blame or reproach. This applies even to the Prophets and Messengers when they acted according to their instincts and their natures, for they were human beings, no more and no less.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “We are more deserving of doubt than Abraham was when he said: ‘My Lord, show me how you resurrect the dead.’ And (Allah) said ‘Do you not believe?’ And he said: ‘Yes, but it is just to make my heart content.’ And may Allah have mercy on Lot, for he had betaken himself to a powerful support. Had I languished in prison as long as Joseph had, I would have complied with their demands.”
Abraham (peace be upon him) had sought after knowledge and desired to be acquainted with the true nature of things. This was just to satisfy his natural, human curiosity. When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “I would have complied with their demands” he was alluding to our natural, human love of liberty and freedom and our loathing of being confined and having our potentials held back, especially for a long period of time.
Moses (peace be upon him) knew himself well, and he was frank about his feelings, speaking about them unequivocally and without shame. He spoke about his natural fears when he said: “And I had fled from you when I was afraid of you.” And: “Our Lord! Truly, we fear that he will fall upon us or transgress against us.” When a person knows himself in this way and accepts himself, it keeps him to what is within his natural capacity and his abilities and defines for him his goals so he can go forward with a clear vision.
Our submission should be to our principle and values in our heart, the values by which we relate to our Lord, and according to which we should speak and act. These true and established values should be the basis of our conduct. Otherwise, by always seeking to please this person or avoid that person’s displeasure, our lives become nothing more than perpetual pretentiousness and flattery, in surrender to those around us so that we lose our individuality and our independence.
One aspect of inner peace is for our inner selves to be in harmony with our outward conduct. What we profess should be reflected in what we do. Allah says: “It is a grievous matter with Allah that you say what you do not do.” [Qur’an, 61: 3]
This requires us to be upright and correct in our approach. The Prophet (peace be upon him) defined what it means to be upright on the occasion when Sufyan b. `Abd Allah al-Thaqafî asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Tell me about Islam what will suffice me so I will not have to ask anyone else about it.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Say: ‘I believe in Islam.’ Then be upright.”
Our worship should be in harmony with the way we treat others. Our worship should give direction to our affairs and make us uphold justice and honor the rights that other people have. We should not lead a double life, one persona for the mosque and an utterly different one for the outside world.
Many failures take place and reversals take place because of the abysmal state of those who live lives of outward piety accompanied by inward wretchedness. We really need to strengthen and deepen our faith, so that it can be a pillar to support us through all of life’s trials and tribulations. We are faced with problems and disappointments at home, at work, and within ourselves, and our faith in Allah must be strong if we are to endure them and prevail. This faith must be accompanied by genuine devotion that emanates from deep within the heart before manifesting itself in our outward worship.
Inner peace requires our wants and aspirations to be in keeping with our abilities and with what is possible for us. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “O you who believe! Assume the works that you are capable of carrying out, for indeed Allah does not become disinterested until you do, and indeed the most beloved of works to Allah are those that are most constant, no matter how small they might be.”
This applies to everything. In the pursuit of material gain, a person can destroy himself with avarice.
Inner peace in what we call towards. No one of us can expect the whole world to respond positively to what he advocates, nor is it right that it should. This did not even happen for Allah’s select Messengers. Whatever one of us works for, there is always someone else working to the contrary and who may obliterate our achievements.
Inner peace requires being at peace with our own unique dispositions. A person cannot compel himself to assume what is alien to his nature or at conflict with it. He must be in harmony with himself. We can see how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), when he was served a spiny-tailed lizard to eat, refrained from partaking in it. Khâlid b. al-Walîd noticed this and asked if eating the meat of the spiny-tailed lizard was unlawful. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “No. It is just that it is not found in the land of my people, and I find myself disinclined to it.” He did not eat it, simply because it did not agree with his disposition. It was not a question of whether or not its flesh was permitted by Islamic Law.
We must recognize our unique personalities and come to terms with them. We cannot force ourselves into pretence of denying our individual qualities and temperaments.
`Umar b. `Abd al-`Azîz had said: “The most pleasurable of things is a personal predilection that is in accordance with Islamic teachings.”
We must be at peace with what Allah decrees for us, though we should seek by way of Allah’s decree to avoid the harm of Allah’s decree. It is as `Umar had said when he avoided entering a plague-stricken region: “We flee from Allah’s decree towards Allah’s decree.”
A believer is resigned to Allah’s decree and accepts it fully, so much so that he does not want to hasten what has been delayed nor defer what has been hastened on. The terminally ill, those homely of appearance,, the feeble-minded, the bachelors and spinsters, the orphans, and all those who suffer from misfortunes – such people have a pressing need to come to make peace with what Allah has decreed for them, and then go forward with their lives, taking recourse to all practical means at their disposal while resigning themselves to that which is beyond their power.
Being fair and just is also an important factor in attaining inner peace. This requires us to do away with selfishness, vain desires, and avarice. `Ammâr, the illustrious Companion, used to say: “There are three things that if someone possesses them all he will have comprehended faith: applying justice to yourself, greeting the world with peace, and spending in charity under straitened circumstances.”
When some of us disagree with one another, why do we not try to put ourselves in the other’s place and try to see things from their point of view, and accept that for them at least what they accept for themselves? I am almost certain that there is no one on Earth who is truly fair with himself except the extremely few whom Allah graces with that ability. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “One of you sees the dust in his brother’s eye but fails to see the crud in his own.”
Inner peace also requires that we reconcile our minds to the knowledge of the unseen that the Messengers have brought us. That knowledge never contradicts with accurate scientific knowledge or with sound reason. We accept this knowledge of the unseen without allowing ourselves to succumb to the mindset of mythology that readily concedes every tale that is told without any discretion or discernment. Matters of the unseen are matters that are beyond the powers of the human mind to ascertain, while fables and myths are beneath the level of the human mind. We must employ reason and eschewing blind acceptance. Indeed, the mind is for discernment; it is not a mere repository for information.
The eminent jurist and legal theorist `Izz al-Dîn b. `Abd al-Salâm pointed out that questions pertaining to welfare and harm are discernable by reason even before the revelation of the Law. I would like to ad that these matters are still discernable to reason even after the Law has been revealed. This is how we understand the Qur’an and tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and how we weigh various legal rulings against one another. We take matters of welfare and harm into due consideration, neither deriding the true worth of our minds nor exaggerating our estimation of their powers and burdening them with matters that are beyond their scope. There are limits beyond which or minds must not transgress.
We must also bring under control the misgivings that our human minds can fall victim to and that can spoil our lives by troubling us in both our worship and our worldly affairs. Most of these things that disquiet us so much are psychological in nature. The best and most effective treatment for such misgivings is to force ourselves to ignore them, to simply refuse to give them the time of day. We must beseech Allah’s to help us in this effort and seek refuge with Him in the manner shown to us by our Prophet (peace be upon him) by reciting Chapter of Sincerity from the Qur’an (112).
We must each muster our inner strength and resolve not to heed the demands of our misgivings, especially regarding doubts about our purification. We should even consider the affliction of being beset by misgivings to be an exceptional situation that allows us license to overlook things until Allah reveals for us a way out of our difficulties. Allah knows the sincerity that is in our hearts and He helps those who are sincere.
More about Inner Peace in Islam:
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah, Most High, says: It is He who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers that they would increase in faith along with their present faith. And to Allah belong the soldiers of the heavens and the earth, and ever is Allah Knowing and Wise. And that He may admit the believing men and the believing women to gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein eternally and remove from them their misdeeds - and ever is that, in the sight of Allah, a great attainment. (Qur'an, 48:4 and 5)
The Need for Inner Peace
We are at a time of great stress and tension. Muslims and non-Muslims both have fears and anxieties. The situation looks very grim and terrible for the whole humanity. Social, economic, political and environmental conditions of the whole world are deteriorating. Injustice, crimes, violence, evil and sins abound everywhere in the world. We need inner peace and the whole humanity needs it. Inner peace is always important but it is most needed now. It is the peace of heart and mind. Inner peace makes people steadfast, strong and capable to face the problems. If there is no inner peace people lose courage and strength to face the difficulties. People become sick and develop many other physical, emotional or psychological problems. They would certainly have spiritual problems. Those who do not have inner peace become irritable, angry, have difficulty to maintain their daily work, good family relations or other commitments and responsibilities. Inner peace on the other hand makes people optimistic, friendly and productive. Inner peace makes people strong to deal with their personal, family, local as well as national and international problems.
Islam and Inner Peace
Islam is the religion of peace. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, used to say and write in his letters to the chiefs of tribes in his time: “Accept Islam and find peace” Islam places great emphasis on inner peace. In the Qur’an, it is called inner calm and tranquility, comfort of the heart, satisfaction and contentment, understanding, openness of the chest, restfulness. Believers receive these gifts from Allah Almighty. In the most difficult situations, Allah mentions that He bestowed inner peace on the believers.
Inner Calm and Tranquility
In the situation of the Migration of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Madinah, Allah, Most High, says: If you do not aid the Prophet (peace be upon him), All¼h has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out of Makkah as one of two (the second was his companion, Abu Bakr), when they were in the cave and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said to his companion, "Do not grieve; indeed All¼h is with us." And All¼h sent down his tranquility upon him and supported him with soldiers from the angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of All¼h that is the highest. And All¼h is Exalted in Might and Wise. (Qur'an, 9:40)
Regarding the truce of Al-Hudaibiyah which was convened between Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and disbelievers, Allah says: When those who disbelieved had put into their hearts chauvinism - the chauvinism of the time of ignorance. But All¼h sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger and upon the believers and imposed upon them the word of righteousness, and they were more deserving of it and worthy of it. And ever is All¼h of all things, knowing. (Qur'an, 48:26)
Comfort of the Heart, Satisfaction and Contentment
Allah says: Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of All¼h. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of All¼h hearts are assured." Those who have believed and done righteous deeds - a good state is theirs and a good return. (Qur'an 13: 28-29)
Expansion of the Chest or Breast, a Symbol of Peace and Tranquility
Allah’s special gift to those who accept Islam: So whoever All¼h wants to guide - He expands his breast to contain Isl¼m; and whoever He wants to misguide (As a result of the person's arrogance and persistence in sin) - He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky. Thus does All¼h place defilement upon those who do not believe. (Qur'an, 6:125)
Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) prayed for Allah in the following words as stated in the Qur'an: Moses said, "My Lord, expand and relax for me my breast with assurance. Ease for me my task. Remove the defect from my tongue, that they may understand my speech. (Qur'an, 20: 25-30)
Allah’s special gift to Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him): Did We not enlighten, assure and gladden your heart with guidance O Muhammad? And We removed from you your burden, Which had weighed upon your back, And raised high for you your repute. For indeed, with hardship will be ease and relief. Indeed, with hardship will be ease. So when you have finished your duties, then stand up [for worship. And to your Lord direct your longing. (Qur'an, 94: 1-8)
How to Achieve Inner Peace?
It is important to remember that inner peace comes from Allah. It does not come from material things. It does not come from drugs or painkillers. It does not come from sinful lifestyle. Unless our relations with Allah are good, we can never have real inner peace. In order to have inner peace, we must:
- Have strong faith and trust in Allah. Remember Allah as much as we can. Remembering Allah brings comfort. We must follow the right path of Islam. Neither misfortune nor prosperity should turn you away from Islam.
- Be patient in all circumstances.
- Be with good people and be good to others. We must always say good words and do good deeds. Deeds of charity bring real inner peace.
- What we do not like others to do to us, we should not do to others.
- Be most forgiving. Forgiveness is the best healer and it first heals the person who forgives.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Who from my followers would take from me five pieces of advice in order to practice them and teach them to others?” I said, “I, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) took the hand of one of his companions and counted them to him. He said, “Avoid the forbidden things you will be the most worshipful servant of Allah. Be satisfied with what Allah has granted you, you will be the most independent person. Be good to your neighbor, you will be a true believer. Love for people what you love for yourself, you will be a real Muslim. Do not laugh too much, because too much laughter kills the heart or conscience.”
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