| 2 Summary of Ethics


Overall Meaning: The Meaning of Contentment

Qana`ah linguistically: from qani`a - with a kasrah - yaqna`u qunu`an and qana`atan. It means to be content. Qana`a - with a fathah - yaqna`u qunu`an is to ask. [490] Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manzur (8/298).

Qana`ah technically: is contentment with what Allah provides. It has also been described as satisfaction with what is less than sufficient, without desire for what is missing, and helping oneself with what is available. [491] Mashariq al-Anwar, al-Qadi `Iyad (2/187); Mu`jam Maqalid al-`Ulum, al-Suyuti (p. 205, 217). The Difference between Contentment, Moderation (Qasd), and Asceticism (Zuhd) [492] al-Furuq al-Lughawiyyah, al-`Askari (p. 430); al-Dhari`ah ila Makarim al-Shari`ah, al-Raghib (p. 225).

Contentment is restricting oneself to what is little and scarce. Moderation is leaving off excessiveness as well as rationing. Contentment is satisfaction with less than what is sufficient. Asceticism is restricting oneself to what is meager. They are close in meaning, though contentment is attributable based on contentment of the self - that it is satisfied - while asceticism is attributable based on the impact of what is received on the self. Asceticism not founded on contentment is a feigned, unauthentic one.Encouragement towards Contentment in the Qur’an and Sunnah

❖ Allah, exalted, says: “If they are poor, Allah will enrich them out of His bounty. For Allah is All-Bountiful, All-Knowing.” al-Nur: 32. Enrichment here refers to contentment. [493] Tafsir al-Baghawi (6/40).
❖ `Abdullah ibn `Amr, Allah be pleased with them both, narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Successful is he who submits to Allah, is blessed with enough, and Allah makes him content with what He gave him.” [494] Reported by Muslim (1054). Quotes of the Predecessors and Scholars on Contentment

❖ Ibn `Abbas said: “Contentment is a wealth that is infinite.” [495] Ibn `Abd Rabbih mentioned it in al-`Iqd al-Farid (3/169).
❖ Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas said to his son: “Son, if you seek enrichment, seek it out through contentment, for it is a wealth that never runs out. Beware of greed, for it is immediate poverty. Despair of what people have, for you will not do so except that Allah will suffice you through other means.” [496] Reported by Ibn `Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq (20/363).
❖ `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz said: “The greatest form of prudence is having contentment and withholding the tongue.” [497] Adab al-Mujalasah wa Hamd al-Lisan, Ibn `Abd al-Barr (p. 87).
❖ Aktham ibn Sayfiyy said to his son: “Son, whoever grieves not over what has passed will have a tranquil being, and whoever is content with his situation his eyes will be delighted.” [498] Rawdat al-`Uqala’, Ibn Hibban (p. 149). Stations of Contentment

The first: is that one is content with solely that which will deliver him through this worldly life, refraining from looking at other than it. This is the highest level of contentment. The second: is that he is content at the level of sufficiency, and does not care for any excess. This is the middle station of contentment. The third: is that one accepts whatever is there - he does not dislike the excess which comes to him even if a lot, nor does he like that he should have what he does not, even if little. This is the lowest level among those who are content. [499] Adab al-Dunya wa al-Din, al-Mawardi (p. 126-127). Benefits of Contentment
A sign of complete faith. A cause of blessings. Furthers one from sins and acts of disobedience which undo good deeds. Allows one to live a happy, pure, good life. It is honour and self-respect, and keeps one away from humiliation and weakness. It is a true realisation of gratitude for Allah’s blessings. Barriers to Acquiring Contentment
Befriending the wealthy and those who seek out wealth. Following desires to seek the worldly life and increase from it. Not reciting the Qur’an and contemplating its verses. Not remembering death and the Final Abode. Means to Acquiring Contentment
Sufficing oneself with what one has been provided with, not having concern over the future. Reading the biographies of the Righteous Predecessors and seeing their asceticism and contentment in this life, taking them as examples to follow. Being moderate in one’s expenditure, not being excessive nor wasteful. Supplicating to Allah and pleasing Him to grant one contentment, as the Messenger of Allah ﷺ did. Having certitude in faith that Allah ordained providence before our creation, and that no soul shall pass before taking its full share. That one looks at those who are lower in their means, as opposed to those who are greater. Examples of Endearment from the Life of the Prophet ﷺ, Companions, and Righteous Predecessors

❖ `Umar, Allah be pleased with him, said: “I entered upon Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, and he was lying on a mat. I sat down and he drew up his lower garment over him and he had nothing else over him, and the mat had left its marks on his sides. I looked with my eyes in the storeroom of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. I found only a handful of barley around one bowl-full and an equal quantity of acacia leaves placed in the nook of the cell, and a leather-skin bag hanging on one side. I was moved to tears. He said: ‘Son of al-Khattab, what makes you weep?’ I said: ‘Prophet of Allah, how could I not shed tears? This mat has left its marks on your side and I do not see in your storeroom except these few things that I have seen. Caesar and Khosrow are leading their lives in plenty whereas you are Allah’s Messenger, His Chosen One, and that is your store! He said: ‘Son of al-Khattab, is it not sufficient for you that for us is the Hereafter while for them is this world?’ I said: ‘Yes.’...” [500] Reported by al-Bukhari (4913) and Muslim (1479) and the wording is his.
❖ `Amir ibn `Abdillah said: “When Salman al-Khayr was on his deathbed, some signs of despair appeared on him. The people said: ‘What makes you despair, Abu `Abdilah, when you were among the foremost in doing good? You witnessed major battles with Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and great conquests.’ He said: ‘It upsets me that our beloved ﷺ took an oath from us when he left us: ‘Let each of you suffice himself with a day’s supplies.’ This is what upsets me. All the wealth of Salman was gathered and it all amounted to fifteen dirhams.” [501] Reported by Ibn Hibban (706) and al-Tabarani (6/268) (6182). al-Albani authenticated it in Sahih al-Targhib (3319). Adages, Proverbs, and Poetry about Contentment [502] al-Sihah, al-Jawhari (3/1273); al-`Iqd al-Farid, Ibn `Abd Rabbih (3/14).

❖ Aktham ibn Sayfi said: “Whoever sells frugality for contentment gains richness and wealth.”
❖ Some sages said: “The content is rich even if what he has is scarce, and whoever isn’t is poor even if he has plenty.”
❖ Contentment is wealth that never perishes.
❖ Bishr ibn al-Harith said:

“Contentment has given us such honour -
There is no honour greater than contentment.

Take it for yourself as a personal asset,
Then make piety your luggage thereafter.

You will gain two: sufficiency from the miserly,
And bliss in Gardens from an hour’s patience.” [503] Ghidha’ al-Albab fi Sharh Manzumat al-Adab, al-Safarini (2/538).

22 22