Once upon a time, three persons were going somewhere. On the way, they found treasure that was much in quantity. They became very happy. They decided to find out a suitable place where they could distribute it. They found such a place. They felt hungry, so before distributing the treasure they sent one of them to the population to fetch food. He went and bought food items. He thought evil and planned to get the whole treasure alone. So he poisoned the food. On the other hand the remaining two also planned a trick to kill him so that each of them could get half the treasure. As soon as he arrived they pounced upon him and killed him. Then they ate the food he had brought. They too died. This is the result of greed.
Someone sent dates to Aayisha (Radhi Allahu Anha ) as a gift. She had them distributed among the needy. In the evening her maid took out a basket whereupon she asked, “Where was it?” She replied, “I had kept a basket so that we could eat it in the morning.” She said, “If you were to eat, you should have kept just one or two bunches. There was no need of so much dates.”
The famous companion of the Prophet (ﷺ), Hakeem bin Hizam, said, “(Once) I asked Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ), (for something) and he gave it to me. Again I asked and he gave (it to me). Again I asked and he gave (it to me).” But the Prophet (ﷺ) advised Hakeem
Translation of meaning: “O Hakeem! Wealth is like a sweet fresh fruit; whoever takes it without greediness, he is blessed in it, and whoever takes it with greediness, he is not blessed in it, and he is like a person who eats but is never satisfied; and the upper (giving) hand is better than the lower (receiving) hand.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
Hadrat Hakeem bin Hizam made a pledge at that very time not to take anything from any person whomsoever. Then Abu Bakr Radhi Allahu Anhu (during his caliphate) called Hakeem to give him his share from the war booty (like he gave to the other companions of the Prophet), he refused to accept anything. Then Umar Radhi Allahu Anhu (during his caliphate) called him to give him his share but he refused and stood by his resolve. Hadrat Hakem bin Hizam (Radhi Allahu Anhu) remained satisfied and content throughout his life and held fast to the suggestion of the Prophet (ﷺ). He would work as a labourer to earn his sustenance.
Hadrat Salman Farsi (Radhi Allahu Anhu) was a governor. His salary was 5,000 silver coins (dirham). He would give all his salary in charity. For managing necessities he sold pots made of date leaves. He would sell the pots for three dirhams from which he would give one dirham in charity, with one dirham he would buy groceries and with the remaining one dirham he would buy leaves from which he made articles for sale.
What is contentment?: Being agreed with the distribution of Allah is contentment. There should be no greed in the heart for others’ possessions. This is the evidence of truth of faith. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
قَدْ أَفْلَحَ مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَرُزِقَ كَفَافًا وَقَنَّعَهُ اللَّهُ بِمَا آتَاهُ (مسلم)
Translation: “He is successful who has accepted Islam, who has been provided with sufficient for his want and been made contented by Allah with what He has given him.” [Muslim]
The Contentment of the Prophet (ﷺ):
Whatever Allah has bestowed upon the Prophet (ﷺ) he was contended with it. Never did the Prophet (ﷺ) ask anyone, nor did he let the greed for the world intrude his heart. He traded with the wealth of Hadrat Khadija (Radhi Allahu Anha ) and earned profits, but never did he fall in love with wealth. He would receive war booty in big quantity but he would distribute all among the companions and did not keep anything for himself. The Messenger (ﷺ) slept on a mat made of date leaves. Once, the companions (may Allah be pleased with them) saw the marks of mat lines on his back and wanted to arrange a soft bed for him but he prohibited them and said:
«مَا لِي وَمَا لِلدُّنْيَا ، مَا أَنَا فِي الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا كَرَاكِبٍ اسْتَظَلَّ تَحْتَ شَجَرَةٍ ثمَّ رَاحَ وَتَرَكَهَا» [ترمذي، ابن ماجہ]
Translation : “What have I to do with the world? I am not in this world but like a rider who shades himself under a tree only to move onward and leave it.” [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]
Now, if someone seeks contentment in good deeds, it will be wrong. Contentment relates to distribution of Allah; and not to doing good deeds through which a man seeks Allah’s pleasure. Allah Almighty said:
« وَتَزَوَّدُوا فَإِنَّ خَيْرَ الزَّادِ التَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُونِي يَا أُوْلِي الأَلْبَابِ (197)» [البقرة : 197]
Translation of Meaning: “So make provision for yourselves (Hereafter); for the best provision is to ward off evil.” [Al-Baqarah: 197]
At another place He says:
« وَسَارِعُوا إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَوَاتُ وَالأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (133) » [ اٰل عمران: 133]
Translation of Meaning: “And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil).” [Aal Imran:133]
The Virtue of Contentment:
A contented person always loves Allah; the people of the world loves him and he will get goodness in the Hereafter.
Contentment is a source of blessing: It is a treasure that never ends. The Prophet (ﷺ) said about richness:
«لَيْسَ الْغِنَى عَنْ كَثْرَةِ الْعَرَضِ وَلَكِنَّ الْغِنَى غِنَى النَّفْسِ» [متفق علیہ]
Translation: “Richness is not the abundance of wealth; rather it is self-contentment.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
The result of greed is disgrace. A greedy person is never satisfied; he always looks for more riches. Blessings are kept away from his house. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
«وَارْضَ بِمَا قَسَمَ اللَّهُ لَكَ تَكُنْ أَغْنَى النَّاسِ » [ترمذي، احمد]
Translation : “And be pleased with what Allah has allotted you, you will be the richest of men.” [Tirmidhi, Ahmad]
Contentment is the way to Paradise: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: Translation of Meaning: “Who is there to assure me he will not ask people anything, I shall assure him of Paradise.” The companion of the Prophet, Hadrat Thauban (Radhi Allahu Anhu) said, “Ever since then I did not ask anyone anything.” [Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Ahmad]
Contentment safeguards self-respect: A contented man is always free; he is never under pressure of anyone. None can pressurize him to speak their words nor do they impose their opinion upon him. On the contrary, a greedy person is always buttering people and working as their slaves. Hadrat Ali (Radhi Allahu Anhu) says that greed is an everlasting slavery. Slavery is of three types: common slavery, slavery of lusts & desires and slavery of greed.
Contentment is accompanied by peace and satisfaction: A contended man never falls prey to mental complexities. Psychologically, he is much pleased and happy. While a greedy person is always restive looking for more and more, to never receive satisfaction. There is a hadith qudusi:
«يَا ابْنَ آدَمَ تَفَرَّغْ لِعِبَادَتِي ، أَمْلَأْ صَدْرَكَ غِنًى ، وَأَسُدَّ فَقْرَكَ ، وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ ، مَلَأْتُ صَدْرَكَ شُغْلاً ، وَلَمْ أَسُدَّ فَقْرَكَ» [ابن ماجہ]
The Almighty Allah said, Translation of Meaning: “O son of Adam, if you are devoted to My worship, I would fill your breast with opulence and I would deliver you from your poverty. Otherwise, I would occupy your breast (with worldly matters) and you would remain in your poverty.” [Ibn Majah]
Undoubtedly, if the man is content what he has been bestowed upon by Allah, only then will he get happiness and peace. And if the man wants to fulfill his wishes, then his condition will be as described it the Urdu couplet:
ہزاروں خواہشیں ایسی کہ ہر خواہش پر دم نکلے
بہت نکلے میرے ارمان لیکن پھر بھی کم نکلے
Translation: “Thousands of wishes as such, for each a life will run out. Many of my desires turn up, still not enough came out.”