Especially during the holy month of Ramadan, if undisturbed, one’s heart is overwhelmed with peace and satisfaction or rather with contentment. It is difficult to say whether this is as a result of one’s intensive approach to one’s Lord through fasting, or on account of the fasting and other additional forms of ibadat that one makes; but the contentment is there. So we do not know why. We only guess. Sometimes the curiosity makes us ask questions on matters we do not understand. Perhaps the contentment is a spiritual station at which our Lord has placed us. Again, we do not know, because we have no access to the workings of our Lord.
Despite all of this, the human and jinn agents of Shaytan are especially active during this month working to get one’s mind involved in matters, which disturb this contentment. Many times they succeed and one has to battle, on a personal level, and also through considerable appeals to our Lord, to take those disturbances out of our personalities. These agents of Shaytan have all the professional characteristics of their master. They choose Ramadan when we want our minds to be solely concerned with our Lord and they pour garbage into our hearts. Of course, many times they have success. We have to use the Isti’adhah to block their entrances into our heart. Eventually we are rid of the disturbances but only after a long battle, and contentment once more dominates.
Allah (ﷻ) speaks about this contentment in the Qur’an:
أَلآ بِذِكْرِ اللهِ تَطْمَئِنَّ الْقُلُوْبُ
For without doubt, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction (xiii: 28).
And so the contentment of the heart is closely linked with different levels of dhikr. This tells us, that the contentment is not the usual pleasure experienced by our physical bodies when certain things happen. It appears to me that this contentment is of a spiritual nature and that it is placed in our hearts as a response to the engagement of our tongues and our hearts in the remembrance of our Lord.
Physical contentment or satisfaction is of a temporary nature and lasts as long as the circumstances that brought it about. Spiritual satisfaction or contentment is the response of our Lord to our remembrance of Him. This involves different aspects of spirituality. It involves our Lord’s remembrance of us, our remembrance of Him, and also the placing in our hearts of a kind of peace by Him. This peace, or whatever you wish to call it, also impacts on our physique or well-being, because it is as if one’s whole body and whatever it contains are in a state of satisfaction.
Allah (ﷻ) also indicates to us in the Qur’an that there are certain individuals who, when they leave this earthly domain, leave in a state of spiritual satisfaction or what our Lord calls rest. Allah (ﷻ) says:
يَأَيَّتُهَا الْنَّفْسُ الْمُطَمَئِنَّةُ إِرْجِعِى إِلَى رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيِّةً
O soul, in rest and satisfaction, return to Thy Lord, well pleased thyself and well-pleasing unto Him (lxxxix: 27-28).
The soul, in a state of exemplary satisfaction as a consequence of intensive ibadat and in a state of spiritual joy experienced at the different spiritual stations, is invited by the angels to return to his/her Lord in a state of intensive spiritual satisfaction. Allah (ﷻ) explains the spiritual station of these souls, as those who are satisfied with themselves and satisfied with their Lord. A similar understanding of what I am speaking about comes out in the words:
رَضِىَ اللهُ عِنْهُمْ وَ رَضُوا عَنْهُ
Allah is well-pleased with them, and they with Allah (v: 122).
Of course, our satisfaction of our Lord whether in the earthly domain or just prior to our death, has to do with a state at which we feel no fear of our Lord’s punishment. Part of this is the understanding that is given to one when Allah (ﷻ) is satisfied with one, one of the greatest spiritual grants to any human being. What is Divine Satisfaction? Again, we do not know. We only know, in a very simple way, that our Lord is happy with us, that he is not angry with us, that He mentions us to the highest angels, and that He is going to welcome us to one or other heavenly domain. This is all we are capable of knowing, but the real extent of Divine Satisfaction, we have very little knowledge.
Sometimes when I think of these things, I do not think that it matters anymore if there is no understanding of Divine Satisfaction and the processes involved in one’s heart reaching a state of contentment of one or other spiritual station. It does not matter if one does not know all of these, as long as one has the experience of spiritual contentment. There is a story often told that Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) presented a jar of honey to the four Companions who were later to become Khalifahs. Sayyiduna Abubakr (r.a.) looked at the contents of the jar and said: “It is honey.” Sayyiduna Ali (r.a.) placed his finger into the honey, tasted it and said: “It is honey.” He tasted it, so he knew. He experienced the taste and so he knew that it was honey. With regard to the contentment in our hearts, we know what it is because we are “tasting” it, although we do not know its actual nature and how Allah (ﷻ) has placed it in our hearts. When the heart experiences the contentment, it knows what it is.
All these things are oceans of knowledge of which we only know a few drops. Or perhaps of which we have only tasted a few drops. Sometimes our Lord, because of what we do for His sake, gives us either many drops at one time or a continuous stream of drops over a length of time. Either way, we come to have experiences at spiritual stations, which we never knew of before. These experiences are all on the true road of spirituality; one experience after the other; one tasting by the heart after the other; and deep gratitude of having being allowed to taste. I know and you know that it is part of Allah’s (ﷻ) workings that allows our hearts to go through different experiences and acquire different understandings of things and different forms of knowledge. Is this perhaps the knowledge that comes from His Presence or does it come from the presence of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)? We do not know. Again, we can only guess. But what we do know is that a special knowledge, possibly of heavenly origins, reaches the heart as it travels through different spiritual stations. We do not know the origins, but we know the experience. It is difficult to express in words the kind of gratitude one has when Allah (ﷻ) opens some of His doors for us, doors which lead to experiences beyond this earthly domain. We ask Allah (ﷻ), calling on His Generosity, to let us go through those stations to let us have experiences of knowledge that come from the heavenly domain. We ask Him for that, amin.