What is happiness but satisfaction?
What is satisfaction but true peace, inward and outward?
We read in the Quran that,
“Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28).
True satisfaction, harmony, and peace only come from a heart at one with its Creator.
We may find satisfaction in other things, but it will ultimately be superficial and short-lived. This includes satisfaction with your toy collection, your home, and even people (like relationships with people that are devoid of higher divine truths like honesty and love). Everything other than God is dependent and no amount of those things will ever satisfy the lower, worldly nature.
The material world is not all bad of course. In fact we pray for “the good in this world and the good in the hereafter” (2:201). But only through a heart that’s conscious of its Creator can we enjoy the material world on genuine, deeper levels.
There are three different stages of the soul mentioned in the Quran, and they seem to speak on the different stages of happiness:
the soul commanding towards evil (12:53),
the soul reproaching itself (75:2), and
the soul at peace (89:27).
The “soul that commands towards evil” is the soul intoxicated by the material. It does anything for its “fix” and ignores its higher nature for the lure of the worldly. No matter the momentary satisfaction it gets, with the new day, it’s more hungover from the escapades of the last than satisfied. The lower nature will never find true happiness. It is unsettled, fearful, lustful, discontent, and in disharmony with reality.
The next stage of the soul represents higher awareness. The “soul reproaching itself” is a soul that acknowledges its own wrong actions. We all do wrong, and we all need to improve because no one is perfect. Only God is. To accept that you are doing a wrong is the first, pivotal step in purifying yourself. Unlike the soul that commands towards evil, this stage of the soul is aware of its higher nature and strives to be guided by it. It’s trying to right its wrongs and lift itself up from the numbing dishonesty and appetite of the lower nature. This soul is seeing happiness at the end of the tunnel!1
The epitome of the soul’s development is “the soul at peace.” In Arabic it’s called nafs muthma’inna.
“Oh soul at peace, return to your Lord satisfying and satisfied” (89:27-28).
Although this verse mentions the “soul at peace returning to your Lord” in the context of the next life, we can attain this beautiful sate of harmony with God right here in this life.
How do we return to our Lord, The Truth, The Compassionate, The Merciful, here in this life? How do we harmonize with The Light of the universe that cradles the heartbeat of every creature on this beautiful planet?
The answer is to harmonize with the truth that God inspired in you. It’s there. Be silent. Open your ears.
“And He inspired in [the soul] its wrong and its right” (91:8).
Harmony with God grows from within, from a state of being inside of you, and then affects everything external. Remember that “Only in the remembrance of God do the hearts find peace” (13:28). We can all reach the nafs muthma’inna, the state of true peace and harmony with The Reality.1 To be at harmony with God, you must certainly stand with truth and forsake what’s false. This is not easy. But it’s worth it. Trust in God, be patient, and progress.
Islam means submission and comes from the root of the word for peace. To be Muslim is to submit to the reality of God’s Light. And herein is peace. It is the truest happiness and satisfaction our souls will ever experience. Be at harmony with the Creator, with yourself, and all of creation. Be whom God made you to be.
See you next post, God willing 🙂
1.The two higher states of the soul, the soul that acknowledges its wrongs and the soul at peace, are not completely distinct stages. They cycle back and forth between each other and even merge. This is because as human beings we’re constantly in need of self-improvement. So acknowledging our wrongs—no matter how small or big—and striving for better is an unchanging need in our lives. This process of honesty and submitting to reality is part of remembering God and leads our souls to peace.