Quranic Reflection No. 478. Āyat 57:23 – A Balanced Mindset
لِكَيْلَا تَأْسَوْا عَلَی مَا فَاتَكُمْ وَلاَ تَفْرَحُوا بِمَا آتَاكُمْ
Likaylā ta’saw alā mā fātakum wa lā tafrahū bimā ātākum
So that you may not grieve for what escapes you nor boast for what comes your way
(Sūrat al-Hadīd, No. 57, Āyat 23)
We live in an interesting time, where society has us so caught up with the idea of finding happiness and comfort in material things or thinking that certain lifestyles will make our lives better. We are constantly being shown products and services by the media, feeding us the idea that they will make our lives more fulfilled. The reality is that these are all an illusion that will leave us always wanting more.
The two brief clauses that make up this verse are a flawless formula for developing a brilliant perspective that allows us to realize with conviction that whatever we have been given, or not given, is according to the will and ordainment of Allah ‘azza wajall. This verse teaches us that we often face unpleasant problems in this world and many a time we wonder what the reasons are behind such calamities. They are a warning to us that we cannot attach ourselves to mundane possessions and glories of this world. Nor can we regard its splendors as everlasting and thus be too happy about them.
Getting caught up in the ups and downs of this world only serve as a distraction from faith and conviction in the distribution of the blessings of Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā. Imam Ali ‘alayhis salām has said: Contentment is the symbol of satisfaction [with Allah’s decree]. (Ghurar Al-Hikam, H 8402)
In order to apply this verse, there needs to be a shift in our mindset on a day to day basis. We should remain grounded and not get carried away with extreme waves of disappointment or excitement. Mindfulness allows us to enjoy the present without worrying about when things will change. It trains us to manage unpleasant situations without fearing that they will always remain. We need to train ourselves remaining mindful at all times, being aware of what is happening in the moment without wishing it were different, acknowledging that it is will of Allah ‘azza wajall.
Here are some habits to develop to be practically mindful in our daily situations:
· Pray for it: Nothing can be attained without His help. Pray to Him for the tawfīq to surrender to His will with full trust and confidence in His Plan for you. Imam Ali ‘alayhis salām has said: Whoever trusts in Allah, difficulties become easy for him. (Ghurar al-Hikam, H 10775)
· Live in the now: Enjoy your experiences fully without letting a part of you be elsewhere. Even small things when experienced fully become more meaningful.
· Be Attentive: Allow yourself to receive what is being said or done with an open mind, removing any stereotypes, prejudices or distracting thoughts. This will allow for clearer understanding and a better connection with the situation. Paying close attention and listening well in any situation will allow for His Mercy to be received. Just as Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā says: When the Quran is recited, listen to it and be silent, maybe you will receive [Allah’s] mercy (Q 7:20).
Let this verse be a reminder for us that when we get too caught up in the ups and downs of this world, we lose connection with ourselves and in turn with Allah ‘azza wajall. Nothing of this world matters too much unless it is pertinent to the Hereafter. Always remain focused to avoid regret on the day when it will matter the most: Had we listened or applied reason, we would not have been among the inmates of the fire. (Q 67:10)
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed.), Al-Amthal fí Tafsīr Kitāb Allah al- Munzal, ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān.