Pursuing Contentment in a Material Dunya

Written by Medha Imam

A few mornings this past year, I woke up in a state of discomfort. Even after a dinner blessed with food and family, I woke up feeling empty and alone in my thoughts.

Alhamdulillah, many of us in the Muslim community are constantly surrounded by friends or family, making the possibility of loneliness seemingly unlikely. We are always in contact with others, whether through virtual or personal means. But there is also a lack of connection–something is missing.

There comes a point in our lives when some of us may feel our deen waver, when the foundation of faith we have made for ourselves—the iman that took so long to bloom within our hearts—begins to crumble, reaching the brink of collapse. There comes a point when we latch onto the material and begin to depend on this dunya instead of God. This shift of dependence on Him to worldly things or other people happens almost instantaneously, and we may barely notice when the transfer occurs.

But there is also a lack of connection–something is missing.

Our life is filled with unpredictable ups and downs. We become rattled. Through whatever means, our faith is tested. There is no guarantee that once we are Muslim, we will always strongly believe in the message. There is no guarantee that once we begin to pray regularly, our focus on Islam will be permanently solidified. We are not the divine. We are not infallible. We are only human, and we err.

The realization that believing in Islam is and will always be a constant struggle is at times disheartening. We are in a constant pursuit to feel whole in this world. But this world can only give us glimpses of holistic happiness. Yet somehow, we still succumb to the dunyas power and endure momentary lapses in judgment. And again, our faith wavers.

What took me so long to really understand is that true contentment wasn’t meant for this world. We keep believing that a relationship, a school or a certain career path will make us feel whole. We begin to lose ourselves in these aspects of our lives and become frustrated with ourselves and Allah (SWT) when they don’t seem to make us happy, don’t seem to fill the void. But perhaps, we should remember: that wasn’t the point of this life.

There is no guarantee that once we are Muslim, we will always strongly believe in the message. 

Verse 37 in Surah Taubah states:

O you who believe! What ails you, that when it is said unto you. “Go forth in the way of God,” you sink down heavily to the earth? Are you content with the life of this world over the Hereafter? Yet the enjoyment of the life of this world, compared with the Hereafter, is but a little.”

To me, it helps to acknowledge and accept that life here may never feel complete because our souls began with Allah (SWT), belong to Allah (SWT) and will return to Him in the end. We are only visitors here.

I hope that by reorienting my life so that God is the focal point and the afterlife is my number one priority, it will become easier to feel fulfilled with this life. I hope that when our faith does waver, we find it in our hearts to forgive ourselves and to never feel ashamed to return to the Creator. We always say how God is Forgiving and Merciful. But then why are we are so hard on ourselves?

In prayer, we constantly ask God to guide us onto the sirat-ul-mustaqeem, the straight path. So keep asking. Keep reciting Surah Fatiha with humility and sincerity. Keep speaking to Allah (SWT). Keep bowing down in sajda and turn to Him when the void arises.

Transcend beyond the frivolities of this world and forgo the agonies that stain our lives. Grasp that connection to our higher purpose and recite Qur’anic verses as if we have been craving Salah all day. Plead with our Lord as we make dua. And InshaAllah, I hope we will regain our sense of faith.