How does the heart attain tranquility through the remembrance of Allah?
By Ayatullah Makarim Shirazi
The states of anxiety and insecurity have always been and will always be the greatest sources of tribulation in the life of humanity and the things which these traits stem from in the individual and societal life of a person are completely observable.
The state of tranquility has always been one of the lost, important traits for human society and the person will knock on every door until he is able to find this all-important characteristic. If the struggles and endeavors of humanity throughout the ages were gathered together in their search for tranquility – from both the correct and permitted and false means which they have sought out – they would definitely fill up a large book!
There are some scholars who have stated that, “At the beginning of an outbreak (of a disease), some sick people who had a contagious disease – out of every ten people who had this disease and ‘apparently’ ended up dying due to it, it was noticed that a majority of them actually died due to the fear and uneasiness they felt. Thus in reality, only a small number of these people truly died due to the sickness which they had!” Truly, the two states of tranquility and apprehension play a very important role in the health and sickness of a person and of the entire society and in the success and failure of the individual and there is not a single thing which can cool this state within a person and it is for this reason that up until today, numerous books have been written whose main topic has been on fear and the ways to combat this and the way to acquire tranquility of the heart!
The history of humanity is full of sorrowful scenes in which, in order to attain tranquility, people have run after all sorts of things and in whichever valley they have stepped into, they have taken to various addictions (to help them cope with their sorrow). However the Quran, in one short, yet meaningful sentence has given us that the most assured and the closest path to this and has told us that, “Know that through the remembrance of Allah swt shall your hearts and minds be put at rest and ease.”
In order for this Quranic reality to be made clear, please pay attention to the following explanation:
The 8 Causes of Worry and Anxiety
1. Sometimes, distress and anxiety are related to a dark and uncertain future which lies ahead of a person and which manifests itself to him. The possibility of blessings leaving a person, falling into the grip of the enemies, weakness, sickness, inability to work, desperation and need (upon others) all result in a person being put through difficulties.
However, true faith in Allah swt the All-Able and High, the Merciful and Compassionate, the Allah swt who has taken it upon Himself to be sufficient for His servants, is able to remove all forms of worry and anxiety and grant a person tranquility since we, in the face of future events shall be helpless however Allah swt has the Power, Ability and Mercy (to help us).
2. Sometimes the bleak past of person would make an individual busy within himself and this would cause him anxiety.
Showing grief over sins which were committed in the past, feeling remorse from one’s inabilities and past slips would cause a person worry.
However, through paying attention to Allah swt the All Forgiving, the One who accepts repentance and is the Merciful and Forgiving would grant tranquility to a person. In reality these traits of Allah swt would convey the following thoughts to the person that, “Take your appeals of culpability to Him, seek forgiveness for your past acts and seek to make amends for what you performed previously since He is the Forgiving and the One who will make accept the amends for your misdeeds.”
3. Weakness and an inability of the person in the face of natural occurrences and sometimes even in the face of the throngs of the enemy – both internal and external ones makes a person upset and insecure such that he may think to himself, “What am I able to do in the arena of war against all of these powerful opponents? Or in the face of other challenges and struggles, what can I do?”
However when the person remembers Allah swt and begins to rely upon His Power and Mercy, the Power which is the greatest of all Power such that there is not a single other thing which has the potential to stand up to Him, then the person’s heart would become at ease and he would say to himself, “Yes, I am not alone. I am under the shadow of the Mercy and Assistance of Allah swt – the never ending source of power.”
4. Sometimes the source of grief and insecurity and that which pains a person is his sense of a worthless life and a feeling of insignificance in the goals which he has for himself.
However the person who has true faith in Allah swt and has accepted that traversing the path of perfection of his life as being the greatest goal and who knows that the entire program and all events which occur in his life are geared on this path of perfection would not feel that his life is worthless nor that he is a person without any goals in life nor as one who is an uncertain wanderer and distress filled.
5. Another reason for grief and insecurity is that sometimes in order for a person to reach to a goal, he may bear great difficulties, however he does not see a single person who encourages or appreciates his troubles and difficulties which he has gone through. This feeling of ingratitude would cause him great stress and would cause him to sink into a state of anguish and insecurity.
However when he senses that other people are aware of his struggle and endeavors and give value to his work and are ready to reward him for his efforts which he is putting through, then there would not be any room for grief and insecurity.
6. Having bad thoughts of others and empty delusions is another of the reasons which lead to insecurity and grief and this is one of those things which a large number of people see in their life.
However how is it possible for us to deny that focusing, our attention on Allah swt and His never ending Grace, His commandment to us of maintaining good thoughts and suppositions of other people – which is the responsibility for every single person who claims to possess true faith would not remove this state of grief and trepidation which is inside a person and would cause him to have tranquility and certainty in his life!?
7. Worship of this transient world and a sense of infatuation with the gold and glitter of the life of the material world which we are living in is one of the greatest reasons why a person would and does face distress and insecurity in his life.
This point is apparent to such an extreme that sometimes if a person is not able to find a particular color of clothing or a color of shoes, hat or some other piece of clothing which he is looking for in the market or thousands of other items which he may use in his daily life, that the thoughts of such a person who worships this transient world may become so engulfed and enraptured in the life of the world that he would spend hours or days or even weeks in a state of insecurity and anxiousness.
However, true faith in Allah swt and constant focus on the spiritual freedom which a true believer possesses – in which he is constantly enraptured in austerity and devotion (to Allah swt and is not bound or tied by the clutches of the gold and glitter which accompany the material world would bring an end to all of these feelings of insecurity and anxiety. When the soul of a person reaches to that level of spiritual expanse that it is just like ˜Ali (as) that it can say: “Surely your world has as much value to me as the leaf of a tree which is in the mouth of a locust who is chewing upon it.”
How is it possible that having grief or fear due to the material world or losing it from one’s grip can cause a person’s soul to be affected and to cause a sense of grief and insecurity in his heart and thoughts!?
8. Another important factor which leads to grief and insecurity is the fear and fright of death which is something that always causes trouble to come to the soul of the person. Since death is not something which is only possible to come upon a person when he gets older – rather, it is something which can strike a person of any age especially at the times of sickness, wars, insecurity in a country and other such things, thus this sense of insecurity and grief is a general trait and should be seen by all people.
However, in our world outlook (that of the Muslim), IF death was to be in the meaning of annihilation and inexistence and the end of all things – just as the materialists of the world feel and believe in, then this grief and anxiety would be completely in place for us to experience as well and a person (Muslim) should be frightened and sacred of such a death which is the end of all things and brings forth a closure of all of his desires and wishes.
However, anytime a person comes under the shade of true faith in Allah swt , then at this point, he would consider death would merely be a bridge to a wider, more spacious, and spiritually higher world and passing through the stage of “death” would be just as passing from hallways of a jail cell into the free and open society. At this point, there would be no meaning to grief and anxiety. Rather, such a death comes while on the path of fulfilling one’s responsibilities, then at this time, death is something which is liked and anticipated.
Of course, we must state that the reasons for grief and anxiety are not limited to only these. Rather, we are able to list many more reasons for people to feel this grief and stress in their lives, however we must accept the fact that a majority of the cause of this grief and anxiety are related to one of the eight reasons listed above.
When we see that these reasons for anxiety actually melting away and being removed are when one brings about true faith in Allah swt, then we will definitely confirm the fact that the remembrance of Allah swt is that which brings tranquility to the hearts: