بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَـنِ الرَّحِيمِ
Who doesn’t want an easy, happy, smooth life devoid of tragedies, calamities, grief and trials?
Which one of us would refuse to receive more blessings and provision? I doubt if anyone would.
However, there are few among us who truly understand the subtleties and nuances of the realities of the life of this world, through which Allah grants provision to His slaves.
Many human beings, as they age and garner wisdom through life experience, are able to get a small glimpse into the causes that lead to advancement in provision.
Truly, they are the wise ones, and the wisdom they possess is, in and of itself, one of the best forms of wealth:
وَمَن يُؤْتَ الْحِكْمَةَ فَقَدْ أُوتِيَ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا
“…and he unto whom wisdom is given, he has truly received abundant good” [2:269]
Below, I will list some of the “keys” to unlocking the provision which has already been decreed for you by Allah. This not at all an exclusive list. Its just those things that have been most pertinent/present in my own personal experiences.
But before I begin, I just want to clarify that, by mentioning “provision”, I mean all kinds of blessings, both tangible as well intangible in nature, namely: health, well-being, good looks & beauty, happiness, family, friends, money, clothing, knowledge & education, accommodation and property (housing), food & drink, popularity, love, respect, fame, fortune, peace and contentment.
Patient Hard Work & Enduring Hardship
We have all heard the adage, “No pain, no gain”. Well, it is true.
Nature has many examples of this phenomenon for us: one needs to work hard, remain patient, knock on several doors, and try many different avenues without giving up hope, before one gets one’s decreed provision.
The butterfly doesn’t emerge until the larva breaks through it’s cocoon first, which is a slow and painstaking process for it, through which it has to persevere. The good news is, that total freedom and independence lies ahead in wait, once it’s over.
Similarly, pregnancy and childbirth is a 9-month long process. No one can shorten this process in order to produce a child, no matter how hard they try or want to. However, the end result is (usually) a beautiful new life that brings new joys and wonderful discoveries for the mother.The universal “law of the farm” is also a similar story.
According to this law, in order to produce a garden full of lush greenery and trees, first the farmer(s) need to put in hours of work upon the land to till it, without seeing any results at all, at first.
Hours upon hours worth of hard work goes into bare, un-tilled land/earth, long before any flicker of produce (seedling sprouts) is even seen.
However, once the plants come out and become trees, and the trees become sturdy, it (usually) translates to receiving an incessant gain of fruits (or grains) year after year, with a comparatively minimal effort put into the yearly maintenance of the garden/land after that initial “investment” phase (of hard tilling work) has been traversed.
Well, the same principle – of the law of the farm – applies to the world of human beings too.
You will get your decreed provision, yes, but not by just sitting on the sofa without working hard to find it first. You will have to endure months, if not some years, of hardship and hard work (and perhaps even poverty) before you see results in the form of ease and plenty.
But once you do, insha’Allah, then from that point onwards, it will get much, much easier for you, by Allah’s grace.
Age/Time in Decades (at least 3)
In the Qur’an, Allah uses the same Arabic words (more or less), in more than one place, when He talks about giving provisions to His slaves.
Allah’s choice of these Arabic words make me ponder upon the fact that, in life, no matter how hard you work, your decreed provision only comes to you once the time for it to reach you has come: which is, usually, once you’ve reach your full physical strength.
The Arabic words used by Allah in the Qur’an when He mentions the time at which He gave provision to some of His slaves, are:
Allah is so merciful upon us, that He gives us what we want (and more) but only at the right time in our lives: when we have reached mental and physical maturity.
Yes, that means that He sometimes makes us wait to become old (and wise) enough first, before giving us the goodies.
And usually, our receiving the intangible blessings of maturity, independence, knowledge, wisdom and respect, happens synonymously with attaining our physical and bodily strength, which cannot be acquired by taking any shortcuts in life.
No one can go from age 12 to age 32 in a single day or a year. You have to let the mills grind.
Usually, this process involves patiently traversing three or four decades of our life, all the while working hard and weathering the storms that come our way, with Allah’s help and guidance.
The advice of Prophet Nuh (عَلَيهِ السَّلَام) to his nation is enough evidence of the fact that once a believer repents sincerely for their sins, intending to never commit them again, Allah showers him or her with worldly blessings:
فَقُلْتُ اسْتَغْفِرُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ غَفَّارًا • يُرْسِلِ السَّمَاء عَلَيْكُم مِّدْرَارًا • وَيُمْدِدْكُمْ بِأَمْوَالٍ وَبَنِينَ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ وَيَجْعَل لَّكُمْ أَنْهَارًا
“And I have said: Seek pardon of your Lord Lo! He is ever Forgiving. He will let loose the sky for you in plenteous rain. And will help you with wealth and sons, and will assign unto you gardens and will assign unto you rivers.” [71:10-71:12]
Spending What You Already Have According to Allah’s Pleasure
Although it sounds contradictory to say that by spending the wealth that one possesses, one will receive more, it is actually true.
Now wait, I am not saying that you go out on a huge shopping spree, buy whatever you want to, and deplete all your savings!
No, what I am saying is, that miserliness restricts provision, whereas spending the wealth that one already possesses: on one’s needs, necessities and other areas, wisely and within moderation (especially by spending it on one’s family, on whom Allah has obligated us to spend), in addition to paying obligatory zakah and giving regular charity (sadaqah) in the way of Allah — leads to immense expansion in one’s provision.
You have to give what you have, to receive more. It sort of works like a pipeline:
وَمَا أَنفَقْتُم مِّن شَيْءٍ فَهُوَ يُخْلِفُهُ
“…and nothing do you spend in the least, but He replaces it..” [34:39]
Similarly, Muslims who make excuses and do not pay their zakah (especially those Muslim women who own gold but do not pay zakah on it, just because they do not earn money), as well as those who are generally very miserly about spending on their own selves as well as on their family, usually experience a constriction in their provision over the years: lack of blessings, unhappiness, loneliness, ill health, lethargy, and pain caused by rebellion/bad attitude of obstinate adult offspring.
This hadith best describes how an adult Muslim should spend their earned income, especially those who are business owners, or entrepreneurs:
- A third in the way of Allah,
- A third upon oneself and one’s family, and
- A third should be reinvested into their source of income (or saved for the future → for those who do jobs/work for others as employees).
The above hadith describes how Allah commanded angels to send clouds with rain upon the piece of land of an honest and hard-working farmer who spent his wealth in the above manner.
Gratitude & Gratefulness
لَئِن شَكَرْتُمْ لأَزِيدَنَّكُمْ
“If you are grateful, I will grant more (favors) unto you;” [14:7]
Being grateful for blessings brings more provision, but this entails more than just harboring a feeling of gratitude in the heart, or saying the words “alhamdulillah” repeatedly with the tongue.
Being grateful to Allah encompasses having a specific mindset, and having a way of life that reflects that mindset.
In a nutshell, being grateful means:
- Acknowledging Allah’s favors upon you by actually using (and benefiting from) His blessings, not keeping them stashed away. If they are not in your use, give them to someone who will be able to use them, appreciate them and benefit from them more.
- Using His blessings only in a way that pleases Allah. Not mistreating, misusing, wasting, or undermining any of them.
- Thanking those slaves of Allah i.e. other people, who are the means of bringing those blessings to you in this world e.g. thanking your parents by being good in behavior towards them; thanking the doctor whose guidance/help cured you, and thanking your domestic helpers for making your life easier.
- Giving to others; sharing your blessings with others. This is a way of acknowledging Allah’s favors upon you, by letting others have them too.
- Always, always, always, always looking at the bright side of everything. Be so positive, that your naysayers, haters, and critics, all start to think you are crazy, especially when you stubbornly remain positive even in the bleakest of situations.
When I was a student of the Qur’an, I was taught that the root meaning of the Arabic word ش ك ر (shukr) is, “That she-camel which gives more milk after eating less grass.” This definition has remained stuck in my head over the years, alhamdulillah!
If you are not a grateful person, you might not get vast provision in life.
To check if you are a grateful person or not, ask yourself:
- Do people often hear me criticize and belittle others?
- Do I talk more about negative events and news, than positive ones?
- Do I whine often to others about my personal problems?
- Do I waste my time, food, energy, and other blessings?
- Am I often impolite with my family and friends?
- Do I verbally thank those who are economically lower than me, for their services?
- Do I give back to the local or international community in any way? E.g. by teaching, mentoring, counseling, writing, helping, volunteering, participating in community/social welfare projects?
- Do I pick up after myself? A grateful person doesn’t possess an air of entitlement, leaving their litter for others to clean. They focus on giving back.
Last but not least, keeping in touch with those blood relatives who classify as your ارحام “arhaam” (blood relations), who try to avoid you, do not want to talk to you, or are not nice to you, also causes an increase in one’s provision (Here is the sahih reference).
[Please note: in-laws are not included in the “ارحام” (arhaam) mentioned in the above ahadith. Rather, they are called “اصهار” in Islamic Shari’ah.]
By sending these relatives the occasional gift, email, smartphone message, or greeting card; by calling them up on special occasions, or visiting them when they are sick (only if they grant permission, because some people do not like anyone visiting them during an illness), by attending a funeral in their family, or responding to their invitations – these are all means of joining relations.
One important Islamic etiquette of joining relations that I’d like to point out, however, is that one should seek someone’s permission first, before calling upon them at their residence.
This is in accordance with the social etiquette of visiting others in Islam, which has been clearly pointed out by Allah in an ayah of Surah Al-Nur.
Similarly, if your calls and messages to someone go unanswered, then take that person’s silence as a refusal to allow you to visit them, or enter upon them in their dwelling, at that particular time, just like Prophet Muhammad ﷺ remained silent when `Umar bin Al-Khattab wanted to visit him right after he left his wives for a month in anger.
The Prophet ﷺ declined `Umar’s request for permission to enter upon him twice, by not responding to his greeting, nor granting him permission to enter upon him. Only after the third time, did he allow him to enter. [Sahih Al-Bukhari]
There are other keys to provision as well, which I have not been able to discuss here. However, as each of us meanders through life, we encounter our distinct challenges and lesson-imparting experiences regarding what provision came our way, at what time, and how.
What are yours? :)