Chapter XIV (b)
The Nature of Satisfaction (rida رضا)
It will be proper to first establish the true nature of rida رضا (satisfaction) and set forth its various kinds and after this the reality of maqam (station) and hal (state) and the difference between them will be discussed.
Rida is mentioned both in Quran as well as in Hadith (traditions of Prophet, peace be upon him) and whole Ummah is unanimous on it. Allah revealed:
رَّضِيَ اللّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُواْ عَنْهُ
“Allah well pleased with them, and they with Allah:” (Q 5:119),
لَقَدْ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ يُبَايِعُونَكَ تَحْتَ الشَّجَرَةِ
“Allah’s Good Pleasure was on the Believers when they swore Fealty to thee under the Tree: (Q 48:18).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
ذاق طعم الايمان من قد رضي الله ربًا
“Who proclaimed satisfaction on Allah’s being Lord, he has found the True Faith.”
Satisfaction (rida) is of two kinds:
- the satisfaction of Allah with man, and
- the satisfaction of man with Allah.
Allah’s satisfaction consists in that He recompenses the man (for his good deeds) and bestows His blessings, favors and karamat (miracles) upon him. The man’s satisfaction consists in his performing the commands of Allah and submitting to His decree. Allah’s satisfaction is preferred that of man, for until man is divinely aided he can not submit to Allah’s decree and perform His command, because man’s satisfaction is connected with Allah’s satisfaction and subsists thereby.
In short, the satisfaction of man is that he remains satisfied towards destiny under both the conditions, may he be rewarded or withheld. Similarly, satisfaction also includes that he shows spiritual steadfastness under different circumstances and states, whether they be the manifestation of Divine Beauty or of Divine Majesty; he passes through forbidden areas or blessed with happiness both should be same for him. And if he is being consumed in the fire of wrath or illuminated by the light of mercy, both should be alike for his heart, as all is being caused by Allah and are evidences of Him and whatever proceeds from Him is right and correct and he must wholeheartedly be satisfied with His decree.
Imam Hussein b. Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was asked about the saying of Abu Dhar Ghaffari (may Allah be pleased with him): “الفقرالي احب من الغني والسقم احب من الصحتة I love poverty more than prosperity, and sickness than health,”
رحم الله ابا ذراما انا فاقول من اشرف علي حسن اختيار الله لم يتمن الا ما اختارالله له
“Allah have mercy on Abu Dhar! But I say that who ever have the knowledge of His will, does not desire anything except what Allah has chosen for him.”
When a man has attained the knowledge of Allah’s will and abandoned his own choice he is delivered from all sorrows. This state, however, can not be achieved while in absence from Allah but it requires presence with Allah because “لان الرضا للاحزان نا فية و للغفلة معالجة شافية satisfaction is deliverance from sorrows and heedlessness and cleans the heart from the thoughts of others (than Allah) and frees from the bonds of distresses and troubles,” for rida (satisfaction) is the cause and means of salvation. The true satisfaction is the acquiescence of one on the knowledge of Allah and to have firm belief that Allah sees him in all circumstances. There are four ways to attain satisfaction:
- the first group gets satisfied with Allah’s bounty, it is cognizance;
- the second group who gets satisfied with delight, are worldly;
- the third group gets satisfied with affliction, they pass through diverse distresses; and
- the forth group is of those who are satisfied with being chosen (by Allah), it is love.
He who looks in the gift the Giver accepts it with his soul, and trouble and grief vanishes from his heart. And he who looks in the Giver the gift he is satisfied with the gift and treads the path of satisfaction by his own effort which is painful and grievous. The true gnosis is apprehended only when the seeker is divinely revealed. If gnosis becomes cause of veil and obstacle then that gnosis is non-cognition, delight is inconvenience and gift becomes veil and who gets satisfied with this in this world suffers from destruction and perdition and his satisfaction is the faggot for Hell. Therefore, the world is not worth that one should keep any concern with it and any thought or grief of it enters one’s mind.
Blessing is that which be a proof of the Beneficent and if one is veiled from the Beneficent then it is an affliction. He who is satisfied with the affliction that Allah sends is amongst those who see the Author thereof and they endure its pain with delight in the contemplation of the Beauty of the Beloved and when in the delight of contemplation with the Beloved the affliction is no more an affliction.
Finally, those who are satisfied with being chosen by Allah are His lovers, and for them satisfaction and severity is alike. Their hearts are ever present in His presence and the veils of their confidentiality do not open except in mortification in His love. They are ever present (with Allah) though seem to be absent; they are on Empyrean while living on earth and spiritual with physical existence. Such are the believers of Allah. Their hearts are free of the thoughts of creation and are free from the bonds of stations and states and are ever devoted for the love of Allah Who said:
َلَا يَمْلِكُونَ لِأَنفُسِهِمْ ضَرًّا وَلَا نَفْعًا وَلَا يَمْلِكُونَ مَوْتًا وَلَا حَيَاةً وَلَا نُشُورًا
“that they have no control of hurt or good to themselves; nor they can control Death nor Life nor Resurrection.” (Q 25:3).
To get satisfied with other (than Allah) is surly loss and destruction whereas satisfaction with Allah leads to delight and happiness. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
من لم يرض بالله و بقضاءه شغل قلبه وتعب بدنه
“One who is not satisfied with Allah and His Decree, his heart for destiny and causes and his body is captivated by pain and affliction to acquire these things.”
اللهم دلني علي عمل اذا عملت رضيت عني
O Allah, guide me an action with which, if I did it, Thou would be satisfied.”
انك لا تطيق ذلك يا مُوسَى
“thou canst not do that, O Moses!”
Hearing this Moses fell in prostration and started bewailing. Allah sent a revelation to him:
“O son of Imran, My satisfaction with thee consists in thy being satisfied with My decree,” i.e. when a man is satisfied with Allah’s decrees it is a sign that Allah is satisfied with him.
Bashr Hafi asked Fudayl b. Iyad which was better of abstinence (zuhd) and satisfaction (rida). Fudayl replied:
الرضا افضل من الزهد لان الراضي لا يتمني فوق منزلته
“Rida (satisfaction) is preferred over zuhd (abstinence) because it is the last desire of the one who is satisfied.”
He does not have anything better in his heart to desire, that means he does not have any desire whereas the ascetic is desirous of the hal (state) of Rida (satisfaction). There is no degree higher than Rida which the one who is satisfied should desire. Therefore, the presence with the Truth has superiority over being remain away from Him.
This also justifies the doctrine of Muhasibi, that satisfaction belongs to the class of states and is a gift of Divine, not to the stages that are acquired (by effort). It is possible, however, that the satisfied man should have no desire as the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to say in his prayers:
اسالك الرضا بعد القضاء
"O Allah, I ask of Thee satisfaction after going forth of Thy decree,”
i.e. keep me in such a state that when the decree comes to me from Thee, destiny may find me satisfied with its coming.
Here it is affirmed that satisfaction has no significance before the advent of destiny because under such condition there will only be an intention to be satisfied, which is not the same thing as actual satisfaction. Abu al Abbas b. Ata says:
الرضا نظرالقلب الي قديم اختيارالله للعبد
“In the light of eternal choice of Allah, Rida (satisfaction) for a man is to take care of his heart.” i.e. the man is bound that whatever befalls on him, he should recognize it as the eternal will of Allah and His decree, and should not be distressed, but should accept it cheerfully. Harith Muhasibi, the author of the doctrine, says:
الرضا سكون القلب تحت مجاري الاحكام
“Rida (satisfaction) is the quiescence of the heart under the commands which proceed from the Divine decree.”
This is a sound doctrine, because the quiescence and tranquility of the heart is not acquired through man’s own efforts but is the result of Divine gift. Hence, as an argument to establish that Rida is a "state", not a "station", Muhasibi cites the incidence of Utba al-Ghulam, who one night did not sleep, but kept on saying:
ان تعذبني فانالك محب و ان ترحمني فانالك محب
“If Thou punish me I love Thee, and if Thou have mercy on me I love Thee,” i.e. the pain of punishment and the pleasure of bounty affect the body alone, whereas the anxiety of love resides in the heart, which is not affected thereby. This also confirms the view of Muhasibi because satisfaction is the result of love, as the lover is satisfied with each and every act of the Beloved. Abu Uthman Hairi says:
منذ اربعين سنة ما اقامني الله في حال فكر هته و ما نقلني الي غيره فسخطته
“For the last forty years I am satisfied in whatever state Allah kept me and never resented when He transferred me from one state to another.“
This indicates continual satisfaction and perfect love.
Once, a dervish fell into the Tigris River. A man standing on the bank of the river, realizing that the dervish did not know swimming cried out to him: “Shall I tell some one to bring you ashore?”
The dervish said, “No.”
He again cried: “Then do you wish to be drowned?”
“No.” was the reply of dervish.
The man made another effort and asked: “then what do you wish?”
The dervish replied: “That which Allah wishes. What have I to do with wishing?”
The Sufi Sheikhs have uttered many sayings on satisfaction, which differ in phraseology but agree in two principles that have been mentioned. I have preferred brevity over unnecessary detail. It is appropriated now to mention the definitions of hal (state) and maqam (station) and distinction between them.