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Appreciating Simplicity

Listen Here:Appreciating Simplicity” by Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar

There are certain things to which the soul is naturally attracted. For example, after a harsh winter, when the weather becomes nice everybody is happy and goes outside. They naturally like the change in scenery. One of the things human beings in their nature are attracted to is simplicity. We don’t appreciate the power of simplicity in this day in age but it is something that brings peace to our souls. The simpler your life is, the happier you will be. This is even true for things outside of the deen (religion).

The more open a space is the more comfortable you will feel in it. One of the reasons we feel so at peace at the masjid is because its open, we sit on the floor there is no furniture, or grand decorations. This applies to many things. It’s even true in advertising, “Just do it,” advertisers try to keep their slogans and images simple so people can easily remember and identify their brand.

The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم was exceedingly simple in the way he dealt with life no matter how complex it became.

  • He had a minimal number of clothes that he wore, they had patches on them. Even though he was ruling all of Arabia, he maintained the same wardrobe from the moment of revelation to his death. The simplicity about him made people feel comfortable around him. He was very straight to the point and simple in his talk. His sayings are so simple yet so filled with depth and power (Ex: Verily deeds are according to niyyah [intention]).
  • His food was incredibly simple, just ungrounded wheat or barley bread. Some people came to ask about the Prophet’s صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم food after his death and it was told to them they wouldn’t be able to digest it. Just think about the way we expect our food to be, (It has to be hot, delicious etc.) we think that because we work all day, we deserve a good meal. The Prophet was carrying the load of the message on his shoulders, but when there was no food, he’d simply say “I’m fasting.” He never cared what the food was or how it was served.
  • His house was simple, it was small and had small rooms. It could have been that the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم would have had a huge castle built, being king of Arabia, yet he kept it so simple. Even though his house was a simple thing, after hundreds of years and thousands of miles, we are still so attracted to it. Every minute, there are thousands of people visiting his house. People are pushing and shoving to simply get a look.
  • The interactions he had were very simple and based on love, he said what he had to say and people understood what he said. Nothing about him was artificial, you never had to wonder if what he said was really what he meant (unlike today). He was incredibly straightforward, and at the same time very loving in his speech. It comes in hadith (Prophet’s tradition/saying) that when he sat with the people he talked with them exactly like he was one of them. People felt like they were a part of him.
  • The financial transactions of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم were very simple, if he had money he spent it, if he didn’t have it he didn’t spend it.

People create headaches upon themselves, they get into debt, work all hours of the day, get so stressed out that they need a vacation. This is the deception of humanity, shaytaan creates this mindset that life needs to be complicated otherwise you won’t be happy. People constantly make complex decisions, they know they should come to the masjid but they move half hour away and then they get frustrated, why? Move 2 minutes away. The human being needs to keep things simple.

When the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم gave his salaam (greeting of peace) to someone , he shook their hand, looked at their eyes, and smiled. He properly greeted everyone, he never acted like he didn’t have the time for it. He let people say whatever they had to say, when they were done he would ask them if they had anything more to say, and then he would speak. Who does this today? Most people rush other people’s talk and tell them to get to the point.

His clothes, his food, his house, his masjid, his house, his financial transactions everything about him was simple.

So why is this simplicity so important? When you keep these things simple you’ll keep your entire life simple. This life is passing and the goal is Jannah (paradise). We have a very simple paradigm, we’re travelers and we’re trying to get somewhere. When the sahabah (companions) spoke, they spoke for Jannah, when they acted, they acted for Jannah. When you’re at the airport, you don’t sit there and think about the airport, you think about your destination, there is no purpose at the airport.

Once a man narrated a dream to the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم, he said he saw a straight path with a beautiful garden on both sides. One group of people came and they passed it without engaging it and went straight ahead to the end. The second group of people came and said, look at this beautiful garden, they enjoyed it for a while and then went ahead to the end. The third group of people were so entranced by the garden that they forgot they were even following a path. The Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said that the path was sirat-ul-mustiqeen (the straight path) and that the first group of people are my sahabah (companions). The second group is the subsequent generation. The third group of people are people of the latter time who think they’ll be here forever although knowing in their heart they won’t.

You could give the body every luxury in this life, but the soul will never be happy. This doesn’t mean that we don’t partake in the world, we have to use this world to get to Paradise. Islam means to cause peace, when someone accepts Islam they cause peace within themselves. When you take on any burden, when you struggle and toil, do it not because it will do something for you in this world, do it because it’ll help your hereafter. Use up every moment to help your hereafter.

There is even simplicity in wudhu (ablution), the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم said to only use what you need even from the Earth, do not waste water for doing wudhu. Modern life is filled with constant noise, constant interactions (email, cell phone, texting, internet), we don’t even have the time to reflect on our lives and existence, we never ask, who am I? The deen will never come instantly, it always requires struggle, sacrifice, prayer, dedication, study, sajood upon sajood (prostration). If everything in your life is instant, and the deen is not then you will move towards the things that are instantly gratifying. If you want deen then it requires simplicity and depth in your interactions.

May Allah سبحانه و تعالى‎ make us among those who are able to maintain the sunnah and see the passing nature of this life and the permanence of the next.

My Thoughts: The manifestation of simplicity in our being and living represents the fact that we recognize the reality of this life. If we’re constantly going from one place to the next, if we’re always stressed out, if our houses are filled with junk we never use, if we have so many clothes that we can’t figure out what to wear, if we’re unhappy with the slightest bad taste in food, then these things prove that we’ve made our lives to complex. This doesn’t mean we should just sit around in an empty house, it means we should struggle, work, accomplish, but in the beautiful manner of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم. Simplicity is one of the most beautiful aspects of Islam, people naturally gravitate towards a person of simplicity.

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