Question: What does the following prayer mean to a Muslim?
“We are content with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, and with Muhammad as our Messenger…”1 What is the ideal manner of reciting this blessed phrase?
Answer: The noble Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, gave the glad tidings2 that God Almighty will be well pleased with a Muslim who prays in the morning and evening, “We are content with Allah as our Lord, with Islam as our religion, and with Muhammad as our Messenger.” Thus, this phrase is a blessed one that should become a habitual prayer for Muslims in the morning and evening. A person who recites this prayer acknowledges that he or she is well pleased with God—and thus with all of His doings, with Islam as the Divine system, and with the Prophet as the guide to follow. Indeed, the way to be a true Muslim depends on cherishing such a thought and feeling and having certainty of faith. With this pearl of wisdom, the Messenger of God teaches us such an important truth, and he encourages Muslims to act in a way to develop this feeling, make it take root, and let it deepen within.
The Polestar of the Good Pleasure of God
By declaring at the beginning his being content and well pleased with God, together with his exemplary life woven in accordance with this truth, the Prophet evinced the fact that he is the polestar of gaining the good pleasure of God. He holds the center point of the horizons of gaining God’s good pleasure. Therefore, every time we say, “We are content with God as our Lord,” we need to know and see him as the guide who walks before us—so much so that even if a person takes wing during spiritual journeying to God and directly hears the Divine address, “I am well pleased with you,” and—imagining the impossible—even if God Almighty lets that person sit together with the Prophet at the same table and while sending revelation to him, if God gives the same lesson to both as a Divine favor to that journeyer, what befalls on that person is to still see the Prophet as the ultimate guide walking ahead. This is due to the fact that that journeyer only attains such feeling, thought, reasoning, philosophy, insight, and profound level of reflection because of the Prophet’s guidance. If it was not for him, the journeyer’s life in both worlds would be reduced to a dark prison. For this reason, it is very important for a believer to always see the Master of the Prophets as the guide and teacher from the very beginning, in terms of aiming for the horizons of God’s good pleasure. As some people who obtain a certain level at spiritual journeying increase their regard for the Prophet, for those who fail to weigh everything with the objective criteria of religion—may God forbid—it can be a cause of improper behaviors by losing the balance, sometimes to the degree of making claims such as, “My blessed light (nur) is as bright as his.” Yet the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is the nur at the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. It is not possible for anybody to equal that nur and attain the level that he did.
The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, continued this blessed statement with an expression of contentment with Islam as the Divine system. There is no other person who can comprehend Islam as soundly as he did, who can reach his degree of contentment with the Divine system, who has devoted his or her life to this system, and who thinks only about establishing it as much as he did. Even if you add up the virtues as the truthfulness of Abu Bakr, Umar ibn al-Khattab’s devotion to distinguishing right from falsehood, Uthman ibn Affan’s deep interest for the Qur’an, and Ali ibn Abi Talib’s being a hero of heart and spirituality, you will see that it does not amount to even one tenth in comparison to the level of the Prophet’s contentment with Islam. Let my words not be taken as a failure to appreciate the worth of these great figures. On the contrary, I chose them as examples of greatness, precisely to show what a hero of contentment the Prophet was at the issue of Islam.
As a final point, the Prophet expressed contentment about his being God’s Messenger. Actually, the Beloved servant of God was a person fixed on modesty and humility to such a degree that he constantly acted with the consciousness of his being a servant of God: he ate together with his servant and did not start eating before the servant did; he did not consider himself different than a person of the lowest level. For these and other reasons, he was commissioned with the duty of conveying the Divine teaching to people, a very heavy responsibility on his shoulders. It is so crucial that even if a person accepts God as the only deity by saying, “La ilaha illa’llah,” he or she cannot become a Muslim without acknowledging Prophet Muhammad as God’s Messenger by saying, “Muhammadu’r-Rasulullah,” because accepting his prophethood is an essential article of Islam and faith.
There may seem an apparent contradiction between his matchless humility and proclamation of his mission of prophethood. It is for this reason that his expression of contentment with the fact that Muhammad is the Messenger of God has a separate value, as it is something decreed by God Almighty.
Knowledge of God and Consciousness of God’s Good Pleasure
As for the manner of reciting this blessed phrase, it is very important to say it free from contempt bred by familiarity, and with a love and enthusiasm coming from the bottom of one’s heart. Actually, being content and well pleased with God, the Prophet, and Islam first of all depends on recognizing them well. One who knows will love in accordance with the degree of his knowledge, whereas one who does not know will remain indifferent to what he does not know. In this respect, if you fail to know God with respect to His greatness and His majesty, with respect to the secrets of His Lordship and Divinity, you cannot ascend to the horizons of contentment. Unless you recognize the Pride of Humanity with his true character and virtues, you cannot welcome his prophethood as you should. In the same way, if you do not know the Islamic teachings with their true immensity and depth, down to methodology and subsidiary issues, you cannot appreciate Islam as you should.
Today, as well as in the past, the reason for most people’s indifference toward the Pride of Humanity is their lack of knowledge and being unfamiliar with him. If it were possible to kindle love of him in hearts, people would become curious and find a chance to know him for real. However, as the streets do not offer this atmosphere, and the schools, and even mosques do not offer people an opportunity to know him as they should. No such atmosphere is generated at homes either. Therefore, many people are brought up devoid of the true recognition of the Pride of Humanity. In spite of so much negligence and loss, meanings about him still shine in Muslims’ hearts, and they keep saying, “La ilaha illa’llah, Muhammadu’r-Rasulullah”; this needs to be seen as an extra blessing of God Almighty.
Praying Constantly for the Greatest Blessing
Given that God’s good pleasure is a greater blessing than those in Paradise, we need to open our hands and supplicate to attain God’s good pleasure by saying constantly, اَللّٰهُمَّ إِلَى مَا تُحِبُّ وَتَرْضَى “My God, (guide me) to what You love and are well pleased with.” We need to live and breathe for attaining God’s good pleasure, praying all the time, اَللّٰهُمَّ عَفْوَكَ وَعَافِيَتَكَ وَرِضَاكَ “My God, I am asking from You forgiveness, goodness, and Your good pleasure,” because God Almighty promises that He will grant what a believer earnestly prays for. However, one needs to be insistent on this issue. The granting of what is asked for may be due only after having prayed for some five, ten, or twenty years. For this reason, if we really wish God Almighty to be well pleased with us and wish for our heart to beat with contentment before His every doing, we need to implore for this outcome even if it takes ten or twenty years. In my opinion, it is worth to engage in a long marathon of prayer for this sake, because God Almighty revealed that there is a blessing greater than entering Paradise, ascending to its highest degree, or seeing His Beloved Prophet: “…and greater (than those) is God’s being pleased with them” (at-Tawbah 9:72). But I suspect that none of us have prayed for such a long time for gaining His good pleasure. We did not open up to God praying as, “My God, Your good pleasure, Your good pleasure…” for some twenty-five years. Actually, not just twenty-five years, but it would be proper for us to pray for two hundred fifty years if we were given such a long life.
In conclusion, the noble Prophet points to a very lofty goal for Muslims with these words. What then befalls on Muslims is to do whatever they can do in order to attain this goal. Every believing individual should embrace this goal and ache for attaining it. A person who truly adopts a goal lives with the dream of realizing it—so much so that most of the time—while making ablutions, going to offer the prayer and during prayer—the believer busies his or her mind with this issue. In consequence, these thoughts one muses upon can be accepted as a prayer in the sight of God and He does not let them go wasted. It is for this reason that we need to constantly strive for the sake of attaining the horizons of God’s good pleasure; we must live and breathe this fact, occupied with it day and night. This must be the idea that permeates our thought all of the time.
1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Ilm, 29; Sahih Muslim, Siyam, 197
2. Sunan Abu Dawud, Adab, 100
This text is the translation of “Rıza Ufkunu Talep.”