We all seek peace and serenity in our lives. Without peace, our lives are broken and miserable. For a meaningful and rich life, pursuing peace is crucial. In my pursuit of peace, I’ve learned the following three key lessons from the story of prophet Adam and Hawwa. This post is all about how you can attain a peaceful life with these three principles.
As human beings, we love stories. Stories captivate us, let us transcend space, body, and time, and are a powerful way of delivering important messages. In the Quran, Allah (SWT) uses stories to deliver eternal and universal messages. Scholars of Islam say that almost one-third of the Quran contains stories.
But these Quranic stories aren’t just there to captivate us. They are for us to reflect, to contemplate, to learn lessons and to be guided. That’s because every story (actually, every detail) contains within it numerous gems.
One story that always stands out in my mind is that of Adam and the Shaytan. After creating Adam and Hawwa, Allah (SWT)commanded them not to approach a certain tree in Paradise.
And We said, “O Adam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” (Al-Quran, 2:35)
However, Shaytan seduced Adam and Hawwa to commit the mistake:
“… he (shaytan) said, “Your Lord did not forbid you this tree except that you become angels or become of the immortal.” (Al-Quran, 7:20)
With his whisperings, the Shaytan was able to have Adam and Hawwa commit a mistake that would have them removed from Jannah. But let’s stop here.
There are numerous beneficial lessons to be drawn from this story; personally, I’ve found three important lessons that are essential for a peaceful life:
- Greed and unchecked ambition can destroy our lives
- Lies and liars attract us when we look for shortcuts
- Seeking shortcuts can lead us to failure
I believe these three lessons are very relevant to the era we live. Let’s look at them in more details and see how they can contribute to a more peaceful, serene life, bi’idnillah!
1) Greed and unchecked ambition can destroy our lives
It’s normal to want more and to be ambitious. That’s why despite being in Jannah and having everything they could want on hand, Adam and Hawwa were susceptible to the Shaytan’s whisperings. That’s also why our beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said, “When human beings have a valley of gold, he would wish for another” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The Shaytan knows human nature and uses our inclinations to misguide us. In the story above, he tapped into our desire for immortality and led our father, Adam (PBUH), to err.
When we start to act upon all our greed and if don’t reign in excessive ambition, we are setting ourselves to a vicious cycle that never ends. Even valleys of gold, expensive cars or huge mansions don’t satisfy us. As soon as we see another bigger valley of gold, more expensive car or bigger mansion, we want that. And that’s a recipe for a miserable life!
So, instead of focusing on what we don’t have, we need to shift our mindset to what we do have. That way we can make the most out of what we have while still striving for a better life. That’s because the goal isn’t to not have desires or wants; it’s about not letting those desires or wants misguide us.
Our religion recognises that we can be ambitious and have all types of goals. These are essential, as long as our purpose and means of achieving such goals are legitimate and meaningful.
Let me give an example to clarify this! Our desire to become a millionaire, because we want to live a certain posh lifestyle, vs. our aspiration to become a millionaire because we want to live a decent life while helping others who are in need. Which millionaire would have more peace and satisfaction in life?
A peaceful life starts on the day we give up our greed and check our ambition! `Ali (RA) expressed this beautifully, “Detachment is not that you should own nothing, but that nothing should own you.”
2) Lies and liars attract us when we look for shortcuts
I know this title sounds harsh, but when we’re looking for shortcuts, false promises are enticing. One of the ways that the Shaytan deceived prophet Adam (PBUH) was by repeatedly lying to him! It wasn’t just one time that he came to Adam (PBUH), he came to him repeatedly and told him the same lie again and again. You see that when a lie is repeated, people accept it as a truth (welcome to a Trump-led USA).
In our era, the Shaytan comes to us with his lies mostly in the form of media and, particularly, social media! The amount of junk and lies these media contains is simply overwhelming. That’s because they tap into our desires and weaknesses. Unfortunately, the masses accept what they see and start to believe it.
The only way to safeguard ourselves is to block these lies from coming to us in the first place. We may not be able to block it fully, but a good place to start is by reducing our social media consumption.
Don’t get me wrong, not all the things in social media are bad. But the truth is, 95% of the things we read and watch are pretty useless. In an upcoming blog post, I’ll use science to explain how the constant consumption of social media reshapes our brain, insha Allah.
As for now, if you’re serious about increasing your knowledge, don’t turn to social media. Instead, read a good book, meet a scholar in person, attend a halaqa or follow an online or offline program.
Here are a few simple techniques that can help you reduce your social media consumption:
- Start your day with a meaningful activity. Don’t spend any time on social media until you’ve finished this particular activity.
- Turn off all the social media related notifications.
- Schedule a certain time (example: at 14:30 every day) during your day to check your social media status. That way, you’re not checking your social media haphazardly.
- Schedule another important task that you can’t miss after the time you blocked out. If you have to pick up your children at 15:00 hours, you have no choice than to cut short your social media consumption.
The less time you spend on social media, the more control you’ll have on your life. And this will eventually lead to a peaceful life.
3) Seeking shortcuts can lead us to failure
The Shaytan is very aware of our weaknesses! And he uses our weaknesses to mislead us. In the Quranic ayah mentioned above, the Shaytan offers Prophet Adam a shortcut to becoming an angel. And acting upon that shortcut made all the difference for Adam and Hawwa. That’s a difference between Paradise and earth! Just reflect on this!
Most of the time, we fail miserably in life, because we prefer shortcuts to achieve our aspirations. We don’t want to put in the time, sacrifice and hard work that our goals require.
Instead, we become gullible and start to believe anyone who offers a shortcut to success. Talking about weight loss, I know how many people go down this path: “Want to lose weight? Take this magical pill for 30 days, you’ll look 50 years younger”! Or, “become financially free tonight, by doing xyz…” Ridiculous, right?
Listen, the hard truth is, there aren’t any shortcuts to success. You’ll need to put your efforts and work hard (but in a smart and strategic way). There isn’t any feasible shortcut to achieving anything meaningful in this life.
Once you realise this and free yourself from this “shortcut” mind-set, you’ll start to work hard and plan your life to achieve meaningful life! And that certainly gives you peace!
Question: What other lessons you can learn from this story for a peaceful life? Share your wisdom with us!