We always find ourselves complaining about trivial issues which consume more time and effort than they are worth. Below are my efforts to find some replies from the Holy Qur’an to a selection of these First World Problems (FWP’s) which you may have found yourself facing in the past…
1. “The iPhone 6 I want isn’t in stock…it’s so unfair.”
“The life of the world is nothing but play and diversion, and the abode of the Hereafter is surely better for those who are Godwary. Do you not apply reason?” [6:32]
We get so engrossed in the buzz of materialism- phones, game consoles, laptops, tablets…etc that it starts to affect us when we don’t get them on demand. Missing out on a new deal or discount seems dreadful, but praying Salat as Qadha doesn’t feel as bad. We are the first to pre-order and reserve the latest mobile or device- what about reserving our seat in Jannah? As the verse above says, always remind yourself that ‘losing out’ on something in this quick passing world may be the key to gaining something in the hereafter.
2. “I want an extension but then I won’t have any space to park my convertible.”
“And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.” [66:11]
As humans we always are dissatisfied with what we have. If we lived in a one room apartment we would complain that we don’t have two rooms. Then we’d complain we don’t have a whole house. Then we’d complain we don’t have a big enough house. Then, that the house doesn’t have a big enough garden…the list can go on forever. Yes, one should always aspire to advance in this life as well as the next, but grounding yourself in the remembrance of Allah (swt) is vital so we don’t spiral out of control. The Qur’an gave us the example of Bibi Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh and one of the four greatest women of all time as mentioned by the Prophet (saw). She had the biggest palace of her time, far greater than anything we have nowadays- but was willing to give it all away to have a house that actually mattered; in Paradise near her Lord.
3. “I’m stuck on 300 followers on twitter!?”
“O Prophet, sufficient for you is Allah and for whoever follows you of the believers.” [8:64]
In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites many of us are so concerned why we don’t have more followers or friends. The argument of online friends vs friends in reality is another discussion in itself. Anyhow looking at others and wishing you had more friends/ cooler friends or more followers is unnecessary even though it may be natural. Allah (swt) is telling the Prophet (saw) that he is sufficient for him, so we need to remind ourselves that Allah (swt) is more than sufficient for us too!
4. “I can’t believe my mum made rice for the 3rd time this week!”
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” [17:23-24]
There are many facets to this issue foremost of which is respecting your parents. Allah (swt) has said on multiple occasions in the Qur’an to respect our parents and so have the Prophet (saw) and the Aimmah (as). We take for granted what our parents do for us, imagine a mother who has come back from work or has been tirelessly taking care of the family and then when she puts food on the table is bombarded with complaints. The aforementioned verse says that one should not even utter the smallest of sounds i.e ‘uff’ let alone a barrage of statements. (If you haven’t had the chance already make sure you read the rights of your Mother and Father by Imam Ali ibn Hussain (as) in his Treatise of Rights).
5. “Why doesn’t my car have heated seats?”
“And He gave you all that you had asked Him. If you enumerate Allah’s blessings, you will not be able to count them. Indeed man is most unfair and ungrateful!” [14:34]
A common theme in these FWP’s is the lack of contentment of man with what he has. Like I have mentioned before, most of us will never be content with what we have and we will always yearn something more. So instead of wanting more why don’t we count our blessings? Why not be thankful that at least we have a working car, whereas some people can’t afford one and have to settle for other means of transport.
The verse above shows us so beautifully how bountiful Allah (swt) is upon us. If we even attempt to count the blessing he has bestowed us with, it would be infinite and impossible. Sometimes we don’t even see these blessings – He may have kept us away from going somewhere which we didn’t realise consciously and hence may have saved us from some calamity occurring there. The sad element is that Allah (swt) keeps on giving us blessings and sustenance even though we are not thankful; He is ‘Arhamur-Rahimeen’- The most merciful of those who are merciful. Once we truly realise that we are in total need of Him then we would probably start to engage in more of a bond with Him.
6. “Why did they not give me a bigger plate at this buffet?”
“O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer, and eat and drink, but do not waste; indeed He does not like the wasteful.” [7:31]
We all know that when there is a buffet, your mind tells you to make the most out of every penny you spent. You get a feeling of ‘unlimited food and drink’. This entails overflowing your plate with all kinds of food which you normally probably wouldn’t even want to have! Following the filling phase of the buffet plate you return to your table content that you feel like you have not left even one small space for anything else to be added. Then after a while the realisation hits, that you really won’t be able to finish. It doesn’t only have to be a buffet, going to someone’s house or even at dinner time many of us overflow our plates as our eyes override our stomach.
This is in two parts; greed and wastefulness. We can see that from the verse above, Allah (swt) has told us to eat and drink, however in moderation. Allah (swt) does not like those who are wasteful and inevitably getting too much food in the first place is setting yourself up for wastefulness plus the fact that wastefulness and excessive eating is also bad for your health.
7. “Why is it always raining?!”
“And We have sent down blessed rain from the sky and made grow thereby gardens and grain from the harvest.” [50:9]
Rain is a blessing, especially for those who earn a living from farming and crops, as mentioned in the verse. It is the means to which they acquire their livelihood. We should try and see it as a good thing that Allah (swt) is providing us with this blessing especially as it rains so much in the UK, we must be getting blessed a lot! Without the rain, our ecosystem would collapse and hence we would go through intense suffering of drought and ultimately starvation. We have duas for asking Allah (swt) for rain as it is such a vital component of survival, especially in rural hot countries. So why not take it as a blessing when we get it- if it stopped we would be much worse off! (Life Without Water Documentary)
8. “Why do we always have to go and see our Grandparents? It’s so boring.”
“And [recall] when We took the covenant from the Children of Israel, [enjoining upon them], “Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good and to relatives…”” [2:83]
Yes, it may seem boring but try and talk to your elders as much as you can as they have so much life experience and adventures which you may not even know of. Make the most of the time that you have with them before you lose the opportunity, and treasure every moment and memory. Allah (swt) has said in the Qur’an many times about maintaining relations with relatives and this is a very important factor in Islam. On this point, I’d like to also quickly mention Maintaining and Breaking relations (Silat Rahm & Qat Rahm). It is very potent in Islam to attempt to maintain relationships with family members and it is one of the greater sins to break relations[x] with family members. The Prophet (saw) said that “Verily (it happens that) a man joins his relationship while only three years have remained from his life, so Allah increases his life to thirty-three years; and verily (it happens) that a man severs his relationship and thirty-three years have still remained from his life, and Allah shortens that life to only three years.” In essence maintaining close relationships and being good to your relatives can increase your life by 30 years!
9. “Why don’t people listen to me when I tell them to do something?”
“There is no compulsion in religion…” [2:256]
This can occur in many different relationships; a husband and wife, an employee at work, a child at home or even a shop assistant at the grocery store! If someone doesn’t either immediately listen to what we have said or doesn’t agree with us, we lose our temper. It is plain in the Qur’an that there is no compulsion in religion. We aspire to live by the principles of Islam and hence agree with what the Qur’an says regarding religion, but we assume that in other walks of life people must listen to what we say within an instant; be that at work or at home. Reflect on our duty towards our religion and how Islam has not compelled us to do anything- and apply this to our lives.
10. “I have so many clothes but nothing to wear.“
“Therefore be careful of (your duty to) Allah as much as you can, and hear and obey and spend, it is better for your souls; and whoever is saved from the greediness of his soul, these it is that are the successful.” [64:16]
It’s super hard; especially when you see those pair of shoes on offer or a jacket which you know you don’t even really need but are attempting to make excuses for. This is compounded when we actually have no need to buy some material good but out of extravagance, buy a new one/two/three. The key thing mentioned in the verse above is ‘Greediness of his soul’. Allah (swt) tells us that if we abstain from this greediness then we will be of those that are successful. Try and stay humble and modest- the examples of the AhlulBayt (as) are plain to see. Their whole lives embodied servitude to Allah (swt) whilst living a modest life. Don’t despair however if you feel as though you have been extravagant before, because Allah (swt) is most merciful even to those who have been extravagant[xiv]. Change your ways and Allah (swt) is always ready to forgive.
11. “I’m hungry but my fridge is full of stuff I don’t feel like having.”
“Therefore eat of what Allah has given you, lawful and good (things), and give thanks for Allah’s favour if Him do you serve” [16:114]
Yes, you may feel sad that you don’t have that doughnut you are craving right now, or your favourite pack of biscuits has finished and looking into your packed fridge/ snack cupboard is just not appealing to you; but stop for a second. Think and remember those in other countries who have nothing to eat, let alone complain about what types of food they want or don’t want. When we live in the Western world and things are so accessible and easy for us we start to become very complacent. Those who have gone to other underdeveloped countries will tell you of the shock you should get at how many people are living in this world without access to clean water or a proper meal. Watch this and remember it the next time you are complaining about the type of food you unfortunately have to bear with.
Overall we should all try and be grateful for what we have and minimise the negativity we get by constantly complaining:
“And when your Lord proclaimed: If ye give thanks, I will give you more…” [14:7]
“Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, And be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me.” [2:152]
To remove worries, issues, illness and problems give charity:
“Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve.” [2:274]