The good pleasure of God: Rida in this world, ridwan in the next
Question: Is there a difference between rida and ridwan? What are the most important means of attaining ridwan?
Answer: Rida means a person’s being pleased with God and Islam, showing heartfelt submission to everything He decrees, and meeting the troubles and misfortunes faced in the world with a heart at rest.
The blessed Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, drew attention to such horizons of rida with the words, “We are content with God as our Lord, with Islam as our religion and with Muhammad as our Messenger…”
As it relates to believers, this blessed statement of the Prophet shows how a true servant of God is, and it sets a goal to attain for people like us. The fact that different verses of the Qur’an state, “God is well-pleased with them, and they are well-pleased with Him…” (e.g., al-Maedah 5:119) indicate that attaining the horizons of rida is the greatest goal for believers to attain.
In addition, if a person is fixed on rida, always lives with this consideration, always targets it, and exerts himself in this respect, this at the same time is an indication of God Almighty’s being pleased with him. God does not affect such feeling of rida in someone unless He is well pleased with that person. It is therefore possible to say that one who is not pleased with God, who does not submit to His decrees with contentment, and who does not meet negative occurrences that befall him with a heart at rest is not a person with whom God Almighty is pleased.
Ridwan: The glad tidings of eternal contentment
As for ridwan, it is the otherworldly return for the efforts made in this world for the sake of attaining rida, or God’s good pleasure. Every act of worship offered here will appear in the Hereafter as a different blessing of Paradise. In the words of Bediüzzaman, “saying ‘All praise and gratitude are for God’ (Alhamdulillah) after you eat something will be returned to you as a fruit of Paradise.” A person who remains thirsty and hungry owing to fasting here will be rewarded with Rayyan there, a blessed spring drinking from which will not let that person feel thirsty ever again. In short, a person’s beliefs and behaviors here will gain different meanings there. They will appear before the person sometimes as a tangible blessing and sometimes as feelings of inner relief and satisfaction.
Therefore, ridwan differs from rida in this respect. If rida is a Divine grace and favor a person attains in this world by giving willpower its due, ridwan is an eternal grace and favor God Almighty embodies in the next world and offers His believing servants. In other words, ridwan is a blessing beyond imagination that God will bestow upon His servants in the realm of eternal bliss, impacting their souls and causing a spiritual delight in them. It is such a blessing that the believers who attain it will be filled with such spiritual pleasure that they will forget the blessings of Paradise.
Which is the greatest reward, ridwan or seeing the divine countenance?
At this point, one may wonder whether seeing God or ridwan is a greater blessing. From the statements of the scholars of Islamic Theology who knows the Qur’an and Sunnah so well, one may conclude that beholding the Divine Countenance is the greatest blessing of Paradise. For example, in his poem about Ahl al-Sunna belief, Ali ibn Uthman al-Ushi voiced this truth with the following words:
Believers see Him in a state free of quality and quantity;
this is not possible to exemplify.
When they see Him,
they forget all blessings of Paradise.
Woe to those people,
who say God cannot be seen!
Bediüzzaman states: “A happy life of 1,000 years in this world cannot be compared to an hour of life in Paradise, and 1,000 years of life in Paradise cannot be compared to an hour’s vision of His Countenance of utmost beauty.
From these expressions, it is understood that seeing God is a much greater Divine favor than the blessings of Paradise. Indeed, God Almighty’s addresses His servants who enter Paradise as, “I am eternally well-pleased with you. I will not ever be wrathful to you,” which is a favor of the greatest kind and even makes one forget the other, filling a person with ultimate relief. This is such a grace and favor that it is not possible to imagine what a pleasure and delight this makes a person experience. It is explicitly stated that ridwan is the greatest of the blessings in Paradise with the verse meaning: “and greater (than those) is God’s being pleased with them. That indeed is the supreme triumph” (at-Tawbah 9:72).
Those who demand rida, will attain ridwan
Although rida and ridwan are different truths with respect to their aspects related to the world and Afterlife, they are interconnected. This connection can be compared to a cause and effect relationship. You strive in this world by giving your willpower its due and making your demand at this issue apparent, and then God Almighty honors you with ridwan as a reward for your efforts.
There is one point, however, that should not be misunderstood or missed here: the relationship between rida and ridwan does not comply with the worldly principles of causality, because what you sow here is merely a drop. Then it suddenly evaporates, later appearing as an ocean before you. But in terms of causality, a drop cannot result in an ocean. But with His infinite graces and immense mercy, God Almighty lets your contentment about him, which resembles a drop here, appear before you as an ocean in the Afterlife.
The two wings to let one attain ridwan: Glorifying the name of God and sincerity
One of the means of obtaining rida and ridwan is glorifying the Name of God. Letting God’s Name be heard in all dark spots of the earth, running like a tireless noble steed in order to let the spirit of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, bloom in the four corners of the world allows one to attain God Almighty’s good pleasure in the fastest way. In this respect, although glorifying the Name of God is described as a means for attaining Divine Mercy, it is possible to say that it is a means, which is similar to an end in itself.
One must then always live with the feeling of making others live, striving for humanity to learn a new way, and trying to guide them to God at every opportunity. It is necessary to attach one’s heart to working for this ideal to the degree of seeing one’s life meaningless otherwise.
Naturally, one must be sincere while fulfilling the duty of glorifying the Name of God so that he does not experience loss. A mukhlis person means one who internalizes sincerity (ikhlas). But individuals must be fixed on a consciousness of sincerity in such a way that they should not just suffice with being mukhlis (sincere) ones, but seek to become mukhlas ones. “Mukhlas” refers to God’s letting a person attain pure sincerity, and thus becoming completely pure and virtually becoming a pure embodiment of sincerity. This is a quality with which the purified ones, such as Prophets Abraham, Moses, Enoch, and the final Prophet, peace be upon them all, were blessed with. Even though not in the primary sense like the Prophets, other believers should cast their eyes on these lofty horizons in a secondary sense, constantly seek to act in compliance with the Divine Will, fulfill all acts of worship solely because they are divinely commanded, and not attach their devotions to any worldly returns, even abstract themselves from otherworldly expectations other than ridwan, and leave the results to God Almighty.
A person who has attained such consciousness will spontaneously react against anything other than sincerity (ikhlas). For example, if such a person makes a dazzling accomplishment, he never cherishes expectations of appreciation and compliments from others when he moves hearts with the words he speaks or the touching lines he writes. When a consideration occurs not only to his imagination or mind, but even to his dreams, he withdraws to one corner and says, “Your forgiveness, O Lord, I have associated partners with You.” He should writhe with concern and purify himself through repentance (tawbah), contrition (inaba), and penitence (awbah).
One of the most important ways of attaining ridwan in the Hereafter is a consideration of sincerity to such a degree. In this respect, it is possible to say that to the extent a person deepens in sincerity (khulus), he will attain ridwan comparably fast. Maybe such a person will never experience the horror of the grave, nor the troubles in the intermediate realm. From the moment he is placed in his grave, he will experience a rocketing ascension with his Divinely bestowed body and begin to soar gracefully in that horizon. Thus, every believer should both volunteer for the duty of glorifying the Name of God, and while doing that, they should be as scrupulous as possible in order to have sincerity and maintain it.
[Related to Rida and Ridwan, Fethullah Gulen, Gulen Movement]