The Highest Blessing: Allah's Good Pleasure
Allah has promised the men and women of the believers Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, forever, and fine dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. And Allah's good pleasure is even greater. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba, 72)
Earlier, we looked at the dazzling blessings found in Paradise. The picture that emerges is one of letting people experience the greatest pleasures and delights of the five senses.
But the biggest blessing of all is Allah's good pleasure, and the joy and happiness a believer feels when he or she wins it. As one hadith also relates: "Allah would say to the inmates of Paradise: 'I shall cause My pleasure to alight upon you'" (Muslim). Moreover, being content with everything that Allah has given and offering Him continual thanksgiving brings a noble contentment. The Qur'an draws our attention to this, as follows:
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. That is the Great Victory. (Surat al-Ma'ida, 119)
The most striking expression of what believers feel when they win Allah's good pleasure is that He will manifest Himself to them in a way that they can see Him. This is impossible in the world because, as the Qur'an says: "Eyesight cannot perceive Him" (Surat al-An'am, 10) But according to the Qur'an, in the next life and in a certain way Allah will manifest Himself to His believing servants. Only Allah knows how this will happen. But we are informed in the Qur'an that the believers' "faces that Day will be radiant, gazing at their Lord" (Surat al-Qiyama, 22-23) and "'Peace!' A word from a Merciful Lord" (Surah Ya sin, 58) will be heard. Believers will be "on seats of honor in the presence of an All-Powerful King" (Surat al-Qamar, 55).
In other words, the greatest possible blessing that believers can have is the deep sense of Allah's mercy and will. By winning His good pleasure, they experience a joy and a happiness that cannot be compared with any material blessing.
Actually, it is Allah's will that gives value to Paradise's other blessings. The same blessings may exist on Earth to a certain extent, but they have no meaning for believers as long as they surpass the limits Allah established.
Believers should think carefully about this extremely important point. The real thing that gives a blessing its value is something far beyond its intrinsic pleasure and delight, for its real value lies in the fact that Allah "granted" it. Believers who use the blessing and thank Allah for it feel that they have received Allah's gift; that the Lord loves, protects, and looks after them; and gives them a taste of His mercy. They take real joy from this.
A blessing is not an end; rather, it is a means to an end. As its purpose is to encourage men and women to offer greater thanksgiving to Allah, all of Paradise's blessings have only one goal: To lead believers to offer eternal thanksgiving to Allah. This is what gives them their value. In short, the blessings of Paradise are no more than a means whereby believers can approach Allah and attain the indescribable joy of winning His eternal friendship, love, and approval. This is why Allah's good pleasure is the greatest blessing of Paradise and far above all other material pleasures.
Let us consider one of Paradise's most striking blessings, one that is frequently mentioned in the Qur'an: beautiful women, who represent the height of the aesthetic idea. Just to be with them is a great blessing. The Qur'an describes the beauty of their faces, their skin, and even their bosoms. With these magnificent women, one of Allah's greatest material blessings – sexuality – can be experienced eternally in the most wonderful way. In the same manner, unmarried women will be married to young palace servants. This also is a free gift to them from Allah.
However, what makes these women so valuable is not merely their beauty, but the fact that they are known to be a gift from Allah. Indeed, the greatest pleasure that can be had is that which comes from receiving the love, closeness, grace, and benevolence of the Giver. No matter how valuable a gift may be, Allah's gift is more valuable for the pleasure it gives in being deemed worthy to be of the gifts of Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and in receiving it.
Accordingly, if they were not Allah's gifts, all blessings would lose their meaning for a believer. Prophet Yusuf's (as) great nobility orients a believer's moral sense in that direction. The Qur'an tells how the wife of an Egyptian governor, desired Yusuf (as) and even forced herself on him. We are told that Yusuf (as) found her attractive, but avoided this forbidden relationship due to Allah's sign to him. When she continued to press him, he preferred to go to prison rather than to commit adultery. He said: "My Lord, prison is preferable to me than what they call on me to do" (Surah Yusuf, 33).
The fact that he found the prison's extremely difficult conditions preferable to what the governor's wife wanted him to do shows the importance that a believer places upon Allah's good pleasure. To act in such a manner and to know that you have gained His approval is the most important thing in a believer's heart. If material blessings present themselves to a believer in a way that goes against Allah's good pleasure, they lose their value.
In Paradise, all material blessings are approved by Allah. He especially created beautiful women and gives them as a gift to believers. Houses, food, natural beauty, and everything else are blessings that Allah offers, and this is what makes them valuable.
Thus, the human heart can be satisfied only in Paradise, for it was created to serve Allah and takes pleasure only in His generously given gifts. In this world, it takes refuge in places that are reminiscent of Paradise; that is, in places whose blessings are used with thanks and in a way that gains Allah's good pleasure. This is why Paradise on Earth, the ideal long cherished by unbelievers and atheists, is impossible. If you were to take things in this world that resemble Paradise's material beauties and gather them in one place, they would have no meaning without Allah's approval. Moreover, He may also destroy the pleasure that might be derived from such material beauties.
In short, Paradise is a gift of Allah and is valuable only because of that. The people of Paradise experience eternal happiness and joy because "they are honored servants" (Surat an-Anbiya', 26).
The wisest word that can be spoken there is a word that praises Allah's mighty name: "Master of Majesty and Generosity" (Surat ar-Rahman, 78).