We have to keep in mind that people will not get from this world except what God has already written for them, this is the bottom line. After all that running around, staying up late at night, being a workaholic a person will only get that which God has already destined for him or her. The Prophet, may God raise his name, said:
“Whoever sets the Hereafter as his goal, God gathers his affairs for him, gives him richness of (faith in) the heart and the world will come to him grudgingly and submissively.” (Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan)
Such a person attains richness of the heart. Richness is not about having a lot of wealth, but richness is having wealth of the heart, and what is wealth of the heart? It is contentment, and this is where the peace comes from, when a person submits themselves to God, and this is Islam.
The inner peace is accepting Islam in our hearts and living by the principles of Islam. So God will put richness in a person’s heart and this world will come to him submissively, on its knees and humbled. Such a person will not have to chase it.
This is the Promise of the Prophet if a person puts “first things first”, and that is the Hereafter. If it is Paradise that we want then that should be manifest in our lives, it should be the point of our focus, what we keep putting in the forefront.
So how do we know when the Hereafter is our focus? If we sit down with a person and all we talk about are the latest cars, expensive houses, traveling and holidays and money, if the majority of our conversations is about material things or it is gossip, talking about this person and that person then it means that the Hereafter is not our focus. If the Hereafter was our focus then it would be reflected in our conversation. This is a very basic level in which we can judge ourselves, so we should stop and ask ourselves, “What do we spend most of our time talking about”?
If we find that our priority is this world, then we need to re-focus, we need to put “first things first”, meaning the Hereafter before the life of this world, and if we do this we can achieve inner peace, and God informed us of this in the Quran, a precise step to take in order to attain inner peace, and God says:
“Verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.” (Quran 13:28)
So it is only by the remembrance of God that hearts find rest. This is the inner peace. The remembrance of God is in everything we do as Muslims. Islam is living a life remembering God, and God says:
“Perform the prayer for My remembrance…” (Quran 20:14)
Everything that we do (in Islam) involves the remembrance of God as Muslims. God says:
“Say: ‘Indeed, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and dying are for God, Lord of all the worlds.’” (Quran 6:162)
So here is the way to achieve inner peace, to remember God in all aspects of our lives.
This remembrance (dhikr) is not as some people think i.e. to sit in the corner of a dark room constantly repeating “Allah, Allah, Allah…” This is not how we remember God. Yes, such a person is saying God’s name, but if we think about it, if somebody came to you (and for example your name is Muhammad) and kept saying “Muhammad, Muhammad, Muhammad…” you would wonder what is wrong with that person. Does he want something? Is there something that he needs? What is the purpose of repeating my name without further talk?
This is not the way to remember God because this is not how the Prophet remembered God and there is no record of him doing that. Some people say that we should remember God by dancing around or swaying from side to side. This is not the way to remember God, as this too is not how the Prophet remembered God and there is no record of him doing that.
The Prophet remembered God in his life. His life was a life of remembrance of God, he lived a life in remembrance of God and this is the true remembrance, in our prayers and in our living and our dying.
In summary, the search for inner peace involves recognizing the problems that we have in our lives, recognizing our obstacles, recognizing that inner peace will only come when we identify those obstacles and understand which of them we can change and that we focus on those obstacles we can change, the ones which are related to our self.
If we change our self then God will change the world around us and give us the means to deal with the world around us. Even though the world is in turmoil God gives us inner peace with it.
Whatever happens we know that it is God’s destiny and that it is God’s trials and we know that ultimately it is for our good and has good in it. God created us in this world and the world as a means to attain Paradise and the trials of this world is our own spiritual growth. If we can accept all this, accepting God in our hearts then we can find inner peace.