Ultimately, we all want to be happy. It seems easier for some than others, and there are those who it is a perpetual struggle.
So what is happiness? And how do we achieve it?
Sources of Happiness
Different individuals and groups of people may have different ideas with regard to the best ways of achieving happiness. Some common beliefs are that the following are the means to happiness:
2. Rank and position.
3. Educational achievements (Academic and Honorary? Degrees).
4. Fame (i.e., in politics, arts, sports, science, etc.).
Happiness in Wealth
One of the biggest misconceptions is that money can buy happiness. I think there is a saying actually, money can’t buy happiness but it can certainly rent it. So if it can’t buy happiness, only rent it then there is no level of permanency in the happiness that is attained through wealth.
How many unhappy rich people do we hear about? What about all the stories of the people who have won lotto and ended up like prisoners in their homes from the attention they received, the gold diggers after their money, chasing them to the point they have no life? There is a story of a man that won lotto and used his money to import all his favorite exotic foods from around the globe, ended up really fat and died of a heart attack.
The Prophet (peace be upon him), as always states it best… he (peace be upon him) said:
“May he be miserable, the worshipper of the Dinar and dirham, and the worshipper of the striped silk cloak. If he is given anything, he is satisfied; but if not, he is unsatisfied”. [Al-Bukhari]
Happiness in Rank & Position
Could real happiness be attained through the acquirement of high rank or position in society?
In Islam, holding any position, rank or office is first and foremost regarded as a trust and, therefore, constitutes an obligation, and a legal as well as moral responsibility. Therefore, those to be entrusted with such roles could only be citizens who are possessed of unquestionable competence, integrity and virtue. Only a righteous and competent person can shoulder responsibility and use his position or office for public welfare.
Thus, he would love doing his job because ultimately he would be blessed with joy, happiness, contentment and satisfaction? But what happens when he reaches retirement age? Where will he source his happiness then?
Hardly does a year pass by around the world without closing with the news of miserable falls, overthrows and/or assassinations of unwanted rulers, kings, emperors, premiers, presidents, etc.
Then, where is happiness? Is it in obtaining the highest level of education and in earning doctorate degrees?
It is true that Islam not only encourages but also requires man to seek knowledge and live in the light of learning. Islam is a way of life based on knowledge and not on superstition. Prophets are the sources of divine knowledge, and the first divine revelation to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) begins with the word “IQRA” meaning “READ”. In that same revelation, Allah, tells mankind that He (Allah) taught man ‘with the pen” and taught man “what he did not know”. Much emphasis is placed in Islam on the need for excellent learning, that in the Quran, Allah teaches mankind the following supplications:
“…and say ‘O my Lord, advance me in knowledge’.” [Noble Quran 22:114]
In another verse of the holy Quran, Allah tells mankind:
“those truly fear Allah among His servants who have knowledge.” [Noble Quran 35:28]
Yet, in another verse of the Holy Quran, Allah questions mankind:
“are they equal, those who know and those who do not know?” [Noble Quran 39:9]
So isn’t Allah then telling us that we should be getting degrees?
No, the knowledge here is knowledge of Islam, beneficial knowledge that will make us successful in this life and the Hereafter. There are many who have attained high degrees in university only to live an unhappy or lonely life. The knowledge that Allah is recommending is that of the Quran and Sunnah, not that of the university degree.
Happiness in Fame
How much happiness do the “famous” men and women in activities enjoy?
Next time you are waiting at the checkout to pay for your shopping just look at the covers of the popular magazines and it is obvious that a life of fame is not a happy one. Divorce, drugs problems, over weight, etc these are all the headlines you will see.
“And this life of the world is only amusement and play! Verily, the home of the Hereafter is the real life if they but knew”. [Noble Quran 29:64]
The messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
“Two hungry wolves sent in the midst of a flock of sheep are no more destructive to them than a man’s greed for wealth and fame is to his Deen.’‘ [At-Tirmidhi]
Barriers to Real Happiness
1. Disbelief In Allah And Lack Of The True Faith – One of the biggest barriers to real happiness both in this world and the Hereafter is the rejection of Allah’s true religion (i.e., Islam). Those who lack correct belief and stray from Divine Guidance revealed to mankind through the Universal and Last Messenger of Allah, Muhammad, will suffer from spiritual void and deprive themselves from real salvation and mercy.
“Those whom God (in His Plan) wills to guide, He opens their breast to Islam; those whom He wills to leave straying, He makes their breast close and constricted, as if they had to climb up to the skies: thus does Allah lay abomination on those who refuse to follow His code of life, that is Islam…” [Noble Quran 6:125]
2. Envy and Jealousy – In chapter 113 of the Holy Quran, we are advised to seek refuge in Allah “from the mischief of the envious one as he practices envy… “
Both envy and jealousy, when translated into action, lead to the destruction of happiness and deprive people of the good things they enjoy. The best refuge from evil is trust in Allah alone.
3. Ill-will – True believers are described in the Quran as saying when they pray to Allah:
“And leave not, in our hearts, rancor (or sense of injury) against those who have believed…” [Noble Quran 10:59]
4. Anger – Anger connotes displeasure and hostility. Therefore, it is one of the biggest threats that spoil man’s happiness. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) stressed the importance of self restraint when he advised one of his companions:
“Do not be overpowered by anger…“
5. Injustice – Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari companion of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), related that the Prophet said [as narrated by imams Bukhari and Muslim]:
“Allah may give a wrongdoing tyrant respite, and thereafter when He punishes him, He never lets him escape.” Then, he recited this Quranic Verse: “Such is the chastisement of thy Lord when He chastises communities in the midst of their wrong: grievous, indeed, and severe is His chastisement.” [Noble Quran 11:102]
In another verse from the Holy Quran, it is stated:
“And how many populations did I give respite, which were given to wrongdoing, In the end I punished them. To Me is the destination (of all).” [Noble Quran 22:48]
6. Fear of Worldly Power – Fear of other than Allah. Allah says in the Quran:
“It is only the Satan that suggests to you the fear of his votaries: be you not afraid of them, but fear me, if you are true believers. [Noble Quran 3:175]
7. Suspicion – Allah states:
“O ye who believe! Shun suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin…” [Noble Quran 49:12]
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) also says:
“Shun suspicion, because suspicion is the biggest lie.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
8. Arrogance – An arrogant person leads a life of misery even though he treats other people rudely and boastfully without due regard to established norms of moral conduct. He oppresses them or turns his cheek in scorn toward them but he is definitely haunted with guilty conscience which makes his life miserable:
“Turn not thy cheek in scorn toward folk, nor walk with pertness in the land. Lo! Allah loveth not each braggart boaster.” [Noble Quran 31:I8]
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave his advice in this regard when he said:
“On the Day of Judgment Allah will not look towards him who trails his lower garment out of pride” [Bukhari and Muslim]
9. Other such as – devotion to other than Allah, pessimism, sinful and criminal behavior, alcohol and Drug Addiction
On the Way to Happy Life
1. Sound Belief – Belief in Allah and in His perfect attributes would deeply influence the Muslim’s character and his whole outlook on life. It brings him to acquire good qualities and aim for human perfection. This will undoubtedly achieve, for both the individual and the society, a life of ideal values and collective happiness.
2. Worship and Devotion to Allah
“Not for (idle) sport did We create the heavens and the earth and all that is between” [Noble Quran 21:16]
So creation is not for idle sport or play, Allah has a serious purpose behind it. What is it? Allah has revealed to us His purpose:
“I have only created Jinns (i.e., genies) and men, that they may serve Me!” [Noble Quran 51:56]
Obedience and worship of Allah are a major and comprehensive source of contentment and happiness for man. On the personal level, it gives man the feeling that he is close to Allah and such nearness to his Lord, consequently, provides him with guidance, wisdom, strength, confidence, steadfastness, security, joy and satisfaction. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Happiness, all happiness, is long life (full) of obedience to Allah.” [Quda’i and Daylami]
3. Goodness and Kindness to Others – This emanates from the very essence of faith.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“All creatures are dependants of Allah, and the most favored among them by Allah is the one who is most helpful to His dependants.” [Tabarani, Abu Na’im and Bayhaqi]
Thus, active faith turns man into a mercy to himself and to others.
4. Renunciation of Too Long Term Hopes and Grieves of the Past – hanging onto a past that cannot be returned and aspiring to a future that may not come only leads to discontentment. Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,
“Whosoever begins the day feeling family security and good health; and possessing provision for his day is as though he possessed the whole world.’‘ [At-Tirmidhi].
Being content with what we have today, embarking on utilizing the day that we have and being grateful to Allah, all these are lead to happiness.
5. In times of discontentment – the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him ) in the following words:
“Look at those inferior to you, and do not look at those superior to you. Thereby, you would be able to appreciate better the benevolence of Allah bestowed upon you.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
gives us the best advise for these times.
6. Building of better understanding – seeking knowledge of Islam and removing misconceptions and superstitions deliver man from ignorance, illusions and baseless worries that spoil his tranquility and happiness.
7. One important step on the way to happiness is – to work towards harmony within oneself and with the outward world: in the family, at school, in the office, in society and more generally, in humanity. The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised us that there is a time for this and a time for that and that we are a people of moderation.
8. Access to happiness can also be obtained – by making ever aspect of your life lawful. Eat what is lawful, make your home and work environment lawful.
“Eat of the things which Allah hath provided for you, lawful and good; but fear Allah, in Whom you believe.” [Noble Quran 5:88]
9. Stability of the human Personality – Be moderate in all that you do
“And those, who, when they spend, are neither extravagant nor niggardly, but hold a medium (way) between those (extremes).” [Noble Quran 25:67]
10. Repentance purifies – rectify your mistakes with repentance rather than dwell on them and feel badly.
“O ye Believers! Turn ye all together toward Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.” [Noble Quran 24:31].
11. Learning and Pursuit – Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessing be upon him) stressed the importance of the pursuit of knowledge as a way to eternal happiness.
“If a person follows a path for acquiring knowledge Allah will make easy the passage to paradise for hint” [Muslim]
Pursuit of knowledge provides man with a feeling of enjoyment and pleasure If man enjoys having delicious meals for his body, he would also enjoy more delicious meals (of knowledge) for his mind and soul.
12. To form a happy social life – Choosing spouse, friends and companions wisely.
13. Strong will – Ability to persist through the challenges and hurdles of life.
One of the best ways to have a good life is strong Iman and good deeds, Allah the Most High said:
“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and is true believer, verily to him will We give a life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.” [Noble Quran 16:94]
This is because true believers in Allah, who have sound belief that gives rise to righteous deeds, and mends the heart and corrects the human behavior, and makes good both this world and the Hereafter. These people know how to deal with situations of happiness and joy and situations of anxiety, sorrow and grief.
by Khadejah Jones (ShareIslam.com)