Do you know, what is happiness? It has been defined as an agreeable feeling or condition of the soul arising from good fortune of any kind that is built on firm belief. Every person must have a goal they wish to attain. The more success they have toward accomplishing this goal, the greater their sense of happiness. Psychologists define happiness as a continuous feeling of enjoyment, satisfaction, generosity and delight, arising from contentment in one’s self, life and belief that they will have a blissful destiny.
Types of Happiness
From this definition we can categorize happiness into three categories:
False happiness, which lasts only for a short period of time. This form of happiness is the result of sudden good fortune. Many believe that happiness can be attained through substance abuse and on account of this, consume drugs and alcohol to avoid the problems of everyday life. They believe happiness is achieved initially by forgetting about the problems of life. Drug abuse gives one an illusion of happiness, which quickly dissipates along with the amount of drug in the bloodstream, plunging that individual into a state of complete misery. This would then drive that person to seek out more drugs, and ultimately become addicted to drugs and a helpless member of society. Furthermore, this individual is at risk for contracting a number of psychological and physical diseases.
Happiness experienced when achieving goals. It is similar to the previous form of happiness in that it is short-lived, although it is less harmful than the previous form of happiness. When great efforts are exerted in attaining a goal and when it is finally achieved, one would wonder, what’s next? The emptiness one would experience after the climax and initial bout of happiness is somewhat similar to the emptiness experienced in the first category. In summary, this happiness is a short-lived experience, which at best makes one happy for a short period of time.
True happiness. This form of happiness will remain with an individual under all circumstances; through delight and anguish, poverty and prosperity, sickness and health and whether or not one would attain of this world what they wish for or not. This happiness is the result of one’s belief.
Do you want true Happiness?
This question may seem odd, since the answer is obvious.
I believe any sane individual would reply in the affirmative. So how can one achieve happiness? Every individual has their unique means through which they attain happiness. Some believe that happiness is attained by making money while others see it in holding positions of power. It is sometimes seen through having many friends or having the power to influence others. If we were to ask anyone who has strived to achieve a goal, if they have actually attained true happiness, the answer would most often be in the negative. The reason is simple; true happiness is a continuous feeling of bliss and comfort. One will not be able to experience this even if they had an earth-load of gold, for as it has been said in an Arabic proverb, “One may be able to purchase a bed, but certainly cannot purchase sleep.”
Many times, one’s faith will distance one from true happiness because it may require of a person to believe in the illogical or unreasonable. The spiritual vacuum that leads one to misery cannot be removed unless one accepts the true faith, which will contribute to his individuality and define for him a worthy goal in life.
Attaining true happiness is actually easy and well within anyone’s reach, but the source from which it can be acquired remains a puzzle to many. If one is truly searching for happiness, they should be willing to sacrifice in order to attain it. True happiness can only be acquired by accepting Islam; by submitting yourself to the Creator. Some may view this statement with skepticism, but it is the truth. Once a person accepts Islam wholeheartedly and begins to apply it as they should and upholds its commandments as per its two sources, the Qur’an and Sunnah, they will experience true happiness.
“Why?” many will ask. Before answering, an examination of the definition of happiness is required. Psychologists state that happiness is a continuous feeling of enjoyment, satisfaction, generosity and delight arising from contentment in one’s self, life and ultimate destiny. An individual will achieve all of this through Islam.
God, Almighty, says : (Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and the humble women, the fasting men and the fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so - for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.)
Satisfaction in life is also guaranteed by Almighty God: (You are the best nation produced for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient.)
Satisfaction is also promised to us by Almighty God in the next life, He says:
(Indeed, those who have believed and done righteous deeds - they will have the Gardens of Paradise(1) as their home; wherein they shall abide forever. They will never desire to leave it.)
In essence, true happiness, is the result of a number of factors and cannot be achieved except when one accepts a faith that balances between the material and spiritual aspects of life. Worldly ‘man-made’ systems, new-age faiths and cults that are marketed to the masses in the most part, are adopted as a reaction to Islam. Yet, these systems offer no long-term solutions to the problems we face today. Consider for a moment the collapsed Soviet Union, and the currently reigning capitalist systems that are on the brink of collapse. The reason that these systems have not succeeded is simple, they are built upon false doctrines and are based on opinions that are short-sighted.
For the most part, ‘man-made’ systems typically favor one group of people over others. They promote one of two extremes, the individual over the community or community over the individual. What is worse than this is that many ‘man-made’ systems will favor the material aspect of life over the spiritual one. Islam, on the other hand, presents mankind with a perfect equilibrium. God, the Exalted, says: (And thus we have made you a moderate community such that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.)
Prophet Muhammad told his companion Abdullah b. Umar, may Allah be pleased with him:
“O Abdullah I have been informed that you continuously fast throughout the days and perform prayers throughout the night.’ He said: ‘Yes, I do that.’ The Prophet (ﷺ) said to him: ‘Do not do that, fast a day and do not fast the next, perform prayers for a period of time during the night and then get some sleep; for indeed, your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.”
Materialists tend to disregard the soul and view life as nothing but a means through which they can satisfy their various appetites. They absolutely disregard the spiritual side of life. This is the common trend in the West, for many have abandoned religion. The question that should be asked then is, will this bring about happiness? Any logical, sane individual will find the answer to this to be in the negative. If material comforts were the key to happiness, affluent individuals wouldn’t commit suicide as happens in many of the richest and most developed societies in the world today. Whereas, the opposite is not true - those living in the poorest societies in the world often display a deep happiness and contentment with their life.
Sadness thus comes directly as a result of the emptiness of the soul; a spiritual disease. The cure, quite simple and free of charge, is to believe in God Almighty and to accept the faith that He has approved for mankind. This spiritual disease, if left unattended, will have disastrous consequences, as can be seen in many shattered lives around the world.
In Scandinavia, a first world nation, which is considered by some to be amongst the wealthiest of countries in the world, both on the individual basis and governmental level, one would think people would be living blissful lives. Strangely enough, it has the highest suicide rate in the world. Muslim countries, which are considered of the ‘third-world’ block, have such a slight percentage of suicides and at times individual cases per year are very few.
F. Filweas said:
“The West is suffering from a vast spiritual void, which no principle or faith could fill to bring about happiness. Despite the affluence there, and the so-called economic prosperity, besides the satisfaction of physical needs of people, the Western man still has a sense of worthlessness in his life. He wonders why he is living, where he is going, and why. But no one so far has given him a satisfactory response. Unfortunately, he has no idea that his remedy is in the right religion about which he knows nothing more than doubts. However, the beginning of a light has started to breakthrough after a few groups of Westerners embraced Islam and Western man began to see men and women put Islam into practice and live up to its teachings with his own eyes. Everyday some people there embrace the true religion. It is just the beginning.”
The soul should be fed as should the body. If this is not done properly, one will have unnecessary anxiety, feelings of discontent and general unhappiness. The soul is nourished with the true belief in the Oneness of God, and the belief that He will resurrect us and hold us accountable for what we have done. One must also excel in doing the good and avoiding the evil. God, Almighty, says: (Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.)
Contentment, happiness, and feelings of bliss, are some of the great feelings a sincere Muslim experiences on a regular basis. The scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, may God have mercy on him, after being tortured, banished and imprisoned said: ‘What can my enemies do to me? My paradise and orchard are in my heart and they never part with me. If my captors imprison me, I see it as a religious retreat; if they kill me it is martyrdom, and if they banish me from my land it is like tourism.’
These words are simply amazing. He was imprisoned and mistreated and still, this is what he said. A person true in his faith will be happy at all times. Islam will give a person complete spiritual happiness and contentment regardless of their financial or social condition in life. A true Muslim is happy in all circumstances, whether sick or healthy, rich or poor, or in a state of security or chaos. God, the Exalted, says: (When disaster strikes them, they say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy, and it is those who are the rightly guided.)
The Messenger of God (s) said: “Amazing indeed is the attitude of the believer, everything is ultimately good for him and this is only for a believer. When he is graced with a blessing, he would be thankful and grateful to God and it would be good for him, and when he is afflicted with a calamity, he would be patient and it would be good for him.”
The teachings of Islam will most certainly cause you to forget your worries and will make you patient. It will move you from the sphere of discontentment to one of contentment.
Here is something that one should be mindful of, Islam does not order its followers to become monks or to distance themselves from worldly pleasures; on the contrary, it requires of a believer to utilize whatever worldly possessions they have to acquire true happiness.
Whoever has a position of power should use his power to spread the justice found in the religion of God and to take care of the needs of his fellow brothers and sisters. God says: (Whoever intercedes for a good cause will have a reward there from; and whoever intercedes for an evil cause will have a burden therefrom. And ever is Allah, over all things, a Keeper.)
Whoever has wealth should use that wealth in the path of God and to help alleviate the problems of his fellow brothers. God says: (And those who know that as regards their wealth, both the petitioner and the deprived have rights.)
The Prophet (s) clarified what will happen with one’s wealth. He said: “The [person] will say: “My wealth, my wealth”, it will be said: “your wealth is none other than that which you consumed and it turned to waste, or that which you wore and wore it out, or that which you gave in charity and stored it away for yourself [in the Hereafter].”
The Messenger of Allah (s) is the example for all Muslims and every Muslim tries hard to emulate him. Abu Dharr, one of the Companions of the Prophet, said: ‘I was walking with the Prophet (ﷺ) in Madinah till we reached Mount Uhud. The Prophet (s) said:
“O Abu Dharr!’ I replied: ‘Yes O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: ‘If I had a mountain of gold the size of Mount Uhud, I would distribute it all within three days, and would only take from it enough to pay off a debt.’ The Prophet (s) then said: ‘Those who are the richest in this world will be the poorest on the Day of Resurrection, except if they give out in charity and indeed very few are they.”