We all want to be happy in life. Who doesn’t? Yet, it’s an undeniable fact that people, more often than not, search for happiness through wrong means and in wrong places. Many times people even resort to self-destructive things in the attempt to escape the troubles and worries of life. But, then what do they experience? They get nothing but suffering and more miseries. As the saying goes, “They go from the frying pan into the fire.”
If a person’s material wealth is not supplemented with inner wealth through spiritual guidance, such worldly elements are only a source of evil and destruction
One may argue that the question of “right” and “wrong” is a relative matter, as is the case of the concept of happiness. One thing, however, can neither be denied nor disputed: Those who do not possess the asset of faith are quite vulnerable against those of the forces of life and nature that are unfavorable, and when things don’t go as planned or expected, or adversity strikes, these people experience despair, anger, and/or emptiness. Sometimes, they even turn to activities that are ruinous to their health and general well-being, and detrimental to social stability. Faith in God, on the other hand, gives a visage of perfect beauty to man’s life, because when one knows very well that existence does not perish with death, it creates an inner peace. It allows a person to traverse the entire course of life with steadiness and moderation.
Faith, if sincere, produces righteous conduct, and whenever these two confirm each other, God’s grace transforms human life. Instead of being troubled and worried, people gain peace and contentment; and instead of being assailed at every turn by assaults of disappointment, panic, regret, or frustration, they enjoy calm and serenity. How does it happen? Well, sincere obedience and worship of God establish a strong relationship between man and his Creator, and this becomes the pathway of attaining to a balanced and righteous character. With this Divine guidance, an infallible source of wisdom and strength, the precious blessings of security, satisfaction, contentment, and happiness grace the believer’s life.
Sadly enough, many people simply don’t realize or reflect upon this most important reality of life. They think that the acquisition of wealth, or some other worldly achievement, alone, will bring happiness. But genuine happiness is some inner tangibility that is not acquired by the mere fulfillment of external or material needs. If a person’s material wealth is not supplemented with inner wealth through spiritual guidance, such worldly elements are only a source of evil and destruction. Examples are plenty, and present all around us.
Now, what does Islam offer and prescribe here? The Islamic teachings make us aware of the inner truth of this ephemeral world, and that the human nafs (soul or self) is composed of a complex mixture of opposing forces of good and evil. We are instructed that the nafs that tempts us to evil is called nafs al-ammarah (the imperious, carnal self), and the nafs that reproaches us when we commit a sin or evil is called nafsal-lawamah (the reproaching self). There is another nafs which is called nafs al-mutma’innah (the restful, contented soul). This is the stage when one is well pleased and happy with one’s Creator and His commands and refrains from any kind of transgression. To attain this quality, a person has to look beyond the limited horizons of a world where sin is often equated with good pleasure and sophistication, and righteousness and doing good out of religious devotion are made to seem odd and naive. In other words, a person’s vision must transcend the boundary of this temporary life and have conviction in resurrection (life after death). One must constantly remember that at the threshold of death, the door to another world will open, and every soul will enter an eternal life of which the joys of reward and the agonies of punishment are incomparable to anything we know in the dunya. It is relevant here to note that sins and crimes, including those carried out in the name of religion, no matter how the perpetrators try to justify them, are barriers to happiness for the criminal, the victims, and society at large. One scholar has said, “A criminal is always more unhappy than his victim, for a criminal who is not punished could be among the most miserable of people”.
The Qur’an declares: “And whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear nor shall they grieve” (Qur’an, 2:38). In another place, we are told: “Such are the ones who believe, and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah. Surely, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest. So those who believe [in the message of the truth] and work righteousness are destined for happiness and a blissful end”(Qur’an, 13:28-29).
Having said this, we must mention too that faith is the wellspring of elevated thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors that lighten our load, strengthen our bonds of kinship and friendship, and spur us to stand up for fairness and justice everywhere. Does not this pave the way for happiness, personally and collectively?
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) thus advised mankind to contemplate and supplicate the following: “O Merciful Lord! Our hearts are in Your finger grip; You handle them as You like. Please make our hearts submit to Your deen [chosen way of life] and make our hearts satisfied with Your remembrance; and send down Your tranquility on our hearts and keep us on the path of piety, and make us worthy of it.” May God Almighty make it happen and grant us the happiness found in faith. Ameen.