If you know Allah and worship Him, you will have found happiness and peace. Even if you are living in a hut made of mud.
But if you deviate from the true path, your life will truly be wretched, even if you are living a life of luxury and comfort in a large mansion. If this latter case applies to you, then you do not have with you the key to happiness.
And we gave him of the treasures, that of which the keys would have been a burden to a body of strong men. (Qur’an 28: 76)
Pause to reflect
Truly, Allah defends those who believe. (Qur’an 22: 38)
In other words, He protects them from evil, both in this world and in the Hereafter. In this verse, Allah enlightens us, warns us, and gives us glad tidings. He repels evil from the believers in proportion to their faith. The evil of the disbelievers, the evil whispers of the Devil, the evil in their own selves, and the evil of their deeds – all of these does Allah ward off from the true believers. When calamity falls, its burden will be lightened from them. Every believer has a share in this divine protection. Yet it varies according to one’s level of faith: some will receive less, others more.
Among the fruits of faith is that it gives solace to the believer in times of hardship.
… And whosoever believes in Allah, He guides his heart… (Qur’an 64: 11)
This refers to the believer who is afflicted with hardship, who knows that it is from Allah and that it was written for him. He is satisfied and submits his will to what has been predestined for him. Thus, the fatal blow of hardship will lose its effect on him because he knows that it came from Allah and that he will be rewarded for his patience.
Being of service to others leads to happiness. In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
Verily, Allah will say to His slave as He is taking account of him on the Day of Judgment, `O’ son of Adam, I was hungry and you did not feed me. He will answer, how can I feed you and you are the Lord of the worlds! He will say, did you not know that my slave so and so who is the son of so and so felt hunger, and you did not feed him. Alas! Had you fed him you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me. O’ son of Adam, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. He will say, How can I give you drink, and you are the Lord of the worlds! He will say, did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so felt thirsty and you did not give him drink. Alas! If you had given him, you would have found that (i.e. reward) with Me. O’ son of Adam, I became sick and you did not visit Me. He will say, How can I visit you and you are the Lord of the worlds! He will say, did you not know that my slave so and so, the son of so and so became sick and you did not visit him. Alas! Had you visited him, you would have found me with him.”
Here is an interesting point; in the last third of the hadith are the words: …you would have found me with him.
This is unlike the first two parts of the hadith: “You would have found that (i.e. the reward for feeding and giving drink) with Me.”
The reason for the difference is that Allah, the All-Merciful, is with those whose hearts are troubled, as is the case with the person who is sick. And in another hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said:
“There is reward in each moist liver (i.e. to do service to any living creature will be rewarded).”
Also, know that Allah admitted the prostitute from the children of Israel into Paradise because she gave a drink to a dog that was thirsty. So what will be the case for the one who feeds other humans, giving them drink and removing from them hardships!
In an authentic hadith, the Prophet (bpuh) said,
“Whoever has extra provision should give from it to the one who has no provision. And whoever has an extra mount should give with this extra to the one who has no mount.”
Commanding his servant to search out for guests, Hatim said in some of his more beautiful verses:
“Burn the coals, for truly, the night is chilly,
If you bring me a guest, then I have set you free.” And he said to his wife:
“Whenever you make food, then search
For he who is hungry, as I do not eat alone.”
Ibn Mubarak’s neighbor was a Jew. He would always feed him before feeding his own children and would provide clothing for him first and then for his children. Some people said to the Jew, “Sell us your house.” He answered, “My house is for two thousand dinars. One thousand is for the price of the house and one thousand is for having Ibn Mubarak as a neighbor!” Ibn Mubarak heard of this and he exclaimed, “O’ Allah, guide him to Islam.” Then, by the permission of Allah, he accepted Islam.
On another occasion, Ibn Mubarak passed by a caravan of people who were traveling to make the pilgrimage to Makkah, and he too was on his way to do the same. He saw one of the women from the caravan take a dead crow from a cesspit. He sent his servant to inquire about this and when he asked her, she replied, “We have had nothing for three days except that which finds its way into it.” When Ibn Mubarak heard of this, his eyes swelled with tears. He ordered for all of his provision to be distributed among those of the caravan, and having nothing with which to continue the journey, he returned to his home and gave up making the pilgrimage for that year. Later, he saw someone in a dream saying, “Your pilgrimage has been accepted, as have your rites; and your sins have been forgiven.” Allah says:
And give them preference over themselves, even though they were in need of those themselves. (Qur ‘an 59: 9)
One poet said:
“Even if I am a person who is far,
From his friend in terms of distance,
I offer him my help and wish to alleviate his difficulties, I answer his invitation and his call to me for help, and if he dons a wonderful new outfit I will not say, alas, were I to be blessed with the clothes that he wears.”
By Allah, how wonderful are good manners and a generous soul!
No one regrets having done well even if he was extravagant in doing so. Regret is only for the mistake or for the wrong done, even when that wrong is a minor one.
The first person who benefits from an act of charity is the benefactor himself, by seeing changes in himself and in his manners, by finding peace, by watching a smile form on the lips of another person.
If you find yourself to be in difficulty or distress, show kindness to others, and you will be the first to find solace and comfort. Give to the needy, defend the oppressed, help those in distress, and visit the sick: you will find that happiness surrounds you from all directions.
An act of charity is like perfume it benefits the user, the seller,
and the buyer. Furthermore, the psychological benefits that one receives from helping others are indeed great. If you suffer from depression, an act of charity will have a more potent effect on your sickness than will the best available medicine.
Even when you smile upon meeting others, you are giving charity. The Prophet (Blessings and Peace be upon him) said:
“Do not dismiss certain acts of kindness by deeming them to be insignificant, even if (such an act) is to meet your brother with a smiling face (for that is a deed which might weigh heavily in your scale of deeds).”
On the other hand, when you frown upon meeting others, you are displaying a sign of enmity, an act that is so detrimental to brotherhood that only Allah knows the full extent of its evil effects.
The Prophet (pbuh) informed us that the prostitute who once gave a handful of water to a dog was rewarded for that deed with Paradise, which is as wide as the heavens and the earth. This is because the Giver of rewards is Forgiving, Rich, and Worthy of Praise.
O’ you, who are threatened by misery, fear and grief, occupy yourself in the betterment of others. Help others in different way through charity, hospitality, sympathy, and support. And in doing so, you will find all of the happiness that you desire.
We who spends his wealth for increase in self-purification, and has in his mind no.favor from anyone for which a reward is expected in return; except only the desire to seek the Countenance of his Lord, the Most High. He surely will be pleased [when he enters Paradise]. (Qur’an 92: 18-21)
When you wake up in the morning, do not expect to see the evening live as though today is all that you have. Yesterday has passed with its good and evil, while tomorrow has not yet arrived. Your life’s span is but one day, as if you were born in it and will die at the end of it. With this attitude, you will not be caught between an obsession over the past, with all its anxieties, and the hopes of the future, with all its uncertainty. Live for today: During this day you should pray with a wakeful heart, recite the Qur’an with understanding, and remember Allah with sincerity. In this day you should be balanced in your affairs, satisfied with your allotted portion, concerned with your appearance and health.
Organize the hours of this day, so that you make years out of minutes and months out of seconds. Seek forgiveness from your Lord, remember Him, prepare for the final parting from this world, and live today happily and at peace. Be content with your sustenance, your wife, your children, your work, your house and your station in life.
So hold that which I have given you and be of the grateful. (Qur’an 7: 144)
You must engrave onto your heart one phrase: Today is my only day. If you have eaten warm, fresh bread today, then what do yesterday’s dry, rotten bread and tomorrow’s anticipated bread matter?
If you are truthful with yourself and have a firm, solid resolve, you will undoubtedly convince yourself of the following: Today is my last day to live. When you achieve this attitude, you will profit from every moment of your day, by developing your personality, expanding your abilities, and purifying your deeds. Then you say to yourself:
Today I shall be refined in my speech and will utter neither evil speech nor obscenity. Also, I shall not backbite.
Today I shall organize my house and my office. They will not be disorderly and chaotic, but organized and neat.
Today I will be particular about my bodily cleanliness and appearance. I will be meticulous in my neatness and balanced in my walk, talk, and actions.
Today I will strive to be obedient to my Lord, pray in the best manner possible, do more voluntary acts of righteousness, recite the Qur’an, and read beneficial books. I will plant goodness into my heart and extract from it the roots of evil such as pride, jealousy, and hypocrisy.
Today I will try to help others to visit the sick, to attend a funeral, to guide the one who is lost, and to feed the hungry. I will stand side by side with the oppressed and the weak. I will pay respect to the scholar, be merciful to the young, and reverent to the old.
O’ past that has departed and is gone, I will not cry over you. You will not see me remembering you, not even for a moment, because you have traveled away from me never to return.
O’ future, you are in the realm of the unseen, so I will not be obsessed by your dreams. I will not be preoccupied about what is to come because tomorrow is nothing and has not yet been created.
`Today is my only day’ is one of the most important statements in the dictionary of happiness, for those who desire to live life in its fullest splendor and brilliance.
Among the greatest of blessings is to have a calm, stable, and happy heart. For in happiness the mind is clear, enabling one to be a productive person. It has been said that happiness is an art that needs to be learned. And if you learn it, you will be blessed in this life. But how does one learn it? A basic principle of achieving happiness is having an ability to endure and to cope with any situation. Therefore you should neither be swayed nor governed by difficult circumstances, nor should you be annoyed by insignificant trifles. Based on the purity of the heart and its ability to endure, a person will shine. When you train yourself to be patient and forbearing, then hardship and calamity will be easy for you to bear.
The opposite of being content is being shortsighted, being concerned for no one but one’s own self and forgetting about the world and all that is in it. Allah described his enemies as follows:
Thinking about themselves [as how to save their ownselves, ignoring the others and the Prophet] (Qur’an 3. 154)
It is as if such people see themselves as being the whole universe, or at least at the center of it. They think not of others, nor do they live for anyone but themselves. It is incumbent upon you and me to take time out to be preoccupied with more than just us, and to sometimes distance ourselves from our own problems in order to forget our wounds and hurts. By doing this we gain two things: we make ourselves happy, and we bring joy to others.
Basic to the art of happiness is to bridle our thoughts and to restrain them, not allowing them to wander, stray, escape, or go wild. For if you were to leave your thoughts to wander as they wish, then they will run wild and control you. They will open the catalogue of your past woes. They will remind you of the history of your misfortunes, beginning from the day that your mother gave you birth. If your thoughts are left to roam, then they will bring to you images of past difficulties and images of a future that is frightening. These thoughts will shake your very being and will cause your feelings to flare. Therefore bridle them, and restrain them by directing them to the concentrated application of the kind of serious thought that begets fruitful and beneficial work.
And put your trust in the Ever-Living One who dies not. (Qur ‘an 25: 58)
Also among the principles of the art of happiness is to value life on this earth according to its true merit and worth. This life is frivolous and does not warrant anything from you except that you turn away from it. This life is filled with calamities, aches, and wounds. If that is the description of this life, then how can one be unduly affected by its minor calamities, and how can one grieve over such material things as have passed him by? The best moments of life are tainted, its future promises are mere mirages, the successful ones in it are envied, the one who is blessed is constantly threatened, and lovers are struck down by some unexpected misfortune.
And in a hadith:
“Verily, knowledge is only acquired by the practice of learning, and tolerance is acquired by the practice of tolerating.”
If one were to attempt to apply the meaning of this hadith to the topic under discussion, then he could go one step further and say that happiness is acquired by assuming it. It is acquired by constantly smiling, by hunting for the reasons that make one happy, and even by forcing it onto one’s own self, however awkward that may seem. One does all of these things until happiness becomes second nature.
The truth of the matter is that you cannot remove from yourself all remnants of grief. And the reason for this is that life was created as a test:
Verily, we have created man in toil. (Qur’an 90: 4)
That He might to, you, which of you are the best in deeds. (Qur ‘an 11: 7)
But the message I wish to convey to you is that you should, as much as is possible, reduce the amount and intensity of your grief as
For being completely free from grief, this is for the inhabitants of Paradise in the Hereafter. This is why the dwellers of Paradise will say:
All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has removed from us [all] grief’
(Qur’an 35: 34)
This is considered to be a proof that grief will not be removed from them except in Paradise. Likewise, grudges and bitterness will not be completely removed except in Paradise.
(And we shall remove from their breasts any sense of injury [that they may have]…} (Qur’an 15. 47)
So when a person knows the nature of this world and its qualities, he comes to realize that it is dry, deceitful, and unworthy; and he comes to fully understand that that is its nature and its description. An Arab poet said:
“You have taken an oath not to betray us in our pacts, and it is as if you have vowed that in the end, you shall deceive us.”
If the description of this world is as I have described it to be, then it is worthy of the intelligent person not to help it in its onslaught, nor to surrender to depression and anxiety. What we should do is defend ourselves from all feelings that may spoil our lives, in a war that we must wage with all the strength that we have been endowed with. And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy… (Qur’an 8: 6O)
But they never lost heart. For that which did not befall them in Allah’s Way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves. (Qur’an 3: 146)
Our Prophet Muhammad (Blessings and Peace be upon him) came to all people with a heavenly message. He was not driven by worldly ambition, he had no treasure from which to spend, no splendid gardens from which to eat, and no castle in which to live. Despite all this, his loving followers pledged allegiance to him and remained steadfast, enduring a hard life full of difficulties. They were few and weak, always in fear of being uprooted by those surrounding them, and yet they loved the Prophet (bpuh) wholly and completely.
They were besieged in a mountain pass, and during that time, they had little or no food. Their reputations were attacked, their own relatives waged war against them, and yet their love for him was perfect.
Some of them were dragged over the hot sands of the desert, some were imprisoned, and others were subjected to inventive and innovative ways of punishment – all of which the disbelievers inflicted upon them. Having to endure all of that, they still loved him unreservedly with heart and soul.
They were deprived of home, country, family, and wealth. They were driven out from the playing fields of their childhood and from the homes in which they were raised. Despite all this suffering, they loved him unequivocally.
The believers faced trials because of his message. The very ground under them was shaken violently, and yet their love for him continued to grow.
The best among their youth constantly had swords hanging menacingly over their heads.
Their men moved forward lightly across the battlefield, advancing to death as if they were upon an excursion or a holiday, for the simple reason that they loved him unconditionally.
One of them was charged with the duty of carrying the Prophet’s message to a king in a foreign land, and that person knew that it was a mission from which he would not return. Yet he went and fulfilled his duty. One of them was sent on a mission, knowing that it would be the cause of his death, and he went happily, for he loved the Prophet (bpuh) with unmitigated love.
But why did they love him, and why were they so happy with his message and content with his example? Why did they forget the pain, the suffering, and the hardship that resulted from following him?
To put it simply. He epitomized benevolence and righteousness. They perceived in him all the signs of truth and purity. He was a symbol for those who sought out higher things. With his tenderness he cooled the rancor from the hearts of people, with words of truth he soothed their chests, and with his message he filled their souls with peace.
He poured happiness into their hearts, until the pain that they endured from being at his side was made to seem insignificant. And he instilled into their souls a belief that made them forget every injury and every adversity that they had to endure.
He polished their insides with his guidance and he illuminated their eyes with his brilliance. He removed from them the burdens of ignorance, the depravities of idolatry, and the evil consequences of polytheism. He extinguished the fires of malice and animosity from their souls and he poured the water of faith into their hearts. Thus, their minds and bodies became tranquil and their hearts found peace.
They tasted the beauty of life with him and they knew delight in his company. They found happiness at his side, safety and salvation in following him, and inner-richness in emulating him:
And we have sent you [O’ Muhammad] not but as a mercy for all that exists.
(Qur’an 21: 107)
And verily, you [O ‘ Muhammad] are indeed guiding [mankind] to the straight path.? (Qur’an 42: 52)
And He brings them out of darkness [bv Allah’s will] unto light… (Qur’an 5: 16)
He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger [Muhammad] from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifting then [from the .filth of disbelief and polytheism], and teaching them the Book and Al-Hikmah [As-Sunnah: legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of Prophet Muhammad]. And verily, they had been before in manifest error :} (Qur’an 62: 2)
He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the fetters [bindings] that were upon them. (Qur ‘an 7: 157)
(Answer Allah [by obeying him] and [His] Messenger when he calls
You to that which will give you life.} (Qur’an 8: 24)
And you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. } (Qur ‘an 3: 103)
They were truly happy with their leader and so they rightly deserved to be.
O’ Allah, send prayers and peace upon Muhammad, the liberator of minds from the shackles of deviation and the rescuer of souls from the curses of falsehood, and be pleased with his noble Companions as a recompense for their striving and for their efforts.
Those who have nothing to do with their lives are the same people who spend most of their time spreading rumors and falsehood, mainly because their minds are devoid of beneficial thoughts:
They are content to be with those [the women] who sit behind [at home]. Their hearts are sealed up [from right guidance] so they understand not.} (Qur’an 9: 87)
When you find yourself to be idle, prepare for depression and despair, because idleness allows your mind to wander in the past, the present, and the future, with all of their difficulties. Therefore, my sincere advice to you is to perform fruitful acts instead of being idle, for idleness is a slow and veiled form of suicide.
Idleness is like the slow torture that is inflicted upon prisoners in China: they are placed under a tap, from which a drop of water falls only after every hour. During the period of waiting between drops, many of them lose their minds and are driven to insanity.
Being inactive means being negligent of one’s duties. Idleness is an expert thief and your mind is its victim.
Therefore get up now and say a prayer or read a book; praise your Lord, study, write, organize your library, fix something in your house, or benefit others so that you can put an end to your inactivity. I say this only because I sincerely wish for your betterment.
Destroy boredom by working. When you apply this simple precept alone, you will have traveled at least fifty percent of the way towards happiness. Look at farmers, carpenters, and the bread-maker, and observe how, when they are working, they recite words as melodious as the singing of birds, because they are content.