For centuries, humans have sought the path of happiness. Many have failed whilst others have found the answer. Happiness is not necessarily an accomplishment nor is it a constant. Happiness is in fact a state of being which comes after adopting the right attitude and lifestyle. From compassion to love and contentment to gratitude, happiness consists of many elements which often go unnoticed.
Over a thousand years ago, one man came with a unique message which changed the course of history. The Prophet Muhammad PBUH was not merely a man with a book or message. He stood to revolutionise the way humans behaved in the world and connected with God. While the crux of his message served as a reminder to rekindle our connection with God, many aspects of Islam stand to revive the lost meaning of happiness.
The Simple Act of Praying
The first and foremost matter is prayer. Not only is praying a form of worship which we do because we have to, but the five daily prayers are also in fact God calling us to speak to Him.
“And your Lord said, “Call on Me, I will respond to you.” [Qur’an: Chapter 40, Verse 60]
In another verse, God reminds us that prayer – coupled with patience – is the solution for those looking for some form of assistance.
“And seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah].” [Quran: Chapter 2, Verse 45]
There are many instances throughout prophetic traditions where we are reminded of the fact that God is calling unto us to speak to Him.
In one hadith, Abu Hurairah RA narrates:
“When it is the last third of the night, our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, descends every night to the heaven of the world and says, ‘Is there anyone who invokes Me (demand anything from Me), that I may respond to his invocation; Is there anyone who asks Me for something that I may give (it to) him; Is there anyone who asks My forgiveness that I may forgive him?’” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
But what is it exactly about praying – whether it’s obligatory prayers or simply doing Du’a – that makes one happy? Well, ultimately, God is our caretaker (rabb) which means that despite how much help you seek from worldly beings, there is no completion of that request unless He wills. By asking God, you humble and abase yourself to realise that only He can help you. The comfort one feels after dropping one’s burden is unmatched and this is the only way one can truly feel happiness when faced with life’s many hurdles.
The Lost Art of Gratitude
Many self-help books discuss the seldom practised act of gratitude. Whilst they do an awesome job, there’s always one missing element; being grateful to God whilst being grateful to the people. Thanking people and expressing your gratitude is rather important. However, gratitude is not entirely accomplished unless one channels his thankfulness to God.
There’s a strong reminder in the Holy Qur’an as to why gratitude to God is an integral part of life.
And ˹remember˺ when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more. But if you are ungrateful, surely My punishment is severe.’” [Holy Qur’an| 14:7]
The matter is simple; the more we thank God, the more he will bless us with His bounties. The more he blesses us with His bounties, the happier we are.
Serve The People
In a world of narcissism and selfishness, it can be easy to forget your fellow family and friends. If there’s one thing stressed in Islam more so than others, it is the idea of serving others. Whether it’s going out of your way for guests or helping someone solve a complex life problem, serving others has a unique way of inviting fulfilment to be a permanent part of your life. From assisting the poor to nurturing a child, prophetic traditions are replete with acts of kindness which benefit the giver and receiver. In fact, any act of kindness in Islam is regarded as charity, even if it’s removing something harmful from a pathway.
With the Prophet PBUH telling us that ‘the upper hand is better than the lower hand’, a Muslim should believe that any act of altruism will be rewarded. As we were placed in this world with others, assisting one another is the ideal way of developing unity and contributing to one another’s happiness.
Comparing Will Destroy You
The 26th U.S. president said it well when he remarked, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
With the use of social media increasing exponentially, comparing ourselves to affluent celebrities and successful people is becoming more and more burdensome. The figures in the history of Islam – from the good to the bad – have paved the way for us to live the ideal life. Over a thousand years ago, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH reminded us of how one can stay content and happy when he said, “Look at those below you (less fortunate than you), and don’t look at those above you, for this is better.” [Muslim]
There’s a Prescribed Reaction For Everything
Regardless of what you do to stay happy, there is one key element which provides believers with comfort. In a remarkable and concise way, the Prophet PBUH has given us a prescription on what to do in any given situation. Remember this and you’ll be well equipped to deal with anything that comes your way.
Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it. [Sahih Muslim]
A Muslim should be happy knowing that there is goodness in every affair. Whether it’s bad news you encounter or a blessing you receive, a believer knows where to turn. This alone summarises the key to happiness and allows one to stay humble and firm in times of hardship and blessings.
Main Image – Ahmad Azwan Azman, Unsplash