Where is happiness? More than five billion people are searching for it. But where is it? If happiness was in the hand, then the one whose wrist is adorned with a designer watch worth hundreds of thousands of rands, or whose fingers have been ringed with priceless diamonds, or the one who counts huge bundles of his money everyday, would always be very happy. If happiness was in the eyes, then the one who lives in the most scenic of places, with his most luxurious, expensive and eye-catching possessions such as furniture, cars, clothing, etc., in front of him all the time, would forever be elated. If happiness was in the stomach, the person feasting on delicacies would have been continuously ecstatic, while the one eating simple basic food would have been very miserable . However, nobody has found happiness in possessions and objects. Happiness is in the heart. If the heart is happy, the joy of the heart permeates every part of the body, irrespective of whether the hand does not have a rand, or whether the stomach has only been filled with bread and water. The question is: How does the heart gain happiness?
The foundation of happiness is Imaan. The pillars of this happiness are righteous actions and the qualities of Imaan. Among the foremost qualities of Imaan that bring happiness to the heart and fill one’s life with peace and tranquillity is qana’ah (contentment). Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “Verily true wealth is the contentment of the heart.” In another narration contentment has been described as “the wealth that is never exhausted.” Wahb bin Munabbah (R.A.) expressed this reality in the form of an anecdote. “Respect and wealth went out one day to search for a companion,” he said. “They met contentment and permanently stayed over with him.” The message is clear: Respect and true wealth is to be found in contentment. Otherwise one will be forever poor and miserable despite owning billions.
Contentment refers to being happy with what one has been blessed with. It entails living within one’s means. Contentment does not bar one from possessing any comfort and luxury. Indeed, it is opposed to buying things merely to enhance one’s “status,” or to avoid being regarded as “oldfashioned” by others. Contentment is the opposite of materialism. Therefore, if contentment offers peace and happiness, materialism promises unhappiness and misery.
The false promise of materialism is that happiness lies in accumulating possessions, chasing after material pursuits and presenting the “right image”. A simple example of this is the obsession with branded garments and other merchandise. Such is the obsession to have the “right” image that if one cannot afford the original branded item, a fake will also do — you must have the “right image” even if you have to fake it. Yet, has it really ever given anyone happiness? For those who only believe in “research,” extensive studies conducted by psychologists confirm that people who focus on wealth, possessions, image, fame and the like generally suffer the following problems to a far greater degree than non-materialistic people: Low psychological well-being, increased feelings of anger, difficulties with attention (ADD), prone to impulsive behavior, significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety, high levels of distress, feelings of emptiness, insecurity, lack of generosity, consumed by envy, and are overall less satisfied with life than those who are not materialistic. (High Price of Materialism, Pg. 9 – 17)
While Islam has emphasised adopting simplicity, it has not forbidden the use of luxuries. Acquiring luxuries is mainly subject to the following conditions: * One can afford it with halaal earnings * It does not entail wastage * It is not being acquired merely to follow the trend, or to boast and show off. Thus using luxuries is in itself not forbidden — materialism is forbidden.
Materialistic people make things and objects the source of happiness. “Things” will necessarily scratch, crack and break. Thus one’s happiness will be in tatters every time something happens to the beloved items. Moreover, what is the “best” today is outdated tomorrow. As a result one feels unhappy until the new “best” is acquired. This continues until suddenly one is at the door of death.
On the contrary, one who is content remains happy. The content person keeps looking within himself to try and improve his inner-qualities. This brings increased happiness within him. The materialistic person tries to improve the outside to be happy. Such happiness is repeatedly shattered. Since this world and its glamour are all perishable, the happiness associated with it is bound to perish sooner or later.
FOCUS ON VALUES
The path to happiness is therefore contentment. This requires a change of mindset. The importance we have given to material pursuits, image, social status and wealth must be shifted to true Deeni values. The focus must be on Taqwa (Allah—consciousness), simplicity, contentment, generosity, caring and sharing, love and respect for parents and others, compassion, sympathy, etc. Striving to acquire such values and living a life filled with these qualities brings happiness in this world and unimaginable rewards in the hereafter. Otherwise, a life without values is a valueless life!
The values and qualities described above are acquired by sincerely associating with the pious and taking their guidance in everything we do. Also, shut your eyes and ears to the “prophet” of materialism — advertising. Do not walk on the path of materialism by following trends, being obsessed with brands, worrying about image, etc.
May Allah Ta’ala fill our hearts with contentment and turn our focus to the Hereafter. Aameen.
The Best Day
I magine the greatness and virtue of a day which according to authentic Ahadith is ….The greatest of all days in the sight of Allah Ta’ala.
- Hazrath Aadam (A.S.) was born on that day, entered into Jannah on the same day and also came down to earth on that very day.
- A person who passes away on this day is saved from the punishment of the grave.
- It is blessed with such a moment that any Dua made therein is certainly accepted.
The day that encompasses all these virtues and such tremendous significance is the day of Jumu’ah (Friday). It is due to this special significance that the day of Jumu’ah is among the Shi’aar of Islam (distinguishing signs by which Islam or a Muslim is identified, such as the Musjid, the month of Ramadhaan, Islamic headgear (topi), etc.). To respect the Shi’aar of Islam is to respect Islam itself while disregarding the Shi’aar of Islam brings severe consequences in this world and the Hereafter.
The greatest ibadah on a Friday is Salatul Jumu’ah. Jumu’ah Salaah is compulsory on every baaligh (adult) male (unless excused by Shari’ah due to severe illness, etc.) Due to the very special status of Jumu’ah Salaah, we have been encouraged to prepare for it in advance, from Thursday evening. Among the preparations for Jumu’ah is recitation of istigfaar and Durood Shareef in abundance, clipping one’s nails, taking a bath on Friday, wearing one’s best clothes, applying itr (scent), etc. The Salaf-e- Saaliheen (pious predecessors) have stated that the person who will benefit most from Jumu’ah is the one who eagerly awaits it and prepares for it from the night before.
Going early for Jumu’ah earns one special rewards. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “On Friday the angels stand at the door of the Musjid and note down, in order of arrival, the names of those who come early. The one who comes first is like the one who has sacrificed a camel for Allah Ta’ala, the one who comes second is like one who has sacrificed a cow, the third person is like one who sacrificed a sheep, the next receives the reward of sacrificing a chicken and the person who comes thereafter is like the one who sacrificed an egg. When the Imaam proceeds towards the pulpit, the angels roll up their scrolls and join the congregation (Bukhari).” This Hadith draws our attention to two aspects; the importance of going early for Jumu’ah as well as the harm of going late. Once the Imaam proceeds to the mimbar for the khutba, the angels stop recording the names of those who come later. Thus the one who comes after the Imaam proceeds for the khutba are, so to say, marked absent by the angels. Therefore, at the latest, upon commencement of the first Azaan everything must stop and one must immediately hasten directly to the Musjid.
Together with the virtues of Jumu’ah, dire warnings have been sounded for neglecting Jumu’ah. Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: “The one who leaves out three Jumu’ahs due to neglect, Allah Ta’ala will seal his heart (thus he will be deprived of the ability to do good actions)” (Tirmizi). Therefore no Jumu’ah should be missed without a valid shar’i reason.
It should be noted that missing Jumu’ah due to school is not excusable at all. Proper arrangements should be made to attend Jumu’ah on time. If this is not possible at all, one should move to another school. It is extremely tragic that many Muslim learners often miss the Jumu’ah Salaah due to classes. An even greater tragedy is that Muslim learners in many Christian ethos private schools also attend “chapel services” as part of the school program. The roots of Imaan are dried up due to missing Jumu’ah while the seeds of kufr are planted in the “chapel services!!! Parents must save their children from these disasters.
May Allah Ta’ala enable us to give due importance to the day of Jumu’ah and may He protect our Imaan. Aameen.
Question: I am very wealthy and have all the comforts and luxuries I desire. My problem is that I am never really happy. Most of the time I feel miserable and depressed, yet there is no apparent reason for feeling like this. I return from five star holidays feeling worse than when I left. My condition is now leading to frustration for me and my family. I am regular with my Salaah, etc. Please advise. (Summary of detailed question)
Answer: May Allah Ta`ala remove your difficulties and grant you the true happiness of this world and the Hereafter. Aameen.
The condition you are experiencing could be due to a combination of various factors. This answer only deals briefly with what appears to be the root cause of your problem in the light of what you have mentioned. (If your problem is medically related, you should consult a doctor).
You may understand your problem by considering the example of a child. A child attaches his heart to his toy car, or the sand castle that he has built, or to any other such insignificant item. For the child this is his entire world. If his toy gets scratched or a sea shell flies off from his castle, he feels as if his world is crumbling. Even if nothing happens to his toys, he still becomes bored with it after a few days. Such boredom is bound to creep in when the heart has been attached to any perishable thing. Nevertheless, he then yearns for something else. In the interim he feels very “low” and miserable. When he manages to get something new, it puts him on an artificial “high” for a short period. The same cycle then continues.
PLAY AND AMUSEMENT?
Similarly many of us do not really grow out of childhood. A child plays with small little cars and sand castles. Many grown-ups play with fast, flashy cars and castles of bricks and cement. They do not grow up to the reality that the purpose of life is not play and amusement. They do not mature to the realization that the material things are merely for use within the boundaries of Deen – not for giving one’s heart to it. Hence like the child, due to our hearts being attached to the perishable items, we also experience the “lows” as we get bored with the things we have.
On the contrary, consider those who have attached their hearts to Allah Ta`ala. For fifty years they are performing the same salaah, reciting the same Qur’aan, daily engage in the same zikr and continue to strive for Deen. They never get bored. Rather, with each new day their enthusiasm increases for performing salaah, reciting Qur’aan, striving for Deen and engaging in other virtuous deeds. Similarly, their lives become happier and more content all the time, despite the physical difficulties and other worldly problems. This is due to them having attached their hearts to Allah Ta`ala, the Ever Living and the Creator of all happiness. Like all humans they also experience pain at times. Yet even in pain they do not feel “low.” We also need to attach our hearts to Allah Ta`ala. We will then experience the same continuously increasing happiness like the pious servants of Allah Ta`ala.
LOOKING AT WHAT OTHERS HAVE
Another aspect that results in feeling depressed is to focus on what others have been blessed with. Rasulullah r warned against this when he said: “Look at those who have lesser than you and do not look at those who have more than you. This is more likely to prevent you from looking down upon the bounties that Allah Ta`ala has blessed you with.” It is a common malady to look at what “better” things others have. One is then consumed with the desire of also having the same. If one cannot have the same, one feels depressed. Therefore, instead of looking at what others have, one should count the millions of favours that Allah Ta`ala has showered upon one, many of which others have not been blessed with. The more we truly engage in shukr (gratitude) to Allah Ta’ala, the lesser we will feel miserable and depressed.
Thus the real prescription for happiness is to attach one’s heart to Allah Ta`ala and become His true servant. This is acquired by associating with the true lovers of Allah Ta`ala and following in their footsteps. Otherwise, we will continue to ride the roller coaster of emotions but never taste any happiness.
Faqihul Ummah: Increase in Sustenance
Summary of Letter:
Respected Mufti Saheb
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
Please advise me of any practice to acquire barakah and increase in sustenance.
Summary of Reply:
Between the sunnats and fardh of Fajr Salaah recite Surah Fatihah forty-one times, together with Bismillah each time. Recite Durood Shareef eleven times before and after as well. Ask your children to also do the same. Insha Allah, Allah Ta`ala will grant you barakah. (Maktoobaat, vol 5, pg 78)
Translators note: It is the experience of numerous pious elders that the above practice brings great barakah. It is nevertheless also imperative that, together with these practices, one does not create any barriers between oneself and the blessings of Allah Ta’ala. The greatest barrier is sin. One should therefore make sincere tawba (repent) and fulfil all one’s Deeni obligations. The mercy of Allah Ta’ala will then engulf one.
A person asked Hazrath Ali (R.A.) to assist him to pay his debts. Hazrath Ali (R.A.) replied: “Should I not teach you a dua which I learnt from Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), the (abundant) recitation of which will have all your debts fulfilled, even if they are as much as a mountain? The dua is:
Trans.: “ O Allah, suffice for me by means of what you have permitted from what you have forbidden, and make me independent through Your grace from all besides You” (Tirmizi).