Q: Often I feel down and miserable. Sometimes there is a reason for it, but sometimes I cannot understand why I am feeling miserable. I perform my salaah regularly and  recite Quraan daily. I also get bored easily. How can I be happy? Please advise.

A: The following principle should be understood well: Difficulties, hardships and challenges come upon both the pious as well as the sinners. The difficulties on the pious come as a test and become a means of elevating their status in the court of Allah Ta‘ala. The sinners are afflicted with hardship as a very mild form of punishment and mainly as a “wake-up call” so that they may repent and come back to the obedience of Allah Ta‘ala.

In light of the above, the very first step is to try and identify the underlying reason for the miserable feeling. This is achieved through deep reflection. Ponder deeply and reflect upon your actions, words and even what is lurking in your heart. If sins are detected (such as sins of the eyes, ears, tongue or any other limb), or if you find that pride, jealousy, malice, love of the world and of the ego as well as other such vices are filled in the heart, you must immediately turn to sincere repentance. A concerted effort is to be then made towards purifying and cleansing the heart from all these spiritual impurities.

Every sin is an impurity. Just as the stench of physical impurities makes one nauseous and very uncomfortable, the pungent odour of spiritual impurities makes the heart very restless. Such a heart cannot find peace unless it is purified from the filth that is causing spiritual nausea.

If a person is starving and has become very restless due to the pangs of hunger gnawing at his stomach, his restlessness can never be removed except by eating food. Wearing the most expensive branded clothing, being in the most luxuries resort or watching something very “entertaining” is not going to reduce his restless feeling by an iota. He will have to eat nourishing food. Likewise, the food of the heart is the love of Allah Ta‘ala and it is nourished by His obedience and remembrance. As long as the heart is starving, all the artificial entertainment of the world, the most sumptuous meals, the most fascinating scenery and all the trimmings and trappings of a “high life” cannot provide any comfort to the heart. The deception of peace and enjoyment which one may seem to derive from material things – or worse, from the sugar–coated  poison of sin – will be very short lived and give way to greater misery.

Nevertheless, while understanding well that the life of this world is not without challenges, due to which one sometimes experiences pain, sadness and grief, on a general note adopting these brief  guidelines will insha-Allah help much in bringing happiness to the heart:

· BE CONTENT AND GRATEFUL: The more one genuinely and sincerely expresses gratitude to Allah Ta‘ala for His countless favours, the more this will create happiness. Stop looking at what others have. Appreciate what you have and keep reminding yourself that you have more than billions of others.

· NEWS AND SOCIAL MEDIA: Get off the news and social media entirely. Apart from many other problems, social media is overloaded with show-offs bragging about what new things they bought, where they went and what they did (which is often very much exaggerated as well). Constantly reading about what others are bragging about is going to make you feel depressed.

· HELP OTHERS: This is a very effective way of creating happiness for oneself — help others and try to make others happy (within the limits of sharee‘ah). Despite your own challenges when you will keep trying to bring happiness to others, especially the elderly, poor and ailing,  insha-Allah you will feel happier. Start off with your near and dear ones. They are most entitled to it.

· THINK POSITIVELY: Even when the challenges are many, there is always something positive to think about. Do not dwell on negative thoughts of events that happened in the past. It serves no purpose apart from making one depressed. Likewise, do not constantly worry about the future. Merely worrying is not going to change anything. Instead, engage in du‘aa for all your immediate and future needs. This will be a source of consolation and will draw the help of Allah Ta‘ala. Also make earnest du‘aa for others. This will make your du‘aas much more closer to acceptance.

· TURN To ALLAH TA‘ALA: Attach your heart to Allah Ta‘ala. Develop the love of recitation of the Quraan Majeed and the ecstasy of the zikr of Allah Ta‘ala. This is acquired by associating with the pious and following their advice and guidance. If this is truly achieved, there will never be a moment of boredom.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless with His love and contentment and grant the happiness of both worlds.

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