Happiness is a feeling everyone has experienced in their lives. However, is it possible to experience happiness continuously? What should be done to ensure the continuity of happiness? Happiness is defined as a feeling that stems from emotional contentment or joy, and it is a feeling that everyone wants to have and maintain. However, the happiness of religious people, and the happiness experienced by disbelievers are very different; the happiness experienced by disbelievers is always temporary, and it is only sustained by other disbelievers. Furthermore, the happiness experienced by disbelievers is invariably directed only to the life of this world. In contrast, the happiness of heartfelt and sincere Muslims is incessant. What are the underlying reasons for theses differences?
Why is the happiness experienced by disbelievers short-term and artificial?
Happiness being based on passing fads and fancies.
One of the most conspicuous points of the happiness of the disbelievers is that the excitement or joy they feel is based entirely on passing fads or fancies; as a consequence, it is both short-lived and shallow. Many unbelievers have the ambition to obtain everything their hearts desire, and it is the pursuit of this mistaken goal which provides to them a temporary sensation of happiness and joy. However, once the disbelievers have obtained the goal of their particular quest, they soon lose interest, and the happiness which they felt soon gives way to a feeling of disillusionment and disappointment. Let us take as an example, someone who goes to purchase the latest model luxury car; he goes to the dealership, selects the model with the various options he wants, makes the purchase, and drives off, feeling “happy” at what he has secured. However, after a while, he becomes bored with his purchase, and soon the object which had been the focus of such intense feeling becomes mundane; he becomes bored with his acquisition, and soon sets his sights on another object to acquire in order to regain the illusory feeling of happiness which had so quickly faded. This illustrates the so-called “happiness” that disbelievers often feel, and demonstrates that this type of “happiness” is fleeting, at best.
Mistaken notions of what constitutes happiness.
Many disbelievers are of the opinion that leisure activities are the primary way to generate feelings of happiness; having a “good time”. Now certainly, there is nothing inherently wrong with having fun, and it is something that is conducive to experiencing happiness. However, for the disbelievers, what constitutes “having fun” is typically limited to going out to parties, taking in the night-life, shallow and disingenuous conversations with their equally shallow and disingenuous friends, indulging in the mockery of others or fatuous displays of superficial humor (followed by affected laughter, naturally) or going on vacation. Now, we must point out that there is nothing contradictory to religious morality in going on vacation. What we're speaking of here is that disbelievers forget their responsibilities to Allah while on vacation or in the company of their friends. As a result of the disbelievers mistaken notions of happiness, the sense of joy they experience in the aforementioned situations doesn't last for long. Even the smallest problem is enough to upset their sense of happiness, and in that case, their “good time” is swiftly brought to ruination.
And of course, as all things in this world, parties last only for a fixed time, bars and discos close at a certain time, friends must inevitably go home, and sooner or later vacation comes to an end and one must return to work. Again this serves to illustrate that these feelings of happiness, based on erroneous perceptions, are only temporary and will come to an end, and disbelievers will inevitably be compelled to move onto something else in order to recover the lost sensation of happiness.
Allah reveals in the Qur'an that like the happiness the disbelievers experience, the travels of the disbelievers are but temporary, and that on the Day of Judgment, the disbelievers will find themselves, forever, in a miserable abode;
“Definitely let not the moving about in the lands on the part of the ones who have disbelieved delude you. It is but a brief enjoyment. Hell is their resting place; what a miserable bed to lie on! (They invested not in the Hereafter).” (Surah Al-Imran, 196–197)
Being Limited Only to the Things of this World.
The disbelievers have a tendency to focus on subjects that they mistakenly believe will bring them happiness; things such as having lots of money, being married to an attractive spouse, gaining a good job which gives one social prestige, going to the best university, having children, or becoming famous. There is nothing wrong with any of the above provided that they are done for the sake of Allah and for the furtherance of His Glory. The problem, however, is that disbelievers do not seek the favor and mercy of Allah, nor do they wish to achieve riches, prestige, celebrity or anything else except for their own selfish interests; indeed, if the unbelievers do achieve such social heights, they are certainly not thankful to Allah for having provided for them from His endless bounty, and they are certainly ever forgetful that it is Allah that is the true Owner of all things. Thus, when the money disappears, the spouse leaves them for someone else, their children despise them, and their social status vanishes, the disbelievers become despondent or even suicidal in their despair. They cannot conceive of their lives without the possessions or status which have been lost to them. The believers, on the other hand, are always mindful that the life of this world is but a test of their piety and their faith in our Lord, and are always grateful to Almighty Allah for everything that happens to them, both good or bad, because the believers recognize that it is through this manner that Allah tests all men to determine their worthiness before Him. As such, when the believers have prestige, wealth, a pious spouse or children they humbly prostrate themselves before Allah in thanks, and use the blessings bestowed upon them by Allah in His way; equally, when difficulties arise, they prostrate themselves before their Lord to seek His Mercy and remind themselves that no matter how difficult a situation may seem, it will doubtlessly serve to increase their faith in Almighty Allah. Thus, the happiness of the disbelievers is diminished through their attachment to the affairs of the life of this world, while the faith of the believers is increased through their recognition of the Power and eternal Munificence of Almighty Allah.
“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children...” (Surat al-Hadid, 20)
What are the sources of happiness for the believers?
The very existence of Allah is, for the believers, an endless wellspring of happiness. The greatness of our Lord, His omnipresence in each and every moment of the lives of the believers, is a profound source of great and boundless joy for those who believe in Almighty Allah. The believers understand that Almighty Allah has absolute power and absolute control over all things, from the heavens above, to the Earth below, to the very beating of one's heart. The believers know that each and every thing that happens does so by the Will of Allah, and that everything that He has created has benefit for them. The believers know that nobody can hurt them unless Allah so wills it, and that in times of distress and difficulty that Allah is their truest friend, the One helping hand they can reach out to that never flags or fails, nor turns away from those who call on Him in repentance and sincerity. Therefore, there is no event that can sadden or disturb those who believe in our Almighty Lord, for they are aware that all things happen by His Will and proceed from His Wisdom.
As the consummation of their boundless love for Him, the believers endeavor in every moment of their lives to earn the good pleasure of Allah through prayer, constant mindfulness of Him, and adherence to His commands. It is the effort of attaining Allah's approval which gives the believers their sense of happiness and pleasure; the effort made to earn a place in Paradise in the eternal presence of our Almighty and Merciful Lord provides, for the believers, a source of endless and exuberant joy.
What gives cheer to the believers?
Allah grants to His faithful servants happiness and contentment from His eternal Presence. He does away with sadness and wickedness in the hearts of the faithful by being their sole ally and Sustainer. Even when believers meet with difficulties or are confronted with boredom, He grants them steadfastness and strength and He never diminishes their happiness.
Believers experience happiness in expanding the morality of the Qur'an.
Because believers know that they live by the sublime and excellent morality revealed to mankind in the Qur'an, and that doing so brings a peaceful and comfortable life to those who live by the True Religion, they naturally want to bestow the same blessings they experience in their lives to others. Also, because believers are fully aware of the certain reality of Hell, and the eternal damnation and torment that awaits the disbelievers, they altruistically wish to save others from facing the Wrath of our Lord and the punishment He has promised to those who disbelieve. For this reason, when others embrace the True Religion and begin to live by the morality of the Qur'an, this brings a sense of great happiness to the believers, as they have not only helped in spreading the eternal Word of our Lord as revealed in the Qur'an, but have saved another human being from an eternal punishment which makes the worst nightmares pale in comparison.
Believers experience happiness in prevailing over the disbelievers.
Believers display a firm and resolute manner in dealing with those who seek to spread mischief and lead others into the dark recesses of disbelief. This determined manner against the disbelievers is revealed in a verse of the Qur'an; “O Prophet! Strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is that destination.” (Surah at-Tawba, 73) We must emphasize that this not a physical struggle (i.e.; war), but a spiritual struggle. By taking precautions such as hindering the activities of those who seek to cause mischief, and by carefully analyzing their speech and deducing their misleading ways, believers find happiness in this spiritual struggle against the forces of darkness; additionally, should the disbelievers come to realize the errors of their ways, cease their unjust struggles against the believers and turn in sincere repentance toward Allah and implore Him for His forgiveness, and subsequently come to embrace the True Religion, this also is a source of great excitement and happiness for the believers.
Believers find happiness in performing worship.
For the believers, the most important thing is to be able to draw close to Allah and to earn His good pleasure. Thus, the act of worship is not only a crucial act, but an act that brings them happiness as well through their fulfillment of Allah's commands as revealed in this verse from the Qur'an;
“O you who believe! Be careful of (your duty to) Allah and seek means of nearness to Him and strive hard in His way that you may be successful.” (Surah al-Maida, 35)
Through fulfilling their duty to Allah, as revealed in the Qur'an, believers are drawn closer to Allah. Believers know that by wholeheartedly fulfilling their devotions to our Lord, they have done a valuable deed to earn Almighty Allah's good favor, and therefore experience the inner peace and tranquility bestowed on them through the fulfillment of their duty.
Believers experience great happiness in contemplating the life to come in Paradise.
Perhaps the most exhilarating subject that brings happiness to the believers is the thought of Paradise and the boundless blessings which it will contain. Almighty Allah has promised to the believers an unprecedented new life in the Hereafter, wholly different from the life of this world. Furthermore, Paradise is not a place of trial like the life of this world, but rather a place of endless reward and bounty, as is stated in the following verse of the Qur'an;
“We are your guardians in this world's life and in the Hereafter, and you shall have therein what your souls desire and you shall have therein what you ask for; A provision from the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Surah Fussilat, 31-32)
It will bring great joy and happiness to be welcomed into Paradise by the angels, with their words of salutations, to be hosted in the best way, the uniqueness of the blessings and the bounty that will be offered, and the removal of the travails that were encountered in the trial of the life of this world. However, for the believers the best of all things will be the certain knowledge that they have attained the good pleasure of our Lord, and will reside in His presence for all eternity. Indeed, the greatest of all the stupendous blessings of Paradise is reported in the Qur'an as “...Allah's goodly pleasure.”
“Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement.” (Surah at-Tawba, 72)
People who don't believe in Allah and the Hereafter with certainty can never experience true and genuine happiness. While they may feel superficial happiness at some times in their lives, depending entirely on their circumstances, this happiness is entirely dependent on having satisfied their own egos, wishes, or desires. Furthermore, this happiness is only a temporary phenomenon; when they encounter difficulties or ennui, their so-called happiness gives way to emptiness or despair.
However, everything which is done for gaining the approval and good pleasure of our Lord Almighty Allah, and done in service to the morality of the True Religion, is a source of enormous pleasure and happiness. Believers live the “happiness of faith”. The happiness of faith is a profound and deep happiness that is felt in every fiber of one's being, an all-encompassing joy that can never be experienced by those who disbelieve. The happiness which fills the heart and soul of a believer is that of one who hopes for the eternal life of Paradise and strives to earn the good pleasure, mercy and consent of Allah. The joy-filled life which believers live in the life of this world will continue to increase for them by the leave of Allah, and is a preview of the eternal joy-filled life in the Hereafter which has been heralded in the following verse of the Qur'an:
“Then those who have believed and done righteous deeds, such shall be esteemed and made happy in the luxury of the Gardens of Delight.” (Surah ar-Rum, 15)