RSS Feed

Tag Archives: happiness

Happiness – a state of mind or a milestone?

By Maha Amjad

Everyone is searching for happiness; but is happiness really a destination or a journey?

happiness 7

Standing in front of the university crowd, all glammed up for the farewell, she was asked to give a word of advice. All her thoughts about prompting them to understand the word of God went out of her mind amidst the discussion about their search for happiness.

She stated in a matter-of-fact tone, “happiness should not be associated with events and moments, rather it should be a consistent way of life.” This stirred up another round of debate; an inconclusive one at that because all participants were still searching for happiness.

A few days later, she heard this verse of the Quran:

 وَإِذَا أَذَقْنَا النَّاسَ رَحْمَةً فَرِحُوا بِهَا ۖ وَإِنْ تُصِبْهُمْ سَيِّئَةٌ بِمَا قَدَّمَتْ أَيْدِيهِمْ إِذَا هُمْ يَقْنَطُونَ

And when We let the people taste mercy, they rejoice therein, but if evil afflicts them for what their hands have put forth, immediately they despair. (Sura Ar-Rum, Ayah 36) (Sahih International).

Allah SWT is describing the behaviour of the general populace. They usually swing between two extreme emotions. They are either rejoicing over the blessings that Allah SWT has bestowed on them or they become depressed over that which they don’t have. 

There is another set of people who are excluded from the addressees, they are the Mumineen; those who are grateful over their blessings and are patient over their hardships. They are rewarded for their patience (Sabr) and this makes them content and happy even during the difficult patches of their life.

This Ayah dispels all ambiguities surrounding the concept of happiness. As long as everything is going according to what man aspires for, he tends to be happy. But this does not always happen. Life is a test and we are tested through people and situations. And the moment someone states something against our liking, we tend to become unhappy. Similarly, if we had a blessing; the perfect job or the perfect relationship and according to the plan of nature it was taken away from us at its destined time, we become depressed. So how can we overcome this human weakness of associating happiness with material things and perfect situations?

happiness 1

Ask yourself truthfully, when was the last time you were truly happy?
Was it the day you received your degree?
Or the day you got that specific award?
What happened next? Where did the bubble of happiness go?  

Yes, it was just that a bubble, a facade. That was not true happiness. Happiness is in fact not a destination to reach one day. It is a product of how we live our lives and what our actions make us feel.

Happiness stems from gratitude; the more we realise our own blessings, the more content we shall be. We need to look at what we have rather than focusing on that which we don’t have.  

Your happiness should not be based on what you do not have

This can be understood by the example of two families travelling on the same highway. They are both having fun within their own cars with their respective families. The moment the driver of one car starts racing with the other car, he/she forgets all the happiness they have, and the focal point of their drive became getting ahead of the other driver.

Imagine if the one of the drivers’ cars has a better engine and the other doesn’t.  He is neither going to be able to beat the other car and nor is he enjoying the journey. Isn’t that a complete loss of an opportunity to be happy on the car ride?

happiness 6

Similar is our case when we compare our blessings with others, we lose focus from what we have. In either case we reach the destination that we were destined to reach but the quality of the journey  depends on the focus of the driver. The journey is analogous to life and the driver is you. 

وَمَن يَشْكُرْ فَإِنَّمَا يَشْكُرُ لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ
… whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. (31:12).  

Dear reader, gratitude is the key to happiness. 

Another fact to realise is that wealth cannot buy happiness and peace (sakoon).  

A 2008 study concluded that how people spend their money may be as important for their happiness as how much money they earn – and that spending money on others might represent a more effective route to happiness than spending money on oneself. (1)

In this social experiment, 46 people were given either $20 or $5, some spent it on themselves and the rest spent it on people other than themselves. Those who spent the money on others felt happier at the end of the day. 

Happiness is, therefore, not the end-product of materialistic fulfilment; rather, it is the act of spreading joy among others which results in true happiness. Moreover, there are very simple things that we can practice that increase our happiness as well as that of others. A simple smile on our face or a quick ‘thank you’ can brighten someone else’s day. A pleasant tone, small acts of kindness, giving simple gifts are all tokens of spreading joy among our fellow humans and most of all, though they may seem like small things, they have the power to make us happy in this world and in the hereafter.   

happiness 4

 

1. Elizabeth W. Dunn, Lara B. Aknin, Michael I. Norton, ‘Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness’ (2008).

Advertisements

Chapter 13: The Waning Dusk (series)

Chapter 13: The Waning Dusk (series)

gratitudeMyth: Whine for more

لَٮِٕن شَڪَرۡتُمۡ لَأَزِيدَنَّكُمۡ‌ۖ  

This snippet is from one of the most beautiful verses of the Quran on gratitude from surah Ibrahim (v. 7). And I wrote just the Arabic text here for you guys to read it and comprehend it better when I expand on it. In Arabic, there are a lot of ways you can emphasize or stress upon a point. And using a shadd (or tashdeed) on a verb is one way of doing it.

Allah (swt) says, “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you…”

Notice the form of verb for being grateful is shakartum— lightest form of the verb used and the word for the promise of being increased is la-azeedannakum— the most intense form with a shadd is chosen to drive the point home; meaning: if you are a little bit, just a tiny, teeny-weeny bit grateful– Allah will surely, most certainly, definitely increase you. And this is the eloquence of the Quran– it can contain so much in just one word. We miss out on these special effects when we limit ourselves to the translation.

And Allah used first-person singular narrative here “I will increase you…” and not “We will increase you…” as opposed to most places in the Quran where “We” is generally used. “I” has more powerful undertones than “We”. This hammers another dimension of intensity and emphasis to the promise that if you are a teensy bit grateful, Allah Himself WILL increase you (sadly, caps lock is as far as I can go to give the special effects).

Question being- increase you in what? You say Rabbi zidni ilmaa (O Allah, increase me in knowledge) and Allah says in places in the Quran wa-zaadat-hum imaanaa (their imaan increased)… so what’s going to be increased here? That’s the best part, Allah hasn’t put limits or mentioned anything in particular. You will be increased in anything imaginable.

When you’re fasting, it is undoubtedly the best time to be thankful for all that you have, instead of whining about how you don’t see your proposed menu on the table. You want more? Be grateful. It’s not a one-moment reflection where you say “Thank you”– it’s an attitude towards life. And of course, it’s the surest way to get blessings infinity times infinity pouring down on you.

And oh- there’s another fail-proof way you can go about it. Give charity. To your maids, workers on the streets, beggars by your car… at least in this month, don’t turn anyone away empty handed.

My Ramadan Diary: Forgive Me When I Whine

dua

By Umm Ibrahim

Hot days? Long fasts? Parched tongue? Droopy eyes? Aching legs?

This Ramadan, I will not whine! I absolutely refuse to complain. Not only will I not complain to Tom, Dick and Harry (or to Jamilah, Sakinah and Aneela) I will not even complain to myself! I feel too grateful to do that. I have been blessed with far more than what I could ever deserve or earn.

I’m grateful that Allah made me a human being, and not a monkey or a hen.

I’m grateful that He made me a Muslim, and not an atheist or a fire-worshipper.

I’m grateful that I’m alive and healthy.

And that He blessed me with yet another Ramadan- yet another opportunity.

And that He gave me the Glorious Quran.

And that I have family and friends.

In fact, I have everything I asked him for, and more! Much more.

I’m grateful for the Duas He accepted, and the ones He apparently did not (because He had better substitutes planned).

“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them. Verily! Man is indeed an extreme wrong-doer, an extreme ingrate.” (Surah Ibrahim: 34)

And most of all, I’m thankful to Him that despite my all-year round sins, He allowed me to fast. He enabled me to open the Quran, and gave me the taufeeq to stand before Him, and put my face on the ground only for Him.

Yes, there is still hope for me. And you.

How can I complain while my heart is bursting with love and gratitude? This year, I will go the extra mile happily and willingly, inshaAllah. I will do it all with a smile, all for His sake, out of love for Him, and in anticipation of His Pleasure and Reward.

So, in conclusion: Alhamdolillah!

“Alhamdolillah fills the scales.” (Sahih Muslim)

In Pursuit of Happiness

The writer is a convert sister from the Scandinavian part of Europe who has been following the activities of the Youth Club through the online realm. She has written this piece exclusively for the Youth Club Blog.
We welcome her to Islam, and pray that Allah grants her steadfastness.

happinessroadsign

 

I’ve been raised watching romantic comedies and all kinds of movies. I’ve also wasted a considerable amount of time playing computer games and PlayStation. I was so much into the games, that they became my world. I was obsessed with thinking about how I would get to the next level or get more points, even when I went to school, met friends or ate dinner. I would always feel energized and excited while playing. Watching movies would make me happy- I would imagine my life becoming similar to what I saw.

 

But the good feelings always disappeared and I needed more. A new game. A new movie. I could never ever get enough. I was truly seeking contentment and peace of heart through these means. But it was like chasing my shadow. I could never have fulfillment from the movies or games. I was left with an emptiness inside.

When I was going to fast my first Ramadan at the age of 19 a short time after my shahada (I’m a convert) I had no idea what to expect. I was just scared and worried, “Will I be able to make it?” In my hometown, there are hardly any Muslims and you can never hear the adhan –  there isn’t a single mosque here. I didn’t even have one single family member who was also Muslim.

Since I was a Muslim by choice, I realized that I couldn’t pretend I didn’t know it was Ramadan and that I was obliged to fast. But I doubted my own capabilities… The only One I could ask for help was my Lord, Sustainer, Helper and Guide.

As much as I could, the last few weeks before Ramadan, I would beg

“Oh Allah, this is so hard for me, I don’t know if I can do it. But everything is easy for You, and You can make the difficult easy. So, PLEASE, make it easy for me to fast!! Not just one day or one week. Please make it easy for me to fast the whole month for You. Ameen”

Never ever have I experienced more pleasure, more joy and more peace of heart in my life – as I did that Ramadan. First of all, Allah surely answered my duas!! Alhamdulillah!! The 1st, 2nd & 3rd days were sooo EASY to fast, that I didn’t eat Iftar because I was hungry, but simply because I could. And this was 19 and a half hours after my suhoor. SubhanAllah.

Needless to say, I was completely AMAZED. It was a huuuge imaan-boost. I needed no Muslim in my life to wake me up for Fajr, join me for suhoor or remind me to keep away from drink and food (and lying etc), during the day. Allah SWT was enough for me. Sitting “all alone” with my food before Fajr was one of the the greatest moments in my life. Real diamonds. It was only me and Allah. I was extremely grateful for the food He gave me and for being Muslim and for being of the very few (in my country) to actually be awake before Fajr with the intention to fast.

Before Allah gave me Islam, I would seek peace, happiness and contentment in all kinds of things from this world. Movies, games, music, friendships, popularity/fame, clothes, make-up… Now I realise that nothing came close to what Islam offered me.

Sujud, salah, fasting in Ramadan, covering my head, making duaa, learning profound lessons from the Quran, struggling to recite the Quran, reflecting upon Allah’s creation, Allah’s Beautiful Names, and the verses of the Quran, remembering Allah (dhikr) – this is what brings real joy, peace and contentment to my life (and to my heart).

For anyone who is still searching for peace & happiness in worldly things: Please stop kidding yourself… Please stop listening to Satan – who only wants to pull you away from Allah.

Take a moment to ask Allah the Almighty to guide you to that which can give you real peace in this life and the ultimate reward in the next life… Please ask Allah to guide you back to Him.

And know that Allah truly loves it when His slave returns to Him.

If you think you’re sinning too much or that your life is too far away from the straight path… Remember, that Allah is Extremely Merciful. If your sins were to reach the skies, Allah would not mind forgiving you. He loves to forgive. All you need to do is ask forgiveness. Also, remember that Allah is the Almighty, the All-Powerful. Everything is easy for Him. He brings the dead land back to life. He can bring life back to your heart.

He can change your life completely- the way my life changed.

Gratitude – An Attitude

Posted on
Gratitude – An Attitude

images

For quite some time, I’ve been noticing a trait that is very common amongst us, irrespective of whether we’re religious or not. We all have, more or less, ingratitude! We don’t have gratitude. The reason I use the word ‘have’ and not ‘show’ is that gratitude is an attitude, it’s a whole different paradigm.

If you have the blessing of gratitude in you, you feel it in your very veins. Your heart feels ‘alhamdulillah‘; you don’t just say it like a ritual. You’re less concerned with what’s missing and you’re thankful for whatever you have. We can’t ever have enough anyway. But we’re always complaining, sometimes with our words, but more often with our attitudes and body language. Maybe we want things to be perfect and when they remain imperfect (as they’re meant to be, this isn’t Jannah), we start complaining. If only we remember that this world is temporary and meant to be stressful.

Just have a look around today and see what people talk about; observe their tones. You’ll see they’re complaining most of the time. I’ve noticed that when I’m in my worst lows, I’m not grateful enough; enough to be thrilled about moments, about the littlest things in life, and to feel content and happy from within.

Being happy in situations you’re put in and being content is gratitude too. Just saying ‘alhamdulillah’ isn’t enough; specially if it’s followed by a ‘but’, it is highly unacceptable. However, it is true that you’re unable to enjoy all the time, specially when you’ve gone through a trauma or when you’re ill. When your body is weak, your emotions weaken and you feel down naturally. That is where righteous companions come in. They will facilitate you and help you remain positive. They won’t just lecture you rather they will make you feel good about yourself. Pray that you’re blessed with such companions and friends throughout your life.

993798_241192562721642_183395566_n

Islam is the perfect way of life, it’s not just a boring set of do’s and don’ts. It teaches us to be content and happy and grateful and to enjoy life. We remain stressed, always on the go and feel responsible for things that aren’t in our circle of control. What we don’t realize is that if we’re having some off time in order to be refreshed and to feel better about ourselves, that too is good as it will bring the bounce back in us and increase our productivity.

Just remember, ingratitude is catching, and so is gratitude. I make this statement on personal experience. So stop complaining and comparing; you’re in the best situation you could possibly be in. Try to be cheerful and grateful and make others feel better around you. Also, make dua for companions who have a positive outlook towards life.

If we don’t feel good and happy with ourselves, how will others be happy with us? And guess what? Gratitude’s a way to get more blessings. 🙂

Allah says in the Quran:

 “If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe.” [Surah Ibrahim: 7]

P.S. It is a complete coincidence that the makers of The Happy Page have now made The Gratitude Page on Facebook. They weren’t inspired by this post. Lol.

imagess

The Missing Ingredient: Gratitude

The Missing Ingredient: Gratitude

images

By Fareed Ahmad

Stephen R. Covey, in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, compares the concept of Character Ethics with Professional Ethics.  He stresses that in order to succeed in the long term, a person must focus on enhancing his character ethics, rather than merely his professional ethics.

Character ethics cover several aspects of a person’s thinking and behavior.  A man with a strong character is likely to succeed in the long term; whilst one who has countless character flaws will eventually flop, although he may flourish in the short term.

Today, we see several people who are apparently doing well in their private and professional lives, but they are actually very unhappy and unsatisfied.  We see owners of multi-national firms, seven-star hotels and huge factories, earning millions of dollars, but taking anti-depressants to escape their feeling-low syndrome.  These people lack one key ingredient of a sound character and a strong personality.   That missing ingredient is: Gratitude.

On the other hand, we also find people living in slums, yet enjoying life, having a sound sleep, and a cheerful countenance.  We also see middle-class people, who are highly satisfied, and leading a purpose-driven life.  This is because their life has an abundant sprinkling of the valuable ingredient: Gratitude.

In life, you`ll find such people that even if they are given mountains of gold, they won`t be happy or thankful.  You’ll find students crying on their result days, despite achieving distinctions.  You’ll see wives forever complaining, no matter what their poor husbands do for them.  These are the people who can never get the recipe for a happy life correct.  They keep on messing it up because they lack the vital ingredient: Gratitude.

Here’s a comparison between a grateful person and an ungrateful person:
(The readers can see for themselves which prototype they are closer to.)

A grateful person always counts the blessings of Allah; an ungrateful person counts the trials facing him.

A grateful person is always happy; an ungrateful one remains gloomy and depressed.

A grateful person makes peace with his past; an ungrateful person always mourns and laments over his past.

A grateful person attracts people through his/her pleasing and charismatic personality; an ungrateful person irks people through his bitter countenance and perpetual complaints.

A grateful person, when stuck in tough or hard situations, is patient and prays.  He looks for the hidden blessings in every situation, and is thankful that the situation is not worse.  An ungrateful person has victimhood mentality, and may even pray for his death or commit suicide when the going gets tough.

A grateful person has a positive attitude towards life; whilst an ungrateful person always thinks negative of himself and of others.

A grateful person rejoices at every little blessing; an ungrateful person disregards even huge blessings and takes everything for granted.

Being grateful to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the quality of true believers, that makes them successful in their private and public lives.

Numerous Quranic verses talk about this quality.  Here are two worth pondering over:

“..Whoever is grateful profits his own soul..” (Surah Luqman, ayah 7)

“..If you are grateful, I`ll add more favours on you; but if you show ingratitude, truly my punishment is terrible indeed.” (Surah Ibrahim, ayah 7)

Is the cocktail of your life lacking the ingredient of gratitude? Add some; it will only get better!

The writer can be reached at fareedahmad_1@hotmail.com

Heedless…

Posted on

There’s no such thing as a coincidence. Since 3-4 days I’ve been observing that at this hour (third part of the night) a bird, or a few of them, starts chirping. First it amazed me because you rarely hear a bird chirping so peacefully at this time. I couldn’t help but think that it’s praising Allah.

I get these strange feelings, feelings of happiness and sorrow at the same time. The sound just makes you realize the truth of Allah’s words:

“41. Do you not see that Allah is exalted by whoever is within the heavens and the earth and [by] the birds with wings spread [in flight]? Each [of them] has known his [means of] prayer and exalting [Him], and Allah is Knowing of what they do.”

[An-Noor (The Light), Chapter 24]

You realize this and you feel happy. But then a feeling of sadness overcomes you. A bird who does not have to worry about his end is praising Allah SWT. What about me: a human whom Allah gave a brain to think, a mind to ponder, an intellect to reflect over HIS signs and recognize HIM? Yet how heedless am I of my end! How unfortunate am I to waste my time, especially this time of the night, while doing everything else but worship, when a simple creature, without the superior faculties that Allah has blessed me with, is Praising HIM.

 

Allah constantly gives us the reminder…

“1. Draws near for mankind their reckoning, while they turn away in heedlessness.”

[Al-Anbiya (The Prophets), Chapter 21]

Allah sent down the Revelation for me!

“5. (This is) a Revelation sent down by the Almighty, the Most Merciful,

6. In order that you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are heedless.”

[Ya Seen, Chapter 36]

But I’m heedless of it and I constantly sin!

“22. (It will be said to the sinners): “Indeed you were heedless of this, now We have removed your covering, and sharp is your sight this Day!””

[Qaf (The Letter Qaf), Chapter 50]

Lost in the worries of this world, heedless of the hereafter!

“7. They know only the outside appearance of the life of the world (i.e. the matters of their livelihood, like irrigating or sowing or reaping, etc.), and they are heedless of the Hereafter.”

[Ar-Room (The Romans, The Byzantines), Chapter 30]

I am even heedless of the greatest gift that Allah gave me: the Gift of Emaan!

“100. It is not for any person to believe, except by the Leave of Allâh, and He will put the wrath on those who are heedless.”

[Younus, Chapter 10]

So what am I waiting for? The time when Allah turns me away from Guidance because of my constant heedlessness of HIS signs?

“146. I shall turn away from My Ayât (verses of the Qur’ân) those who behave arrogantly on the earth, without a right, and (even) if they see all the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.), they will not believe in them. And if they see the way of righteousness (monotheism, piety, and good deeds), they will not adopt it as the Way, but if they see the way of error (polytheism, crimes and evil deeds), they will adopt that way, that is because they have rejected Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) and were heedless (to learn a lesson) from them.”

[Al-Araf (The Heights), Chapter 7]

Then I must not forget..

“106. Whoever disbelieved in Allâh after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allâh, and theirs will be a great torment.

107. That is because they loved and preferred the life of this world over that of the Hereafter. And Allâh guides not the people who disbelieve.

108. They are those upon whose hearts, hearing (ears) and sight (eyes) Allâh has set a seal. And they are the heedless!

109. No doubt, in the Hereafter, they will be the losers.”

[An-Nahl (The Bee), Chapter 109]

How unfortunate is a person who does not take heed from the signs of Allah? Is he not worse than an animal?

“179. And surely, We have created many of the jinns and mankind for Hell. They have hearts wherewith they understand not, they have eyes wherewith they see not, and they have ears wherewith they hear not (the truth). They are like cattle, nay even more astray; those! They are the heedless ones.”

[Al-Araf (The Heights), Chapter 7]

Think over this verse for a while. How many times have you passed by the signs of Allah without pondering over them? How many times have you preferred this life over the Hereafter? How many times have you missed Salah for your class? How many times have you lied in order to get a worldly benefit? How many times have we been satisfied with all these little gains by sacrificing the time that we will never get back – the time which we could have used to make a wonderful Hereafter…

Then this is the end if we continue on this path….

“7. Verily, those who hope not for their meeting with Us, but are pleased and satisfied with the life of the present world, and those who are heedless of Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.),

8. Those, their abode will be the Fire, because of what they used to earn.”

[Younus, Chapter 10]

May Allah not make us of those who are Heedless of HIM and may He guide us all to the straight path and keep us firm on it.

8. (They say): “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.”
[Aal-e-Imran (The Family of Imran, The House of Imran), Chapter 3]

All good is from Allah and only the mistakes are mine. May Allah bless the Prophet Muhammad (SalAllaahu Alaiyhi Wasallam) for spreading this beautiful religion among the humanity.

384353_326308950716208_111779405502498_1524355_2124228979_n

%d bloggers like this: