by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D.
Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.
7102 W. Shefford Lane
Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA
Happiness is defined as good luck, good fortune, prosperity, an agreeable feeling or condition of the soul arising from good fortune or propitious happening of any kind; the possession of those circumstances or that state of being which is attended enjoyment; the state of being happy.
For some people happiness is contentment, joyful satisfaction, felicity or blessedness.
In French happiness is called Â“bonheurÂ”; in German Â“GlÃ¼ckÂ” in Latin Â“felicitasÂ”; in Greek it is called Â“ eutychia, eudaimoniaÂ”. In Arabic it is called Â“ saÂ’idÂ” or Â“sayeedÂ”. Eid in Arabic means recurring happiness.
Dictionary's first definition of happiness is "a state of well-being and contentment." The second dictionary definition is "a pleasurable or satisfying experience."
Happiness is simply an emotional state of feeling good, of being free from pain and unpleasant emotions. Unfortunately, happiness is an elusive state of mind that all men strive for but few attain.
Human beings look for what they think of as happiness in thrills and chills, in things and events, in instant gratification. Surely, this type of thing is fun, but it's transitory. To be truly happy - contented, at peace with oneself Â– one must be true to oneself, honest with those around . One must treat other people fairly.
In the United States in the Declaration of Independence we read, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."Â…. What a wonderful phrase. Happiness is something that you have to attain. You don't have a right to have happiness bestowed on you, but you do have the right to seek it. God can give you life, and the government can give you liberty, but no one can give you happiness.
The real source of happiness is inner peace. If our mind is peaceful, we shall be happy all the time, regardless of external conditions, but if it is disturbed or troubled in any way, we shall never be happy, no matter how good our external conditions may be. External conditions can only make us happy if our mind is peaceful. We can understand this through our own experience. For instance, even if we are in the most beautiful surroundings and have everything we need, the moment we get angry any happiness we may have disappears. This is because anger has destroyed our inner peace.
If one wants true and lasting happiness one need to develop and maintain Â“inner peaceÂ”. The only way we can do this is by training our mind and body through spiritual practice. For Muslims Ramadan gives the opportunity of Siyam (fasting), Salaat (ritual prayers), Tilawat-e-QurÂ’an (recitation of the QurÂ’an) and Dhikr Allah (Remembrance of Allah). The blessed month of Ramadan brings happiness, goodness, spiritual enlightenment, rewards, and physical and spiritual benefits to all the Muslims.
Happiness in Life
What is happiness in life? Some would say money, other would say a relationship to someone and so on. This type of happiness does not last longer and sooner or later will vanish because it relies on external events and objects which are constantly changing. Few examples are: poor and rich, love and hate, young and old, etc. Continuous conflicts between one's expectation and constantly changing reality give rise to pain, anxiety, sorrow, agony. Solution for this fundamental problem in life is to achieve true happiness.
HAPPINESS in Buddhism
The world is in the vortex of changes, but it is Truth, alone which remains constant and unalterable--in other words, the truth of righteousness
All of us desire happiness and the avoidance of suffering and of everything else that is unpleasant.
In analyzing the nature and state of happiness, it will he apparent that it has two aspects. One is immediate joy (temporary); the other is future joy (ultimate). Temporary pleasures comprise the comforts and enjoyments which people crave, such as good dwellings, lovely furniture, delicious food, good company, pleasant conversation and so on. In other words, temporary pleasures are what man enjoys in this life. External factors are not alone responsible for stimulating man's happiness. Were it true that external factors were solely responsible for, or that they wholly conditioned the arising of, pleasure and happiness, a person possessing an abundance of these factors would have illimitable joy, which is by no means always so. It is true that these external factors do make partial contribution to the creation of pleasure in a man's lifetime. However, to state that the external factors are all that is needed and therefore the exclusive cause of happiness in a man's span of life is an obtuse and illogical proposition. It is by no means sure that the presence of such external factors will beget joy. On the contrary, factual happenings such as the experiencing of inner beatitude and happiness despite the total absence of such pleasure-causing external factors, and the frequent absence of joy despite their presence, clearly show the cause of happiness to depend upon a different set of conditioning factors.
The accrual of good inner conditioning factors, such qualities as having few wants, contentment, humility, simplicity and other noble qualities The absence of suitable inner causal conditions, such as having few wants contentment, patience, forgiveness and so on, will prevent one from enjoying pleasure even if all the right external conditioning factors are present.
QurÂ’an on True happiness
True happiness is eternal joy, everlasting love, perpetual tranquility, achieved by a self-realization process and not affected by external events and objects in life. True happiness is ultimate happiness. It is the nature of every person to seek happiness. Some people strive to seek material happiness in this world away from religion, thinking that this is the true happiness. But this kind of happiness will be succeeded by pain and sorrow on the Day of Judgment, and its people will know that their striving led them only to misery and not happiness.
While others know that the true way to happiness is to obey God and follow His religion. For them the pleasures and riches of the world are of little consequence. When this happiness penetrates and fills the heart of the believer he does in fact live in this world as if he were in Paradise. Those are the people who find true happiness in this world.
What kind of happiness could be greater than that of someone who humbles himself to God, worships Him, strives for His pleasure, and strives to enter Paradise and have salvation from Hellfire?
The believer lives with such sweetness in his heart that if the masters of the earth knew of it, they would fight him to death to take it from him. Allah (SWT) says in the QurÂ’an:
Â“Whoever does right, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will make him live a good life, and We will award them their reward for the best of what they used to do.Â” Â…Qur'an, 16: 97
Happiness is in the good life mentioned in this verse, that even the rich disbelievers cannot find, despite the money they have. That is why no one is surprised when it is heralded that many among them committed suicide.
To reach true happiness, one need to know what is the purpose of oneÂ’s life, how to reach success in the hereafter, and to fulfill the requirements of reaching this success by following the commands of God and His true religion.
Like the body needs food to supply with energy and to keep healthy we also need food of another kind, food for the spirit and heart. The diseases of the body and the debilitating effects they have are not more dangerous than the diseases of the heart and soul.
Absolutely, God's allies will have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
They are those who believe and lead a righteous life.
For them happiness in this life, and in the Hereafter.
Such is God's inviolable law. This is the true triumph Â…. QurÂ’an 10:62-64
One of the most elusive objectives of every human being is "Happiness." The QurÂ’an reveals the secret of attaining perfect happiness in this life and forever. We learn from the QurÂ’an that happiness is an exclusive quality of the soul. Thus, a body that attains all the material successes it longs for Â–comforts, good houses, lovely furniture, delicious food, beautiful spouses, children, good company, cars, jewelry, money, power, fame, etc. - often belongs to an unhappy person. Happiness depends totally on the degree of growth and development attained by the soul, the real person. The QurÂ’an provides a detailed map towards perfect happiness for both body and soul, both in this world and in the eternal Hereafter.
In the numerous verses throughout this proven Testament, God personally guarantees the believers' happiness, now and forever (10:62-64)
ROAD TO HAPPINESS
When pleasing God becomes the most important aspect of one's life or number one priority in life, and then God will make every thing wonderful for him or her:
God promises those among you who believe and lead righteous life, that He will make them sovereigns on earth, as He did for those before them, and will establish for them the religion He has chosen for them, and will substitute peace and security for them in place of fear. All this because they worship Me alone, without setting up any idols besides Me. Those who disbelieve after this are the truly wicked" QurÂ’an 24:55.
Once you make pleasing God the most important thing in your life, you will possess the most valuable thing one can ask for - God's support. But, if you make anything more important than pleasing God, you will be tested over and over. If you do not realize that fact after all the tests, you will lose both in this world and in the Hereafter. No Conflict, but Harmony No Empty Words, but Work and Service.
What is Happiness?
Bob won the lottery. A cool $20 million! Bob is a good man with a good character. His friends were happy it was Bob who won the lottery. But two years later his fate changed-he was arrested for having drugs in his car, drunk driving, resisting arrest, and soliciting a prostitute.. The arrests continued over the next several years. The excitement of winning that large amount of money did not grow into a lifelong happiness.
Larry, a successful businessman, was a loner as he did not have friends. Larry worked long hours, saving and re-investing most of his profits. He was disliked for his selfishness and envied for his wealth. Yet his life was full of contentment and happiness. It looks paradoxical that wealth bring happiness to some and misery to others.
If wealth is not a shortcut to happiness, what about sacrificing for others? Jennifer volunteers at the soup kitchen 6 days /week, 52 weeks a year, but hates it, hates her life, and has grown especially bitter towards the people she serves. Diana, an engineer, never does volunteer work. If she gives to charity, she does so very selectively and sparingly to organizations such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association. Acquaintances envious of her success call her selfish.. Yet Diana is a very happy person.
There are many people who we think should be happy but are not. (Bob the ``lucky" lottery winner and Jennifer the Â“serious" volunteer.)
There are many people who we think should be miserable but are not. (Larry the ``loner" businessman and Diana the ``selfish" engineer.)
Some people who seem to have nothing are very happy. Some people who seem to have everything are unhappy. Yet some jet-setters seem to be happy while some moral crusaders have become miserable old grouches. Happiness seems very unpredictable, inconsistent, and irrational.
According to Clinical Psychologists happiness is an emotion. So is sadness, love, hate, curiosity, revulsion, excitement, jealousy, contentment, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, and anger. All emotions have causes, causes that can be understood and controlled. Simply entertaining your whims does not cause the emotion of happiness. (Whims are an obstacle to happiness.) Happiness is not merely a life lived by accumulating moments of pleasure. On the contrary, happiness is a long lasting enduring enjoyment of life; it is being in love with living. It is your reward for achieving a good character and personal rational values in life. Achieving these values requires rationality and takes effort and skill. Two types of skills you can use are thinking skills and valuing skills.
Once you learn to have confidence in your own mind and once you discover the virtues that make it possible for you to achieve your values and that make your life worth living, then you will experience the result - an earned pride and a genuine self-esteem. And of course happiness.
A Moral Story on Happiness Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.
Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color of the rainbow. Grand old trees graced the landscape, and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite detail, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine the picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man couldn't hear the band-he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Then unexpectedly, a sinister thought entered his mind. Why should the other man alone experience all the pleasures of seeing everything while he himself never got to see anything? It didn't seem fair. At first thought the man felt ashamed. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more sights, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood and he found himself unable to sleep. He should be by that window-that thought, and only that thought now controlled his life.
Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room he never moved, never pushed his own button, which would have brought the nurse running in. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with that the sound of breathing.
Now there was only silence-deathly silence.
The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take it away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and seeing that he was comfortable left for a few minutes. Painfully, he roped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the world outside. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it all himself.
He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, "Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you."
In this story, one moral stands out: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all of the things you have that money can't buyÂ…. Author Unknown
Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said Â“ Knowledge enables its possessor to distinguish what is forbidden from what is not; lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our companion in solitude, our companion, it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is our ornament in the company of friends; it serves as an armor against our enemies. With knowledge the creatures of Allah rises to the heights of goodness and to noble position, associates with the sovereigns in this world and attains the perfection of happiness in the next.Â”
On Wordly Love and Materialism, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) said Â‘Â‘The love of the world, is the root of all evils. Wealth, when properly employed is a blessing; and a man may lawfully endeavour to increase it by honest meansÂ’Â‘
"Remember Him (SWT) in prosperity, and He (SWT) will remember you in adversity." Failure to anchor your lives to eternal truths has led many to be preoccupied with material comforts and ritual religious activity. These have brought neither happiness not fulfillment to your lives. Only a life filled with compassion and caring can provide meaning to life. . Allah (SWT) told the Prophets to command the people to do good and refrain from doing bad, so as to live in happiness and ease in this world and in the next.
HAPPINESS--- QUOTES "Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more." ~ H. Jackson Brown (Life's Little Instruction Calendar, 1999)
"To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance." ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
Suppression of Desire leads to extinction of suffering. ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
"The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart." ~ Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), from The Dhammapada
"To be able to find joy in another's joy, that is the secret of happiness." ~ George Bernanos
"Joy has nothing to do with material things, or with man's outward circumstance...A man living in the lap of luxury can be wretched, and a man in the depths of poverty can overflow with joy." ~ William Barclay
"Happiness is a hard thing because it is achieved only by making others happy." ~ Stuart Cloete
"You traverse the world in search of happiness, which is within the reach of every man. A contented mind confers it on all." ~ Horace
"The secret of happiness and prosperity in this world, as in the world to come, lies in thinking of the welfare of others first, and not taking one's self too seriously." ~ J. Kindleberger
"Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself." ~ Og Mandino
"If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody". ~ Chinese Proverb