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Happiness is a somewhat subjective term for most people. Some may believe that happiness lies in amassing a mountain of wealth and living a carefree, luxurious life, without a care in the world. Others may regard popularity and fame as the ultimate source of happiness. The fact is that people tend to define happiness based on their own world-view and limited knowledge. Hence, people have flawed and erroneous conceptions of what happiness really is.
In dictionaries, happiness is generally defined as a condition of well-being or satisfaction. One can call it a feeling of joy or fulfillment. If one were to ask a believer how to attain happiness, or why one does not feel happy, the Muslim should reply from the Islamic perspective. As Islam is a complete way of life, the solution to sadness, unfulfillment, and the absence of happiness should be sought in the religion. We shall now look at five Islamic recommendations for achieving happiness in life, which can prove life-changing.
For happiness in life, don’t compare yourself to others
In Surah Taha, Allah tells us not to long for the possessions that He has bestowed upon others. They are tested with the allure of the worldly life, but what Allah provides is superior and lasts longer. Humans have a tendency to compare what they have with others. Even when one has abundant blessings in life, it is human nature to compare one’s status and wealth with that of others. No matter how rich one is, there is always a chance that he will not be satisfied because he will look at what someone else has that he does not.
If one desires happiness in life, it is a must not to compare oneself to others. When one is not content with what he has and obsesses over the life and luxuries that others have, he will not stay happy. Such people feel unfulfilled and don’t get to taste the sweetness of contentment. As the Prophet (PBUH) told us in a Hadith in Sahih Muslim, we should not look at our superiors. Instead, we should look at those who are inferior to us so that we appreciate Allah’s blessings.
To attain happiness in life, we should be thankful and optimistic
As Allah mentioned in Surah Al-Baqarah, we should remember Him and be thankful for the innumerable favors He bestows upon us. We should never be unthankful to Allah. He grants us countless blessings throughout our lives, and we often take them for granted. This failure to appreciate the blessings we benefit from contributes to unhappiness. When one is not grateful, he fails to see the bigger picture and realize that he has many reasons to be happy and content.
For example, one may have a home, a body that functions normally and doesn’t have any disability, and a family that keeps him company. Such an individual has so much to be thankful for, as many don’t have the blessings he takes for granted. He has so much more than the homeless, the disabled, and the orphans. One should be thankful to Allah for what he has, instead of focusing on negative things that make him feel sorry for himself. Doing so is imperative to fill one’s heart with contentment and avoid restlessness.
The thankful believer knows that whatever his state is, it is in Allah’s control, and he should not stress over it. He should focus on thanking Allah for what he has and maintain strong faith in God. We should couple such an attitude with optimism. Instilling thankfulness and optimism is very important for acquiring happiness in life. This approach builds satisfaction and helps prevent anxiety about one’s future. Meanwhile, those who aren’t grateful are neither satisfied nor truly happy.
We should avoid trying to live a materialistic life
As we learn from Sahih Al-Bukhari, real enrichment is that of the soul. We cannot achieve this merely by becoming affluent. This point is evident if one analyses the lives of those who are wildly rich and famous. There is no shortage of such people suffering depression, abusing drugs, or being driven to suicide. It becomes quite clear that no amount of material possessions is sufficient to bring about true happiness.
Materialistic people obsess over material goods. They are never fulfilled because their thirst for worldly luxuries cannot be quenched. As the prophet (PBUH) said, one who is given a valley of gold would still want one more. Therefore, Muslims should not make the procurement of material goods their primary focus in life.
One should certainly strive to provide for his family. Beyond that, money and worldly goods should not be one’s priority. After all, no worldly possessions will benefit one after he is dead and buried. Be content with what you have, and don’t let the materialism that has the potential to destroy lives consume you.
Give charity frequently
As stated in Surah Saba, Allah replaces what you spend in His Cause. We should share our wealth with the poor and needy to show our thankfulness to Allah. Helping others is an excellent source of happiness and fulfillment. Selfish hoarding of wealth can never replicate the joy one gets from aiding those in need. Charity staves off calamity and reduces the divide between the wealthy and needy. It also stabilizes society and builds goodwill and harmony.
Allah obliges believers to pay Zakat annually, which is an obligatory poor due required of Muslims with sufficient wealth. The essential nature of generosity should not be underestimated by a believer searching for happiness. When Allah has blessed us with so much, we should also show our gratitude and aid the poor. The most exceptional etiquette of giving charity is to distribute it in a secretive manner, solely for Allah’s sake. It is also nobler to give it to relatives who are in need than to strangers.
Live according to the teachings of Islam
In Surah An-Nahl, Allah tells us that those who do righteous deeds will have a good, content life.
For a Muslim, following the teachings of Islam in all aspects of life is essential. When one is a Muslim, he must submit to Allah and commit to following the religion entirely, without any compromise. Allah granted man authority on earth and we have a responsibility to live and act as our Creator wishes. Following the teachings of Islam is the only way to prosper in the world and the Hereafter. One who does not adhere to the teachings of Islam can never hope to achieve true happiness.