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Pursuit of happiness
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 24 - 02 - 2017

Everyone wants to be happy; in fact, everyone deserves to be happy.
The definition of happiness has changed over the years. Today, happiness is largely equated with wealth and accumulation of material goods. People seem to correlate happiness with entertainment, having a good time, and having fun, but that is not true happiness.
Pleasure is a temporary, fleeting feeling, whereas happiness comes from within, is deeper, and is longer lasting.
When we think of happiness, we need to think beyond the temporary simple pleasures. We need to redefine happiness.
True happiness is the happiness derived from one's relationship with Allah and in seeking the permanent happiness in the Hereafter, which is Paradise. The believer finds happiness in genuine worship of Allah, in experiencing a connection with Allah.
In the Islamic literature, the Arabic word for happy, saeed, is actually used to describe a believer who is a devout worshiper of Allah. A happy person is one who calls on Allah late at night when others are asleep or wasting their time on television or social media. A happy person is someone whose eye is quick to tear when Allah's name is mentioned and when the verses of the Holy Qur'an are recited.
Happiness is an internal state, and it is possible to create this inner atmosphere of happiness.
Just to clarify, a happy life does not mean a life devoid of real problems and real pain or a perfect life with no grief or sorrow. That does not exist. One psychologist said, "The only people who don't feel normal negative feelings are the pathologically psychotic, and the dead."
According to psychologists, true happiness is being able to process the grief or trauma and to experience personal growth after the grief.
Happiness is the ability to come out of the problems in life wiser, stronger, and having learned something.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) showed us how we can remain happy and optimistic in good times and bad, through difficulty and ease.
In an authentic Hadeeth, it is reported that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "Amazing is the affair of the believer. Verily, all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him, he is patient and that is good for him" (Saheeh Muslim #2999)
During good times the believer remembers to thank Allah and is grateful to Allah, and he/she will receive rewards. During hardship, the believer is patient and turns to Allah in supplication, and again, he/she will receive rewards from Allah. A Muslim must also remember that trials and tribulations can expiate sins.
We can achieve true happiness in this world by drawing closer to our Lord.
To find true happiness, we must seek knowledge of Allah, and try to learn the Names and Attributes of Allah and their meanings. Among some of Allah's names is Ar-Rahman which means the Merciful. Al-Ghaffar is the Forgiving; Allah continues to forgive our sins no matter how many times we make mistakes, as long as we sincerely repent and ask Allah for forgiveness. Al-Wahhab means the Giver, Al-Kareem means the Generous, Al-Mujeeb means the Responder to Prayer, and Al-Wadud means the Loving One.

Seeking beneficial knowledge brings happiness. Read books that bring you closer to Allah and that reinforce your faith. Read stories about the Prophets and of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions. Attend lectures or courses regularly at your local masjid or start a study group with some friends in your home. Did you know that the angels flutter their wings and surround students seeking knowledge of Allah and they record their names as those mentioning Allah? You can also take on-line courses to further your Islamic knowledge.
Remembrance of Allah, no doubt, brings peace to the heart, as is mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, {Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.}. (Chapter 13, verse 28)
Not only does the believer feel content when mentioning Allah's name, but we are also rewarded for that.
It was narrated from Jabir that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever says ‘Glory and praise be to Allah, the Almighty', a palm tree will be planted for him in Paradise."
Ibn al-Qayyim writes, "I approached Ibn Taymiyah after the Fajr prayer. He sat engaged in Allah's remembrance until late into morning when the Sun had risen high overhead."
For about two hours, Ibn Taymiyyah would just sit there glorifying Allah, praising Him, asking for forgiveness, supplicating, and sending salutations upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). I cannot help but feel a sense of shame and shortcoming, when I can barely get ten minutes a day to do this.
When Ibn Taymiyyah was asked about this, he replied, "This is my morning sustenance. If I fail to take it, then my strength will not sustain me."
His morning coffee was two hours of glorifying and remembering Allah! Pious people like Ibn Taymiyyah and his likes were truly happy, from deep within their cores. Could such periods of meditation and thinking of Allah be our missing link to happiness?
Just like mentioning Allah's name brings peace to the heart, so will reading the Words of Allah, the Holy Qur'an. A believer needs a regular dose of reading the Qur'an daily. The five daily obligatory prayers also help the believer stay connected to Allah.
Muslims have a powerful tool that they often neglect using in their pursuit of happiness; that is making supplication, duaa. Learn the supplication that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to say, "O Allah, I seek refuge in You from anxiety and sorrow, weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the burden of debts and from being overpowered by men."
Other factors that can help boost your happiness include physical exercise. Many doctors claim that exercise is actually an anti-depressant. When you exercise, endorphins are released in the brain; that contributes to feelings of wellbeing.
Spend more time with good friends and family. Even Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to joke and enjoy the company of his friends.
Once Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and some of his companions were eating dates from a plate. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would eat some dates and put the seeds in front of where Ali bin Abi Talib was sitting. When they finished eating, there were no seeds in front of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), but there was a small heap in front of Ali.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "O Ali, you ate so many dates!" Ali replied, "O Messenger of Allah! Today I realized that you eat your dates with the seeds."
There was room for humor and laughter in the Prophet's life with his friends and family.
The last piece of advice is: happiness is giving. Not only give money, but also give your time. Serve others, helping someone, make someone smile, run errands for your family, visit your grandparents, and visit the sick.
There is a Chinese saying that says, "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."


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