To my surprise, he returned from the rich dinner very unhappy. I wanted to know the reason. He explained to me: "If only you had seen the luxury they are living in a splendid villa, rich food, luxurious furniture, servants and a fleet of cars! It makes me feel extremely miserable". "But, is he enjoying his life?" I asked, "Is he really happy?". "As far as I know", he replied a little pacified," he is not enjoying the luxuries of his life. He wishes he could eat ordinary food, even bread, even though he loses all his wealth". "So you are much richer and happier than he is", I said. "Your health is a greater wealth than those luxuries which have made you so depressed. Wealth alone does not give happiness. You will not sell one finger or eye of yours or your appetite for all his riches or cam!" sell I saw the tears of satisfaction and gratefulness shine in his eyes. "Thank Allah! Thank Allah!" He said.
Very often man meets with incidents and situations in his life that make him unhappy. Later, when, he recovers his consciousness and reflects on such incidents and situations, he finds that his unhappiness was simply a reaction, and that man can react differently, achieving thereby a higher a degree of stability and tolerance if he is able to cope with the situation.
A neighbor of the well-known German Philosopher Immanuel Kant (17241804) had a cock whose crowing annoyed him and distracted him from his work. When he got fed up with the cock, he sent his servant to buy it and slaughter it for his meal. He invited a friend of his to the meal and both of them sat waiting for lush. He talked to his friend about the cock and the annoyance it used to cause and described the peace and happiness he was enjoying after he had got rid of the cock's crowing. When the servant brought in the food he explained that their neighbor refused to sell his cock and so he purchased one from the market. Kant became suddenly conscious of the fact the cock was still crowing.
Thinking of this well-known philosopher, I found that he felt miserable because of the cock's cry, and he also felt happy although the cock was still crowing. Nothing had changed; the change was inside him. It was the inner man, not the cock that made him happy or unhappy!
I sleep in my house, not disturbed by the rolling noise of cars and their horns in the street nor by salesmen's loud voices. Yet, the sound of a footstep or a whisper inside my bedroom would wake me. If I sleep in the train, even the talk of those sitting next to me will not disturb my sleep. What makes me endure the rumbling noises of cars and salesmen, or the train, though a whisper or footstep would rouse me from my sleep?
It is because sensation is like a light which, when on, makes things around you visible whether they are pleasing or displeasing to you, and when it is off you fail to hear the noises in the street tough they are louder. In fact, you heard the low whisper in your bedroom because you directed your sensation and attention to it; while you missed other sounds because you kept them out of your perception despite their loudness, so they disappear, as do big things in darkness.
Why not divert your attention and sensation from all discomforts of life? Not all discomforts penetrate into your heart. Only what YOU allow into your heart willingly will enter, like a king who allows the enemy into his fortress by leaving a hole in its walls. So why not strengthen and fortify ourselves against pains and discomforts?
Two men of equal physical strength may carry the same load: the first may complain as if he carried double weight; while the other may laugh and sing as if he carried nothing.
Two men of similar physique may suffer from the same illness: one may react pessimistically and always imagine death, thereby increasing illness: while the other may endure patiently, feel optimistic and expect sooner recovery, thereby expediting good health.
Bismark, the man of iron and blood, genius of war and peace, could not give up smoking for one moment; he used to light one cigarette from another all the day. Without smoking, he was not able to think, plan or take appropriate action. Once, while in war, he found only one cigarette in his pocket, so he put off smoking it to the time hardship. He waited for a full week without smoking, entertaining the hope of using this cigarette in time. He realized that he was able to do without smoking all this time. He decided to stop smoking for good because he did not want his happiness to be dependent on a single cigarette.
Imagine a man whose body was exhausted with illness, and that suddenly he noticed a snake crawling towards him and at once jumped out of his bed as if he were full of health and vigor... or a man who returned home exhausted with hunger and looking only for a chair to rest on when he received a call from a dear person saying he was coming, or an urgent letter from the Minister calling him with the news of promotion, he would feel lighthearted and full up and would hurry up to the station in the former or to the Minister's office in the latter.
Such powers are the source of happiness!
Dear readers! You are rich, but you do not realize how wealthy you are. Some may suffer from headache, toothache or colic, which makes them feel that life is dark. Why did they not see the bright side of life when they were healthy? If someone goes on a diet, he will long for a mouthful of bread or meat and envy those who enjoy various foods. 'Why did he not value the pleasures of food before his illness? Why does man recognize the value of boons and bounties only when he loses them? Why does an old man lament the passing of his youth, while the young man fails to smile at his youth?
Why are we aware of happiness only when it is far from us?
Almost everybody is lamenting and yearning to his past! Why not think about the present before it becomes part of the past?
We may think that richness can be attained by possession of money alone. What can money alone give to man? You may have heard of the sick king who was brought the most delicious meals, but he was unable to eat any of them. Once, he was looking through a window of his palace, when his eyes caught a farmer eating brown bread with black olives: pushing one mouthful into his mouth, taking a second in his hand, and setting his eyes on a third. The king wished he had been a farmer and enjoyed such an appetite.
Why don't you recognize the value of health? Is there no value for health? Who would agree to give up his sight for a hundred thousand dollars, or part of his nose for the riches of a millionaire? Gold and money cannot give life and happiness to every man. Rothschild entered his large safe, and while he was inside, its door banged and he died in a sea of gold. Why are we seeking gold anxiously though we possess ample gold? Isn't sight as precious as gold? And health and time... and the human mind, too all these are treasures. Why don't we make the best of our time? Why don't we recognize the value of life? Why don't we make the best use of our minds? Health, time and mind are an invaluable wealth that may lead man to happiness if he takes the right way.
But what is the right way to that goal which is pursued by man everywhere and at all times throughout history?
There are several trends that describe the reality of happiness and the way leading to its attainment by man. The major trends can be summed up as follows:
1. Spiritualistic School, in which philosophers and theosophists believe that real happiness consists essentially in spiritual life.
Let us consider the crimes and evils of modern societies: murders, suicides, rapes, drug abuse, robberies, thefts, and sexual, neurological, psychological, juvenile and many other abnormalities and disorders.., the void man suffers because of the absence of true faith that springs from human nature and does not conflict with logic, reason and established facts of science....the lack of awareness of the real aim behind man's existence in this universe, i.e., to build and establish an ideal and sound society controlled by the instructions and injunctions of his Merciful and Wise Creator so as to free man from destructive drives and inclinations, and the world from injustice and tyranny.
2. Materialistic School or theory, which upholds that real happiness lies in materialism.
3. Rationalistic School, in which rationalists believe that happiness can be attained only by reason and logic.
4. Islamic Trend, which states that, the three types of life: the spiritual, the material and the rational are together essential elements of happy life if they are ruled by the Islamic belief, practice and values. That is because man is a combination of those very three ingredients: the body, mind and spirit: the body is nourished by food and drink, the mind by knowledge and experiments, and the spirit by faith and goodness. But it is sound faith that builds up a healthy spirit and gives a realistic and truthful explanation of man's position in this universe, Divine Reality and the basic concept of the Oneness and Perfect Attributes of God, and here we are going to use the name "Allah' for God as it is not associated with any distortions added by upholders of idolatry, polytheism, trinity and other worshippers of false gods.
In fact, Islam, and only Islam, is the true Savior of humanity and the answer to all problems and questions faced by man.
The happiness Islam achieves for man has two major domains:
1. This worldly life, both on the individual and collective levels. It seeks to give man a happy life free of cares and evils, characterized by sound faith. It is a life in which every thing should be placed at the service of man:� And He (Allah) has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are Signs indeed for those who reflect.� (Qur'an 45:13). Everything in nature is made available by Allah for the use of man through the genius and faculties Allah has given to man. Yet, many people behave adversely as if they were created to serve wealth and be slaves to the pleasures and luxuries of life, losing thereby their freedom of will and becoming servants of transient trivialities instead of being servants of their Beneficent Sustainer and Cherisher, the Eternal and Almighty Allah. As for the Collective aspect, Islam embraces all rules and principles contributing to a happy society, whether a family, a nation or on larger scale, i.e., on the international level.
2. The Eternal Life after Death: The Life after death is a demonstration of Divine Justice. That day is a must for the achievement of retributive justice and settlement of all injustices and outstanding accounts, and at the same time for the generous reward of good acts. Since we believe that Allah is the One and Only God with perfect attributes, it would be illogical to entertain the notion that He will leave justice unfulfilled. This life so full of wrongs, crimes, inconveniences, good deeds unrewarded, and many human affairs unsettled is in fact just an introductory chapter which prepares for the book of eternal life in which justice is restored and a person meets with his (or her) just deserts. The wrongdoers who have persisted in their sins and wrongdoing and failed to repent and give up sound conduct will go to endless punishment in Hell. While those with good records and righteous deeds will receive generous reward and attain real and eternal happiness in the Heaven of Allah, in Paradise or the Garden of Eden. That is the abode of perfect bliss, which deserves to be sincerely and industriously sought by man. There may be some difficulties and handicaps on the road to this exalted goal of wise and faithful people, as stated by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) that: � Hell is surrounded with whims and waton desires, while the Garden is surrounded with hardships.�. Such hardships will serve as a test of man's goodly nature and of his truthful insistence on the attainment of Allah's pleasure and reward. A trader may spend sleepless nights and put up with arduous efforts in order to win a gainful deal. However, the eternal life in the abode of happiness is the biggest deal which man has ever competed or striven to attain. But what is Paradise like? The answer can only be found in the word of Allah in His Glorious Quran or in the words of His Gracious Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him), who is the genuine Authority on the affairs of the seen and unseen in general and the Hereafter in particular, as he learnt about such realities through Revelation received from the All-knowing, All-aware, Absolute Allah. The righteous soul of a good believer returns to its Lord "well pleased and well pleasing": (To the righteous soul will be said:) � 0 (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord, well pleased (thyself), and well pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then, among my Devotees! Yea, enter thou My Heaven!� (Qur'an, 89:27-30). The above passage refers to the state of freedom and ease, to the final and everlasting stage of human bliss, when the righteous soul of the righteous believer, at peace with its Lord, certain of its way and fate, is welcomed among those servants of Allah chosen to enjoy this Divine grace and to receive Allah's mercy and protection. � Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of Judgment shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is saved far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have succeeded: for the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception.� (Holy Qur'an, 3:185). The blessings of Paradise cannot be conceived in this life, and are not, therefore, things of this world:� Now no person knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden (in reserve) for them as a reward for their (good) Deeds.� (Qur'an, 32:17). An explanation of this is given in the Prophet's (Peace and blessings be upon him) tradition mentioned in Imam Bukhari's compilation of Hadith:� Allah says: I have prepared for my righteous servants that which no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no man's mind has ever conceived.� We read in the Glorious Qur'an about the Garden or Gardens of everlasting bliss passages the meaning of which runs as follows:� Allah hath promised to Believers, men and women, Gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of everlasting stay. But the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of God: That is the supreme felicity.� (Qur'an, 9:72) � My devotees! No fear shall be on you today nor shall ye grieve Those who have believed in our Signs and submitted (to Us). Enter ye the Garden, ye and your wives, in (beauty and) rejoicing. To them will be passed round, dishes and goblets of gold: there will be there all that the souls could desire, all that the eyes could delight in: and ye shall abide therein (for aye). Such will be the Garden of which ye are made heirs for your (good) deeds (in life). Ye shall have therein abundance of fruit, from which ye shall eat.� (Qur'an, 43:68-73) What for sinners and disobedient criminals? � The Sinners will in the Punishment of Hell, to dwell therein (for aye): No wise will the (punishment) be lightened for them, and in despair will they be there overwhelmed. No wise shall We be unjust to them: but it is they who have been unjust themselves.� (Qur'an, 43:74-76) The need to discuss this subject of "happiness" has arisen as a result of various reasons some of which may be summed as follows:
(1) People could belong to different religious denominations, or schools of thought, could have different feelings, wishes and aspirations, yet they are apparently in total agreement about the pursuit of one goal in their life that is happiness. This is true of all persons believers and non-believers, rulers and ruled, rich and poor, they all toil to achieve happiness.
(2) Notwithstanding the consensus of all human beings on seeking happiness, it is however, surprising how different individuals and different groups of people have chosen and defined for themselves differing ways and avenues to achieve this common goal. And in so doing a large number of them seem to have missed the proper avenues to this goal and have consequently failed to achieve any happiness throughout their lives but only have succeeded in attaining what can be termed as 'illusory" and "transitory" happiness as opposed to "real" and "permanent" happiness. Hence, the attempt in this book to redirect these people to the proper course of action to be able to achieve the sought after happiness. The above, as well as many other reasons, have led to our discussion of this important subject with a sincere hope that this treatise would prove of help to many who are earnestly searching for real happiness.