happiness is a feeling that resides in the heart. it is characterized by peace of mind, tranquility, a sense of well-being and a relaxed disposition. from an islamic perspective it is of two levels: worldly pleasure and eternal happiness.
a believer's focus is usually more on eternal happiness, although it does not mean that muslims forfeit the good things of the present life. islam does not deny the importance of material causes for enjoyment, except that they are not an essential requirement for it; material things are merely among the means that might contribute to it. the shari'ah lays down a number of directives and guidelines to secure man's happiness during his life on earth, and at the same time, islam teaches that the benefits of this world may be used as a means to attain happiness in the eternal life of the hereafter by sharing them with others and showing gratitude to god.
a muslim finds his greatest happiness and contentment in his faith, and this certainly applies to the present life as well as the next. someone who believes in god with a belief that is pure and free from any defects will enjoy a tranquil heart, a peaceful soul and will be pleased with whatever god has provided for him. submission to the will of god (which is the meaning of "islam") gives a believer the peace of mind needed in order to be industrious and persevering. aware that his life has meaning and a definite purpose, he is motivated to expend effort in order to realize it. his enhanced perception of the moments, hours, and days of his life leaves no place for boredom or depression.
faith also protects a muslim against the causes of unhappiness. a believer is mentally prepared to accept patiently whatever god should decree for him. he knows that he will be tried and tested throughout his life, and additionally, that those trials are opportunities for him to put his faith into practice and earn rewards not proportionate to, but many times greater than his suffering. such tests help him to develop inner strength through patience and determination, trusting in god, seeking his assistance, and fearing him alone.
the life of this world fluctuates between periods of ease and difficulty, just as an individual does from health to illness or from wealth to need and vice versa. additionally, man is a social being who needs to interact with others of his own kind. because individuals differ in their physical and mental qualities, it is unavoidable that there will be some displeasing occurrences among them causing sorrow and distress. if people cannot deal with problems in an evenhanded and principled manner, their dealings with others can become a great source of misery. for this reason, islam emphasizes the development of strong moral character and endeavors to develop in its followers a balanced and harmonious emotional makeup and eliminate such negative manners as anger, pride, conceit, stinginess, envy, and malice which lead to anxiety and emotional instability.
a person's satisfaction with another depends largely on the esteem he holds for him. god is the greatest source of peace for the heart, and remembering him brings pleasure, comfort and joy to the soul of a believer. it connects the believer to his creator so that he sees beyond the world around him. consequently, he does not overrate the importance of worldly occurrences so much that they disturb his spirit.
the believer constantly deals with the trials throughout his life by practicing patience, determination, courage, hard work, proper behavior and reliance upon god. he avoids that which causes spiritual malady and weakness: following vain desires, clinging to baseless beliefs, excessive devotion to pleasure, etc., because such things corrupt the heart and endanger the soul. islam is also concerned with man's physical health and well-being; hence, it forbids the consumption of anything that is hazardous to the body or can diminish or cause harm to the mind.
because muslims are serious about their religion, people sometimes ask if they are allowed to enjoy themselves. but who said there is no enjoyment in islam? muslims enjoy themselves within the framework of all that god has permitted and feel no regret for missing the few things he prohibited, knowing that they must be harmful in some way. there is no true enjoyment in doing something god has prohibited either, because sin is always followed by a sense of discomfort. a muslim is content with the countless blessings, apparent and unapparent, that his creator has bestowed upon him and deeply appreciates that he has been guided to the best life in both worlds. this is the true happiness of which millions of people are deprived.
anyone who would like to know more about happiness should read some accounts by people who have entered islam, consider the great changes that occurred in their lives, and the contentment they enjoy now. it is enjoyment that everyone should seek.
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