One day at zhuhr prayer at my school, the University Director happened to be leading the prayer. After we finished the salah, he started off by giving a talk. I had a feeling about what he was going to talk about, since he alluded to it last time he was there. He started off by mentioning the topic of discussion as:
The ways to happiness
This was a topic I was really interested in, because you know how we suffering with anxiety disorder are struggling with living a happy life. And afterall, “Islam is the Answer,” as we have heard the slogan being uttered at conferences and lectures.
I was surprised as he made the talk into a competition, awarding each answerer a brand new samsung galaxy S4. And all you had to do to answer was raise your hand and give a semi-logical answer to the question. What was the question?
“How can you achieve happiness?”
I was impressed by some of the answers, but others were very generic. Some answered by merely mentioning a random act of ibadah that didn’t have a connection with happiness, and they were given a $500 Galaxy S4!
When all the students answered, it came time for the master (univ director) to provide his wisdom. Though I was late for class, I was eager to hear in on the secrets to achieving happiness through Islam. He states (translated from Arabic of course)
Happiness is achieved in a multitude of ways. Of the most important ways is Tawheed (Oneness of Allah.) The kalimah (la ilaha illa Allah) is the greatest and most noble ways to achieve happiness in this life and the next. Haven’t you heard the hadith of Musa……
عن أبي سعيد الخدري ، رضي الله عنه ، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم قال ” قال موسى عليه السلام : يا رب علمني شيئا أذكرك به وأدعوك به قال : يا موسى قل : لا إله إلا الله قال : يا رب كل عبادك ، يقولون هذا قال : يا موسى لو كان السماوات السبع ، وعامرهن غيري ، والأرضين السبع في كفة ، ولا إله إلا الله في كفة مالت بهن لا إله إلا الله ” . ” هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد
Abu Said al Khudri narrates that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Musa (pbuh) said, “Oh Rabb, teach me something I can remember you with and can make du’a to you with. He (Allah) said: Oh Musa, say, “la ilaha illa Allah.” He said, Oh Rabb, all your servants say this. Allah said, “Oh Musa, if the all the 7 heavens and what filled it other than me, and the 7 earths were on one side of a scale, and la ilaha illa Allah was on the other side, it would lean towards la ilaha illa Allah.
Okay, so I hear his explanations and I am rather disappointed. Not only feeling that but, I feel saddened and depressed. I feel despair. I think to myself, “How is it that simply saying the kalimah will make you happy? I have been trying so hard for many years and I have studied tawheed in detail, I have been trying so hard to get closer to Allah, and begging for it, praying at night, etc. etc. and yet, here is this Imam telling me that you will be happy because of tawheed? Does that not make me a true muslim then? Because I have had so many tough times in my life with this anxiety disorder and depression and unhappiness.
This type of simplistic explanation has potential to ruin some muslims ideas and hopes in becoming better. I as an active practicing muslim and at the same time suffering with anxiety will vouch as a spokesperson for all other people suffering with issues such as this. But here are a few important things to keep in mind.
1. Firstly, we have to distinguish people of knowledge from ordinary speakers who aren’t necessarily so precise in what they say. You will find that true people of knowledge, are very precise and exact with what they say, how they say it, and in the way the evidence has been derived. True people of knowledge many times have read other scholar’s positions on the given issue and even mention positions of other scholars and their evidences and justifications used. Speakers lacking knowledge don’t do this.
2. The director (may Allah show him mercy and increase him) was obviously very happy being a practicing muslim and feels happy, and so because of his feelings, he simply attributes it to his Islam and tawheed, because the essence of Islam is the Oneness of Allah. To him, it’s simple, so he simplifies it for everybody. But as you can see, the evidence he provided in no way indicates that you will be completely happy in this life.
3. The answer to being happy is not simply “tawheed.” There is more to it than that. Because using that logic, every muslim who says the kalimah should be happy at all times. But as other evidences from the Quran and Sunnah indicate, there will be times where we do feel negative emotions, such as sadness, anxiety, or even depression.
Now, I’m not saying that worshipping Allah does not give you any happiness. I’m saying that it needs to be spelled out exactly how it is to achieve a level of contentment and happiness in Islam. Because after all, if the purpose of our existence is to worship Allah, then if we fulfil that purpose, why shouldn’t we feel fulfilled, right?
And as one of my favourite scholars said,
“You won’t find anyone on earth more content than the (Islamic) Scholars.”
-Muhammad Mukhtar Al-Shinqeeti (paraphrased from Arabic)
So what exactly will it take for us to get to a level of happiness and contentment we are happy with? Good question… Coming in future posts insha’Allah.