ASURU MASHWARA: HAPPINESS
Happiness ultimately is a constant state of being when one is blessed to achieve it. But for most of us happiness is undulating. It is filled with ups and downs and we are elated one moment and down in the dumps in the other. This happens because of our ignorance of what happiness truly is. Aristotle famously said that “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence” and the Dalai Lama had said that “Happiness is not something ready-made; it comes from your own actions.” Both these affirmations relate to happiness being a conscious pursuit. Unfortunately, for most of us conscious goal-setting to drive our lives is not a daily routine, and even less so for the pursuit of happiness. Thus for us happiness remains elusive. We look for ready-made solutions for happiness (called pleasure) through attachment to the world. We accumulate wealth and other trappings of life, not being aware that happiness is not tied to wealth but comes from our own actions when what we think, say and do are in harmony. We also forget that this is the purpose of life. That with happiness, societies bond and thrive and with its opposite called sadness, societies get mired in jealousy, envy, hatred, competition and resentfulness. Yet we seem to prefer the latter. Why is this? Some think that we mistake wealth for happiness and as we accumulate wealth with the hope that it will give us happiness, yet it does the opposite ultimately. It brings us grief. And sometimes or perhaps many a time when our wealth - our bank accounts, our cars and airplanes, and tall edifices - have been, by some quirk of providence, taken away, we fall into deep grief and even become suicidal. In our Maldives too the rush toward accumulating wealth is the mode and we consequently see our cohesive society cracking and dividing and competition and greed leading the way for our society. So obviously, wealth cannot be equated with happiness yet we dwell on this as though there is no other to way to follow
From a spiritual point of view Islam has the solution. We can clearly say that our ego drives our craving and attachment to our wealth. For our ego to survive it needs to be competitive; to be better than the other person; it needs to feel so. In Islam this is akin to how the Iblees --our sworn enemy - entices us to go with his ways. In fact it was he who said when asked to prostrate to Adam (AS) he would not do so because he, Iblees, pointed out to Allah SWA, that he was better than Adam. That he was created from fire and Adam was from clay and fire is better than clay. This “I am better than you” paradigm the Iblees had instilled in us is manifest in all walks of life. And even as we know this we follow this enticement that our enemy is coaxing us towards. So where can happiness be tapped along this hideous path?
To turn to true happiness and joy the path is the path that Allah SWA our Creator has shown us. Islam provides us the goal-directedness and the way to implement our goals for this life and the here-after; the strength of intention and the compulsory actions of every Muslim. The rope of Allah is always tethered when we follow the instructions given in the Quran and the Hadees. When we are steeped in the path that is shown to us, the happiness that ensues will be authentic and lasting. A prescription from the doctor is of no benefit if the instructions in it are not followed. Similarly when our instruction manual the Glorious Quran tucked away neatly on our shelf is not going to help us if it’s embodied grand instructions aren't followed up in our daily living.
Unlike the happiness that our secular world promotes of accumulating worldly wealth and the focus on the ego, the spiritual aspect focuses on reviving our true self that has been smothered by our expanding ego in a materialistic world. Materialism and ego seems complementary for without ego there is not much desire to accumulate. They both go together. It is very difficult to find a rich person who is devoid of arrogance and pride. And the folly is compounded when we associate these two with happiness. If this were true then there would not be a poor person who is happy. So, the notion of wealth being the source of happiness is not valid and scientific research too indicates this to be so.
This world is not without trials and that is manifest as hardships and sadness. But Allah SWA does not intend for us to be in sadness always. We are tested in this world on how best we endure those hardships so that we get to Jannah where happiness and joy would be the universal experience. Our humility and righteousness is a prerequisite for Allah SWA to open the gates of opportunity and more lasting happiness for us. Knowing that whatever happens here is through the Will of Allah will help us bear the hardships we experience for the paradigm for us must be that being grudging or unaccepting of our plight is a sign of our rejection of Allah’s infinite wisdom. Nothing is manifest to us for our detriment; it's just that we don't fathom these potential benefits with our limited human senses.
We can accept and thankfully say “Alhamdulillah”. Or keep our unwavering trust of Allah and our hurt will be minimized. Our hurt also come from our inability to extricate ourselves from the hurtful experience we have had in our past. Our ego doesn't allow us to let go. Whilst the Shaithan entices us to the delightful pitfalls of tomorrow, he also keeps us tethered to the hurt of yesterday. We can only get out of his double bind when we know that the only time for change is now -- the present moment -- and Allah SWA has said in no uncertain terms in the holy Quran --over and over again -- that His mercy is infinite and that we must and can avail of this Mercy any time we need it, to attain happiness and peace in our lives.