Short answer: Yes and yes. The ultimate message of Islam is that only submission to Allah brings true, lasting happiness and peace. But yes, actively living as a Muslim in this world today will bring you hardship. This is a fact of life: the best, most valuable things in life are the hardest to attain, and cost us the most.
Salam Dear Aisha,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
There is no contradiction at all between the two statements you make. The only contradiction is that life, itself, is rather contradictory.
Love Is Painful and Beautiful
Take, for example, the love anyone would have for their baby son.
There is no greater joy for any father or mother than to hold their baby in their arms and look into its eyes with tenderness and love.
Anything that causes our baby pain will cause us great distress.
As our children grow, we love our children with the same love, though often we don’t express it in the same way we did at first.
There is no doubt, though, that the older our children grow, the more distress they will cause us.
In fact, there is no hardship we would not undergo in order to protect our child.
So there is a direct contradiction here between loving a child and also feeling affliction and hardship because of our love.
If we didn’t have the child we would be free of the hardship we are going to feel. We wouldn’t fret over how we will pay for his schooling or over the friends he makes at school.
We wouldn’t worry over the job he is going to get or the person he will marry.
And yet all these hardships we undertake willingly because of the love we have for our children.
Yes, Islam Brings True Peace and Even Happiness
You are quite right that the more we adhere to Islam the more it will bring us happiness in this life and in the hereafter.
Islam is not a punishment, but a blessing. By living the way Allah Almighty wants us to behave, we will find the happiness that our hearts crave.
In life, all people crave happiness and fulfillment. Some people will go to great lengths to achieve it.
The great message of Islam is that true, lasting happiness can only be found in Allah.
When we see football hooligans on television or read the alarmingly high levels of suicide or alcoholism or drug addiction, we see the results of people craving happiness where it cannot be found.
Temporary “highs” will not answer the deepest needs of our hearts.
Islam, on the other hand, directs us to a way which will bring true happiness.
Yes, Being Muslim Is Hard In This World
You are also quite right in quoting that the stronger we adhere to Islam, the greater would be our affliction and hardship.
The more we adhere to Islam the more we will care for the world in which we live.
We will be distressed, for example, when we see hunger and suffering in our world, because Islam teaches us to care for our world and for the people in it.
We will also be distressed when Islam itself is portrayed in the wrong way on our television screens and in the newspapers, because the more we adhere to Islam the more we will want others to see it as beautiful, gentle and sweet.
It will cause us personal hurt when others misinterpret our actions and behavior, even though our intention in doing them is to serve Allah.
How distressing it is for Muslims in the West, for example, to be seen as extreme and the supporters of violence and terrorism simply because they go to a mosque and pray!
So you see, the more we love Islam and adhere to its teachings the more we will not only find happiness through it, but also experience suffering because of it.
Our Role Model: Prophet Muhammad
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) suffered great hardship at the hands of the enemies of Islam.
But, there is no doubt that he would not have had it any other way and that he was glad (peace be upon him) to suffer hardship for Allah’s sake.
Just as a parent would suffer any hardship or indignity for his or her child, so we, as Muslims, would do the same for Islam and for Allah, when we have come to see Islam for what it really is and have found the happiness it offers us in this world and promises us for the next.
I hope this answer your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)