We often talk about happiness being a state of mind – a journey, rather than a final destination.
Being closer to Allah Almighty and continuously vying for Jannah, is a must for every Muslim who wishes to be happy in this life and the Hereafter.
But can we cultivate happiness in our daily lives without compromising the Sunnah?
Yes, by all means, we can.
In fact, it’s in our Sunnah to constantly feel happy and grateful for all of Allah’s blessings, and it is in His Mercy that Allah provides avenues for happiness, and it’s no grand secret as to how happiness can be nurtured. We just have to make a conscious choice to find the happy route in our endeavors that surround us.
Happiness is in the Exercise We Do
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged a balanced and healthy lifestyle. It is his Sunnah that believers should take up horse-back riding, archery, swimming, (and wrestling).
Though these are the “Sunnah” exercises that build strength and stamina, exercise in general (as long as carried out in the parameters of shari’ah), are encouraged, as they release endorphins, the feel-good hormone, which also acts as a natural painkiller against diseases, both physical, and mental.
Good health and time are two of the blessings that humans often forget, so taking time to encourage a healthy habit such as short exercise regimes, will definitely benefit the believer in the long run.
Happiness is Found in Our Connection with the Natural Environment
Prophet Muhammad was the biggest advocate for the environment, long before the advocacy works of nature groups, such as Green Peace and WWF. The Prophet Muhammad encouraged planting trees and the utmost kindness towards animals. He would also spend a great deal of time in the outdoors, whether exercising, walking, or just sitting with companions.
Unfortunately, the natural world is quickly dissipating in this modern age, and there is certainly no coincidence that stress levels, anxiety, and health problems are on a rise. In a study called “Environment and Behavior,” by John Zelenski and Elizabeth Nisbetby, it was shown that:
- Emotional connectedness to the natural world is distinct from other psychological connections in our lives.
- Nature relatedness often predicts happiness regardless of other psychological factors.
- Psychological connections with nature have the capacity to facilitate sustainable attitudes, and may be an important tool in preserving the environment.
These types of results are no surprise, as the world has been described as a glimpse of Jannah (Paradise), and this includes the beauty of Jannah as well. If Jannah has promised secured happiness, surely a fraction of this is found in the natural world.
Happiness Through the Food We Eat
Prophet Muhammad took enjoying his meals very seriously, in moderation, and with proper etiquette.
Natural foods are a great precursor to happiness, as it keeps the body healthy and the moods uplifted. Many natural foods like Swiss chard, dark chocolate, yoghurt, and honey, are also great mood boosters, amidst the consumer’s world that is filled with processed meal, junk food, and fast food.
Happiness is Through Good Company
Having like-minded friends is always therapeutic for believers. In fact, keeping good company is a strong Sunnah for Muslims, and it is more than just like-mindedness that is important. The Prophet advised that the best of friends were those who reminded each other frequently of Allah, and shared the same passion for the religion.
In another narration, Prophet Muhammad said:
“A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim, 363)
Good Muslims in search of true happiness should therefore find friends who are like perfume-sellers – those who fear Allah and care enough for their brothers and sisters to keep them away from hellfire. The Prophet was also recorded to have said:
“No one is a believer, until he wishes the same for his brother as he wishes for himself.” (Al-Bukhari)
This is also a great reminder of peer camaraderie.
Happiness is Found in a Loving Family
Spouses in the Quran are described as garments for each other, and completion of each other’s faith. Children, on the other hand, are described as the best gifts and trusts from Allah. Happiness through a loving family is therefore inevitable. When a family unit is strong and thriving, it represents a cornerstone of a robust ummah. Working hard to keep a marriage thriving, and raising children reaps immense reward from Allah.
Prophet Muhammad always reminded his followers to be kind to their wives, and for the women to be respectful and loyal towards their husbands – all this in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage.
His love and kindness also extended towards the children of the ummah, as he often reminded his companions to be fair to their children and to kiss and embrace them daily. As a father and grandfather himself, it is often narrated that he would kiss his daughter, Fatimah, in public, embrace her, and request her companionship during gatherings.
Being around loved ones, having intimate relations with one’s spouse, or spending time with children, also release the hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is also known as the love hormone and keeps a person feeling happy and loved. Oxytocin is also able to overcome the feelings of anxiety, fear, and stress.
Happiness is Found Through Our Interests and Strengths
The Prophet Muhammad reminded that the believer should do whatever he or she wishes to do as long as it doesn’t embarrass him or her. In addition to that, if a strength, activity, or interest does not fall outside Shari’ah, then a believer should engage in whatever he or she wants without prejudice or judgment by cultural norms.
Happy people are those who engage in their interests of self-belief and expression. Since we normally do better in fields of our strengths, believers should assess their own interests in personal development and become high achievers in their own professional fields.
In fact, there are also plenty of studies that encourage expression of the arts, whether through writing, photography, painting, and the like, as this creates happiness from the inside.
Happiness can be found in the world around us, and there are no secrets that living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, surrounded with friends and family, provide avenues for both happiness in this world, and in the next, as it’s very much in line with the way of Islam.
While there are major disturbances in the world around us, with Muslims being very much under attack, we should not allow depression overwhelm us to the extent that we are unable to see Allah’s blessings in the little things that we take for granted.
Making a conscious choice to be happy belongs to every Muslim – it’s within our free will, and does not compromise humble status of slaves of the Creator of the beautiful heavens and earth.
Published: January 2016.