In the Name of Almighty God, The Merciful, The Compassionate

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

Salaam Aleikum (Peace be with you)! I hope you may gain some insight from my work here. Remember, I'm not a scholar and don't claim to be. I only claim to be a person who has a passion for both Islam and this great republic in which I live and wish to share my thoughts with others. Remember that anything good you find in this blog is from Allah, and anything wrong or bad is from my own flawed self.

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The Holy Ka'aba

The Holy Ka'aba
The House of God built by Abraham (peace be upon him)

The Pledge of Allegiance

The Pledge of Allegiance
take out the 9th line, and it would be haram (forbidden) to say this.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Pursuit of Happiness

بسم لله الرحمان الرحيم

In this life, and especially in the materialistic world that we live in, everyone, Muslims included, always seem to be trying to find "happiness". Happiness at work, happiness at home, happiness here and happiness there. I once heard from one of the great American imams of our day, Imam Suraj Wahaj, that one day about ten years ago, a woman had come to him in his office and asked him "imam, do I have the right to be happy?". It's amazing really. Most of us don't ever think about this issue in those terms. "Do I have the right to be happy". Most of us ask questions like "Am I happy?" or "How can I be happier". However, this sister, whoever she was, had enough humility to ask the question, "do I have the right to be happy?". Now in the story I heard related by the Imam he said that this sister then proceeded to tell him about the many struggles that she faced in her life. It was obvious by the imams somber expression that this sister had truly faced some difficult times. Many of us, at one time or another, have faced difficult times, and if we haven't, we could almost bet, that someday in some way or another we will.
If I can I'd like to take a moment to reflect on the very beginning of our creation, when we were in the wombs of our mothers. When we were there, Allah sent an angel down to us and instructed that angel to write down several things that will determine our life on this earth including the kind of work that we will do, how long we will live and, one of these two words "sa'eedun or shaqee'un"; Happy, or Miserable. You see, it doesn't matter how much money you have or don't have. It doesn't matter whether you've been with your spouse for fifty years, or have been divorced more times than you can count. It doesn't matter your social status, your good or bad looks, your education or anything. Whether or not you will generally be happy or miserable in this life is determined right there in your mother's womb, from the very beginning. This is a small part of Allah's Qadr or "Pre-destination", one of the arkaan sitaa' ul iman or the "six pillars of faith".
We know that every human being is born with a pure fitra or "original nature". We all start in jennah. We all start pure, as pure servants and creatures of Allah. But somewhere along the line, sooner or later, we have an encounter with who? Iblis! The devil, cursed Shaitan who refused to bow to our father Adam (as) by Allah's command, because of his wicked arrogance and pride. Allah (swt) tells us in the Qur'an, in Surah Ta-Ha verse 116, "And remember when we said to the angels 'prostrate yourselves to Adam' They prostrated themselves; all except Iblis. He refused." Then Allah continues, "Then we said 'Oh Adam, verily this is an enemy to you and your wife. So do not let him lead you out of Paradise, or you will be miserable".
So you see Allah said to Adam, DO NOT allow Iblis to misguide you and drive you and your wife out of Paradise, because if you allow him to do that, you WILL be miserable. Then, listen to what Allah tells him right after that. He says, "Verily you have a promise that you will never be hungry or naked therein. And you will not suffer form thirst there, nor from the sun's heat." This is what Adam and Hawa (Eve) could have had if they had kept away from the whispers of Shaitan, but then listen to what Allah says happened. It goes on saying, "Then Shaitan whispered to him 'Oh Adam, shall I lead you to the tree of eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away?'" Then they both ate of the tree, and so their private parts became manifest to them, and they began to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. This did Adam disobey his Lord and went astray."
Right now, today, in countless places all over Allah's earth, there are millions of people who die because they can't find enough bread to eat or water to drink. There are people who die from different types of exposure because they don't have proper clothing or shelter to shield them from the elements. There are people who sweat and toil and work their fingers to the bone day in and day out, everyday of their lives, and still barely have enough to get by. Why? Allah tells us right there in the Qur'an, as he told our father Adam (as), that outside the Paradise, we will undoubtedly be miserable.
So now, let us ask OURSELVES that question, "Do we have the right to be happy?" Some 230 years ago, the author of the United States Declaration of Independence said, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"; The "pursuit" of happiness. He didn't say "life, liberty, and happiness". He said "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Why did he say pursuit? It's because in this life, in this dunya, happiness is not something that is ever truly and completely realized. That's just the nature of this life and of this world. We will never truly know complete and utter happiness until we, insha'Allah, reach that ultimate destination, Jennah or Paradise.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Allah completely deprives us of happiness in this life. If anything, we deprive ourselves. We deprive ourselves by doing what? Evil. Disobeying Allah (swt). Not living up to the responsibilities that we have to our Lord. To the covenant we made when we declared "La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadun Rasoolullah". Make no mistake that statement is not just a statement. It is a pact that you make with Allah (swt). By making that pact, we have an immense responsibility; to live our lives according to Allah's will, on his terms, and not our own. To pray when He and his messenger told us to pray, not when we feel like it. To fast, not initially because of any benefit to us, but because our Lord commanded us to do so. To accept the fact that the Creator knows much more about the creation than the creation knows about itself, and that the creation must ultimately accept the hikmah or wisdom that comes to it through the Creator's messengers like Muhammad (sws), like Jesus Christ (as), like Musa (as) and like Ibrahim (as). There is a famous quote, and I'm not sure who said it, but it says, " No man chooses evil because it is evil. He only mistakes it for happiness". Eric Hoffer an American social writer and philosopher said, " The search for happiness, is one of the chief sources of unhappiness". This is oh so true.
Many people think that they will find happiness by being successful in their work. Leaving a legacy at their company or organization. Many people think that having a great deal of wealth, and never having to worry about money will make them happy. Still some others might say that they'll be happy when they find that special someone who will love them forever and ever and ever. The truth is that true, complete and utter happiness does not lie in ANY of these things. The only real happiness in this world, the only REAL happiness, is always keeping ourselves ready to leave this world, hopeful of attaining Paradise. By doing what? Peacefully, sincerely, and obediently submitting our own will, to the will of Allah (swt).
We do have the opportunity to catch glimpses of true happiness in this life. We can catch glimpses of it when we get married and enjoy those first precious days with our new spouse. We catch a glimpse of it when we hold our newborn child in our arms for the first time. We catch glimpses of it when we spend quality time with our parents and relatives. We glimpse it when we see people we love enter into the fold of Islam. These are all glimpses of happiness.
But, how can we truly be happy, when marriages end in divorce. Many of us face burying our children, just as our beloved prophet Muhammad did with his son Ibrahim. Our parents die, our relatives die. Those blessed brothers and sisters that we seen embrace Islam, sometimes leave it just as quickly.
Happiness in this life is fleeting as they say. It comes and it goes. The absolute only way to guarantee true happiness in this life and/or the next is to always obey Allah in every way that you can, and when you make a mistake, sincerely make tawbah (repentence) and strive to avoid that mistake again. And remember that Allah (swt) said, as per a hadith qudsi that his mercy prevails over his wrath. And if you are a person who obeys Allah in this life as much as you possibly can, and you still are very unhappy, your still facing tough times, then take comfort in the fact that Allah rewards those who are patient in hardship, just as is illustrated in the story of Ayub (as) (Job) in the Qur'an.
I'd like to conclude with another story I had heard from Imam Siraj Wahaj. The story was about an incident back in 1972 when a bomb was exploded aboard a commercial jetliner, while it was cruising at 32,000 feet. The plane was full of people, and everyone on that plane died, except for one 22 year old woman. Now can you imagine falling to earth from 32,000 feet in a piece of a blown up plane, hitting the ground, opening your eyes and realizing you were still alive? When people talk about these types of stories they often say they "cheated death". If you've ever seen the Final Destination movies, those films are all about "cheating death". But this is a very wrong choice of words. No one ever cheats death. That woman on that plane didn't die because Allah had not written for her to die in that place, in that time. No soul can die without the permission of Allah. Your life cannot be taken by someone else except by the permission of Allah. You cannot even take your own life, except by the permission of Allah. Just like this A.U. student just a few weeks ago, who plummeted to her death just outside of where we meet for Jummah. People were asking the questions "why would she do such a thing?" and "how could this happen?". It happened because that is what Allah had written for her. Just as Allah had written for that woman on the plane that she would not day that day.
Like I said before this is a part of Allah's Qadr. We cannot escape Allah's sovereignty over us, whether we like it or not. Allah is the Lord of all creation. He is even the God and Lord of the atheist. Whether someone believes in Allah or not is of no consequence. Whether someone really wants to obey Allah or not is of no consequence at least not to Allah. But, if we really care about happiness, then we need to stop investing so much time and resources into things in this life that wont accompany us to the next life. We need to stop running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to find true happiness in this world, because that is nothing but a wild goose chase. We need to take care of business in this world. We need to take care of our families. We need to do a lot of things in this world. However, we must never, EVER, allow those things to distract us from what really matters, which is our relationship to Allah. We must keep our eye on that ultimate goal of Paradise, so that someday, insha'Allah, we might finally realize true happiness.
...And Allah Knows Best...

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