Happiness in Islam
Quranic Definitions and Hadith
Al-muflihûn, ridwân


The question has been asked, what is happiness, this "state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy?" (wordnet). What does Islam have to say here? Is man supposed to be happy in the Islamic religion?

The answer is 'yes, of course.' Man's well-being, happiness, his contentment and joy are so central to the aspirations of human beings in general, that every way-of-life and especially every religion will present some solution. The question is only if they are capable of doing so, many are the false teachings or methods which are only concerned with a partial solution, focusing on the body and/or the mind as if they were isolated, independant entities.
Islam as an authentic tradition responds to the whole of the human condition: the spirit, the soul and the body. The spirit being of God, the soul and the body 'on loan'. This is from the unity of being, of existence, because everything is united in a transcendant (infinite and absolute) unity of the manifest and also the non-manifest.

How can an answer be found (to what is happiness) without taking into account the source of spirit, soul and body, which is the Divine? Are we here by mere accident? Did we create our bodies neatly by ourselves, or the souls from the ether? Then why can't we stop the body from changing? We almost don't know what the soul is, not to mention the spirit, so how can we presume to be able to treat them (for gaining a happy life) without knowing anything of the principle which lies beneath?
Not really! The growing unhealthy state of people in the modern world is proof enough that man alone is incapable of finding his way to a happy, worthy and meaningful life - just by himself, if he does not have a holistic or metaphysical perspective of existence.

This sounds a lot and difficult. But let's not forget, from the start we are a perfect creation. We were given reason and best of all: the intellect in varying degrees. By these we can in principle comprehend the signs in the cosmos as well as the 'signs' (ayât = verses) in revelation. and we will see how foundational well-being and happiness are in the message of Islam. The Word of God - Allah, which is the Holy Quran, gives us some definite clues as to how we weak, insignificant human beings can find true contentment and joy in this life - and what is more - in the next, which is due soon.

We'll present here some verses from the Holy Quran ( I.) and ( III. ) and from the sayings ( II. ) (hadîth) of the Messenger of Allah MHMD , so the reader can see for him (her-)self if anything can be of help on the way!

By God, increase us in knowledge (of everything in your message)!

 

Words are used:

1.) muflihûn, root flH. This word is used in -> I.
2.) surûr, root srr This word is used in -> II.
3.) ni`mah, root n`m, bliss  ( - )
4.) na`îm: happiness, delight, pleasure, bliss -> III.
5.) fawz: victory, felicity, safety, salvation -> III.
6.) ridwân: grace, acceptance, favour, that wh is pleasing -> III.
7.) sa`âdatu, root s`d( - )
8.) tawfîq, root wfq   ( - )

I.

The whole of the religion of Islam is meant to enable man to lead a happy life here and in the hereafter. The whole meaning of this religion or way-of-life is to lead him / her to success or salvation. Because of its importance Allah says right at the beginning of the Holy Quran:

2-2. This is a perfect Book; there is no doubt in it; it is a guidance for the righteous, (in it is guidance sure, without doubt, to those who fear Allah)

2-3. Who believe in the unseen and observe prayer (are steadfast in prayer) and spend out of what WE have provided for them.

2-4. and who believe in that which has been revealed to thee (in the Revelation) and that which was revealed before thee and they have firm faith in the hereafter (have the assurance of the Hereafter).

2-5. It is they who follow the guidance (they are on (true) guidance) from their LORD and it is they who shall prosper (al-muflihûn).

So its is very clear from the outset who are the happy or successful ones:

Those who follow the true guidance of God - Allah (because Allah speaks the truth - is the Truth, keeps His promise), by counting on the Divine power of the Unseen (Allah the Non-Manifest, God which we cannot see - but Who is never-the-less there), those who establish prayer (even if difficult at times), who spend from their own money in Allah's way (which includes well-defined objectives and conditions, and even if he/they would like to keep it for themselves,) who follow in their daily life the quranic revelation and the {gist of the} older revelations and who have the assurance of the Hereafter.

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As a prerequisite, those living a life 'in the dark shade of Allah', (ignoring His rights) must first understand the fault of their life and repent fully:

28-67. But as to him who repents and believes and does good, maybe he will be among the successful (al-muflihîn).

Because the Revelation is the truth in all ages and situations {it is either for you or against you!} and a light given to the Prophet MHMD :

7-157. ... so (as for) those who believe in him and honor him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are the successful (al-muflihûn).

In all what one does one should do it for Allah's good pleasure, for His face, for we will one day stand before Him, answer for our deeds:

30-38. Then give to the near of kin his due, and to the needy and the wayfarer; this is best for those who desire Allah's pleasure (who seek the Countenance of Allah), and these it is who are successful (al-muflihûn).

Here we see the fastest way to happiness and prosperity by gaining Allah's good pleasure (ridwân): giving to the needy, first of all those in your family. This for countering the innate tendency of the nafs (egotism), to keep the goods for oneself, or to hoard. Therefore Allah says:

59-9. ... and whoever is preserved from the niggardliness of his soul ( from the covetousness of their own souls), they are the ones that achieve prosperity (that are the successful ones) (al-muflihûn).

Therefore it is important to strive (a) earnestly on the way, while obeying (b) the Messenger of Allah MHMD :

→ a)
9- 88. But the Messenger, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper (al-muflihûn).
→ b)
24-51. The answer of the Believers, when summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that He may judge between them, is no other than this: they say, "We hear and we obey": it is such as these that will attain felicity (al-muflihûn).

By thus following the Islamic tradition, represented by Prophet Muhammad MHMD , the believers will be enabled to do good (d) themselves [hastening to do good works(e)!] and also to enjoin good (c) and forbid evil (at the social level - not always and everywhere, but subject to specific conditions):

→ c)
3-104. and let there always be among you a body of men who should invite to goodness, and enjoin virtue and forbid evil. and it is they who shall prosper (al-muflihûn).
→ d)
7-8. and the measuring out on that day will be just; then as for him whose measure (of good deeds) is heavy, those are they who shall be successful (al-muflihûn).
→ e)
2-148. ... Vie with one another in good works (strive together (as in a race) towards all that is good.). ...

Then those are the ones finding good pleasure in Allah (ridwân), because God is well-pleased (rdw) with them, forgiving them their mistakes:

58-22. He will admit them to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, to dwell therein (for ever). Allah will be well pleased (rdw) with them, and they with Him. They are the group of Allah. Truly it is the group (hizb) of Allah that will achieve Felicity (al-muflihûn).

II.

1.) The hadith show that Prophet Muhammad MHMD was a very a kind, generous and happy man:

Narrated `Abdullah bin Ka'b:
I heard Ka'b bin Malik talking after his failure to join (the Ghazwa of) Tabuk. He said, "When I greeted the Messenger of Allah MHMD whose face was glittering with happiness (surûr), for whenever the Messenger of Allah was happy (idhâ surra), his face used to glitter, as if it was a piece of the moon, and we used to recognize it (i.e. his happiness) from his face."
Al-Bukhari, Book 56, Number 756

2.) The advice was to be happy in joyful contentment (surûr), while being aware of the snares of the dunya (wordly life)!

Narrated Al-Miswar bin Makhrama:
... On seeing the Ansar, the Messenger of Allah MHMD smiled and said, "I think you have heard that Abu 'Ubaida has brought something?" They replied, "Indeed, it is so, O Messenger of Allah!" He said, "Be happy ('abshirû), and hope for what will please you (make you glad) (mâ yasurrukum). By Allah, I am not afraid that you will be poor, but I fear that worldly wealth will be bestowed upon you as it was bestowed upon those who lived before you. So you will compete amongst yourselves for it, as they competed for it and it will destroy you as it did them."
Al-Bukhari, Book 59, Number 351

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III.

Some other quranic concepts are used to describe the very positive state in which the faithful Muslim will be in, inshah Allah:

na`îm: happiness, delight, pleasure
fawz: victory, felicity, safety, salvation
ridwân: grace, acceptance, favour, that which is pleasing

The striving on the way is polishing the mirror of the heart: then it will reflect the Divine light and faces will lighten up:

83-24. You will recognize in their faces the (beaming) brightness of bliss (na`îm).

This will happen in the next life, in paradise, but it will also already start to happen here, and this is a distinct difference to other religions, which await everything good after death. This striving is against the commands of the nafs (ego), which entangle us in this dunya. Instead we are summoned to {have} faith in God and his messenger MHMD through right action (→ intention [1]):

33-71. He will put your deeds into a right state for you (make your conduct whole and sound) (yuslih), and forgive you your faults; and whoever obeys Allah and His Apostle, he indeed achieves a mighty success (fawz-ul `azîm).

Once he commits himself to Allah's directive, He - may His majesty be exalted - will help him to purify his actions (→ intentions [1]) {then he'll be among the Righteous and Pious (sâlihûn) inshah Allah}.
{Because} the value of someone whose whole purpose is Allah's pleasure (ridwân), is Allah's pleasure on earth and in heaven:

9-72. ... But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure (ridwân) of Allah (Allah's good pleasure is greater than anything). That is the supreme felicity (fawz-ul `azîm).

Who would not be happy being accepted in the best way by God Himself - Allah - may His majesty be exalted. Ridwân is the greatest of Allah's doors, as the shuyûkh have said [2]:
“Whoever has been given ridwân has received the most generous welcome and is honoured by the highest nearness (qurb) {to Allah}. `Abd al-Wâhid b. Zayd said: 'ridwân is the greatest of Allah's doors, and the paradise of this world (dunya).'”

“and know that man cannot possibly be content, in peace or pleased (rdw) with God, before Allah is not well-pleased with him. For He - may His majesty be exalted - says:”

5-119. ... This is the day when their truth (sdq) shall benefit the truthful (sdq) ones; they shall have gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide in them for ever: Allah is well pleased (rdw) with them and they are well pleased (rdw) with Allah; this is the mighty achievement (fawz-ul `azîm).





notes:

[1] On the hadith 'Actions are only according to intentions', see
Imam Nawawi's Commentary On The Hadith “Actions Are According To Intentions”
[2] Al-Qushayri; Risalat Quschayri, Das Sendschreiben Al-Qushayri's über das Sufitum, Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden, 24.4 (ridâ)



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