The Quest for True Happiness


dhikr tranquilty
HAPPINESS is the ultimate goal in life for almost all of us. It is the motive behind every action that is taken in this world. People eat, shop, study, work, marry or sometimes fall into forbidden relationships, go on vacations, throw lavish parties and sometimes go to weird, forbidden extremes just for the pursuit of happiness and delight. Eventually, there comes a time when they realize that these feelings are short-lived, temporary and bound to end at some point. So the question that arises is; what is it that gives one the feeling of everlasting happiness? What is it that would tend to make the heart content and at ease despite the day to day tests and hardships that life throws our way?
Simply put, true happiness is in realizing the purpose for which we were created. It is in worshipping the One who created us, that gives the hearts contentment and delight. It is in doing every action with the sole intention of gaining Allah’s pleasure, avoiding His Anger while following in the footsteps of His beloved Messenger (peace be upon him).
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, said, “In the heart are disorders that cannot be remedied except by responding to Allah. In it is a desolate feeling that cannot be removed except by intimacy with Him in solitude. In it is sadness which will not leave except by happiness of knowing Him and truthfulness in his dealings. In it is anxiety that is not made tranquil except by gathering for His sake and fleeing to Him from His punishment. In it is a fire of regret which cannot be extinguished except by satisfaction with His commands, prohibitions, and decrees, and embracing patience with that until the time he meets Him. In it is a strong desire that will not cease until He is the only one who is sought. In it is a void that cannot be filled except by His love, turning to Him, always remembering Him, and being sincere to Him. Were a person to be given the entire world and everything in it, that would never fill the void.” (Madarij Al-Salikeen)
No doubt, this is the only reason our hearts are so much at peace and our souls so exuberant during Ramadan. It is because we spend the whole month busy in doing what we were created to do! We feel happy despite staying without food and water all day and despite exerting ourselves for extra prayer and worship.
We can actually maintain this state of peace and contentment throughout the year if we persist in continuing all the good acts that we do during Ramadan. The Creator and Master of everything that exists says in His Glorious Book: “Those who believe, and whose hearts find contentment in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” (Qur’an 13:28)
The contentment and openness of the heart are aspects of happiness which are achieved through keeping up the remembrance of Allah and through following the teachings of the Qur’an. It is something that instills happiness in us not just during the moments in which it is done but also later on. This is because; every type of pleasure is enjoyed only once, except for (the acts of) worship, which is enjoyed three times: when you do it, when you remember it, and when you are given the reward for it. (Abd-Allah ibn Wahb)
Allah tells us in more than one place in the Qur’an that the faces of the ones who believed and did righteous acts for His sake will be glowing with happiness and delight. He says: “(Some) faces, that Day, will be bright — Laughing, rejoicing at good news (of reward and Jannah).” (Qur’an 80:38-39).
“Faces, that Day, will show pleasure. With their effort (they are) satisfied. In an elevated garden (Jannah)…” (Qur’an 88:9-11)
As believers we need to know and have strong belief in the fact that life will not be a bed of roses for long and that we will be tested and tried till we reach our graves. If we look at the people around us, we will see people who are being tested in one way or the other. It will be either by missing out on something that they like, or going through that which they dislike.
Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) rightly said: For every moment of joy there is a moment of sorrow, and no house is filled with joy but it will be filled with sorrow.
Beautiful is the dua that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us. He said, “If any Muslim is afflicted with distress and makes this dua, then his supplication will be answered:
dua distress
‘O Allah, I am your servant, the son of your servant, the son of your maidservant. My forelock is in your hand, your command concerning me prevails, and your decision concerning me is just. I call upon you by every one of the beautiful names with which you have described yourself, or which you have revealed in your Book, or you have taught to anyone of your creatures, or which you have chosen to keep in the knowledge of the unseen with you, to make the Qur’an the delight of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness and dispeller of my anxiety.’”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If he says this, Allah will remove his affliction and replace it with joy and happiness.” His They said, “O Messenger of Allah, should we not learn it?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Yes, whoever hears it should know it.” (Ahmad 3704)
Lastly, we need to understand that happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute doing good for the sake of Allah, it is in being grateful for whatever we have and in utilizing it all in being of service to the creation of Allah. May Allah grant us the happiness of this world and the next. Ameen.
-Written by Mariam Anwer
Originally published in Arab News

“Allah tumharey naseeb achey karey”


achey naseeb

“Allah tumharey naseeb achey karey!” (May Allah make good your destiny)

Being desi we often receive loving du’aas like these from beloved elderly relatives or friends. Recently when a dear one said these words to me, I couldn’t help but wonder over the actual meaning of the words. I feel we have restricted the meaning of *achey naseeb* (good destiny) to receiving all that a person would desire of worldly bounties – a good life with a good education, a great job, an amazing spouse, cute babies, a luxurious lifestyle, etc. So usually that is precisely what we mean, when we use these words while making du’aa for ourselves or others.

Seldom do we think of associating *achey naseeb* with a life spent in humble obedience to Allah and the strength and will to strive in deeds that would lead to a good life in the Hereafter – An eternal life of peace and delight in eternal Gardens of bliss far from the torturous burning heat of the Hellfire, knowing that our Creator is pleased with us.

Our apathy to look at the bigger picture of wellness in the Hereafter and working for it is quite upsetting. When we don’t possess the finer things in life, we begin to think that we lack the means to be happy – People with a failed marriage, or who have been single, widowed, divorced, remained childless or unable to find their dream job etc. are labeled as *bud-naseeb* (unfortunate). People in our society question them, taunt them and force them to think likewise.

But know, know without a doubt that there is absolutely no way to think that possessing these blessings is what makes one a possessor of *achey naseeb*. Rather, it is the choice of our actions which lead to a good or bad destiny and Allah clearly states this in Surah Al Isra:
“And [for] every person We have imposed his fate [destiny] upon his neck, and We will produce for him on the Day of Resurrection a record which he will encounter spread open.” (17:13)

The blessed ones on that Day, who attain true success and happiness according to Allah, are the ones who get to enter Jannah as a consequence of their righteous actions and who are saved from the torment of Hellfire. Those are the truly fortunate ones – the ones with *bohat achey Naseeb* !! :)

وَأَمَّا ٱلَّذِينَ سُعِدُوا۟ فَفِى ٱلْجَنَّةِ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا مَا دَامَتِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتُ وَٱلْأَرْضُ إِلَّا مَا شَآءَ رَبُّكَ ۖعَطَآءً غَيْرَ مَجْذُوذٍ

“And as for those who were [destined to be] prosperous, they will be in Paradise, abiding therein as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except what your Lord should will – a bestowal uninterrupted.” (Surah Hud 11:108)

-Mariam Anwer
#RandomThoughts

Death – A Reminder


Quest for Paradise

 

death

“She is no more…” I kept visualizing the words again and again, felt my heartbeat thundering in my ears while my mind refused to accept the fact – the fact that it was true. She was no more and had passed away to the next world!

She was my close friend, a dear school mate, a loving friendly soul – may Allah forgive her and bless her with the highest levels of Paradise. The news of her death that I had received as a text message two years ago still lies fresh in my mind and my eyes well up every time I remember that night. I think about all her qualifications, her accomplishments in life, her dreams and aims and I wonder about her last thoughts. What had it been, just before she breathed her last. I wonder like always, did she know it would be this sudden?

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Faith that Split the Sea


Quest for Paradise

Allah is with me

At certain instances in his life, a believer might feel like an individual walking in the blinding darkness of an endless tunnel – scared, tired, thirsty, with hardly any hope left in him to find light or a way out. But there’s something in him that always cures and heals his aching soul. It is his faith and trust in His Master that He – the One who has been taking care of Him all this while, is with Him and will never desert him. Whenever a crisis comes his way, he utilizes his faith and good expectations of Allah in order to hold on and be strong in repelling the whispers of shaytan to give up. The Prophet (peace be upon him) related to us in a hadith narrated by Muslim that Allah says: “I am as My servant thinks of Me.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî (6856) and Sahîh Muslim (4832)]

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The Quest for True Happiness


rest
HAPPINESS is the ultimate goal in life for almost all of us. It is the motive behind every action that is taken in this world. People eat, shop, study, work, marry or sometimes fall into forbidden relationships, go on vacations, throw lavish parties and sometimes go to weird, forbidden extremes just for the pursuit of happiness and delight. Eventually, there comes a time when they realize that these feelings are short-lived, temporary and bound to end at some point. So the question that arises is; what is it that gives one the feeling of everlasting happiness? What is it that would tend to make the heart content and at ease despite the day to day tests and hardships that life throws our way?
 
Simply put, true happiness is in realizing the purpose for which we were created. It is in worshipping the One who created us, that gives the hearts contentment and delight. It is in doing every action with the sole intention of gaining Allah’s pleasure, avoiding His Anger while following in the footsteps of His beloved Messenger (peace be upon him).
 
Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim, said, “In the heart are disorders that cannot be remedied except by responding to Allah. In it is a desolate feeling that cannot be removed except by intimacy with Him in solitude. In it is sadness which will not leave except by happiness of knowing Him and truthfulness in his dealings. In it is anxiety that is not made tranquil except by gathering for His sake and fleeing to Him from His punishment. In it is a fire of regret which cannot be extinguished except by satisfaction with His commands, prohibitions, and decrees, and embracing patience with that until the time he meets Him. In it is a strong desire that will not cease until He is the only one who is sought. In it is a void that cannot be filled except by His love, turning to Him, always remembering Him, and being sincere to Him. Were a person to be given the entire world and everything in it, that would never fill the void.” (Madarij Al-Salikeen)
 
No doubt, this is the only reason our hearts are so much at peace and our souls so exuberant during Ramadan. It is because we spend the whole month busy in doing what we were created to do! We feel happy despite staying without food and water all day and despite exerting ourselves for extra prayer and worship.
We can actually maintain this state of peace and contentment throughout the year if we persist in continuing all the good acts that we do during Ramadan. The Creator and Master of everything that exists says in His Glorious Book: “Those who believe, and whose hearts find contentment in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find contentment.” (Qur’an 13:28)
 
The contentment and openness of the heart are aspects of happiness which are achieved through keeping up the remembrance of Allah and through following the teachings of the Qur’an. It is something that instills happiness in us not just during the moments in which it is done but also later on. This is because; every type of pleasure is enjoyed only once, except for (the acts of) worship, which is enjoyed three times: when you do it, when you remember it, and when you are given the reward for it. (Abd-Allah ibn Wahb)
 
Allah tells us in more than one place in the Qur’an that the faces of the ones who believed and did righteous acts for His sake will be glowing with happiness and delight. He says: “(Some) faces, that Day, will be bright — Laughing, rejoicing at good news (of reward and Jannah).” (Qur’an 80:38-39).
“Faces, that Day, will show pleasure. With their effort (they are) satisfied. In an elevated garden (Jannah)…” (Qur’an 88:9-11)
 
As believers we need to know and have strong belief in the fact that life will not be a bed of roses for long and that we will be tested and tried till we reach our graves. If we look at the people around us, we will see people who are being tested in one way or the other. It will be either by missing out on something that they like, or going through that which they dislike.
Ibn Mas’ood (may Allah be pleased with him) rightly said: For every moment of joy there is a moment of sorrow, and no house is filled with joy but it will be filled with sorrow.
 
Beautiful is the dua that the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us. He said, “If any Muslim is afflicted with distress and makes this dua, then his supplication will be answered: ‘O Allah, I am your servant, the son of your servant, the son of your maidservant. My forelock is in your hand, your command concerning me prevails, and your decision concerning me is just. I call upon you by every one of the beautiful names with which you have described yourself, or which you have revealed in your Book, or you have taught to anyone of your creatures, or which you have chosen to keep in the knowledge of the unseen with you, to make the Qur’an the delight of my heart, the light of my chest, the remover of my sadness and dispeller of my anxiety.’”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “If he says this, Allah will remove his affliction and replace it with joy and happiness.” His They said, “O Messenger of Allah, should we not learn it?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Yes, whoever hears it should know it.” (Ahmad 3704)
 
Lastly, we need to understand that happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute doing good for the sake of Allah, it is in being grateful for whatever we have and in utilizing it all in being of service to the creation of Allah. May Allah grant us the happiness of this world and the next. Ameen.
-Written by Mariam Anwer
Originally published in Arab News

The Help of Allah is near!


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God says in the Qur’an:

أَمْ حَسِبْتُمْ أَن تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ وَلَمَّا يَأْتِكُم مَّثَلُ الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِن قَبْلِكُم ۖ مَّسَّتْهُمُ الْبَأْسَاءُ وَالضَّرَّاءُ وَزُلْزِلُوا حَتَّىٰ يَقُولَ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَعَهُ مَتَىٰ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا إِنَّ نَصْرَ اللَّهِ قَرِيبٌ

“Do you really think that you will enter Paradise without going through what those who came before you endured? They were afflicted with such adversity and hardship and shaken to the core to the point that the Messenger and those with him cried, ‘Where is the Help of God?!’ Ah! But the help of God was ever near.”
[The Qur’an 2:214]

Sometimes things get so bad and you wonder, “Why, God? Why?!” You see people who care far less about their commitment to God than you, and they’re flourishing. But you have played by all the rules and never compromised your morals, yet you suffer. You may express this to family and friends and they’ll trivialize your sadness and beat down your grief saying, “Be content with what God has given you! Don’t question it!”

But in the aforementioned verse of the Qur’an, it says clearly that even the Prophet Muhammad himself (ﷺ) and His Companions questioned where the help of God was. That’s the entire reason this verse was revealed when the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions faced the hardships of oppression, exile and, ultimately, battle. How can anyone question you feeling the same exasperation as they did when they were the best of humankind?

Can you imagine how the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions felt? The Prophet (ﷺ) may have thought, “I’m the Messenger of God and all I’ve done is convey His Message. Why am I suffering so much?” His Companions may have thought, “We gave up EVERYTHING to follow God and His Messenger, and all that is happening to us is ruin!” They must have felt this with such great sorrow as they watched their loved ones die of hunger and thirst while stranded in the desert after being expelled from Mecca. They must have felt this with such fear when they were on the tempestuous seas when fleeing Mecca for the safety of Ethiopia’s fair and just Christian king. They were whipped, tortured, and their mothers and fathers stabbed to death in front of them. How must they have felt?

They cracked but never broke. Asking where the help of God is may be to crack, but you have not broken until you no longer expect the help of God to come! The fact that you expect it, is a great manifestation of you faith!

There are some of God’s worshippers whom He takes to the brink before which most people would have crumbled and fallen. Their entire lives are one test and trial after another. If that’s you, then know that you are among the ones whom God has deemed strong. You think you can’t take it. You think what you’re going through is more than you can bear. But HE knows you better than you know yourself. He created you! It may seem strange, but can you be optimistic in God’s Love and Mercy enough to understand that in hardship He is showing you that you are stronger than you even know?

And those whom God has deemed to be the most strong will have their moments when their hearts falter in pain and wonder where the help of God is. But always remember that wondering where it’s at is, in itself, a statement confirming its existence.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s weakness of faith. It is a declaration of faith! You believe it’s coming, you just wonder in agony why it hasn’t come yet. But be at peace, for even the greatest of all humankind, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (ﷺ), all wondered at one point or another if their mission was for naught, and yet their legacies collectively became embraced by the near entirety of our planet.

So let history show you that the greatest of all are given their trials in equally great measure.

-Written by Shibli Zaman