The concept of happiness in Islam is expressed in the Qur’ân and Sunnah in a number of different ways. First, we find the Qur’ân discussing the “good life”. Allah says: “Whosoever does right, whether male or female, and is a believer, we shall make them live a good life, and We shall pay them a recompense in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” [Sûrah al-Nahl: 97]
This “good life” is happiness itself. It is realized through faith and good deeds. This does not mean that we will not face difficulties in our good life. Our worldly lives, even when they are bolstered by faith and good works, are never free from distress and vexations. This world is the abode of toil, as Allah says: “Certainly We have created man to be in toil.” [Sûrah al-Balad: 90]
This world is the abode of tests and trials. Allah says: “Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm, in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts) of hearing and sight.” [Sûrah al-Insân: 2]
Allah also says: “Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial, and to Us is your return.” [Sûrah al-Anbiyâ’: 35]
The concept of happiness is also expressed in the Qur’ân as a negation of wretchedness and misguidance. It is also expressed through by contrasting it with the description, of a narrow, straightened life.
Allah says: “But he who turns away from remembrance of Me, his will be a narrow life, and I shall bring him blind to the assembly on the Day of Resurrection.” [Sûrah TâHâ: 124]
Wretchedness is the opposite of happiness. It is a state of being bereft of Allah’s remembrance. The way to distance oneself from wretchedness is to follow the path of guidance. This is what brings about happiness.
The Qur’ân also uses the concept of “the openness of the heart” to express happiness. Allah says: “Those whom Allah wills to guide, He opens their breast to Islam; those whom He wills to leave straying, He makes their breast close and constricted, as if they had to climb up to the skies: thus does Allah (heap) the penalty on those who refuse to believe.” [Sûrah al-An`âm: 125]
Another expression is the “contentment of the heart”. Allah says: “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.” [Sûrah al-Ra`d: 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 guidance of Islam.
Total and perfect happiness is achieved through true devotion in worship to Allah, salvation from Hell, and admission to Paradise in the Hereafter.
Allah says: “On the day when it shall come, no soul shall speak except with His permission, then (some) of them shall be unhappy and (others) happy. Those who are wretched shall be in the Fire: There will be for them therein (nothing but) the heaving of sighs and sobs. Abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord please; surely your Lord is the mighty doer of what He intends. And as to those who are made happy, they shall be in the garden, abiding in it as long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord please; a gift which shall never be cut off.” [Sûrah Hûd: 105-108]
Believers can be tested with tribulations and illness, though when they are granted patience to endure and they seek their reward with their Lord, it is best for them.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “How amazing are the believer’s affairs; all his affairs are good for him. If good befalls him, he is grateful and that is good for him, and if he is afflicted by calamity he is patient and that is also good for him. This is only for the believer.” [Sahîh Muslim]
Ibn Mas`ûd said: “Allah has placed ease and happiness in certainty of faith and contentment. He has placed worry and misery in discontent and doubt.”
The contentment that Ibn Mas`ûd is referring to here is to be reconciled to Allah’s decree and with the portion that Allah has allotted to His servant. This is the way to attain peace of mind and happiness. By contrast, being discontented and resentful about one’s circumstances, unsatisfied with one’s portion that Allah has allotted, and having doubts about one’s faith, this is the way to anxiety, misery, and distress.
I ask Allah to make us all among those who attain happiness.
by Sheikh `Abd Allah b. Abd al-Aziz al-Zayidi