I recently came across a quote that states, "The three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for".
While these are not the words of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ), he did talk about happiness extensively.
And so, through that lens, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this quote.
Someone to love.
Many of our scholars have concluded that loving the one who treats you well is a natural response. It's also something we tend to crave in order to fill our hearts.
The most stable and profound love you can experience is to love Allāh. In fact, true happiness is found in this love.
Shaykh al-Islām said, “There will not be true happiness in the heart without the love of Allāh and drawing near to Him by way of what He loves".
This type of love is what results in the sweetness of faith.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness of faith:
1. The one to whom Allah and His Apostle become dearer than anything else.
2. Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah's sake.
3. Who hates to revert to disbelief (Atheism) after Allah has brought (saved) him out from it, as he hates to be thrown in fire".
This sweetness of faith results in enjoying obedience, enduring hardship, and preferring faith over worldly pleasure.
As Imam al-Qurtubi said, the sweetness of faith which is what the true believer, whose heart is tranquil in faith, experiences includes the opening of his heart and its enlightenment with the awareness of Allāh and His messenger, the blessing of Islām, and his inclusion in the Ummah of Muḥammad (ﷺ), how faith and the believers have been made beloved to him, how denial of faith and the disbelievers have been made disdained to him, and how he has been saved from his own repugnant actions and weak condition. When he looks at these favors and ponders over the details of these blessings, his/her heart takes flight out of sheet joy and happiness, filled with honor and light. Imagine a sweetness of such delight and a condition of such honor. We ask Allāh to bless with such sweetness.
Something to do.
Without something to do we lack purpose and find that boredom can quickly set it.
So, to find joy in our lives, we need to stay active. As a person of faith, that activity absolutely must positive and pious either by its nature or by intent.
Allah says what means, "Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds" (al-Nahl 16: 97).
While there are multiple interpretations of a good life, according to Imam al-Tabari, Ibn Abbas concluded that a good life means happiness.
So righteous/pious action leads to happiness!
Pious action can be more than the obvious prayer and fasting but can also include visiting family and friends, enjoying Allāh’s blessings, and pursuing permissible leisure activity.
I think it’s important to point out that the opposite is also true. From this very verse, we can derive that whoever does evil, whether male or female, will be given a sad life.
Allah says what means, "But whoever turns away from My Reminder will certainly have a difficult life, then We will raise them up blind on the Day of Judgment” (Ta Ha 20:124).
Ibn Abbas said that difficulty in this verse means misery and unhappiness!
You know sometimes we can be our own worst enemy by sabotaging our own happiness.
We go looking for love in the wrong places or become overly reliant on the relationships that we make in this world to fill our hearts when that void can only be filled with Allāh.
Or we go looking for happiness in fundamentally evil things. Sometimes we think that sin will bring us joy. And while there may be an immediate delight, the long-term damage to both our faith and happiness is much greater.
Such is the example of our weak nature as human beings
Something to hope for.
When we have something to look forward to, we have something to get excited about.
Ask yourself, what’s coming up in my life that will bring you joy?
If you think about it, you are likely to find a number of things that will make you happy.
If you can't think of anything particular to your personal life, think about our faith-based seasons and what awaits you in the near future.
At the time of writing this (Rajab 1), Ramadan is just around the corner.
Ramadan is a month the was often anticipated by the greats of old for at least six months.
Even our beloved Prophet said, “O Allah, bless us in Rajab and Sha'ban and bring us to Ramadan”.
Ramadan is a month of worship, mercy, and forgiveness.
What else is there to be excited about?
There is something that Allāh has instructed us to find joy in that has everything to do with Ramadan.
"O humanity! Indeed, there has come to you a warning from your Lord, a cure for what is in the hearts, a guide, and a mercy for the believers. Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ 'In Allah’s grace and mercy let them rejoice. That is far better than whatever ˹wealth˺ they amass'" (Yunus 10:57-58).
In this verse, Allah is instructing us to find happiness and joy in the revelation of the Qur'an.
While iftar and eid do bring about a great deal of joy in our lives as Muslims during Ramadan, the Qur’an, the speech of Allāh is something that we should find happiness in as well.
And Ramadan should serve as the anniversary of its revelation and a time that we reconnect with the Qur'an in a meaningful way.
After all, Ramadan IS the month in which the Prophet (ﷺ) would review the Qur'an in its entirety with the angel Jubril.
So in preparation for that month, it’s now time to start making plans, making up missed fasts, and arranging work schedules to take full advantage of what the month has to offer.
If you begin now, I guarantee you that not only will your Ramadan be filled with happiness, but the anticipation for it will be a source of joy as well.
We ask that Allāh bless us with another Ramadan and that He allow it to be observed in the best of ways.