Happiness, contrary to the false notions of most human beings, is not achieved once one gets the best things in life: the best food and drink, the most expensive clothing, an unlimited supply of cash, and beautiful wives. Happiness, it must be understood, is not equivalent to moments of fleeting pleasure; it is, rather, a sustained and long-term feeling that permeates one’s soul and heart.
These days, people seek happiness in worldly possessions and pleasures. Consider, for instance, the pleasure of sexual intercourse: It is fleeting in that it goes as quickly as it comes, and, if performed in an unlawful manner, is followed by a period of guilt and remorse. Similarly, food is a momentary pleasure that, if consumed extravagantly, is followed by heartburn and other ailments. Truth be told, Non-Muslims often seek happiness in alcohol or drugs; yes, those who consume alcohol and drug users describe moments of euphoria, but those moments are followed by long periods of misery and dejection. Every worldly pleasure and enjoyment has one thing in common: it is fleeting and momentary. Happiness, on the other hand, is sustained and long-term. It is interesting to note that two of the main pleasures that human beings enjoy – sexual relations and food – are in some cases enjoyed to a greater degree by animals.
No, worldly pleasures cannot bring happiness. And the world has witnessed empirical evidence which proves that worldly prosperity, if it is not coupled with guidance, leads to misery. That evidence is the lives of men and women in today’s developed nations, nations whose citizens have more and eat more than ever before. Unparalleled levels of richness are, sadly, matched by unparalleled levels of drug use, alcohol addiction, misery, and clinically diagnosed depression. Each individual citizen is searching out for happiness, but being away from true guidance and looking for it in the wrong places [alcohol, illicit sex, food, cigarettes, drugs, etc.], is unable to find it. Allâh [subhâna wa ta’âlâ] has informed us about their misery and warned us against becoming deluded by their ostensible prosperity:
“So let not their wealth or their children amaze you [O Muhammad]; in reality Allâh’s Plan is to punish them with these things in the life of this world.” [At-Tawbah 9:55]
The Qur’ân teaches us that happiness in this life has nothing to do with physical and sensual pleasures, but with what is hidden in our hearts – a sustained feeling of peace, contentment, and happiness. That the yardstick of happiness is measured by the state of our hearts is a message that is given in more than one Verse of the Qur’ân; for instance, Allâh [subhâna wa ta’âlâ] said:
“He it is Who sent down as-Sakînah [calmness and tranquillity] into the hearts of the believers, that they may grow more in faith along with their [present] faith.” [Al-Fath 48::4]
And in another Verse, Allâh [subhâna wa ta’âlâ] said:
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” [Ar-R’ad 13: 28]
Verily, we ask Allah, the Almighty, to make us among those who are blessed with happiness both in this life and in the Hereafter; and to make us among those who are described in the Saying of Allah [subhâna wa ta’âlâ]:
“And those who are blessed and made happy, they will be in Paradise, abiding therein for all the time that the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord will, a gift without an end.” [Hûd 11: 108]
By Mahmûd bin Ahmad bin Sâlih ad-Dawsarî
The Magnificence of the Qur’ân, Pgs. 161-163