Last week I had posed to thee (readers) on this blog of mine, the following question: ‘What does ‘making it’ mean, for you?’
I think this response to the question (above) had been my most favourite one.
Yes, in the grander scheme of things, we are on this ever-dynamic journey, en route (Insha Allah) to Jannah, to a ‘happiness’ that is substantial, and which shall last…
In the ‘here and now’, though… Being genuinely ‘happy’. I had been thinking about this concept recently, especially after having come across a particular article about attaining happiness, from a Sufi perspective.
I admit, for a while early last year, I had looked further into Sufi teachings. ‘The inward dimensions of Islam’, of worship. Interesting. These ideas about spiritual ‘transcendence’, notions about how ‘true happiness’ can be obtained via the securing of a personal connection with the Divine.
But neither Islam nor human life in general are about acquiring and maintaining some longstanding feeling of ‘pure, untainted happiness’, euphoria. Islam is not about feeling all fuzzy and/or happy and/or… ‘transcendent’ all the time.
Life (and I am not disagreeing with you, here, dear esteemed respondent. I am just trying to process and express my own thoughts on ‘happiness’) is not – and, Islam is not – about detaching oneself from reality, so as to whirl like dervishes, into some narrow unsustainable view of what ‘happiness’ is.
The ‘happiness’ that we seek. It is not in denial of the ebbs and the edges: the moments of anger, of sadness, or of confusion and befuddlement. The jealousy, the regret, the longing, the disappointment, pain and sickness. The ‘happiness’ that we seek, in Dunya, Insha Allah, takes a more…holistic view of things.
The ‘bigger picture’, the ‘grander scheme of things’. The view from the window of a moving aeroplane. We are relatively attached to it all, and we are also relatively…detached from it all. The sort of optimism – rooted in ‘realism’: what is really there – that a Muslim ought to employ and embody, then… We know that things do get difficult, sometimes. There are the roses of our lives, and there are certainly also the thorns.
Our individualised tests. May we be ‘happy’ – though we will likely not always be gleeful – within them. Grateful, choosing to focus on the Khayr we can extract from each situation we find ourselves in.
“The true measure of success is the number of lives you have positively influenced.” May Allah empower both you and I, dear (I am going to name you ‘Person’) Person, to be a truly positive influence on others. My only potential contention with this quote would be: it is not about ‘the number’ of lives we are able to have a good impact on. Ultimately, our deeds will be weighed, won’t they? It is about the ‘quality’ of our deeds; the weight of the intentions behind them. Is it not better to have a deep and positive impact on just one or two people, with the sincerest of intentions behind our actions, than to have a positive impact on a million people, with our intentions rooted in things like…ego-based considerations?
Whether we are able to influence people in their hundreds and thousands… or if one good home and a small community is what we end up being able to successfully, in a good way, nurture and contribute to… As the Hadith informs us, actions are but by intention. And this is how we ought to live, right?
Guided, Insha Allah, by our intentions, and by checking them, reflecting on them.
Moreover, money certainly is only a means to an end. How silly would it be, to act like it is some End itself… Paper, and coins. Numbers in a bank account. Just what do they show? How will it all benefit our souls, on That Day, especially?
I certainly do agree that sharing the wealth that we have been blessed with, with those who may be in need, brings about some happiness. Goodness. But, in terms of our more immediate interpersonal connections, it is time – our company, our presence, our love – that is truly of the essence, no?
Finally, I agree: we are driven by those good old Pain and Pleasure principles. Towards pleasure, and away from pain. And also, we have been given these faculties of reasoning through which to process our thoughts before they solidify into intentions, and then into action. There are some ‘base’ ‘pleasures’, which have been made Harām to us. We use our intellect[s]; we reason, benefits against costs. We have been given knowledge – as well as the capacity for it – about how to obtain Lasting Pleasure. We are responsible for ourselves, and, in fact, while Jannah is surrounded by obstacles and hardships, Jahannam is surrounded by fleeting pleasures, our succumbing to our base desires and modes of behaving.
(Am I waffling, here, Person? You bet I am!)
We yearn for Happiness; we yearn for Home. The journey to these very places… it is laced, often, with difficulty [think about the life experiences of the Most Beloved to Allah…]
Muhammad (SAW) had not always been… ‘happy’, here, had he been? Grief, fear. Hardship. He had been tested with such intensity, this most beloved man. His is guaranteed ultimate success; it had been his hope in and reliance upon Allah that had resulted in his strength, his realistic-optimism.
It is clear that he had experienced, in this life, moments of joy. Glimpses of paradise. His ‘happiness’ had been shared, with the people whom he had loved. Loves that he had nurtured. What a concept. For the connections of our hearts to be tethered to Allah. To truth, to ultimate reality, to what is lasting. And, in Jannah, Insha Allah, we will be with whom we love [Sahih Hadith].
‘Making it’. There is no specific point, I do not think, no golden and distinctive ‘cut-off point’ from the rest of our time here, amid these Dunya realities of ours, at which we can say we have fully, totally, completely ‘made it’. Love is a blessing; so are good careers and such. We walk along, with these things in tow.
Happiness does feel most ‘real’ when it is shared, doesn’t it? And, in beginning to conclude this fairly lengthy response to your response: as Allah informs us in the Qur’an, in Dunya, فَإِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرً
“Verily with hardship, there is ease.”
Much of the ‘ease’ we have been blessed with, in Dunya, I think, comes to us in the form of the people we love. Home, and Goodness, via Love.
May Allah reunite us and our loved ones, by the end of these difficult-blessed journeys of ours, in those Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, Āmeen.
(And thank you very much for your response, dear Person!)
We are ‘realistically-happy’ upon these paths of ours, en route to Happiness.
We seek, in the ‘happy’ and the ‘sad’, in both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ what is… Good;
We seek out the Light.
Sadia Ahmed J., 2020