The Humble I

Knowing, Doing, Becoming

The Modern Pursuit of Happiness or Chasing Your Own Tail?

man-chasing-money“Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” seems to best express the only kind of happiness modern man has made available to himself; and we know where such gross hedonism leads to. Our current culture of greed, of instant-gratification and of turbo-consumerism may deliver us short term ‘highs’, the momentary ‘buzz’, but these soon wear-off, and all too often leave in their wake anxiety, depression and despair.

Knowing what happiness or the good life truly is has occupied philosophical minds since antiquity. It is, as one might expect, a theme also taken-up by the Qur’an. In one of its verses, it promises: Whoever does good, be they male or female, and has faith, We shall cause them to live a goodly life. [16:97]

In contrast to this hayatan tayyibah or “goodly life”, God proclaims in the Qur’an: ‘But whoever turns away from My remembrance will assuredly have a life of narrowness, and on the Day of Resurrection We shall raise him up blind.’ [20:124]

Echoing this Quranic declaration, the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: ‘God says: O son of Adam! Free yourself for My worship and I shall fill your heart with sufficiency and remove your poverty. But if you do not, I will fill your hands with preoccupations and your poverty will not cease.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.2466] Poverty, here, as our scholars have duly explained, refers to spiritual poverty: i.e. unhappiness, disaffection and the absence of contentment – even when basking in the midst of material abundance.

No doubt, some minimum level of materialism is required for our happiness and well-being. But beyond the basics, or above what is termed ‘subsistance living’, an increase in wealth or material goods in no way ensures happiness, contentment or fulfilment. In Islam, happiness and fulfilment are profoundly bound with obedience, worship and God’s remembrance and recollection: Indeed, in the remembrance of God do hearts find tranquility. [13:28]

So as believers commit to the worship of God and reconcile themselves to His decree, inner peace begins to diffuse within their souls, till it permeates all their thoughts and actions; bringing happiness, fulfilment and, ultimately, salvation. Those who pursue a life of greed, self-gratification and neglectfulness of God, choosing instead to expose themselves to a plague of inner demons, shall ultimately be cast into perdition with hellish devils!

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12 thoughts on “The Modern Pursuit of Happiness or Chasing Your Own Tail?

  1. Assalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allaahi wa barakatuh shaykh,

    Jazaka Allaahu khayr for making the time to provide these beneficial reminders. I will be visiting your blog from time to time insha Allaah.

  2. We need to begin taking life seriously and realising where we are going..I always say to myself “is this earlthy life the best there is… with all its headaches, stress, bills, rat race, trials and tribulations, this cant be just it… surely there is more to come..” I find comfort in the fact that enternal bliss awaits inshallah, so it’s easier to detach from this life. Im here to fulfill my obligations to my family and society and try to get closer to Allah each day until the day Allah Decrees my meeting with the Angel of Death.

    [57:20] Know that this worldly life is no more than play and games, and boasting among you, and hoarding of money and children. It is like abundant rain that produces plants and pleases the disbelievers. But then the plants turn into useless hay, and are blown away by the wind. In the Hereafter there is either severe retribution, or forgiveness from GOD and approval. This worldly life is no more than a temporary illusion.

  3. Happiness is a state of mind connected to the heart. No amount of wealth and possessions can ever satisfy the nafs. For
    “Truly in the heart there is a sadness that cannot be removed
    except with the happiness of knowing Allah and being true to Him.
    And in it there is an emptiness that cannot be filled
    except with love for Him and by turning to him and always remembering Him.
    And if a person were given all of the world and what is in it,
    it would not fill this emptiness.” (Ibn Qayyim)

  4. SubhanAllah truer words were never spoken! We live in an age of instant gratification, of confusing our needs with wants wants wants. We’re all guilty of materialism to some extent, but its when the greed sets in and rots inside you and you can’t see further than your next acquirement – and when you get it, it gives you absolutely no satisfaction – thats when you’re lost and only Allah can fill the void.

    Daily rememberance of Allah and giving thanks for what we have and what He has blessed us with is a sure and truer path to happiness and self-fulfilment. Jazak Allah Khair.

  5. Shyaan & Shakeel & Lubsy1: Thank you all for your inputs and complementary reminders. May Allah grant us all a healthy sense of worldly detachment and fill our hearts with the life that comes next.

    • Samina Mohammad on said:

      Mashallah it is so true that we get lost in the worldly games but it is a blessing that we have people like u who show light in their beautiful meaningful words which makes me thank Allah swt for making me a Muslim alhamdulillah.

  6. Very inspirational
    it would be great if you add a social plug in for facebook to ease sharing it, I might be wrong but I only see Twitter, G+, LinkedIn, would be great to have a facebook share button

    Jazaaka Allahu Khayran

  7. Reblogged this on Blogging Theology.

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