Are You Happy?

Happiness in Islam

Assalaamu Alaykum Dearest Sisters,

We hope in sha Allah all are well!  Up for today’s discussion is Happiness in Islam:  How Practicing Islam Will Make Us Happy.  Yes, dear sisters, we’ve got a lot to share along with some scientific proof such as through compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude through a series of articles on this topic.

Have you ever just sat in a busy place and watched the faces of the passersby?  (I’m not suggesting we look at our non mahrams)  This was one of my parents’ favorite things to do when we were growing up.  They’d take us to the mall and just sit there having coffee watching people. Sounds kind of creepy when we really think about that, but I assure you there wasn’t a creepiness element to it.  They’d see people with pink and black hair, chains, and ripped jeans as well as the hurried business suit walking fast with a mission…to catch that sale? One thing that was interesting was the facial expressions.  Few people looked relaxed. Few people looked happy. People looked like they were trying to fit in to something, some sort of preconceived idea of how they were supposed to be or act, despite their extreme individualistic expressions of themselves. People with pink hair were still trying to “fit in” while trying to “fit out” of something else. That says mountains about human nature, our revolts, our sides, and our very palm-forehead nature.   

Fast forward some years, as a young adult, I remember sitting outside a restaurant in fast paced downtown, having an iced-coffee… watching people.  I guess we do have influence from our parents in unexpected ways, but admit it everyone – human nature is fascinating but few just stop to observe it on a macro to micro level – or vice versa. Most are busy, planted in their own life, that they don’t see the small puzzle pieces of life and how they open up to a larger picture – which is extremely problematic.  We’ll talk about that sometime in sha Allah.

So, sitting outside of that restaurant soaking up the rays and watching the passersby, no one looked happy. People seemed short tempered, impatient, busy, and I felt a sense of sadness prevailing.  Now I get that they were in a hurry with places to go, but it was just a feeling that came over me.  Whereever their destination was – they were trying very hard to get there, which I beg to understand then why they insist on going to a place they are not happy with?

So I think no one ever explained the whole life is like a puzzle similitude or perhaps they refused to admit they didn’t like how their puzzle was revealing or how a proper puzzle is supposed to look, but didn’t know what to do about it, therefore creating a great sense of unhappiness and desensitization, denial, and arrogance about it.  They were in a hurry to get to a place they didn’t want to be but lacked the insight or humility to change routes and some perhaps didn’t realize there was a whole other route that could be taken. Yes- some people refuse to ask for directions and would rather be lost on the street somewhere, running out of gas, late, and hungry – hence the facial expressions.  

So we have a lot of unhappy people persisting in their unhappiness, feeling crippled, and feeling a lack of purpose, accountability, sensibility, and responsibility.  As a result of that, we have people wandering around either aimless or working hard fulfilling other people’s aims and goals or no goals at all – which is all depressing. We all have our own lives to lead, our own sense of being, and living others’ lives because we’ve not figured out what our own is would make us feel hopeless inside –  because how could we feel hopeful about this impossible mission?

We’re all special here, unique with talents and contributions to be shared with our world. We’re all elite in our own way.  We all have a special mission and a special set of circumstances, which is why we can’t lead cookie cutter lives on the micro level and our micro level has to fit into the general macro level in kind. Having pink hair revolting against all of the world doesn’t accomplish that because all that says is that, “I’m rejecting the norms so I can live according to no particular principles except what I feel are right, and I know everything and will live my life how I feel is best.”

I get that feeling, emphatically I say I really get that. In our pursuit of self discovery and expression, we must discriminate but we always want to go through a sifting process – elimination rounds.  We want to sift out the wrong so we’re left with all that’s good and will be supportive and guiding in our micro and macro worlds.

Going against all of ^ will always be living against the current and we’ll drown at some point – and that is the look on people’s faces.  They look like they are drowning, suffocating and wishing they had her life, his life but they’re stuck in this rut and can’t see a way out.  When they stop to catch their breath they thump their own hearts and wonder what they did to deserve this kind of life, where did they go wrong, but unfortunately, a tide comes through and pushes them back down where they drown in their misery. I know it’s a bit dramatic, but it’s true.  We can’t stop and breathe because we’re busy treading rough waters, getting dunked and tired of it all. So here we are in life, basically, just trying to stay afloat and that struggle is so hard.

If we ask the treaders, those trying to stay above water, what they want, many people will say they just want to be happy, have a good life, and enjoy their time.  But my friends, the daily choices, those micro parts they choose, aren’t the choices which lead to fulfilling their goals – the macro level.   So in our attempt to fit in while fitting out, we have to consider a lot. We have to do the emotional and mental work. We have to put the proper perspective on life.   In our series of Happiness, we’ll go through a lot of different topics.

So instead of covering up reality with anything we need to reevaluate our whole life, our whole existence, and our whole purpose. Our life is indeed like a big puzzle; we place pieces correctly they reveal a particular segment of a picture; we force pieces together and it’s just unsightly. How can we present a forced puzzle to anyone and smile with confidence and satisfaction that we did well? And all along the way, it wasn’t pleasurable. We weren’t happy, and at the end, we won’t feel happy.  But we would have been very busy doing what can’t make us happy and satisfied. Those forced pieces did nothing good for us.

In Arabic, there is a word for all of that…  it’s called Zulm.  The literal definition of Zulm is to put things in the places they don’t belong.

So dear sisters, how much Zulm should we continue doing to our own selves, to our own lives? How can we think that the darkness of our Zulm can lead to light of happiness? 

Wassalaam and With Duas,

Ilaa Noor