10 Habits For Happiness
One of the primary objectives of Islām is to establish happiness in this world. The objectives of the Sharīʿah have shown that if this dīn were practised and applied, there would not only be more justice and fairness, but more specifically happiness—for people, animals and our external environment. So Allāh wants us to be happy, and He re-affirms this in many different places in the Qur’ān.
“Allāh intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship.”
“We have not sent down to you the Qur’ān that you be distressed.”
“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life.”
That is why the Arabic word ‘Sharīʿah’, the Islāmic legal framework dictated by the Qur’ān and Sunnah, originates from the word ‘stream’ with the Arabic word ‘Shari’ meaning ‘path’ also being derived from the same root. For it is our path that leads to salvation, the same way that a stream leads you to a river or a sea which purifies you (externally), the Sharīʿah purifies you, your heart, your Īmān and your surroundings (internally). Following the stream will allow you to reach ultimate happiness, and thus we conclude that the true objective of the Sharīʿah, despite what many claim for it to be today, is to preserve our intellect and wealth, our honour and dignity, our family and property, it is to preserve our life. Through preserving these five, happiness is gained for individuals and the society.
With that being said, let us take a look at some of the ways a Muslim, governed by the principles laid out in the Sharīʿah, can attain happiness in the life of this world.
1. Have strong Īmān
Happiness stems from within the heart, so in order to achieve happiness, the internal mechanism, namely the heart, must be sound. Malik Ibn Dinar (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said: “One of the great causes of sadness and despair in a person’s life is due to a hardened heart.” The heart is a muscle that can be described as a plant; the more you water it, the more it grows. But the opposite is also true; if you neglect it, it will die.
Thus, the heart can take many different forms, and Imām Ibn al-Qayyim mentions three of these:
“Just as the heart may be described in terms of being alive or dead, it may also be regarded as belonging to one of three types; these are the healthy heart, the dead heart, and the sick heart.”
One of the most effective ways to achieve the sound heart (Qulūbun salīma) devoted to Allāh is by increasing our Īmān.
“The Day when neither wealth nor children will be of any benefit, except for whoever brings to Allāh a sound heart.”
The sick heart (Qulūbun marīḍa) comes from turning away from Allāh and following desires.
“In the hearts is a sickness, so Allāh has increased their sickness.”
The dead heart (Qulūbun mayyita) is due to being extremely far from Allāh, and thus to ensure this is never our state, we must always be in a state of obedience and distant from disobedience, as Īmān increases with the former, and decreases with the latter. The more good habits we have in our lives, the more our Īmān is increased, and the more Īmān increases the happier we will be. On the other hand, the more sins we commit, the weaker our Īmān becomes, and more blessings will be removed from our lives, families and wealth. This will then lead to unhappiness.
READ MORE: How to Get Over a Heartbreak in Islam
According to a recent Harvard study, one of the most important factors affecting levels of happiness is feeling loved, so imagine the happiness you would feel from being loved by Allāh—the best feeling ever.
2. Perform Dhikr
Allāh blessed human beings with an intellect and speech, and both are means by which we can perform dhikr (remembrance of Allāh). The grateful servant is someone who uses his blessings to come closer to Allāh and please Him.
The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said:
“The most beloved speech to Allāh consists of four. There is no harm with which one you begin – subhāna Allāh, wa al-hamdu lillāh, wa lā ilāha illAllāh, wa Allāhu akbar.”
What are the benefits of remembering Allāh?
a) You will become successful
“And remember Allāh much that you may be successful.”
b) You will find peace in your heart
“Those who have faith and whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of God—truly it is in the remembrance of God that hearts find peace.”
c) You will love and be in awe of Allāh more and reflect more on His great creation
“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding. Who remember Allāh while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying] “Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.”
It is imperative to note that dhikr should not be formed in a parrot-like fashion, repeating statements with your tongue whilst your mind and heart remain unengaged. Rather, the movement of our tongue whilst being in a state of reflection over Allāh and His creation can only result from a sense of awe in our heart.
3. Be grateful
ʿĀ’isha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) said:
“The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) would stand [in prayer] so long that the skin of his feet would crack. I asked him, ‘Why do you do this while your past and future sins have been forgiven?’ He said, ‘Should I not be a grateful slave of Allāh?’”
If Allāh gives you more, you should show more gratitude. You receive more money? Give more to charity. Your health has improved? Start fasting regularly. You’ve received a higher position? Help more people.
When Allāh blesses you with something, use the blessings and then give thanks to Allah.
“If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favour]…”
4. Be selfless
Ibn ʿUmar reported that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said:
“The most beloved people to Allāh are those who are most beneficial to the people. The most beloved deed to Allāh is to make a Muslim happy, or to remove one of his troubles, or to forgive his debt, or to feed his hunger. That I walk with a brother regarding a need is more beloved to me than that I seclude myself in this mosque in Madīnah for a month. Whoever swallows his anger, then Allāh will conceal his faults. Whoever suppresses his rage, even though he could fulfil his anger if he wished, then Allāh will secure his heart on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever walks with his brother regarding a need until he secures it for him, then Allāh the Exalted will make his footing firm across the bridge on the day when the footings are shaken.”
The above statement can be summarised in one sentence:
“The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.”
However, a by-product of assisting others out of your own good will, is that we often seek praise for our efforts, regardless of whether we explicitly state or subtly hint it. But Allāh says:
“And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, [saying] “We feed you only for the countenance of Allāh. We wish not from you reward or gratitude.”
5. Be positive
The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) was always positive, even during the most difficult of times.
Ibn ʿAbbās reported:
The Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) visited a bedouin who was sick. Whenever he visited an ailing person, he would say, “Lā ba’sa, tahūrun inshā’Allāh [No harm, (it will be a) purification (from sins), if Allāh wills].”
How can we be positive?
- Do not complain too much;
- Do not be disappointed in what Allāh has given you;
- Show more gratitude – count your blessings;
- Do not focus on the problems – bring solutions;
- Focus on virtues, not vice.
Recall that the Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿalayhī al-Salām) instructed his son, Ismāʿīl, to divorce one wife and to cherish the other. What was the difference between them? Though provisions were low, food was scarce, and life was difficult, the first wife would complain of their situation, displaying her true character, albeit an unpleasant one. Whilst the second wife was content, positive and happy with what Allāh had bestowed upon them. Therefore, she was the honourable woman that Ibrāhīm instructed his son to keep and treat well.
6. Have a good balance between worship, family and work
The scholars of Sīrah said that the Prophet’s life was divided into 3 parts:
“And they were worshippers of Us…”
It was narrated from Ibn ʿAbbās that the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said:
“The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.”
“O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allāh.”
Your ʿibādah, family and daʿwah should be balanced and none should come at the expense of the other.
7. Keep yourself productive
Productivity occurs when you have a vision. Without a vision, you will be lost. As the Japanese proverb says, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”
Too much free time will eventually lead to boredom and this is when the Shaytān will capitalise and mislead you. As Imām Ibn al-Qayyim said,
“Shaytān tries to destroy the son of Ādam in one of seven phases. Some of them are more intense than others. Shaytān will not try to destroy him in the next phase until he fails to destroy him in a previous one.”
If he can’t get you to commit shirk, he will try and get you to commit a major sin; and if he can’t get you to commit a major sin, he will try and get you to sin; and if he can’t get you to sin, he will try and get you to waste time, and thus you are more likely to be affected if you are not occupying yourself with meaningful tasks whether it be work, seeking knowledge, daʿwah, sport or even community work.
8. Have good companions
Having a good support network is crucial for your mental and spiritual health. People who are positive and righteous will make you happy, and studies have shown that playing sports decreases stress so get your football boots or your badminton rackets out and meet up with your friends from time to time.
9. Be patient
You won’t know what ease is until you taste hardship, and you won’t know what happiness is until you feel sadness, so we will not always be happy on this Earth. Moments of hardship are inevitable, but times of ease will be quick to follow.
“Verily with hardship comes ease…”
“But give good tidings to the patient…”
As human beings with emotions, we are bound to become sad. Even in the life of the Prophet (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam), when he was mourning the death of his son and they asked him why, he replied: “”The eyes shed tears and the heart becomes sad, but we do not say except what pleases our Lord, and with your departure O Ibrahim we are sad.”
But whenever a person is tested, it is a reason to say “al-hamdu lillāh” for when Allāh loves a person, He tests them in order to purify them of their sins, multiply their good deeds, and elevate their status in Paradise.
Anas b. Mālik reported that Allāh’s Messenger (sallAllāhu ʿalayhi wasallam) said:
“One amongst the denizens of Hell who had led a life of ease and plenty amongst the people of the world would be dipped in the Fire only once on the Day of Resurrection and then it would be said to him, ‘O, son of Ādam, did you find any comfort, did you happen to get any material blessing?’ He would say, ‘By Allāh, no, my Lord.’ And then one of the people of the world will be brought who had led the most difficult life [in the world], who will be from amongst the people of Paradise, and he would be dipped once in Paradise, and it would be said to him, ‘O, son of Ādam, have you ever faced any hardship, or had any distress fallen to your lot?’ And he would say, ‘By Allāh, no, O my Lord, never did I face any hardship or experience any distress.’”
10. Remember paradise
Remember that this world is temporary, every pleasure in this world will expire but in the afterlife it will always be everlasting. Constant remembrance of paradise will remind you of how trivial this world is in comparison to the afterlife and will help us with patience and working towards entering Jannah. This motivation is crucial to remind us that true and permanent happiness will only be in Paradise, when we see Allāh’s face and truly live a happily ever after life.
These are ten habits that we can begin to implement in our lives, on our path to attain happiness. I hope that we will begin this journey today. May Allāh give you all happiness.